For DIY musicians, it often seems the only way to leap from cliquish cult status to household-name stardom is to retool for the lowest common denominator. But Concetta Kirschner (better known as platinum blond, bumpin'-bodied Princess Superstar) has managed to make herself famous the hard way--without selling out, or even earning enough money to quit her day job. In 1994 she circulated a self-produced cassette, and a year later 5th Beetle, a tiny label in Windsor, Canada, put out her first CD, Strictly Platinum; in '97 she founded her own imprint, A Big Rich Major Label (later renamed the Corrupt Conglomerate), and released two more discs. But five years of doing almost everything herself must've taken their toll, because in 2000 her highness succumbed to an offer from the relatively high-profile Rapster label, which issued her latest, Princess Superstar Is, in October. The CD is an animated, imaginative sound collage that incorporates old-school hip-hop beats, doorbells, harmonica, Speak & Spell, harp, trumpet blasts, and 60s game-show samples; her lyrics cover weighty subjects like applying makeup while sitting on some dude's face and the four-star rating Zagat gave her coochie. She's pretty much mastered the art of cleverly combining elements that would be terrible alone--white-girl gangsta twang and recycled, tranquilized-sounding melodies; Gucci-logo threads and Kmart crap--and she's always had a warped mind. (As a kid she says she prayed to a portrait of a bearded Jim Morrison embossed on a carnival-souvenir coke mirror, thinking it was an image of God.) Appropriately enough, on Princess Superstar Is she duets on a slow jam with Kool Keith, one of the most warped minds in rap; he says he'll dress her in an ostrich-leather cat suit, to which she counters, "I'm a slinky / Coil my butt back and forth down the stair / I'm kinkier than pubic hair." In another standout, "Bad Babysitter," Kirschner plays a gum-chomping 15-year-old who bosses around the kids, scares them with stories of murderers, hits on their father, masturbates with a cucumber and puts it back in the fridge, and screws her boyfriend on the couch. Unfortunately, half the album drags--especially a lackadaisical collaboration with neofolkie Beth Orton--but trudging through the slow spots is worth it. Sunday, April 21, 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-0011.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Khalfun.