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China Wing Kantner (born January 25, 1971, San Francisco, California, USA), is an American actress and former MTV VJ.


China is the daughter of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship bandmembers, singer Grace Slick and guitarist Paul Kantner. She is a native of San Francisco, living first in the city itself, and later in Marin County, just north of the city, and is an alumna of Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California and Redwood High School, Larkspur, California. She has an older half-brother, Gareth Alexander Kantner, who works in the film industry,[1] and a younger half-brother, Alexander Kantner, who occasionally appears on-stage with Jefferson Starship playing bass guitar.

One of the best-known stories about China is the claim that her first name was originally "god" (with a small "g"), and was only later changed to "China". However, this is nothing more than a persistent urban legend, and there is no evidence at all that her name has ever been anything other than China Wing Kantner (Wing is Slick's maiden name). The story is told by Jeff Tamarkin in his 2003 book on the history of Jefferson Airplane, Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight Of Jefferson Airplane (Tamarkin, 2003, p235).

China Wing Kantner poked her head into this world on January 25, 1971. Despite decades of persistent rumors to the contrary, the seven-pound baby's name at birth was not god. Or was it?

The story that Grace likes to tell is this: She was lying in her bed at French Hospital in San Francisco that first day, cuddling her newborn. Paul had left during her labor and was nowhere to be found. A nurse walked into Grace's room, asking what the baby was to be called.

Grace Slick: I said "god, with a small g, because we are humble." I was just fucking with her; but she went out of the room and called [San Francisco Chronicle columnist] Herb Caen. I kind of got nailed with that for a while.

The media jumped on the newsworthy story, savoring its shock value, but Grace had indeed been planting the god rumor prior to the child's birth. An article in Rolling Stone, published a few weeks before China arrived - and before Grace found out the baby was a girl - said, "Their son, who will be named 'god, just god,' has grown large inside her."

When she left the hospital, Grace shouldn't have been too surprised to find a team of reporters awaiting her. Yes, she told them, god is what she had named her child, and thus another rock and roll urban legend was hatched. But the birth certificate reads China Wing Kantner, the name having been chosen by Paul. He and Grace had become increasingly enamored of certain aspects of Asian culture - Bruce Lee movies, acupuncture, communism - and China seemed an appropriate appellation for their child.

This story is also independently confirmed by her biography on her semi-official website. [2] While working for MTV, she was sometimes credited on-screen as "China Slick Kantner", although she never officially changed her name or used this name in any other circumstances. Later in her MTV career, she was credited simply as "China Kantner". In January 1988, she was interviewed by Jonathan King for the BBC TV show Entertainment USA as part of a feature on the children of rock stars working as MTV VJs. During this interview, she stated that, while she initially did not like her name, she grew to like it as she got older.[3]

She first appeared as an infant on the sleeve of the Kantner/Slick 1971 solo LP Sunfighter. She has also been given co-songwriting credits by her father on several of his songs. She also sang a song on his 1983 album Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

MTV and radio[]

In July 1986, she appeared as a guest VJ on MTV, which led to her making regular appearances for the next four years during her summer vacations. When she started working for the station at the age of just 15, she was, at the time, the youngest ever MTV VJ. As an MTV VJ, she even had to interview her own father for the MTV Summer of Love 20th anniversary celebrations. For a while around 1993, she also presented a Saturday night phone-in request show on a local Bay Area radio station, KRQR-FM.


Having started off acting in school plays, China has appeared in several movies (such as Airheads, The Stoned Age and The Evening Star), television sitcoms (notably Home Improvement) and stage plays. Between acting roles, she studied psychology at Santa Monica College, having relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Her 1998 appearance in season seven of Home Improvement as the recurring character Willow Wilson was her final professional acting role, and she has now retired from acting. In late 2001, following an interview in Vanity Fair, she also decided to stop giving them, on the grounds that every interviewer in the past had always asked her the same few questions, and she felt that there was nothing left for her to say.[4] She did, however, break this silence to provide a few brief quotes for Jeff Tamarkin's book on the history of Jefferson Airplane.

Personal life[]

Like her mother, China has, over the years, struggled with alcoholism. [5] She overcame this problem around 1998, and has recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety. She contributed a section to the book Playing It Straight by David Dodd, alongside her mother and other recovering substance abusers, such as Dennis Hopper, Steven Tyler and Ozzy Osbourne.

Now retired from acting, she currently resides in the Los Angeles area. In 1999, she married a prominent Beverly Hills dentist, Jamie Azdair, although the couple is now divorced. While married, she often used the name China Azdair in private, but was usually billed as China Kantner when she made any public appearances. Since her divorce, she has once more returned to using her maiden name.

After retiring from acting, she studied art history at UCLA. In 2007, she obtained degree in Christian theology (with a minor in English) at Loyola Marymount University. In a 2007 interview, her mother stated, "My daughter loves studying Jesus. Some friends of hers turn their nose up at that. They don't understand that she is not talking about churches and what churches say; she is studying the actual words and message of Jesus."[6]

Musical career[]

China has, over the years, made several contributions to the music of Jefferson Starship as both songwriter and singer. However, she has also commented in interviews that she has no real musical aspirations of her own, claiming that she cannot sing very well. She has also said that having well-known musicians for parents actually lost her several parts, as directors automatically assumed she was also musical.[7]

China has several songwriting credits on various Jefferson Starship albums. The first is for the song "Don't Let It Rain", from the 1976 album Spitfire. This was followed by further credits for "Things To Come" (Freedom at Point Zero, 1979), "Out of Control" (Winds of Change, 1982), and "The Sky Is No Limit" on her father's 1983 solo album Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

She appeared as credited lead vocalist on the song "Declaration Of Independence", and contributing vocalist on "The Sky Is No Limit" and "Let's Go", all of which appear on Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra. She also made an uncredited appearance on the songs "Wooden Ships" and "Volunteers" on the 1995 live album, Deep Space/Virgin Sky, which was later re-released in an expanded form as Deeper Space/Extra Virgin Sky.

In 1983, she also appeared alongside both her parents in the video for the song Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra.

She has also made numerous appearances on stage with both her parents. The earliest of these was in 1984, when she joined Slick to sing "All The Machines" (from her solo album Software) at the 7th Bay Area Music Awards in San Francisco. From 1992 to 2005, she made a number of appearances with Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation, mainly in the Los Angeles area. One of these infrequent appearances was on September 21, 2001, when she joined both her parents on stage for what was to become Grace Slick's final public performance as a singer. Although China has not appeared with Jefferson Starship since August 2005, in 2007, she made a special guest appearance at an event called Vigilstock 2007, where she sang lead vocals on both "White Rabbit" and "Somebody To Love" - fragmentary clips of these performances appear on MySpace,[8][9] where she maintains a private profile.


Stage plays[]

According to her agency resume, China is known to have appeared in the following stage plays:

  • Batman - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, CA.
  • Flying Hormones - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, CA.
  • Touch Me - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, CA.
  • The Two Orphans - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, CA.

Television shows[]

China has appeared as an actress in the following TV shows:

  • Monty, as Geena (series regular), Touchstone/Fox Broadcasting, 1994.
  • Murphy Brown, as Beth (guest star), Warner Brothers/CBS TV, 1996.
  • Too Something (aka New York Daze), as Jennifer (guest star), Warner Brothers/Fox Broadcasting, 1996.
  • LA Firefighters, as Flame (recurring character), 20th Century Fox/Fox Broadcasting, 1996.
  • Grace Under Fire, as Waitress (guest star), Carsey-Werner/ABC TV, 1997.
  • Home Improvement, as Willow (recurring character), ABC TV, 1998.

She has also appeared as herself as a guest or contributor on the following shows:

  • China Kantner's Guest VJ Hour, MTV, July 1986 to circa 1990.
  • Behind The Music - Jefferson Airplane, VH1 TV, April 5, 1998.
  • The Home & Family Show, The Family Channel, July 6, 1998.
  • Politically Incorrect, ABC TV, November 26, 1999.


China has appeared in the following movies:

  • Three of Hearts, as unknown character, New Line Films, 1993.
  • The Stoned Age (aka Tack's Chicks), as Jill, Trimark Films, 1994.
  • Airheads, as Female Rocker, 20th Century Fox, 1994.
  • S.F.W., as Female Pantyhose Gunman, Black Dog Productions, 1994.
  • Grace of My Heart, as Singer on beach, Universal Pictures, 1996
  • The Evening Star, as Jane, Paramount Pictures, 1996.

With Jefferson Starship[]

China has appeared as a special guest singer at the following concerts by Jefferson Starship and related acts:

  • Grace Slick, 7th Bay Area Music Awards, San Francisco, CA, 2 March 1984.
  • Jefferson Starship, Mile Square Park, Fountain Valley, CA, 25 October 1992.
  • Jefferson Starship, The Bandshell, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 25 September 1993.
  • Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA, 21 January 1995.
  • Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA, 2 June 1996.
  • Jefferson Starship, Glendale Street Party, Los Angeles, CA, 22 June 1996.
  • Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA, 26 May 2000.
  • Jefferson Starship, Galaxy Theatre, Anaheim, CA, 14 June 2001.
  • Jefferson Starship, Starlight Amphitheatre, San Diego, CA, 16 June 2001.
  • Jefferson Starship, Canyon Club, Augora Hills, CA, 3 August 2001.
  • Jefferson Starship, Centre for Performing Arts, Cerritos, CA, 6th or 7 September 2001. (Two shows played at this venue on consecutive days, but it is presently unclear which one featured China's appearance.)
  • Jefferson Starship, Arrowfest, Long Beach, CA, 29 September 2001.
  • Jefferson Starship, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, 28 April 2002.
  • Jefferson Starship, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, 29 August, 2002.
  • Jefferson Starship, Love Ride 19, Glendale, CA, 10 November 2002.
  • Jefferson Starship, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA, 11 July, 2003 (Early show).
  • Jefferson Starship, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA, 11 July, 2003 (Late show).
  • Jefferson Starship, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA, 12 July 2003.
  • Paul Kantner & Friends, Jenner Playhouse, Jenner, CA, 13 July 2003.
  • Jefferson Starship, Humphrey's Concerts On The Bay, San Diego, CA, 31 August, 2005.


  • Her first car was a VW Rabbit (the American version of the European VW Golf). It was one of the limited edition "White Rabbit" cars that VW marketed in 1987 and this particular car had been presented to Grace Slick as a marketing move, and she later passed it on to China.


  • "Given how many drugs she's taken over the years, it's a wonder I turned out normal!"



  • Baker, C. (1996). "Fine China",[10] People, December 6, 1996.
  • Brown, A. (2000). Moon, I'll Get It - The China Kantner Story. Liverpool, UK: Holding Together magazine, November 2000.
  • Dodd, D. (1996). Playing It Straight. Deerfield Beach, FL:HCI.
  • Kantner, C. (2008). Official MySpace profile.
  • Tamarkin, J. (2003). Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight Of Jefferson Airplane. New York: Atria Books.
  • Unknown. (1998). China Kantner's Agency Resume, Los Angeles:Paradigm Talent and Literacy Agency.


External links[]