Who could possibly hurt worse than a country singer whose man done her wrong? How about three country singers, all claiming they were done wrong by the same man at the same time. The lonesome threesome is Ethel and the Shameless Hussies, currently blazing their way across the Sunbelt and the Bible Belt with a hip, hyper mix of country, pop, honky-tonk and swing, all laced with bawdy good humor. A onetime opening act for the likes of Merle Haggard and Ronnie Milsap, the Hussies have released a debut single, “One Night Stan,” which is already climbing the country charts, and they have signed a six-year, six-album contract with MCA/Nashville. Says Waylon Jennings, a devotee who makes a rare cameo appearance on their first album, due out this summer: “They’re just raunchy enough to be right.”
The fictional gimmick of the Hussies’ act is that all three were married—simultaneously—to one “Richard,” a traveling computer salesman, and, learning the truth, joined forces to track their man down. Richard isn’t the only man on their minds, though: The Hussies specialize in randy-sounding songs such as “Parkin’ Lot Lover” and “I Don’t Make My Honey (Where I Make My Money),” their dress is floozy-chic, and their appeal is an old-fashioned blend of naughty and nice. “Maybe it’s just because we dare to say ‘hussy’ out loud that gets everybody excited and calling out, ‘Yeah, yeah!’ ” says “Ethel,” who in real life is Kacey Jones, 30, from Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Hussies were born in 1986, when Kacey first asked her cohorts to perform with her in a club in Huntsville, Ala. The club owner asked the three of them back the next weekend and, needing a name, they borrowed a line from Ray Stevens’ hit “The Streak,” in which a woman eyes a naked runner and her husband cries, “Ethel, you shameless hussy!”
“We’re not X-rated or even R-rated, but our songs are slightly sensuous,” says Kacey, who writes much of the group’s material and two years ago co-authored a Mickey Gilley hit, “I’m the One Mama Warned You About.” Of the three singers, only Jones has been married—she still is, to the group’s manager, Eddie Rhines—and bigamy has never entered the picture. Ethel’s sidekick “Blanche” is Valerie Hunt, 27, from Salt Lake City, and “Bunny” is Becki Fogle, 29, formerly of Albuquerque. None of the three is to the manner born, yet if tack is what’s wanted, they are happy to be first with the most. Says Bunny/Becky: “I can’t wait till our first album goes gold so I can have it bronzed.”