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Freaky Friday: “Butcher Baby”

Posted by purplemary54 on August 2, 2013

The Plasmatics were as much performance art as they were Punk.  In a lot of ways, Punk is one of the ultimate forms of performance art.  It’s about creating a persona and personification of chaos and anger; the music, even when it’s really good, is secondary to the reaction Punk performers get from the crowd.  The Plasmatics had a heavy emphasis on visual performance, thanks to founder Rod Swenson’s MFA from Yale.  He teamed with the fearless Wendy O. Williams to create a band that exploded on the stage–sometimes literally, as they were fond of blowing up things during their shows.

I’ll be honest, when I was a teenager, Wendy O. Williams scared the hell out of me.  She was tough and unafraid, using her body the way someone like Iggy Pop did: as just another prop to shock the audience with.  What is remarkable is how unremarkable a performer like Williams is in Punk, which is one of the most egalitarian genres out there.  There is a genuine rejection of sexism and traditional gender roles in Punk.  Yeah, I’m sure many individual punkers are misogynistic creeps, but they’re going against the spirit of the movement.  Because Punk was about rejecting societal norms, and it was still pretty radical for women to have such agency and control, even when the music first hit the scene.  Wendy O. Williams represented everything that scared conservatives about Punk.  She had control over who she was and how she represented herself.  She was arrested more than once on indecency charges, but she never backed down.

After the Plasmatics, Williams continued with a solo career through the 80s, but eventually retired with Swenson to Connecticut.  She led a relatively quiet life working with animals and at a food co-op.  (Williams was  a vegetarian and animal rights activist.)  She had been troubled for years, and after two previous attempts, Wendy O. Williams committed suicide in the woods near her home.

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4 Responses to “Freaky Friday: “Butcher Baby””

  1. Sandee said

    Oh yeah, oh no! What the hell were those on her titties — hahaha! She had a great body — I remember that much!

  2. That still doesn’t answer the question of what the clothespins are for.

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