Femme Fatale. Champagne Chanteuse. Star of stage and screen. Eartha Kitt is the original Material Girl who knows more about the ins and outs of men at 79 years young than most women could ever hope to know. She was discovered while performing in Paris, at the age of 20 by the legendary Orson Welles who called her “the most exciting woman in the world.”
We agree and in fact, we think she’s purrrrrr…fect – just like in her persona as Catwoman on the television series Batman and her film roles in Boomerang, Fatal Instinct, Unzipped, and The Emperor’s New Groove. With her cabaret performance stronger than ever, she’s bringing that sexy act to Texas…to the Austin Cabaret Theater for one night only. Here, in an exclusive interview, she discusses, men, performing and well, more about men.
Everyone calls you a living legend. How does that feel at this point of your career?
It’s kind of a scary thought, you know, but you have to live with it. I’m someone’s whose been around for awhile.
You’re still the toast of the cabaret set from coast to coast. You just finished up a gig at the Carlyle in New York. How was it?
I think it’s what people are looking now…they don’t like the kind of music that is hateful or anti-women that’s out there now. They want to feel good again about society and themselves.
When you’re on stage performing, what do you love most about that – is it that instant connection with your audience?
Oh, very much so. The more they give me, the better I feel about what I am doing. It’s how I interpret a song – whether it’s dramatic or comedy. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. Thank God I’m able to hold onto these notes – I sing in the same key as I did 30 years ago.
And you’re in your sixth professional decade of making men nervous. You seem to get along well with men…
Darling, I loooove men. A good man is hard to find. Plus, I think I have a lot of fun with the men in my audience – men know I love to tease. And women understand that –and they get to benefit from it later on in the evening when they are alone with their man. You could say I’ve had some experience with men.
Right, you’ve had some pretty famous boyfriends. Since this is our Men’s Issue, what do you find most attractive about men?
That’s easy. It’s the respect they have for women. Orson (Welles) called me the most exciting woman in the world and every woman wants to feel that way about herself, too. It’s important that a man has a good sense of humor. Women should have it, too. Also, a man must have intelligence, but he doesn’t have to be the smartest man in the room. Like most women, I like to keep them guessing…
And women have changed over the years, too?
Women’s Lib took a lot of fun out of teasing. A man doesn’t know what to do anymore – should he hold doors, light a cigarette, and stand up when a lady enters a room? They don’t even send flowers anymore. I think good manners need to come back in style. A woman wants to be cared for.
Agree. Speaking of style, your Santa Baby hit made you an even bigger star and branded you as a sex kitten in a very innocent era in the 1950s. Was that meant to be?
Not really. It wasn’t calculated at all. I was an innocent young girl when I first made that song. Remember, I’m a cotton picker from South Carolina and I’ve never lost that innocence. Of course, I played to that in my career – a woman should always be innocent, darling.
I hear you’re working on your biography. Will you be setting the record straight?
Rejuvenate is my book out now. It’s about what a woman has to do for herself. My biography will be my next book. It’s about me, men, and money… about the fun times and not-so-fun times.
Here’s to Life is a song you like to close your act with. If you hadn’t become a performer, what occupation would you have chosen?
I would have been a teacher. I’ve learned – and teach – that life is a wonderful path to travel on if you don’t get too panicky on your down moments. The question one should ask is ‘how am I going to best use these moments?’