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Brownstein hopped and yelped and high-kicked like a true punk goddess, and everyone there to see the impressive group, born from the Pacific Northwest’s riot grrrl scene, bounced right along with her. Today, Brownstein’s in a Los Angeles photo studio and she’s not holding a guitar, but rather a gigantic prop toothbrush.
It’s almost as tall as she is, and as Ramona, our photographer, snaps away, the 39-year-old brandishes it like an enormous spear, pretends to brush her teeth, uses it to scrub her armpits, and twirls it around like she’s an oral care majorette. And not just because she’s channeling Lily Tomlin in the 1981 cult flick , though that certainly helps.
that she didn’t want to be defined by her dating life, sexuality, or queerness.
Last season, 3.7 million viewers tuned in to watch characters like the impossibly earnest married couple Peter and Nance; or Toni and Candace—the gals who run the feminist bookstore Women & Women First; or Carrie and Fred, who seem to be a lot like the real-life Brownstein and Armisen, with the added bonus of being super tight with Portland’s mayor (played by Kyle Mac Lachlan). It’s like, now I’ve been doing for almost half the amount of time I did Sleater-Kinney, and Sleater-Kinney, that just seemed like I did that forever,” Brownstein says.
[People] just see me as this person they know from television, and then they listen to Sleater-Kinney and they think, ‘What is this scary music? The photo shoot over, she’s back in her street clothes—black jeans and boots, a distressed T-shirt, and a floral panel hat, the brim of which she tugs up and down as we talk.
During a long hiatus from Sleater-Kinney, she formed the group Wild Flag.
During this period, Brownstein wrote and appeared in a series of comedy sketches with Fred Armisen which were then developed into Emmy and Peabody Award-winning satirical comedy TV series Portlandia.