Judy Tenuta, the self-described “Petite Flower” and “Love Goddess” with the salty roar and signature line — “It could happen!” — saw her star peak in the ’80s, an era that exalted character comedy. But despite maintaining a lower profile over the years, Tenuta has continued to work, releasing a Grammy-nominated comedy CD and starring in independent films.
Do you still tour a lot?
No, I don’t travel as much now. I mean, you see what goes on in planes. People get sucked right out the window. I’m a petite flower. I’m not waiting in line with a bunch of people who might beat me up for my seat.
Have you been to North Carolina?
Many times. … Last time my flight didn’t arrive and I had to sleep in the airport. Airlines are like politicians: they don’t tell you the truth because they don’t want you to panic. But hello! If the plane’s not coming, you know something’s not right.
Did they put up a “Judy Tenuta Slept Here” plaque?
It could happen. I had a very nice Marine next to me on the plane and he said he was going to make sure nobody bothered me. The Goddess needs protection.
What kind of protection did he offer?
First he got me a cot.
How’d you score a cot?
Are you listening? He’s a Marine. They can survive in the jungle. Of course he came up with a cot. But I couldn’t sleep because he was snoring so loud.
Have you been to Flat Rock or Henderson County?
So how do you know what kind of show to do?
That’s why I’m talking to you! But anyone who would support a place called Artisan of Flat Rock, they have to be a little bit educated, with a very artistic vibe. They better have a statue of me up by the time I get there. I’m also doing a show in Spindale. They said it’s Isosemiolah.
Isothermal. It has to do with the weather.
Oh, I thought it sounded like a condition that needed to be treated. I better not say that or the lovely people who live there in Isosemiolah might not come to the show.
I don’t think they’ll judge you.
You do not judge Judy!
Did you just invent a new character … Judge Judy?
Honey, you don’t get jokes, do you? I think you need Cliff Notes to keep up.
What characters might appear in your show here?
Basically, there are all these people trying to possess me. Who knows who’s going to pop out? So what’s going on in Henderson County?
It’s one of the nation’s biggest apple producers.
Apples as in fruit or as in computers?
Okay, I want my love buckets to know to bring me apple fritters and apple pies. The Goddess loves apple pie. My mother, rest her soul, made the best apple pie.
Judy Tenuta performs at The Artisan of Flat Rock (5 Highland Park Road, East Flat Rock) on Friday, June 22, 8pm. Call 828-676-6718 or see flatrockartisan.com for ticket information. She appears again with Pam Stone on Saturday, June 23, at The Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center in Spindale, for a 7:30pm show followed by a meet-and-greet. See foundationshows.org for ticket information.