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Suzi Quatro talks 'Rear of the Year' incident and who might play her in upcoming biopic

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·5 min read
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  • Suzi Quatro
    Suzi Quatro
    American musician, radio host and actress

Suzi Quatro’s years-in-the-making documentary Suzi Q just came out, but the bass-playing glam-rock pioneer, who has sold 50 million records worldwide, is already setting her sights on her next cinematic venture: a biopic. And she already has a few actresses in mind who could fill her signature Leather Tuscadero jumpsuit for the role, including two iconoclastic teen stars. But not all of Quatro’s fans are thrilled about one of those casting possibilities.

“Miley Cyrus was one suggestion, and funny enough — and I'm a fan, she's great, a very talented girl — lot of my fans don't seem to like that connection. I don't know why,” Quatro tells Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume. “Another suggestion has been Billie Eilish. This has been suggested. There's another actress, though I have yet to see what she's done, suggested by more than one person: Melissa Roxburgh. Everybody has been approached, and they all want to see the script, and they all are watching the documentary. But all I will say is this: I know that there's a certain vibe here. It’s a vibe, and this vibe, whatever it is, you can't act.”

Quatro says that, despite her fans’ misgivings, she thinks Cyrus has “got a lot” going for her: the acting ability, the singing chops, the penchant for leather, and even the mullet. “So, I need to meet her and say, ‘Yeah.’ I just need to have that connection. She wants the script and so do Billie Eilish’s people, and we shall see. I will know the person when I meet them. When I hand my life over to somebody to act, I want it to be the right one.”

Quatro says the biopic’s script is being delivered in two weeks, though she can’t yet divulge which director is attached to the project. But in the meantime, she’s excitedly promoting Suzi Q — and there’s a 1982 scene in that documentary that certainly Cyrus, Eilish, or Roxburgh could have a breakout moment with: When Suzi won Britain’s infamous “Rear of the Year” contest, and a U.K. chat show host got a little handsy on live TV, as see in the film excerpt above.

Suzi Quatro's winning "Rear of the Year" press photo in 1992 (Photo: PA Images via Getty Images)
Suzi Quatro's winning "Rear of the Year" press photo in 1992 (Photo: PA Images via Getty Images)

“I am, if nothing, a professional. I am a pro. Whatever job I'm doing, I will do it properly. So this was a live television show, one of the biggest talk shows, and [host] Russell Harty was very popular, big-time,” Quatro recalls. “I was on the show right after I won Rear of the Year. I come on, there's another guest, the cameras are running, it’s live. And he picked his moment — clever, clever, he picked his moment! He just said, ‘Oh, let's see this famous rear of the year.’ So I turned around, of course. I didn't mind, that's OK — I shake my ass onstage every night! But then he [slapped my butt].

“It wasn't nasty; he didn’t do it hard. He thought he was being funny,” Quatro continues. “In that instant, if you watch it carefully, when you watch the film [Suzi Q] again, as I'm turning around, my brain is going [crazy] — my ‘professional’ brain. My first instinct was to knee him in the balls. Then my professionalism kicked in. As I’m turning around, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. He's gay. He just meant it to be fun. Don't mess up the show.’ And so, I sat down. If he had done that backstage, he would have been singing soprano for the rest of his life!”

Quatro clearly maintains a sense of humor about the on-air incident, admitting at age 70, “I don't mind saying I've always had a nice backside. I always try to back into a room if I can, you know!” But she gets serious talking about the women — many of whom, it can be argued, paved the way for Cyrus and Eilish — who sing her praises in Suzi Q, including Debbie Harry, Kathy Valentine and Abby Travis of the Go-Go’s, Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth, L7’s Donita Sparks, and Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, and Lita Ford of the Runaways.

“I'll take this to my grave, because what I realized is this has been happening, without me meaning to — and I don't lie, without me meaning to — I gave these women who didn't know where they belonged a place where they did belong. That brings tears to my eyes,” Quatro marvels. “It's amazing. And the truth is, the only reason it happened was how I'm wired: that I would not compromise. I would not change who I was. Just by sticking to it is how I opened the door. And wow. When you see it on the big screen, you can't bulls*** yourself.”

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The above interview is taken from a portion of Suzi Quatro’s appearance on the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Full audio of this conversation is available on demand via the SiriusXM app.mil