It’s their casual en som, they tell me. The look is faux leather jackets, black jeans and sequined tops. It’s a fashion collaboration, Cayce says.
“I guess Aynor usually comes up with the centerpiece of the en som,” Monetta says, again using unfamiliar language.
En som? Oh, ensemble.
“The en som. That’s French for outfit,” Monetta continues.
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“She’s trying to say en symbol,” Aynor interjects.
It’s a constant back and forth — what some might consider peevish behavior — between sisters Cayce, Monetta and Aynor Twitty. I was interviewing them before a rehearsal of the musical revival “The Twitty Triplets,” which opens tonight at Tapp’s Arts Center. Yes, they are triplets and they each wear their hair long and curly. It’s natural, Monetta tells me. Her hair looks especially voluminous.
“Are you hitting on her?” Cayce asks.
“I don’t ever want us all three to have crimped hair,” Aynor says.
Where’s the need for individuality, especially for sisters who have, for the most part, avoided the spotlight for the 20 years since their big-time debut? Surely they’ve grown in different ways.
“We each have our own individual — ” Monetta begins.
“I think the answer would probably be no,” says Aynor, cutting her off.
“Some of us are more capable performing as a solo act than others,” Monetta says.
“Well, don’t. Get. Started. With. That. Moaaaaneettta,” Aynor responds. “That’s water under the car. It’s done.”
So, they’ve got a few problems — with each other and select substances. And they like to Twit-pick at each other. At least they can agree that Monetta is the most outgoing, which explains why Aynor and Cayce look her way before answering questions.
“We all have personalities,” Cayce says.
“Well, he didn’t say we didn’t have personalities, sugar,” Monetta says. “He said, who’s the most outgoing? And I do go out more than either one of y’all.”
“Yeah, you do, but you usually don’t come home with anything neither, do you?” Aynor responds.
“Well she might come home with something,” Cayce says.
The triplets’ father worked for the South Carolina Highway Department making road signs, and that’s how they came to be named after towns in the state. They’ve been fondly remembered by local audiences for decades, but now, all of a sudden, they’re back. Is this a Cher thing?
“It is not like a Cher tour,” Monetta says. “I mean, how many times can you do a farewell tour? This is a comeback. I don’t think that we would ever impose ourselves on an audience that no longer wished to have us.”
“Our manager, Rembert, came back into town and that helped,” Aynor offers.
“I’m kind of like Col. Parker; I got the girls back together,” says Rembert, who is off to the side snapping photos. He was referring, oddly, to Elvis’ manager.
What have the triplets been doing for the 20 years since earning their initial fame at a City of Columbia Animal Shelter benefit? According to the girls, they did a tour in the Pee Dee and they performed in Hawaii-yah.
“And we went to Maui,” Cayce says.
“That was a virtual trip, sugar,” Monetta says in her best pat-on-the-leg voice.
“Cayce is special,” Aynor says.
There was oxygen deprivation, Monetta begins to explain much to Cayce’s chagrin. Aynor plays the peacemaker. It is an election year, so I tell them I’m voting for transparency.
“If I don’t go ahead and say, what if they was to find out?” Monetta mockingly asks her sisters.
Sure, these girls have spent their lives joined at the Twit, but they have, as Aynor says, iss-ures. They needed time apart, kind of like the Beatles, Monetta says. But the Beatles never got back together. It was Yokel Ono’s fault, according to Aynor. She adds that Ono is not pretty.
They’ve been working at a spork factory — I kept hearing sports factory — since Rembert went to California because they didn’t have anyone to promote them. They’ve been singing in church and at family reunions, and they say they performed at Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor, though I was unable to confirm a date. Oh, they’ve been to Catfish Festival in Ware Shoals, though it’s not clear whether or not they performed.
“Basically, after that burst of fame that put us into the spotlight, it was nice to get away from the publix scrutiny for a while,” Monetta says.
“I had a little problem for awhile,” Aynor begins in a somber tone.
“If there’s a 12-step program, she’s taken it,” Monetta interrupts.
Aynor is addicted to Goody’s Powder. If she can’t get Goody’s, she’ll take BC. She warshed them down with Mountain Dew. And then there was also the concoction of Pixy Stix, Kool-Aid and a controlled substance that Rembert probably doesn’t want me to mention in the paper. Hint: it rhymes with wack.
“I went to the Richard Petty Center and I got myself cleaned up,” Aynor says.
“I can’t believe you’re telling that,” Cayce says.
“It’s part of getting better,” Aynor assures her.
Richard Petty has a center? I’m told it is, ironically, in Powdersville.
“If you’re a celebrity, I’m sure you’ve heard about it for sure. I’m surprised you haven’t heard about it,” Cayce says, lathering me with flattery.
Hollywood Twitty, the cousin and the show’s keyboardist, cracks up. He tells me he’s a distant cousin, but how distant can he be when he’s also named after a town?
There’s already one show sold out. Are the girls nervous?
“Once you’re up there and start doing what you know how to do with every fiber in your being, your nervousness just kind of melts away,” Monetta says almost singing. “We‘re a little nervous, but I think our performance would be flat if we weren’t.”
“I’m telling you, I might have to take one Goody’s Powder before the show,” Aynor admits.
“This is what led to the demise the first time,” Monetta scoffs.