Michael Hepworth


New York (Perfect Music Today 1/10/20″Now, the downtown rock raconteuse Tammy Faye Starlite is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album — ‘my magnum opus, my gesamtkunstwerk,’ she says, narrating the show as Ms. Faithfull — in ’Why’d Ya Do It,’ a hybrid of séance, lecture and concert…her mastery of Ms. Faithfull’s singing voice is extraordinary, down to the tremolo that punctuates some words like a stifled sob.” – Elisabeth Vincentelli/NY Times Critic’s Pick 
“Now, as Marianne Faithfull, British pop’s queen of survival, Starlite resurrects 1979’s Broken English as a thoroughly modern tale of adventure, abyss and hard-won vengeance — one of the most brutally frank albums of its time, made flesh again, in poignant lethally honest character. – David Fricke/Rolling Stone 
“Tammy Faye Starlite’s performance of Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English in Why’d You Do It? channels all of that album’s terror, ferocity and vulnerability — and then some. …her portrayal has grown more passionate, more visceral, more provocative, more unnerving. The lines between the two women fracture, and the result is shattering — and profoundly moving.” – Anthony DeCurtis/ Author of Lou Reed: A Life
“..brilliantly inhabits the outsized persona of Marianne Faithfull…. (an) alternately stark and darkly funny performance….” – Steve Futterman/The New Yorker
“Tammy Faye Starlite’s channeling of Marianne Faithfull is not so much tribute as celebration. She assumes Marianne’s persona with a sly and respectful humoresque, inhabiting the songs, constructing a virtual biography that interprets and reveals the inner artist who created Broken English, whose tale is one of triumph and transcendence Tammy’s resurrection is yet another life unfolding, in a performance that bares the soul and touches the heart.” – Lenny Kaye/Author of You Call It Madness/Little Steven’s Underground Garage SiriusXM
“Having produced many records with Marianne as well as being a close friend for 34 years, I was reluctant to see Tammy Faye as Marianne. I have to admit that I was astonished as Tammy does not initiate Marianne at all. She totally captures the feeling of being with her which is an amazing achievement… and the audience went apeshit. So, what can I say? Just go… Tammy Faye got it right.” – Hal Willner/legendary music producer
“So here in 2019 we were blessed (or perhaps damned?) to have Tammy Faye Starlite replicate this ground-breaking album, a tour de force performance of the comeback of a major artist…Tammy Faye morphs into Marianne with vigor, rage, savagery. And songs are interspersed with often hilarious or, more often, scary catatonic rants about fucking anything that comes to mind. Now that I have been exposed to the unsurpassable talent of Tammy Faye Starlite it is my intention to keep her sharply on the radar.” – Steve Nardoni/Theater Pizzazz
Last fall’s sold-out theatrical six week run of Why’d Ya Do It?: Tammy Faye Starlite Performs Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English at Pangea was a NY Times Critic’s Pick with Elisabeth Vincentelli calling the performance “a hybrid of séance, lecture and concert,” noting of Tammy, “her mastery of Ms. Faithfull’s sining voice is extraordinary, down to the tremolo that punctuates some words like a stifled sob. As for the song that give the show its title, Ms. Starlite give it all the spite and bile it requires.”  She went on to mention the fact that “there is a living connection to ‘Broken English’ onstage: the guitarist Barry Reynolds, who helped write and played on part of the album is in the five-piece backing band.”
Tammy is mounting a one-night only encore presentation of the celebrated piece at Joe’s Pub on Monday, March 16 with tickets now on sale at
This production will again include the participation of Barry Reynolds, who collaborated with Faithful on the groundbreaking album that was released 40 years ago and had a hand in composing half of the album’s songs including the title track and the notorious “Why’d Ya Do it?”  Reynolds is part of an all-star backing band that features
acclaimed Hungarian violinist Eszter Balint who has released two critically lauded album of her own and, as an actor, starred in the Jim Jarmusch films Stranger Than Paradise and The Dead Don’t Die. Reynolds and Balint are joined for the run by bass virtuoso Keith Hartel, guitarist Richard Feridun and David Nagler on keyboard.
The current production of Why’d Ya Do It?: Tammy Faye Starlite Performs Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English  is directed by Michael Schiralli whose credits include Varla Jean Merman and the Mushroom Heads, Scraping the Bottom: The Most Offensive Songs of Jackie Hoffman and Tammy Faye’s own acclaimed Nico Underground, plays every Thursday in October with the run concluding on Halloween.
Tammy Faye’s earlier Cabaret Marianne performance piece was cited in The NewYork Times as a “jaw dropping show.” In his review, Stephen Holden wrote, “Tammy Faye Starlite went all the way: impersonating Marianne Faithfull, rock music’s ‘fallen woman,’ with an uncanny accuracy. Her simulation of Ms. Faithfull’s vocal style and combustible blend of arrogance and scabrous sarcasm only begins to tell the story.” Tammy Faye originally performed Broken English at Lincoln Center and brought it to Joe’s Pub and The Metropolitan Room; later she performed Marianne Faithful: Exposed at Joe’s Pub and McCabe’s in Los Angeles.  Thereafter, she took Cabaret Marianne on the road to Provincetown, Chicago and St. Louis.
When Marianne Faithfull released Broken English in 1979, she shattered all preconceptions, glass ceilings, walls and doorways. She claimed her identity and emerged as herself after years of playing the roles of pop princess, rock-royal consort, fallen angel, and tattered waif, roles for which she never auditioned nor truly wanted. Through the power of this album she became what she had always been: passionate, tender, knowing, uncensored and unashamed. The album, in its unabashed desire and rage and profound excavation of the human spirit, still resonates today. It’s not a relic. It’s a reality.
Tammy Faye Starlite does her utmost to keep the fire aflame and honor the integrity – no, the intensity – of Marianne Faithfull’s groundbreaking album while trying to heed a Marianne dictum: “We fucked up, now we’re free!” In view of this assertion, it’s easy to see why The New York Times’ Stephen Holden proclaimed Tammy Faye’s Marianne Faithfull portrayal to be “easily the most revelatory show I’ve seen..”

Marianne Faithfull has commented on the legacy of Broken English in recent years, suggesting, “It was simply the world seen from my point of view. It wasn’t a conscious statement on the world… Broken English is very personal.. the songs, the covers that I did, simply happened to be songs I believed myself. “Working Class Hero,” “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan,” “Why D’Ya Do It,” were written by other people, but I could have written them myself.”

Broken English, from the time of its initial release in 1979 through the present day has been seen as a benchmark work in terms of its raw honesty and the revelations it conveys.

The Guardian on the re-release of Broken English six years ago: “If the era called for shock tactics, then Faithfull was happy to be shocking. The concluding ‘Why D’Ya Do It’ is a depiction of feminine hell-hath-no-fury rage contains a fuck, a cunt, two cocks, a dick, a balls, a pussy and a fanny (the latter ‘full of cobwebs’) as well as posing the immortal question ‘Why did you spit on my snatch?’: an impressive tally in a pre-hip-hop world. More impressive still, it retains its capacity to shock: not because of the language, but because there’s something utterly believable about Faithfull’s tone of contempt. There was, understandably, a lot about heroin addiction, the curdling of the beatific turn-on-tune-in-drop-out ethos into a scrabbling, desperate world of ‘trying to get high without having to pay,’ as ‘Brain Drain’ puts it. There’s still something jarring about hearing the daughter of an Austrian aristocrat singing John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero,’ but it fits in the context of an album about the shortcomings of the decade that made Faithfull famous. The increased social mobility the ’60s were supposed to have wrought was, it suggests, a myth, and so too was the sexual revolution. The female characters on Broken English are suicidal housewives and betrayed lovers, at the mercy of men; the most unshackled women are the smackheads.”

Greil Marcus reviewed the album for Rolling Stone shortly after its original release: “The lyrics of Broken English are not autobiographical, but the album’s power begins with Marianne Faithfull’s old persona and with one’s knowledge of the collapse of the woman behind it. Faithfull sings as if she means to get every needle, every junkie panic, every empty pill bottle and every filthy room into her voice—as if she spent the last ten years of oblivion trying to kill the face that first brought her to our attention. The voice is a croak, a scratch, all breaks and yelps and constrictions. Though her voice seems perverse, it soon becomes clear that it is also the voice of a woman who is comfortable with what she sounds like.:”


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