Jaded Singer Tina Yothers No Longer Downplays Child Star Past

Despite losing battle of the bands to Howard Stern, tabloid report of sexual indiscretions, ex-'Family Ties' actress says she's embracing who she is.

The roll call of former child TV stars is not one that brings to mind the word "accomplishment" — just look at the post-series careers of Danny Bonaduce, Leif Garrett and the infamous Dana Plato/Todd Bridges/Gary Coleman troika.

But what is it exactly about grownup child stars that provokes this kind of abuse?

"Oh hi, you ugly bitch. You think you're a big rock star? You're so ugly; I would just retire your career right now, because you're a joke. Everyone thinks you're a joke. You have no talent."

That voicemail message to ex-TV star Tina Yothers shows up on the unnamed 12th track of last year's Confessions — the third record from Jaded, a Los Angeles band helmed and fronted by Yothers.

Yothers, who saved the message and put it on the album, said she gets calls like that now and then. But she's baffled as to why she inspires such vitriol. "I mean, I'm not really impressed with a lot of [child stars]," she said, "but I don't understand what brings stuff like that out."

Yothers played Jennifer, the third (some would say "perpetually annoying") child of the Keaton clan on the sitcom "Family Ties," which featured two hippie parents raising three children in the Reagan era. She was with the program for its entire run, from 1982-89, and she endured the rigors of adolescence in front of millions.

But Yothers, who said she was fascinated by Boy George in the mid-'80s, was always interested in music. She said she saw to it that one episode of "Family Ties" featured a band made up of Jennifer and her friends.

Following the show's demise, Yothers dabbled in acting for a few years before forming Jaded, a six-piece rock band somewhat reminiscent of No Doubt, with her brother Cory. The band has gigged around the country, playing clubs as well as charity functions.

"I think if I wasn't who I am, maybe we would have had a major label deal a long time ago," Yothers said. "A lot of bands that are in our position don't have ... the doubt we have to face all the time."

While concentrating on Jaded, Yothers used to downplay her TV career. Not anymore.

"I am Tina Yothers" she said. "I will never be anyone else. I am completely proud of who I am. So why not?

"We're a garage band" she continued. "What are you doing in the garage? You're trying to get to the next level."

But getting to the next level requires surmounting a hurdle or two. In Jaded's case, the hurdles have included a mock battle of the bands on "The Howard Stern Show" and accusations about Yothers spread by the band's former bass player.

The former matter found Jaded competing against a band composed of Stern and his cronies last year. The bout's judges favored Stern's obviously inferior band, but Yothers wasn't terribly concerned.

"It wasn't an actual contest. It was an opportunity to play on 'The Howard Stern Show.' To reach that audience was so worth it," she said, adding that Stern has "always been really, really nice to me." Jaded got a distribution deal out of their appearance, Yothers added, even though they are still label-hunting.

The latter, uglier, matter found the band's ex-bassist, Chandler Smith, telling tales about a sexually voracious and indiscriminate Yothers in the February 13 issue of the National Enquirer. Yothers said Smith was thrown out of the band because his "drama" was dragging the band down. Yothers likened it to someone "jumping off a boat that's cruising to the Bahamas, and he's pissed off."

She said Smith alleged to the Enquirer that Yothers had sex with him and other members of the band. "I asked the [Enquirer] reporter, 'That's including my brother?' " she said. Yothers also said Smith's claim that she drank to excess was completely untrue. Yothers responded to the charges on the February 10 "Entertainment Tonight," a few days after the Enquirer report appeared.

A spokesperson for the National Enquirer said the publication stands by its story; Smith could not be reached.

Jaded will play at the Key Club in Los Angeles on March 17.