Best known for her contributions to the New York punk and glam scene of the '70s and '80s, Jayne County has always been outspoken. Originally from Dallas, Ga., County (known as Wayne before undergoing the transformation to womanhood) fled Atlanta in the '60s after one too many threats from intolerant locals who didn't approve of her androgynous appearance.
Having moved back to Georgia a few years ago to take care of her ailing parents, County will use her influence for a different cause this weekend as she headlines the (You Could Tell I Was No) DebuTAUNT Ball to benefit PAWS Atlanta. She'll debut an all-new band (her first with all Atlanta musicians) in a rare live performance, and also display some of her recent artwork.
During her heyday, County starred in Andy Warhol's Pork stage production, hung out with the likes of Debbie Harry and Lou Reed, and claims to have inspired everything from David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona to John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Along the way, she stood up for gay rights when she took part in New York's Stonewall riots in 1969. More recently, she's railed against conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush via MySpace and YouTube.
"I'm very political now and I feel we're at a time where we need people like me to get out there and rant and rave," she says in her thick Southern accent. "Some of the kids will listen to what I say and tell me, 'You've opened my eyes. You've opened my brain. I've never heard this.' And I'm happy I'm being such a bad influence because they need to be influenced badly to get out of all this fucking bullshit."
Though animal rescue may seem tame in comparison to the other causes she fights for, County is no less passionate about it. "Dogs and cats find themselves in the hands of the wrong people," she says. "They'll drop animals off somewhere or just move away and leave them. I just want to do something to help the animals."