Ask A Sheroes Stan: Brad Horvath Finally Answers Super Important Dolly Parton Q’s

I died and went to Dollywood…on Monday! No kidding. Now I’m back and needless to say, I can’t wait for Sheroes tonight!”

Earlier this month, we were proud to launch our Sheroes Stan residency, a program that connects aca-fan knowledge and wisdom to the vastly growing motley crew that of international and local artists that are regularly involved with Sheroes each month.

Related: [meta talk] Lorna Mills Triangulation Blog Interview

For Sheroes #9: Dolly Parton, we were so glad to invite documentary filmmaker (and certifiable Dollite) Brad Horvath.

Brad — who was blogging over at Indiewire this week about the 2012 Nashville Film Festival — is someone who is incredibly within six degrees of Dolly. And mind blown! Did something really C000OOOL with his fannish-ness. In 2009, he made a documentary called The Book Lady regarding Dolly’s Imagination Library and her ongoing literacy advocacy work. (He was also just at Dollywood on Monday, but somehow still found the time in the midst of that pixie dust and butterflies to answer our burning fan q’s!)

Click below for the full interview, in which Horvath illuminates on the significance of butterflies, whether Dolly’s disco catalogue is really worth getting into and how she was responsible for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (And if you’re in Toronto tonight, you can meet Brad at Sheroes #9 and ask him any Q’s we didn’t get answered!)

Yoshi Sodeoka's “Love is Like a Butterfly” (2012) for Sheroes #9.

Why’s Dolly so into butterflies?

Who isn’t into butterflies? (Butterflies = Dolly fan). In 1974, Dolly Parton wrote and recorded a song called Love Is Like a Butterfly, which was her third consecutive single to reach #1 on the country music charts (it was from an album of the same name).

In the song, Dolly describes love and butterflies as “soft and gentle” and for a few years, it was considered one of her signature songs. In fact, it was used as the theme song for her 1976 syndicated variety show Dolly (not to be confused with her 1987-88 variety show which was also entitled Dolly).

Since then, images of butterflies have appeared on several of her albums, as well her body (yes, Dolly has butterfly tattoos!). It’s also the image most associated with Dollywood, her theme park in Tennessee, and through the years she’s been called “The Iron Butterfly” in reference to what has been perceived by others as her unique combination of strength (particularly in the business world) and femininity. In her 1994 autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business, she wrote that as a child she chased butterflies around the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and admired them for their sense of freedom and ability to travel beyond her limited world of East Tennessee.

Is the music of Rachel Dennison—Dolly’s little sister—worth getting into?

As far as I know, Dolly’s sister Rachel hasn’t recorded her own music (although Dolly’s other siblings have)—but she has appeared on some of Dolly’s albums and in a pop/country group called Honey Creek, which performed at Dollywood in the 90’s (along with their brother Randy). On a side note, Rachel wrote a song called I Am Ready, which Dolly recorded on her album The Grass Is Blue and in the early 80’s, she reprised Dolly’s role in the television version of 9 to 5. Also, Rachel is no longer married to Richard Dennison—but Richard, who joined Dolly as a backup-singer in the 70’s, is still a member of Dolly’s band.

Manuel Fernández's GIF for Sheroes #9.

When did Dolly start to have cosmetic surgery?

I’ve heard Dolly joke that she used her royalties from Jolene to buy her famous breasts—but the truth is she’s always been, um, “well blessed”. My guess is that she had implants in the 80’s after she lost weight—or maybe she just had ‘em “lifted” after her husband said ‘show me your boobs’ and she had to pull up her skirt to do it (her joke, not mine). As for Dolly’s face, she’s admitted to having cosmetic surgery since the early 90’s. In My Life and Other Unfinished Business, she wrote, “I have had nips and tucks and trims and sucks, boobs and waist and butt and such, eyes and chin and back again, pills and peels and other frills, and I’ll never graduate from collagen!” More recently, she has joked, “’If I see something saggin’, baggin’, or draggin’, I’m gonna have it nipped, tucked, or sucked!”

Is it safe to safe that Dolly was somehow responsible for Buffy The Vampire Slayer?

Yes! Dolly Parton’s Sandollar Productions (named after her longtime manager Sandy Gallin and herself) produced Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Sandollar Productions also produced the Buffy spin-off Angel, as well as Father of the Bride 1 and 2Shining ThroughStraight Talk, and the 1989 Academy Award-winning AIDS documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.

Dolly’s disco output: worth the second look?

It’s a mixed bag, but listen (or re-listen) to "Baby I’m Burning" and "Higher and Higher" —then pray to God that she releases the much anticipated and long overdue dance record which she has been promising Dollyites for years.

I want to get into Dolly’s movies. What would you recommend I check out?

All of ‘em: 9 to 5The Best Little Whorehouse In TexasSteel MagnoliasStraight TalkJoyful Noise, and yes, Rhinestone, her ill-fated 1984 film co-starring Sylvester Stallone.

What’s her favourite song?

That would be "Coat of Many Colors", which Dolly recorded in 1971. It’s not only autobiographical, it’s philosophical.

Alex McLeod’s “Dolly” (2012) for Sheroes #9.

What’s your favourite quality about Dolly?

 Her ability to escape all fashion criticism! Seriously, it’s hard to pick one, so here are a few: her singing and songwriting (is that a quality?), her capacity to dream what she could not know, her universal appeal and total acceptance of everyone, and how hard it is to delineate where Dolly Parton ends and her immaculately sculpted image begins. Not to mention her really big…personality.

Don’t forget! Sheroes #9: Dolly Parton is tonight at the Beaver (1192 Queen St. W.) featuring League of Legendary Ladies karaoke and special performances from Ada Dahli and Zoë Alexis-Abrams. Click here for more information.

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