From the moment Leslie Hall answered the phone, I was certain that I'd have to wipe glitter and gems from my ear by the end of our conversation.
The Midwestern diva assured me she's plumped herself up to a "fabulous 210 pounds," all of which will dance, prance and generally be fabulous all over the High Noon stage at her Feb. 9 show.
Hall fronts the Ames, Iowa-based satirical pop/hip-hop group Leslie and the LY's and has achieved notoriety for her sparkly gold bodysuits, bedazzled gem sweaters, mind-boggling music videos — and recently, guest appearances on the children's show "Yo Gabba Gabba." She talked to 77 Square about her new album, "Songs in the Key of Gold," which includes remixes of such classics as "No Pants Policy" and "Shazam I'm Glamorous," and a few new ones like "Of Course You Wear Glasses."
77 Square: How long have you been doing the act now?
Ten years. Ten years? Yeah, I started in 2004. This is my ten-year anniversary. Am I still doing this? Oh my gosh.
And now you’re doing the greatest hits thing, on the new album.
Yeah! This guy in Nashville contacted me. He remixed "Blame the Booty." I said, "Oh my gosh, would you do that to all my songs?" It’s like my songs, but so much better. It’s amazing. It’s like club beats now.
How did you decide which songs to remix?
We made a list, and it was very, very long because I love them all like babies. We went with the ones that the audience responds to, the ones that needed it. Like "Power Cuddle" — it was slow and people would just stare at me. Who’s that guy who just died…?
Pete Seeger. I was singing my songs like Pete Seeger, really slow. Titus Joe showed me, if you sing them faster, the audience just goes wacky.
So you’ll be playing the clubbed up versions at your shows?
Yes! Very good descriptive term. Clubbed up.
Awesome. What else can people expect at the show?
New costumes, of course. I have plumped up to a fabulous 210 pounds right now. I literally just ate Paul Newman's Ginger-O's, with the frosting inside. I’m carbing up.
Wow. What’s that preparation process like?
I feel like Christian Bale trying to play an obese man. I am really taking my work seriously. I am eating all the vegan cheese that I can get my hands on.
Does vegan cheese do all the bad things to you that regular cheese does?
Yes, it does. Minus the animal cruelty! It’s guilt free.
Does your mom still make your costumes?
Yes, she’s still making them. This year’s costumes, I'm going to do costume changes even faster than normal. It’s a lot of snaps, if you can imagine them. I’ll be onstage snapping a lot of snaps in order to look great and dazzle the eyes.
What are the requirements for a Leslie Hall outfit?
I’m definitely sticking with gold. Full body coverage. I don’t know why, if I show my elbows or my knees or my chest, I just look like a naked baby up there. It’s like Superman, I guess. I never wear regular bras, I wear a bra that I bought at Victoria's Secret, it clasps in the front, which is very rare.
I'm getting the van looked at, making sure we have plenty of oil and tire pressure. We're all packing snow boots just in case the next polar vortex hits. I’m leaving my cat with a cat babysitter.
Is the van still the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters?
Oh my gosh, no. the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters is on hiatus, as in, it does not drive well right now. We’re gonna leave that here. I just took a 12-passenger van and put stickers on it. Don’t say it’s gonna be there. People get upset if they're expecting it and it's not there.
How many gem sweaters do you own, now?
Above the 400 range. If people do have gem sweaters they’d like to donate to the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters, now is the time. I do think Madison will be great for that — people get so dressed up.
Do you have time to craft anymore?
Oh my God, as you speak. you’re on speakerphone so I can keep beading this fringe. I’m really into plastic pony beads right now. You can get tons of them in bulk.
In the winter time, you lock yourself indoors — tofurkey loaves are on sale, I’ve got one of those thawing. I’m just gonna nestle up to a craft tonight and keep myself warm.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
My new jams are "Your Not Taken" — I think the remix is fabulous — and the other one is "#1 Cat in America," and the chorus is is just "Number one cat in America."
You've been performing on tour with "Yo Gabba Gabba," and on the show a few times — how did that happen?
I was on the first season, and they just found me online. They were just looking for wacky acts. They brought me on for season two, and it’s been kind of an awesome little gig. I think me and Lance have great complementary-colored outfits. Maybe one day there will be a romantic storyline between us. But they have told me that will not happen.
A girl can dream, right?
Yes! A girl can dream.
Is it strange, performing for kids one day and adults the next?
It’s tough. You have these toddlers, but obviously the places we’re playing, people are getting drunk. There’s some tweens out there who’ve decided that they like weird — and that would be me. I kind of try to keep it not too sexy, and then I can cross those boundaries.
What should people who have never attended a Leslie and the LY's show know before Sunday?
If you have a sequin-y top that’s too tight and you never wear it, now is the night to wear it. And if you have been wanting to cut bangs and you’ve never had bangs before, now is the night to cut your bangs. Because you are gonna want to see. It’s a visual show. You’re gonna get sweaty, because you're gonna be dancing. No judging is allowed, and no whispering secrets, unless it’s about how pretty I am.
But then people should just yell it, right?
Yes! No whispering secrets that I'm pretty. You have to yell it.