In 1978 Dolly Parton appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine and while she didn’t pose nude she did at least give a very revealing interview. Parton’s conversation with Lawrence Grobel marked one of her earliest with mainstream press but the recording of it has not been heard until now, with a new video by PBS Digital Studios’ animated Blank on Blank series.
The five minute clip mostly focuses on stories of her growing up with 11 siblings in Tennessee, where she tells stories of bathing in a river and being afraid of flush toilets. The interview is a charming glimpse of Parton’s humble beginnings, as well as the country superstar at the height of her stardom at a time when she was hitting the mainstream with a Grammy win and a number of tracks making it onto the pop charts in addition to topping the country rankings.
In it, she recalls sleeping four to a bed with her little brothers and sisters peeing on her at night, washing herself off with water warmed on the stove. She says, “That was the only warm thing we knew in the winter time. That was our most pleasure — to get peed on.”
Parton goes on describing her affinity for tight clothes and makeup even in her youth, painting her lips with Mercurochrome and her eyebrows with a burnt match.
“I wore my skirts so tight I couldn’t hardly wiggle in them. Even as a little bitty kid, even before I had a figure I liked my clothes snug and tight,” she says. “People would always kid me in school about my little butt and my little blue jeans or whatever.”
But her mom was always supportive about this sort of thing. She says, “Mama just always said, ‘you be what you are and you don’t have to worry about nothing'”
Watch it here: