Young Lead Loves and Lives Hair
But husky-voiced Renton singer is not on any "ego-trip"
by Diana Montgomery
Seattle  - April 17, 1970

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At 19, Janis Gotto's hit Seattle big-time with a lead part in the rock musical Hair - and without a single acting credential behind her.

The musical, which opens in Seattle tomorrow, is a sure hit that's spread to cities all across the country since its success in New york.

But the thought of exposure - with 50 seconds of it in the nude - every performance hasn't gone to Janis' head.

"I'm not on an ego trip" she said in a husky voice that comes on deep and strong when she sings.  "That's not where it's at."

Janis, a Renton girl who dropped out of school a few years ago because "it was a drag" was chosen along with 31 others for the cast from a field of four or five hundred starry-eyed hopefuls.  Then unemployed, she heard a recruiting ad an a radio station and four tryouts later she got the part.

The 32 in hair's freeloving tribe range between 17 and 29 years old and "There's not a straight type in the cast" of local recruits.

Because the musical relies on interaction and spontaneity among its cast, the troupe went through sensitivity sessions before rehearsals began four weeks ago.

"The sensitivity sessions were really groovy" Janis said.  "We'd stand in a circle holding hands and hum, 'ohmmm', and would try to tell others how we felt about them with that hum.  Sometimes we'd get in a huddle.

"There was no talking.  But we didn't have to work at getting to know each other.  After an hour of sensitivity sessions, you already were there.  And we hugged each other and really became one in the tribe."

As of wednesday, there'd been no "dress" rehearsals for the nude scene but Janis isn't bugged by the thought of it.

"We haven't had the right lights and we need colored lights.  The nude scene shows freedom, that you are just letting it all hang out.  But not under bright spotlights."

One of Janis' featured solos is "Easy To Be Hard" and it's her favorite.  "I really can get into it." she said.

"It's as if i'm putting in all the really hard, cold people I've known in my life."

And Hair, with its message that love, tolerance and understanding is with-it and where it's at, is home to Janis.

"I live Hair 24 hours a day."

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