Where is ’80s rock star Janet Gardner? Her journey from lead singer to dental hygienist, explained SuperNayr

If you were a rock nerd who lived through enough of the ‘80s to still have the smell of Aqua Net stuck to the back of your sinuses, then you were probably flabbergasted while watching the Paramount Plus documentary series I Wanna Rock: The ’80s Metal Dream. Amid a litany of revelations came the startling news that Janet Gardner, once the lead singer for glam rock’s own Vixen (including Jan Kuehnemund, Share Ross, and Roxy Petrucci) is now a practicing dental hygienist. What’s worse, she’s been at it for years. The news hit hard. It was like seeing the astronaut from the MTV logo driving a minivan. 

So, what caused Gardner, now 61, to trade spandex for scrubs? To hear her tell it to Fox News Digital, the same thing that caused the Great Flannel Drought of 1992: Nirvana. More specifically, it was the relentless onslaught of time’s linear march and grunge’s destruction of glam.

Gardner recalled a particular European tour in the early ‘90s: 

“We were calling home and not getting answers. People were avoiding talking about what was happening back there. And we were just really focused on what we were doing, playing the best shows that we could every night and just enjoying ourselves in Europe. But I started to get a funny feeling. A few people that I talked to at home said, ‘Yeah, MTV’s not playing any of you guys anymore.’… I just got a sinking feeling. And once we got home, that’s when we realized we were a dying breed here.”

Janet Gardner of Vixen
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

As grunge became the all-eclipsing sound of a new generation, glam rock got pushed to the side, relegated, as all trends tend to be, to a future of nostalgia-driven tour dates and where-are-they-now segments on VH1. 

Luckily for Gardner, she had an ace in the hole thanks to the family business. With a grandfather and a couple of uncles already working in dentistry, she had a good idea of what was in store for her if she put in the time. 

“And they all had really good lives. They were able to do their work and have the sort of work/life balance [that] was very good… I needed something that would allow me enough time for my family, for my music, other things in life. That work/life balance really appealed to me. If I had this kind of skill, I could work more when I needed more money, and I could work less when I needed more time for other things.”

Now, Gardner strikes an enviable work/life balance, telling Fox that she devotes three days a week to cleaning teeth and has the other four for whatever – music, family, hobbies. She even released a new album, “No Strings,” in June of 2023 with the help of her guitarist husband, Justin James. Though her current patients are unaware that she moonlights as a rock star, now that the Paramount Plus series is out, her identity won’t remain so secret anymore.

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