Who's That Girl?

Pushy's Madeline Minx wants to be both Madonna and Woody Allen

The latter song's vocodered vocals and skipping metronomic beat sound perfectly Madonna-like, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Minx's obsession with the Material Girl goes back to the '80s, although she says it didn't really kick in until she saw Madonna: Truth or Darein 1991.

"She's a singer, a dancer, a fucking conceptual artist -- she has the pulse of the culture," Minx says. "You are a closed-minded fool if you think she hasn't tapped into something."

Being such a fan, Minx tried to get her music and video into Madonna's well- manicured hands. In early 2000 she spent a day out in front of the artist's Maverick Records offices with press kit in hand. Eventually, a guy from the mail room came out and took a CD, and then a security guard shooed Minx away.

She had far better luck with Courtney Love at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. After attending a screening of Love's film Beat, Minx headed off to the bathroom, where she set up her video camera. In walked Love, who seemed genuinely interested when asking Minx about her band. (At one point, however, Love smirked, "'Poptronica'? That means you don't have a live drummer, right?")

"I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, this is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me,'" Minx says. "I thought she might check out my music or something."

But Love never called, so Minx went back to playing small shows around San Francisco, writing more tunes with Moon and new producer Garth May, and trying to eke out a living. "I literally have zero job skills and no way to pay my bills," she moans.

"She can describe her feelings and talk about stuff forever with big words, but if you ask her to put a tablecloth over a table and put cups on it, she has no idea how to do it," Pushy TVco-host Fidel Garcia-Reichman says.

Minx's occupational bumbling has proved lucrative in another way, however; it's provided her with material for her movie. Some of the best moments in Get Pushy come from Minx's random jobs: stuffing mangled wheat grass down her pants at Feelmore Juice; making goofy phone-sex calls while answering phones at Custer Avenue Stages; and substituting her own marital-status categories like "Are you an overly intellectual Jew who doesn't have the alpha-male vibe that attracts me?" while doing census work. Throughout, Minx shows off a terrific sense of timing and a flare for slapstick, similar to her hero Allen or even Lucille Ball.

Minx and team finished a 30-minute version of Get Pushyin March 2001; so far, it's played the San Francisco DocFest and the Euro Underground Film Festival in Slovenia (no word on how it translated). Minx has been looking for someone to finance an expanded feature, but until then she's keeping her comedic skills sharp with Pushy TV, which airs Tuesdays at 11:30 p.m. on S.F. cable access Channel 29.

The show began 10 weeks ago as a goof on a talk show, with ample time for Minx to belt out Pushy songs. As a host, the singer is like an absent-minded zookeeper who keeps leaving the cages open and then seems surprised when a tiger bites her on the ass. The best bits are the most random: A Japanese comedian fronts a jug band; a guy shows off his wrestling moves by pile-driving the female host; a man argues with Minx's mother about whether he's made a sequel to Blade Runnerin his apartment. Over the last month, the program's gotten even better, as Minx and Garcia-Reichman have moved beyond the static talk-show format. A trip to the Castro Street Fair proved hilarious, as did the placement of a roommate ad that requested someone who "didn't go to Burning Man, isn't a jock, a Yuppie, an art snob, a failed dot-commer, or a boring person." Pushy TV now seems like a platform for its hosts to make fun of S.F.'s sacred cows -- it's The Real World with more attitude and neuroses.

Minx's roommate specifications hint at Pushy's main problem: She doesn't want to embrace any group, but she wants everyone to love her. As it stands, Pushy's music is probably too slick for the underground and too weird for the mainstream. A talent scout once pointed out that lyrics like "I've got an ingrown hair down there" wouldn't play on radio, while Moon's effects-riddled rhythms could be too freaky for clubs and cars. Yet one can't help but feel that Minx needs just one big break, a tiny inroad into popular culture, to be famous. She has a few irons in the fire: Silent Propaganda, a Japanese dance label under Warner Music Japan, will release a remix EP of Pushy's "Suck My Candy" soon; New Langton Arts wants her to do a combination video and live performance piece in January 2003; and a manager she met at SXSW years ago is considering taking her on. And there's always the hope that Woody Allen will look at the press kit Minx slipped him when he played with his jazz group at Yoshi's this year.

"How could he not want my mother in his films?" she asks.

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