After Candye Kane recorded a version of the theme song to John Waters's 1974 trash-classic film Female Trouble, she sent the famed director an advance copy, hoping he might enjoy it. He didn't.
"When inquired about where to pay royalties," says an exasperated Kane, "I received instead a cease-and-desist letter notifying me that I was infringing on John Waters's rights and would be sued in ten days if I didn't destroy the masters!"
Though Kane has had no direct contact with Waters, she has sent her albums to his home address (acquired through a musician friend) since 1998. She had to confirm with his attorneys -- who are affiliated with the same law firm that represents Kane -- that the song had been pulled from her upcoming Guitar'd and Feathered album.
During the legal maneuvering, Kane discovered that the song is not solely a Waters composition; his lyrics were set to a preexisting tune -- "Black Velvet Soul," written by original Jefferson Airplane bassist Bob Harvey. Though Harvey endorsed the recording, she opted to scrap "Female Trouble" anyway.
"I didn't want to take the chance," Kane says. "Mr. Waters has way more money than this single mom." With Harvey, Kane has since co-written a song to replace "Female Trouble"; more collaborations are on the horizon.
Kane, a longtime Waters fan, is mystified by his rejection.
"I have always imagined, as have many of my fans, that he would wholeheartedly embrace me and my work. Since I often say I am a black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body, it would seem that I would be a perfect match for John Waters."
In a recent Baltimore Sun article, Waters addressed the issue with the following quote: "She never asked...permission, and you don't get permission by writing new lyrics and changing the whole thing."