It should come as no surprise that Concetta Kirschner is never at a loss for words, especially when she is talking about her larger-than-life musical persona, Princess Superstar. Though she grew up in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, this half-Jewish/half-Italian spitfire is a self-made princess and a self-proclaimed superstar of New York City's ultra-hip East Village. World domination may still be a ways off for the Princess, but with equal parts determination, ambition, talent, creative vision and good old-fashioned street smarts, Kirschner is taking steps to change that.
Originally hatched by Kirschner as a home-recorded hip-hop project, Princess Superstar initially created her early backing tracks with crude tape loops - literally taping the same piece of music over and over again. She figured that "If the Beastie Boys can do it, I certainly can." In 1994, these rough demos circulated through a network of friends, one of whom came up with the name Superstar. Still, Kirschner thought something more was needed. "I thought that there was a better name than 'Superstar.' And I am a Princess," she laughs. "I like to dress up. I'm a Pisces, so I live in an imaginary world. But I'm not a spoiled princess, I'm very kind." People loved the over-the-top self-assuredness that peppered her tongue-in-cheek hipster references, name-dropping everything from legendary British DJ John Peel to television jingles to Alex Trebek. The music was a nasty collage of rude beats, '70s radio hits and various sampled odds and ends.
Despite the positive response she received with the release of 1996's Strictly Platinum, Kirschner was still unsatisfied with how Princess Superstar came across on record. She refined the concept of her alter-ego and gathered up a new crew to help her get the job done. "These new members totally understand what I wanna do, that sort of quirky style, and they add to it," she explains. "Live, the first band I had would replicate the samples using instruments and not with samplers, and that really bugged me. With this band, we have the turntables and there's a nice mix of the live stuff and the samples." As witnessed on the brand-spanking-new CEO, the new Princess Superstar is a funkier bunch, filled out by a live DJ. But, as evidenced by the several punk numbers included in the band's live set, their heightened funkiness does nothing to take away from the ass-kicking wallop of Kirschner's performance. Princess Superstar's live shows are a sight to behold, with the Princess's old-fashioned show-womanship serving as the group's most important characteristic, as colorful and creative as the cut-up of beats and samples that back her. During a recent holiday show, the festive Princess performed dressed in a plastic nylon dress (known by her fans as "the condom dress"), with the words "Happy Holidays" strategically placed to cover each breast. For accessories, she wore a little white hat and string of Christmas lights, which she unfortunately had to take off because they were a fire hazard. "But," she giggles, "I told everyone [in the audience], that if I die, I die for you. I love my people." An aspiring actress from early childhood, Kirschner's performance goes further than just dressing up for the show. Citing Iggy & The Stooges as the primary inspiration for her nasty live show, the Princess has no qualms about jumping off-stage for some close encounters with select audience members. She does draw a line, though, between what she does for show and the Igster's notorious on-stage antics: "I would never cut myself, because that would be ugly."
This sense of unfaltering self-confidence and charisma has spilled over into the business side of Kirschner's career as well. The aptly-titled CEO was released by the Princess, herself on her own A Big Rich Major Label, funded largely by credit cards that have yet to be paid off. "I thought to myself, I can do this better, or as good as, than any of the offers that I have gotten," says Kirschner. "And I thought how neat it would be to do it myself. There are hardly any label owners that are women." A secretary by day for the Women's Venture Fund, Kirschner initially applied for a loan to launch her smirkingly-titled label. "I had to write up a loan proposal and I had to write a business plan, and cash flow statements. I did a basic plan and they were impressed even though I was operating at a huge loss. They thought it was cool that I was doing it myself."
As if playing in a band, running a label and working a day job weren't enough, Kirschner is also booking her own two-month long tour for late winter, covering most of the U.S. and Canada. Yet burning the candle at both ends doesn't seem to bother her, as she laughed and joked throughout this interview, meanwhile keeping the driven musician at close bay. "It's [fame] gonna happen for me," she asserts. "And I know it." Hearing herself, she stops and laughs: "I'm so cocky." A Princess indeed, but we wouldn't have it any other way.