The Go-Go's' Kathy Valentine on Stardom, Sexism and How to Handle a Pandemic

Valentine’s memoir, which covers everything from her rape at age 14 to her days atop the pop charts, was published just as isolation began

The subject line on the email from Kathy Valentine was succinct and eye-catching: “how to launch a book in the middle of a f—ing pandemic.” And that was exactly what Valentine was trying to do, at a time when the things she’d normally be doing — bookstore appearances, live performances, speaking engagements — had all been halted.

Valentine, best known as the bass player in the Go-Go’s, the first and only all-female band to have a No. 1 record of their own songs, has been making adjustments just like everyone else in these days of social distancing and self-quarantining. Her book release party took place on Instagram, a Q&A with fellow musician John Doe in her hometown of Austin, Texas, was moved online as well and next Monday she’ll do a Q&A with Lizz Winstead on Zoom.

It has made for a strange couple of weeks, and threatened to derail not only a Go-Go’s reunion tour scheduled for this summer, but the launch of her accomplished debut as a writer.

Her book, “All I Ever Wanted,” was published on March 31 by the University of Texas Press, with an audiobook version released this week along with an accompanying soundtrack album of songs written by Valentine to accompany specific chapters. Her beautifully written memoir does far more than chronicle the rise of the Go-Go’s to stardom in the 1980s and then their rapid dissolution amid squabbles and substance abuse. Valentine captures both the giddy joy and the crushing disappointments of those times, but her book spends as much time on her unconventional upbringing at the hands of a troubled single mother who’d rather be a buddy than a caretaker, and on her own battles with substance abuse before she embraced sobriety at the end of the ’80s.

Kathy and I have had many conversations since we first met in the summer of 1981, but we’d never before been forced to chat on Zoom. But that turned out to be the ideal medium for a conversation that covered the challenges that musicians and authors face in the age of the coronavirus; the process of exploring her life, from an unmoored upbringing to the fleeting glories of rock stardom; her experience as a young woman who survived a rape at the age of 14 and then found that even as a star, the industry wanted her and her bandmates to live up to an array of facile stereotypes; and the reckoning that is finally taking place around industry sexism.

See an edited video of the conversation above. The full video will be posted on the WrapPRO site.

How are you holding up?
I’m holding up pretty good. I feel like you get used to what’s going on and then it changes again. So I don’t want to get too used to things ’cause I know that it could get a hell of a lot worse and I just don’t know what to expect.

Musicians have lost the ability to play to an audience, which is how many of you make your money these days. You’d think putting out a book would be easier because people still stay home and can read books — but it really does put a crimp in how you get that book out there and how you promote it, doesn’t it?
Well, the thing is, I had a 23-city book tour, along with some paying gigs that were helping to finance it. And that first eight weeks after a book release is the peak. Sure, there’s going to be book festivals through the year, but that’s when the press comes out. And the bookstores that were struggling even before the coronavirus, indie bookstores, we’re all trying to support them. It was a way for them to really have events where authors come in.

The guaranteed sales that were going to happen are definitely going to be slashed. It has a huge effect for writers and everybody — but as a first-time author, I’m like, “Really?” It’s hard to wallow though. I mean, people have lost their livelihoods, they’ve lost their businesses, they’ve lost their lives, they’ve lost their loved ones and their health. When you look at the spectrum of everything that could be affected, it’s like, “OK, I get to sit home and try not to drive people crazy talking about my book every single day.”

You’ve done a great job of scrambling — you had a virtual book release party this week on Instagram, and your Q&A with John Doe was moved from a bookstore in Austin to Zoom. I guess you have to figure out how to do that stuff.
It’s not the same, but it does give you a chance to just engage. And as a musician, I’m very used to engaging — with social media, with concerts, engaging with the audience. So as a first-time writer, I like doing it. So for me it’s a way to at least keep that part of it alive.

I also feel like in this time where we’re all isolated, art and music and literature is sort of essential to our well-being.
Yeah. I think because we are pretty isolated, we’re having to get creative in how to connect. I love seeing all the people that are getting on their Instagram or sitting on their couch and playing these impromptu little shows. I think it’s really cool. I haven’t done that yet. That’s probably in the works — when people get sick of my book, I’ll start shilling for my soundtrack live.

In addition to the book stuff, you were supposed to be on a Go-Go’s tour this summer. I assume that that’s up in the air at this point.
Yeah, it hasn’t been officially canceled, but I think that concerts might not be one of the first things that come back. So that sucks. The good thing is that hopefully we can reschedule that for a time in the future. I can’t reschedule a book release.

But the bad thing was the income. I was counting on that — I was, in fact, more than counting on it, I was spending it. I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll buy those boots for the premiere at Sundance cause I’m going on tour.” They’ll be on eBay.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, even the Hollywood community has been affected. From actors to executives, here is a list of confirmed celebrity coronavirus cases.

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  • Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson announced they both tested positive for the coronavirus in Australia while filming their Elvis Presley biopic. The couple isolated themselves and are keeping their spirits up, sharing their experience on Instagram.

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  • Former Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko posted on Instagram Sunday that she was self-quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus. She appeared in “Quantum of Solace” opposite Daniel Craig in 2008 and in the sci-fi movie “Oblivion.”

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  • Idris Elba posted a video on Twitter Monday saying that he tested positive for the coronavirus. The British actor said he is asymptomatic and encourages people to stay pragmatic.

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  • Lucian Grainge, longtime chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, tested positive for the coronavirus and has been hospitalized at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. On April 6, he sent a memo to staff saying he was going to make a full recovery. 

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  • Kristofer Hivju posted on Instagram Monday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. The “Game of Thrones” alum is set to star on season 2 of Netflix’s “The Witcher.” 

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  • Rachel Matthews, the voice of Honeymaren in “Frozen II” and an actress known for “Looking for Alaska” and “Happy Death Day 2 You,” said in a series of posts on her Instagram story (via Page Six) that she tested positive for the coronavirus. Matthews described her symptoms over the course of a week in her posts and added that she found tests for the virus “INSANELY hard to come by.” 

     

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  • Kevin Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP and currently a player for the Brooklyn Nets, was one of four players who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to The Athletic. “Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We’re going to get through this,” he told The Athletic.

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  • Actor Daniel Dae Kim announced on Instagram Thursday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. “For all those out there, especially teenagers and millennials who think this is not serious, please know that it is,” the former “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0” star pleaded. He has since recovered from the virus.

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  • Prince Albert of Monaco is the first known head of state to contract the coronavirus.

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  • Sean Payton told ESPN he tested positive for the coronavirus. He is the first confirmed case in the NFL

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  • Colton Underwood, former star of “The Bachelor,” revealed in a Twitter video that despite being 28-years-old and healthy, he still tested positive for the coronavirus.  

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  • Andy Cohen, host of “Watch What Happens Live” on Bravo, announced he tested positive on March 20.

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  • Actress Debi Mazar (“Goodfellas,” “Younger”) announced on March 21 that she had tested positive for COVID-19. “Today my lungs are heavy, but I’m tough,” she wrote. “I can breath, and I’m going to heal here, in my own home! My family is under quarantine for 14 days.”

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  • Opera legend Placido Domingo announced on March 22 that he tested positive for COVID-19. “Together we can fight this virus and stop the current worldwide crisis, so we can hopefully return to our normal daily lives very soon,” he wrote on Facebook.

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  • “Les Miserables” actor Aaron Tveit announced he tested positive for the virus in a lengthy Instagram post. “I consider myself extremely lucky that my symptoms have been very mild,” he wrote.

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  • Sen. Rand Paul became the first U.S. senator to test positive for the virus Sunday.

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  • Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the virus in prison, according to a report from the Niagara Gazette.

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  • “Game of Thrones” actress Indira Varma revealed she was sick with the virus last week.

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  • Daytime Emmy Award winner Greg Rikaart (“The Young and the Restless”) announced on Instagram that he tested positive for the coronavirus. “Nice try coronavirus, but I have another 4-5 decades worth of experiences to have with these guys,” he wrote, referring to his husband and son.

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  • Playwright Terrence McNally died of coronavirus-related complications on March 24.

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  • Houston rapper Slim Thug said in an Instagram video posted on March 24 that he tested positive for coronavirus.

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  • Prince Charles, the first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus but remains in “good health,” his office announced on Wednesday.

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  • Jackson Browne, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, also announced that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. He is recuperating in his Los Angeles home.

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  • In a memo to staff Thursday, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus and “improving every day.”

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  • Chef Floyd Cardoz died of coronavirus complications on March 25. He won the third season of “Top Chef Masters” and appeared in numerous other cooking programs. He was 59.

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  • Mark Blum, who starred in “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “You,” died of coronavirus complications on March 26. He was 69.

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  • ESPN NBA analyst and reporter Doris Burke revealed Friday she tested positive for the coronavirus, and that it took eight days for her to get her results. Fortunately, she has been symptom-free.

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  • Chuck Billy, frontman for the thrash-metal band Testament, told Rolling Stone, “I had an achy body, headaches, coughing, tight chest, I lost my sense of smell and taste — the whole thing.” A few days later, he and his wife Tiffany learned they had the coronavirus.

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  • Houston rapper Scarface revealed in a livestream with Geto Boys’ bandmate Willie D. that he tested positive for COVID-19 after having symptoms that began with the lack of taste and smell.

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  • Adam Schlesinger, the songwriter best known for his work with the rock band Fountains of Wayne and the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms. Sadly, the 52-year-old rocker died on April 1.

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  • Chris Cuomo announced on March 31 he tested positive for the coronavirus. The anchor has been hosting the show from his basement.

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  • Tennis commentator Patrick McEnroe announced March 31 he tested positive for the coronavirus. The brother of John McEnroe says he quarantined himself in his basement and is “feeling fine.”

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  • Eddie Large, one-half of the comedy duo Little and Large, contracting coronavirus while hospitalized for heart failure. Sadly, he died on April 2 at age 78.

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  • Jim Edmonds, MLB player turned “Real Housewives of Orange County” star, said he tested positive for both pneumonia and the coronavirus but is “completely symptom-free” now.

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  • Actress Ali Wentworth, who is married to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, revealed on Instagram she tested positive for the coronavirus and “has never been sicker.” She is quarantined from her family.

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  • Tony-award winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell tweeted he tested positive for the coronavirus and was self-isolating. He added he was feeling better and “over the hump.” 

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  • “Love Song” singer and Broadway star of the musical “Waitress” Sara Bareilles revealed she had tested positive for the virus and is already feeling better, she said in an Instagram story Friday.

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  • Christopher Cross, the singer-songwriter best known for “Sailing,” announced he tested positive for cornonavirus in a lengthy Instagram post. “Although I am fortunate enough to be cared for at home, this is possibly the worst illness I’ve ever had,” he wrote.

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  • The pop singer Pink revealed on Twitter that she tested positive for coronavirus but said that after two weeks of self-isolating, she then tested negative for COVID-19 and had recovered. Pink then agreed to donate $1 million split among two different crisis relief funds.

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  • The singer and songwriter Marianne Faithfull, who came to fame as part of the 1960s British Invasion with her single “As Tears Go By,” was hospitalized in London after testing positive for the coronavirus, her reps told Rolling Stone. “She is stable and responding to treatment. We all wish her well and a full and speedy recovery,” the reps said in the statement. 

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  • Duran Duran singer John Taylor announced on Facebook that he had tested positive for coronavirus — and fully recovered. “I want to let you know that it isn’t always a killer, and we can and will beat this thing,” he wrote.

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  • Tom Hanks, Idris Elba and Prince Charles have all come down with COVID-19

    As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, even the Hollywood community has been affected. From actors to executives, here is a list of confirmed celebrity coronavirus cases.

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