She Heats Up - She Cools Down
Up Close and Very Personal With Erin Hamilton

It’s not as if Erin Hamilton hasn’t had time to acclimate to a life of entertaining. Growing up with her mother, actress and comedienne Carol Burnett, and her father, producer, writer and singer Joe Hamilton, she has been surrounded by music from an early age. Erin, however, decided to tailor her own coat tails and forge a path of her own, assured her vocal talent could surpass the benefits of nepotism. In her early twenties, Erin’s desire to travel took her on the road with the Grateful Dead. But it wasn’t too long before she returned home to Los Angeles where she formed her own band “As Is.” Writing both the melody and lyrics for this blues band, Erin took her music on a club tour around LA for two years before moving on to front “Komba Kallo;” one of the first bands to open the House of Blues. Although successful, Erin decided that she could better serve her career aspirations alone. The band members went their separate ways and this one time blues ingenue surged forward with a new style.

An impromptu disco version recording of Gary Wright’s 1975 rock ballad ‘Dream Weaver’ brought Erin’s voice onto the nation’s dance floors and propelled her to the forefront of the club scene. Erin hit the clubs and turned ‘Dream Weaver’ into the anthem of the summer of 1999. Two subsequent dance successes (‘Satisfied’ and ‘The Flame’) and ensuing releases of her debut album “One World” have given Erin a place in pop music history and a faithful and supportive fan base.

Erin has performed at countless benefits, sharing the stage with an impressive list of stars that include Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, Melissa Manchester and Whitney Houston , just to name a few. In a relatively short period of time, Erin has proved that she has the vocal dexterity to cross boundaries, hold her own, and give any audience some of her little woman-big voice magic. She knows what to do to get the job done and she enjoys showing us that she can do it all and do it extremely well. Erin is leaping forward with limitless energy and intoxicating passion. It doesn’t really matter where she decides to go there’s always an audience waiting to listen.

It seems to some that Erin has been MIA for a couple of years and for good reason. In this past year she has lost her girlfriend Tanya to suicide, and her beloved sister, musician, writer and actress Carrie Hamilton to cancer.

Erin Hamilton is an E! True Hollywood Story’s dream. The press has hounded her for the longest time to tell her story, but she has never felt the need or the desire to do so…until now. Erin has found that her sobriety, spiritualism and her incredible support system was definitely something to talk about. She has a fierce new dance single, a cover of the Kiki Dee classic ‘I’ve Got The Music In Me’ and she’s about to invade the club scene once again with her tireless and tremendous talent. There’s a slight difference this time. Erin, the once consummate party girl is now Erin the consummate working girl. If you’ve been lucky enough to witness her talent in the past, baby you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Like her new single states, “Feel funky/ Feel good/ Gonna tell ya I'm in the neighborhood/ Gonna fly like a bird on the wing/ Hold on to your hat honey/ Sing, sing, sing, sing”

And sing she does.

I recently had a chance to sit down for lunch at a noisy, trendy West Hollywood eatery and ask Erin about everything (and I mean everything). What I found beneath an array of tattoos that decorate her arms was a sweet, beautiful and wonderful gifted human being with a passion for her music, her life, and most importantly her son. I always admired her voice, but this time around, I found I admired the woman “behind the music.”

I give you “the new and improved” Miss Erin Hamilton.

Growing up in a show business family-did you find performing a natural profession to pursue?

Yes, actually I found it very normal. I didn’t think there was anything different or special about it. That was what I knew. It wasn’t until I was a little bit older I realized the legacy and the joy and the pure entertainment value my family brought to the country and the world. I admire my mother tremendously. She’s a hard worker who’s incredibly talented and I had quite an opportunity to see all that every Friday at the Carol Burnett Show at CBS. We were there every single Friday for eleven years. The artists that I met, the performers that I met, I wanted to do that. I wanted to be up there on that stage, but I can’t act for shit and I never wanted to. I was much more interested in music so I would sit with Pete Matz in the orchestra pit and this all from when I was one year old until eleven years old. I remember my mom used to hide a tape recorder under my bed and I would sing myself to sleep every single night at the top of my lungs. So she has these tapes of me singing the blues and really fun stuff about my first boyfriend in kindergarten. It’s hilarious (giggling), “oh alot happened today with my boyfriend” and I was like five (laughing). And so, yeah, I knew, I knew I was gonna sing from very early on.

You said you “couldn’t act for shit?”

I did musical theatre and that was fun. I like the stage, I don’t like the camera, I’m terrified of the camera. I mean I can do it and I’ve done it but I don’t enjoy it enough to go out there for the auditions. I enjoy the whole process of making music; I wouldn’t be able to give acting my best because I don’t have the same passion for it as I do singing.

Who were your musical influences as you were growing up?

I’m the youngest of eleven kids. Well, my mother had three and my father was married before and had eight children, so my mother had three girls with my father. I was brought up listening to sixties and seventies music. My first concert was Led Zeppelin when I was five. My first albums were like Ted Nugent or Aerosmith’s ‘Toys In The Attic.’ The Who was a huge influence on me. As far as vocalists I was into Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell and of course Aretha Franklin. My dad was a jazz musician so I was also listening to Ella Fitzgerald and all those kind of vocalists records in my house. Those vocalists were really important to me.

What current artists are you interested in ?

Alot of them have stayed the same (giggling). I have a really wide CD collection. I’ll put on some Mozart and then Miles Davis. I like Anggun; she’s really wonderful. I’m getting into some country stuff now which is really interesting. I’m really into Lucinda Williams right now. It always grows, but my blues roots will never leave me. As far as the genre I’m in right now, I have alot of respect for Kristine W. and Deborah Cox. I think they’re fantastic. I’ve kinda been out of the scene for awhile so I really don’t know who some of the newer artists are right now. I think Jewel is really talented. I had the opportunity to see her live and she just blew my mind, she’s an amazing singer and performer. I really love U2 and Peter Gabriel, David Gray and John Mayer. I mean I’m rock roots, ya know? but the dance artists I also have alot of respect for. Jennifer Holliday is awesome and amazing, CeCe Winans….it just keeps going. The dance thing is different for me because I’m used to working and writing and performing with a group. This whole track thing I have a whole new respect and understanding for what it’s about, so it’s fun for me.

What thought process goes into the songs you choose to record?

It’s kinda interesting because not alot (laughing).

Well then, how did your first hits ‘Dream Weaver’ and ‘The Flame’ come about?

‘Dream Weaver’ was a complete accident. I was living in Santa Barbara with my husband at the time raising my son and teaching Yoga and kind of gave up on my music; I was doing rock and roll then.

Your son?

My son Zachary who just turned five last January keeps me grounded, (huge smile) he’s totally totally beautiful. [Erin pauses with a smile then continues] But when I was living up there [Santa Barbara] with my ex-husband Trae we had a full recording studio and he was producing. I was really into listening to Courtney Love’s band Hole and was into that vibe. Then one day I was in my car and ‘Dream Weaver’ came on the radio and decided it would be great to rock this song with that alternative vibe. So when I got home and told my husband about it and he said, “I don’t really wanna record a cover but I have a friend Scott Anderson [who’s now Erin’s producer] and he might be interested in recording something like that with you.” So Scott and I spoke on the phone and I had no idea he was primarily a dance producer. Scott said, “I’ll put something together” and eventually he plays me this track over the phone and I said “what the hell is this?” (Laughing) It was all synthesizers and programmed drums and I said “this is so like disco!” (Still laughing). Scott said “let’s just do this for fun. So we recorded it in my basement really as a joke, I was laughing the whole time. I had no idea there was still a community out there still going to dance clubs at all because I wasn’t in that world. When I was singing it, I really didn’t think anything was gonna come out of it and I didn’t care. I just did it because I wanted to do it. He recorded it and took it to House of Blues when they have the dance night once a month. It was there that DJ extroidinaire Manny Lehman was spinning and Scott took the track to him. Brett Henrichsen from Trax Recording was in the audience and went up to Scott and asked, “who is this?” Scott replied “it’s a track I produced with my friend Erin Hamilton doing vocals.” The next thing I know I got a call and they want to release it as a single and I was like okay, I figure I’ll make a couple of bucks. Shortly after that I’m hearing from somebody named Jeffrey Sanker and I had no idea who he was. He’s one of the biggest dance promoters and has become one of my most wonderful friend’s and has really been there for me. One day, I heard from one of his staff members and they were telling me (in an excited voice) “your song is at the top of the charts” and I said what charts? (laughing). I had no idea. He asked me to do this party in Palm Springs called ‘The White Party’ and asked me to come down and sing it at something called “The Tea Dance” and I was like okay. Ironically, it was a very intense weekend for me, I packed up and took my kid and headed to Palm Springs.

Why was it an “ironically intense weekend” for you?

I left my husband that weekend. I had no idea what I was driving to and I get there and I’m inside this Wyndham Hotel and there’s people doing hair and make-up and clothes and this and that and I get to the show and there’s 5.000 boys with their shirts off knowing my song and I remember thinking to myself,“I could get used to this!” (Laughing) I loved it, it was great and I was sold. Then Brett and Trax suggested we put out another single, which was very different from the usual standard record industry standard. Usually the album comes first and then the singles follow after that. They said “we’ll put out an album and then we’ll put out another single.” So we did this backwards. We put out ‘Satisfied’ and then Ralphi Rosario and DJ Abel Aguilera from Miami approached me about doing ‘The Flame.’ I was like look, I’m a writer and I’m an artist and I really want to do my own stuff and they were telling me they really think that this would be good for me. And I really didn’t want to do another cover, I said “please please” I know that old Cheap Trick song and I said, “it’s not that I don’t enjoy their music, but another cover?” They said, look, well do it for free, and if you don’t like it, don’t do it, if you like it, we’ll do it. I liked it, we did it and there you go.

Did any of the pain you have endured over the years have any relevance to the music you chose?

Yeah, but the album didn’t have a lot of my writing in it. Scott Anderson and Tommy Walker wrote pretty much everything. I co-wrote the lyrics to ‘Sweet Angel’ with Marco Scapillato and that was personal for me because it was about my son and I felt great about that. ‘One World’ is a beautiful song that Tommy wrote that I felt very connected to. But after that I did not want to put out another cover, it was not something I wanted to do again. After that project, Scott and I were working on an original song and the music was coming together and a friend suggested to him ‘I’ve Got The Music In Me’ is a great song, I would love for Erin to do that. Before Scott told me what it was he called me and said “I want you to do this cover” and I didn’t even call him back because I was pissed. It’s now a time where I haven’t had a record in over two years and I was thinking do I really want to come out with another cover? This is gonna be bullshit, people are gonna say oh she’s a cover queen. Then he told me what the song was and I remember that song so well and it has such blues roots to it and the lyrics were exactly what I wanted to say after not putting out a record in two years. It says “I know I’ll always get by” I’m not gonna let anything get me down because I’m here, I’m about music and my life is gonna go on because I’m that kind of person. My life is gonna go on because I’m a strong person. The verse of the song starts “Ain’t got no trouble in my life.” I do have trouble in my life but I don’t let it keep me stuck in a place where I don’t want to be. So, it was the perfect kind of song to sum up where I’m at right now. I totally agreed to it and I’m really excited about it. To me, the song, it’s the best thing I’ve put out.

Do you make the business decisions that involve your career?

Now I do.

Is it fair to say you’ve changed your attitude about dance music?

I honestly did not know this type of music was still so popular before I did it. I said in a previous interview, but it’s so true, the last dance song I thought was played was ‘We Are Family.’ That was like the last disco song I heard so I was shocked after going around to the clubs and seeing alot of the faces that started to become familiar that it was like a big family. I mean I followed The Grateful Dead around for six years and even though the music is very different, the feeling is very much the same. There’s alot of love and a lot of energy and people just want to go and have a good time and when the people hear about a party across the world and across the country, they go, and they go together, and that’s what I did. It’s really a fun way to express yourself and create a happy environment.

Did having Carol Burnett as a mom and Joe Hamilton as a dad provide an easier path into “getting your foot in the door?”

Absolutely not, no. First of all when ‘Dream Weaver’ came out, nobody knew. I hadn’t even given an interview. If anything, it made it harder. There wasn’t any nepotism. If my mother was Patti LaBelle she could’ve helped me out. My mother could help me get a commercial audition or things like that which I wasn’t interested and I also didn’t ask because I didn’t want to ride on her coat tails, I’m not into that whole thing at all. It actually harmed me more than it helped me. When I was performing with bands I was pretty big on the club circuit here, but once they found out who my mother was it was like “we don’t want her, what is she gonna do, make us laugh or sing Broadway?” They didn’t even want to give me a chance. In the gay community, I think it’s pretty embraced who my mother is and for good reason and it’s great. Maybe it’s been helpful but I don’t think it’s gotten me to where I am. I had to prove myself first. If they didn’t like my music from day one it wouldn’t have happened. So without even listening to my music, more doors were slammed than opened.

Speaking of your mother, how does she feel about your talent?

It’s changed over the years, but she’s always been incredibly supportive. She knew I was born to sing and she wants me to fulfill my dreams. She came to a couple of shows. She came to the Democratic convention I did at the House of Blues when I sang ‘The Flame’ and she came to Splash at the Bel Air Mansion for the debut of ‘Satisfied.’ She came to that one watching the show from the balcony with my son. That was the first Globe [tabloid] story. It was a picture of her and the headline read “Carol Burnett’s lesbian daughter.” Anyway, she thought the performance was great because she saw everyone around me at the pool the whole day and saw thousands of boys go to the stage, and you know you can’t get those boys out of the pool for anything! She thought it was really inspiring and lovely. She said that she was “really glad that I had that kind of love.” It was nice. She doesn’t like the fact that I have to travel and perform at two and three in the morning, but she gets it. Now it’s a little scary for her because she knows what road I went down with it, and I’m a little scared too to go back, but I feel different than before. I feel good.

You mentioned the tabloids. The way they’ve exploited your family as they have for many years, how do you deal with that - or don’t you?

My mom was the first celebrity to ever sue a tabloid and win and she feels very strongly about these “magazines.” Unfortunately when the death of my girlfriend occurred, the tabloids caught me at a time when I was loaded. I don’t know how they got my cell phone number. They called me about eight in the morning and I just talked to them for hours like an idiot. I was hysterically crying and I had no clue to what I was doing. I made that mistake and they didn’t even pay me for it (laughing). Then my mother calls me and says “how could you take money from them?” and I was like I didn’t take money from them, and then I thought, I should’ve taken money from them! It was such a mistake because now in the past two months they’ve been hounding me because they think they got me once they can do it again. Then they were doing this article and they wanted to get an exclusive with me of how much my sister meant to me, and every fucking day for like three weeks they kept calling, but I never called them back. They were coming to my house leaving me flowers. It started at a certain amount of money and it kept going up and then giving me print approval and even to the point where they said I could write the article and have more money. Here they are offering me all this money and I had eighty cents in my pocket today to get gas to come to see you! (laughing). It was blood money and it was disgusting. I said please leave me alone, this is a really difficult time, and even though I’d like to set the record straight with you people, I’m not gonna even give you the opportunity to have that for your headline: “Exclusive with Erin Hamilton on Carol Burnett’s family.” It’s bullshit, so it’s been difficult and I’m still paying for the fact that I talked to them in the first place. Then they showed up at my boyfriend’s house a couple of days ago when he got home from work. I don’t know how they knew where he lived. Have they been following me? I mean it’s really uncool and I just want them TO LEAVE ME ALONE! [Erin picked up my recorder and was yelling into it] I’m scared, I’m always looking over my shoulder and it’s not cool. I understand it’s their job they’re probably THE LOWEST SCUM OF THE EARTH [yelling] because who on the planet would have a job to where they would cold call and go to someone’s house not knowing if they’re home, not knowing if they’re gonna have the door slammed in their face? What kind of job is that? It’s ridiculous. But I got to hand it to them for their persistence!

Your sister Carrie was also a very talented performer. I happened to see her in the Boston production of Rent a few years ago. What was your relationship with her? (Carrie died of cancer in January 2002)

You saw her in Boston? Fabulous, I saw her in Boston too. I was with my little boy.
She was very very talented. My relationship with her was awesome. She was an amazing woman and she’s with me all the time. When we were younger she went through her thing and she went to rehab when she was fifteen and I was ten. I remember finding her loaded in her bathroom and having to tell my mom and I had to carry that guilt. She wasn’t really in my life during my teenage years because she was away doing her own thing. We kept in touch. We wrote, we talked on the phone. When we both lived back here [Los Angeles] and we were both performing there was a little sibling rivalry but we always had respect for each other and deep love for each other and we even wrote together musically. She was a huge inspiration. In the past year especially she was tremendously supportive of me.

Did you look up to her as a performer?

Yes. She’s the first person I saw sit down at the piano and write something that was so amazing that made me want to do it. It made me want to be a writer, not just a performer.

I understand there was a very special moment you shared with Carrie toward the end when you sang to her, would you care to elaborate?

Yeah, it was beautiful. A magazine actually wrote something that was inaccurate. It was inaccurate, but it was still lovely. I had a really hard time visiting her in the hospital; it was hard for me to see her the way that she was. Because if you had ever met her in person, she was the brightest and the most outgoing and was still like that to the very last day. She obviously had a very different physical appearance and I found myself being very careful almost to the point where I didn’t want to touch her because I thought she was gonna break and that was so stupid because she was family I love her. The last day I remember I went to the hospital about four in the afternoon she wasn’t very conscious but I know she could hear me and I lost it, I couldn’t stay, I had to leave. I went home about one in the morning thinking I’d be able to sleep but of course I couldn’t so I packed up a blanket and pillows and went back to the hospital about four. My incredibly amazing strong beautiful wonderful sister Jody was there with her boyfriend Loni, Carrie’s fiancé Danny, Carrie’s best friend Pat Briggs, my niece Rachel, and another sister of mine Dana. Everyone was asleep and I walked in. Jody was actually sitting with Carrie at the time and Jody said “oh okay you’re here, I’m gonna go lay down.” I crawled in the bed with Carrie and I felt really calm, I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew I had to be there. I started telling her stories about Zach and telling her that our family would be okay and the sun started to come up and I started singing this Lucinda Williams song, and the chorus appropriately goes You sure changed the name of this town (singing) and it was totally her. She changed the name of this fucking town and she changed my life, and I swear to god at that time there were all these amazing colors in the sky that were out and it was beautiful and it felt to me as if all these people were welcoming her. It was very odd. And here I’m sober as hell and I’m like whoa and I’m telling her about it and saying I know you can see this and they’re waiting for you and as soon as I finished the song she took her last breath. I saw this beautiful gold and purple sky outside and I felt her body go and I knew. I then removed her oxygen mask. I just held her and watched her float around the room and go out to these people. It was like this huge party! It was awesome, it was so comforting and I was so selfish because I waited like fifteen minutes to wake everybody else up. It was my moment and a gift she gave me that was very important for me to have and I will never forget it and I feel very grateful. We called my mom and she came down. I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to handle it because I had already lost two brothers and my father as well and my girlfriend last year, but it was okay and I knew my sister would be okay too.

What are you doing to cope in your own way with your sister’s memory?

It’s a beautiful memory. She visits me in my dreams almost every night and I really feel like she’s guiding me as well. A small part of me feels like she gave me those last moments because I wasn’t there for Tanya’s last moments. She knew that, she knew how hard that was for me and it meant something for me to be there. And also to let me know hey, I’m gonna be watching you so you better keep your shit straight!

Okay, shifting gears. Do you recall the first gay person you met - if so, what was your impression?

I just remember always knowing alot of gay people from my mother’s show. Alot of the celebrities, a lot of the people who worked on the show. I remember watching drag queens performing as my mother (laughing). I never had any prejudices; it was the way it was.

In your mind, how would you define your sexuality?

It’s interesting, I mean, I’ve always had boyfriends. I enjoy being with women but it has got to be the right person. I’ve had very few relationships with women because it’s always because of circumstance. I don’t go out searching for women. It’s not my first choice. If I happen to meet a wonderful individual who is a woman and we’re attracted to each other that’s okay with me. It’s really a spiritual thing for me.

You were in a relationship with a woman named Tanya Sanchez - was that your first relationship with a woman?

No. I had sexual feelings for women, but I didn’t go there in college. It was more of a curiosity thing. I met a wonderful girl in Miami and that was the first “experience” that I had but it was too intense and I really couldn’t deal. There have only been three women in my life and the first two were wonderful people but nothing I wanted to pursue as a relationship. When I met Tanya, it seemed like we’d known each other forever. It was a beautiful connection that I thought would be a wonderful experience, and it was.

How did you and Tanya meet?

We met at the Abbey around Thanksgiving 2000. [The Abbey is a trendy West Hollywood bar and eatery]. I went to meet my friend Roland and his boyfriend Brian there for drinks one night and Tanya and Linda were sitting in a cabana. At the time, I had no idea that Roland and Tanya were cousins. Tanya and Linda were the most gorgeous couple I’d ever seen. I thought wow those girls are gorgeous, it was weird. I didn’t know that they were together. I didn’t know who they were. I didn’t know that Tanya was this guy’s cousin. Then we started hanging out partying and it took a while and then I realized that this girl was really neat, but she’s in a serious relationship and I’m not gonna even go there. I was left for another woman so there was alot of baggage I didn’t want to bring into her life. It was a hard choice for us both to make, but we couldn’t help it. It was very difficult because I like Linda and I did not want to do that. She [Tanya] wanted to do it, and I said we’re not gonna make any serious decisions until you talk with your girlfriend because I’m not gonna be that person. She was serious enough to do it so we made a commitment. She was an amazing beautiful funny all-as-hell smart wonderful wonderful woman.

How accepting were your friends and family of Tanya?

Well, all my friends loved it, loved her. One of the people who have been the most incredibly supportive and amazing has been her best friend Richard Ogner. He was the person who found her and it was obviously a very stressful and intense scene, but throughout all of this he and I have become extremely close and he’s just been a pillar for me and I hope I have for him as well. My ex-husband Trae thought she was great. My son adored her, she adored my son. I told my two sisters [Carrie and Jody] about her and we were just getting ready to introduce her to my mom, I wanted her to meet my mom. I think my mom would have been fine had this not happened first. My mom and I were going through some weird stuff at that time and Tanya was really careful not to make the relationship worse so we kept putting it off and putting it off. Tanya was very protective of me and she wanted it to be the right time and it never was. She never met her. My mom never even knew about her and unfortunately she found out the hard way and was not very accepting at the time.

Did your mom freak?

Well, she freaked out because of the circumstances and she cared very much about her grandson and me and not knowing Tanya didn’t help, so her assumptions went awry as to what kind of a person she was and it was unfair. So she’s still struggling with that. I’m not going to talk to her about it unless she really wants to. I know what our relationship meant to me and that’s what’s important. Unfortunately my mother didn’t get the opportunity to meet an incredible person. And when you hear about suicide, most people look at that as cowardly and awful and people have asked “what if you and your son had found her.” She knew that we weren’t going to find her because I wasn’t coming home. She never would have done that to me and my son ever. So, my mom’s gonna have a hard time dealing with this. She’ll have to work this out in her own therapy, (laughing) I’m working it out in my own therapy! You know what though, when it comes down to it, my mom and I will always be there for each other and it’s just a matter of the timing working out and when she’s ready for us we’ll be there. We love her tremendously and we [Zach and I] want to be a part of her and her husband’s life and I think they want us there too. The timing has just been really weird. My divorce was hard for her, and on top of that being with another woman. It would be hard for any mother to understand. We’re on such a different level but we respect each other and we know we can talk to each other.

Would you say that substance abuse attributed to Tanya’s death?

I’d have to say it contributed, but it wasn’t the cause. She wasn’t messed up when she died; she had two beers in her system. We partied, but we were not as crazy as people made it out to seem. We were like the weekend partiers. We might have done hit of e on a given Saturday. We weren’t these cocaine freaks who partied all the time, that wasn’t what our relationship was all about. We enjoyed our family life, we were home with my kid. We had a normal life. There were some chemicals used. She had a lot going on in her life from a very early age. If it wasn’t that day, that week, that year, it would have been some time, because that was what she seemed destined for.

Was her death a catalyst into you finding your own sobriety?

Absolutely. Even though I liked to party, I never partied in my house, maybe once in a while. I’m very protective of my kid. I’d mostly do it at circuit parties or I’d be out of the state. It was definitely more recreational. So when Tanya died I lost my mind completely and left and hid in a hotel for a couple of weeks and did as many pills and drinks and drugs that I could possibly do not even realizing I was creating my own suicide. It was more like, I’m pissed, I’m sad and that was the only way I knew how to deal with it. Thank God it was only for a couple of weeks and my family came and got me. I was SO ready to go, when they showed up, I said “Thank God, what a relief!”

How long have you been sober?

Well, it began May 28 when I entered rehab in Taos, New Mexico and I had a drink on the 4th of July and a couple of slips since, then I said, what the fuck was that? I thought that’s stupid and I felt incredibly strong after that. I have an incredible sponsor who I talk to in Taos, New Mexico. I have an incredible sponsor here in LA I did the 90 meetings in 90 days, then I did two meetings a day. I find myself with the desire here and there but I know it won’t make a difference, or I should say it makes a bad difference. That day I had that drink I didn’t even get drunk (laughing). I’m not gonna ruin my sobriety over a fricken drink. If I go out, I’m gonna go out, but I feel pretty comfortable. My sponsor may disagree, but I don’t look at this as a life long thing. I can’t do things like that. I can’t put my head so far ahead in time. I don’t say anything is forever these days, I just don’t. But, I do believe in myself now more than I ever have. I made a commitment to myself to where I never want to get to that spot in my life again. So, if I want to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, I’m going to, if I want to party here and there, I’m going to. But if I notice it’s freaking me out, I’m outta there! I’m a very different person now. So, I respect the program [AA] highly and I’m very grateful to it.

Have you been in any relationships since Tanya’s death?

I wasn’t ready for a long time. I completely isolated. I’ve lost alot of friends through my sobriety. I never went out. I haven’t gone out myself since June. So how was I to have a date? Nor did I want one. I still don’t know if I’m ready, but I met a wonderful man and I enjoy his company. We’re just taking it very easy and it’s progressing beautifully and honestly and I’m very happy.

Did you feel any guilt or responsibility at the time of Tanya’s death?

Absolutely. I was very confused. I didn’t start dealing with the guilt and responsibility until I was sober. Everything was so overwhelming at that point I didn’t know what I was feeling. I certainly wasn’t angry. I don’t know what I felt at the beginning but I’m still dealing with a little bit of guilt. If she was so happy and in love, why? She was home alone that day, and I keep thinking, what if I didn’t drive away? I also had to take care of myself that day. I had to pick my son up from a play-date and there was a very irrational woman in my house that I wasn’t going to bring my kid home to on that particular day. She had never been like that before. At the same time, I feel like I should have seen her desperation but I had to take care of myself. Like I said, if it hadn’t been that day, it would have been another week, another day, another year. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time she had tried something like that and I didn’t know that until after. It’s very hard not to feel responsible and guilty because of the circumstances that led up to it. But honestly, I think it was an accident because I don’t think she wanted to leave this earth. She was very happy but she never felt that she was loved enough or that she couldn’t prove her love enough to anyone and that was her only way of acting out to show a point. She called her friend Richard to come and get her and I don’t think she meant to die that day. I think she meant to make a statement so I would come running back and it’s very sad. I feel bad for her family, and most of them still accept me in their lives. The one’s who don’t accept me I feel it’s because they need someone to blame and I understand that well, because I would probably do the same thing. My heart goes out to Linda. Linda loved her with all of her heart and Tanya loved Linda with all of her heart. It just wasn’t their time. I wish Linda and I could sit down and talk because she’s a lovely woman. I know Tanya wouldn’t want all this going on but my hope is some day we’ll be able to grow to different level. I just don’t want people walking around with this horrible feeling because I’ve been there and it’s not healthy.

Do you see your future with a man or with a woman?

I don’t even see tonight. (giggle). I would love to have more children. I don’t know who I see myself with except a beautiful wonderful spiritual happy crazy artist, (giggling) whatever that is. Just a creative fun person that’s honest, down to earth and knows what they want in life. Because to put up with my baggage and my bullshit, (laughing) that would be a strong person to find.

Was there something that drove you to the point where it was important to “come out” and tell your story?

No, because I thought it was pretty wonderful when the tabloids said “Carol Burnett’s Lesbian Daughter” I thought wow, free press, this is great. Then of course I was expecting all these hot women to come up to me and ask me out on dates and it never happened! I really thought it was fun. I’m sure my mom didn’t think it was fun. Then actually, I was thinking oh that ex-boyfriend would be saying, “oh that’s what happened to her!” Whatever, it really doesn’t bother me, I’m a sexual human being and I love people…whatever. It’s all good for me. I don’t mind what people think. I am what I am. I love the people I love.

Your new single “I’ve Got The Music In Me” is really fierce and it’s such a positive song - Did you choose it for the message or the melody?

Both. Kiki Dee? C’mon, that woman can sing! And it has more of a blues feeling than any other cover I had done. The message is perfect. I just wanna come out and kick some ass and have a real attitude, and that was the song that did it. I could have written one, but it wouldn’t have happened as quickly and it wouldn’t have been as magical. All of the music I’ve done in the dance genre has really happened magically and I’m very proud of it. The song is on Jungle Red, which is a fairly new label, and my good friend Kevin Hees and Rafael M run it.

Does performing once again at pride events and clubs still excite you?

It does. It’s different now, I go and I leave (laughs). It was so much fun when I had my website running which will probably up again within the next couple of weeks which is I love it because I would get hundreds and hundreds of e-mails. They would be from these guys who would say “I just think you’re one of the best divas because you sing and then you come on the dance floor and party with us until six in the morning,” and I thought that was GREAT! It was like they’d say you’re so personable, and then when I got sober I was thinking that was a good thing but it’s not such a good thing. It’s not a good thing for them to think that I’m that accessible and I mean I like being accessible and meeting people and if there’s someone out there who wants to meet me after the show at my dressing room I’m all for it. I mean, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. So I want to meet everybody and I want to dance with everybody, but now I just don’t want to party with everybody. I don’t want to go with people I don’t know to their houses in a strange town and end up at there at ten in the morning…(laughing) well, that’s just not funny anymore. So it’s a very different thing for me now, I love the circuit parties, the energy is great but it’s going to be more about work.

What is the difference between playing for the boy's vs. playing for the girl's?

I did the girl bars when ‘Dream Weaver’ first came out and nobody knew who I was so it was mostly people drinking and just hanging out and then I got really upset ‘cause I wanted to get picked up on! (laughing) This is my first girl bar and I want to see who’s out there and no one paid any fricken attention to me.

Do you think you intimidated them?

No, I was more intimidated and I was thinking why don’t they like me? It was actually kind of humorous. Then the only other girl party I’ve done was Dinah Shore Weekend that was fun but it’s a different crowd. Different drugs. Different scene. The girls are up at six in the morning walking their dogs and they’re ready to party at 10AM with their beers and it’s really fun and sweet and wonderful and they give you alot of attention, but I just get on better with the boys. It’s like, GIRL LET ME HAVE YOUR SHOES; the boys are more playful. I like the boys, I’m about the boys. I don’t want to insult the girls, the ladies have been tremendous for me, they’re both really wonderful. It’s just a different vibe and I can kid around with the boys a little bit more. I just relate better and the concerts themselves are different. It’s a different energy. The boys are right up there in your face and singing the songs with you, and they want you to do so well. In a way it’s a bit different with the girls, I don’t know if the girls are as into the music as the boys. I don’t know, it’s a vibe I get. Maybe it’s a totally wrong perception and I don’t want to offend anybody because some girl can tell me that I’m full of shit and that’s okay. It’s just when I’m on the stage, I just feel like the boys give me their complete attention and they just wanna have a blast. I think the boys really enjoy their music. I go to people’s houses and I see what they have in their CD collections and they know who those remixers are. They just know what they’re in for.

Are you excited about performing in your hometown of LA? It’s as if you’ve returned, you’re back!

I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m like the has-been that never was! (Both of us are now hysterically laughing!)

Maybe I should rephrase, I didn’t mean for this to sound like a comeback story.

You’re very sweet, but I feel like it is. I’m coming back to my life, so that’s an okay way to put it. My ego got so blown; I made it a point to show up at the Abbey and at the Factory. It was like whoa, I’m in the house! (licking her lips).

Were you just doing a Cher impersonation?

(Now doing a Cher impersonation) Whoa, I’m here….(vibrato and all!) Seriously though, of course you want your ego stroked and all of that but I was doing it for all the wrong reasons and because of my abuse and partying, I started not to sound so good, and I wasn’t feeling good about my performances either. So it is a comeback. I feel my voice is better than ever. My attitude about performing is better. I can actually walk across a stage without feeling winded; it’s a comeback. I’m a little intimidated performing in my hometown because I honestly feel like the boys are sick of me here, like “oh there’s Erin again, we’re seeing her again.”

Well, I’m one of the boys and I’m not sick of you. I’m very excited for you and it’s such a great song!

Thank you, it is a great song. Okay, I’m back! One last thing, Tanya loved to hear me sing. She made me sing everyday and I want to honor that for her. My sister Carrie was my biggest fan and I want to honor that for her and if I screw up doing what I love to do and not honoring my own soul, then what am I doing here? So, this time around it’s gonna be a different situation.

Special thanks to Stephen Ford (of who organizes Erin Hamilton’s business affairs and personal appearances.

© 2012 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.