Nita Strauss says she was told to “show more skin” and “appear available” early in her career

Nita Strauss
(Image credit: Theo Wargo / Getty)

Nita Strauss recently revealed some of the “bad advice” she received when starting out her career in the early 2000s.

The electric guitar player – who has spent the last decade performing at the highest level with the likes of Alice Cooper and more recently Demi Lovato – discussed her early experiences on Knotfest’s She’s With The Band podcast. 

“Early in my career, I got a lot of really bad advice,” she tells hosts Alicia Atout and Tori Kravitz. “I was a young guitar player… I did my first national tour at 15 and dropped out of high school at 17 to try to do this full-time. 

“At the time, I had so many people telling me what I needed to do in order to be successful in this industry. People saying: ‘You need to show more skin.’ ‘If you have a boyfriend, you can’t say that you’re dating anybody because you need to appear available’, all this kind of stuff.”

Strauss reflects that none of the advice was helpful for someone who wanted to be known as a musician first and foremost. 

“I wanted to be known as a guitar player and that was it,” says Strauss. “I started really dressing down. I dyed my hair darker… to stand out less. I’d wear a men’s large t-shirt onstage and baggy cargo shorts and started touring with heavier bands. 

“I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the hot chick. I just wanted to be the guitar player.’ But that’s not who I am either, you know? I kept getting pulled back and forth through this dichotomy of ‘No, you have to be the sex symbol.’ And it’s like, ‘No, you want to be a serious musician.’ But the reality is [that] where I am doesn’t fit into either of those molds.”

Fortunately, the guitarist says she has reached a place of more nuanced acceptance now – that she has, ultimately, learned to be herself. 

“[So] yeah, if I have a boyfriend I'm gonna tell the world about because I love him and I don't need to appear single. I don't need to have fans think they have a chance with me in order to be respected and have people come to my shows.

“Once I just started embracing who I actually am as a person, that’s when great opportunities and great successes started coming to me… So I just wish that I could go back and tell my younger self to stop trying to fit into what other people tell you you should be, and just be who you are.”

Elsewhere in the discussion, Strauss talks about more positive early role models such as Jennifer Batten and the constructive nature of her relationships with other women in guitar music. 

“In the female guitar player orbit, we’ve all got the same goal and the same purpose,” says Strauss. “Which is creating more women like us – inspiring more women to pick up the guitar and play.”

Strauss had a phenomenally busy 2022, performing with Alice Cooper until her sudden July departure from his band, for a new role with Demi Lovato, while also releasing a pair of new solo singles

Her next (as yet untitled) solo album is in the works and we expect 2023 will be the year it finally sees the light of day, but if she keeps getting killer gigs, who knows…

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Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.