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Wendy O. Williams-Rock’s First Riot Grrrl
Mar 4, 2004
The Plasmatics championed rock ‘n roll chaos, gore and violence after Kiss and Alice Cooper but before Gwar and Marilyn Manson . However, they added another element to the fray. Their frontwoman, Wendy O. Williams, was a part-time porn actress with an outrageous Mohawk who wore nothing more than shaving cream or electrical tape onstage ,crashed cars, smashed TV sets and whatever stage prop was slated for demolition that evening.
The brainchild of porn producer Rod Swenson, the band consisted of sledgehammer wielding vocalist Wendy O Williams (WOW for short), guitarists Richie Stotts and Wes Beech and bassist Jean Beauvoir. The group initially played chaotic live gigs at notorious New York punk haunts like CBGBs in the late ’70s. It wasn’t long before the Plasmatics recorded their first album “New Hope For The Wretched.” In 1980 Hard to believe the quasi-metal noise of “Butcher Baby” and “Tight Black Pants” was produced by Jimmy Miller, who previously helmed albums by the Stones and Traffic. A more successful effort “Beyond The Valley of 1984″ was released the next year. Featuring “Sex Junkie” and “A Pig Is A Pig”, “1984″ is definitely a very heavy metal album, and the band’s best release. Even the futuristic Mad Max in the desert cover photograph and the accompanying video (Wendy crashing a car through a wall of TV sets) are shock-rock classics.
The band played live shows at small hole in the wall clubs where they could get away with their XXX antics. Although audiences were appreciative (one Plasmatics fans seems thrilled to have an antenna from a smashed TV set rip his hand, according to a message board posting), police in the Midwest weren’t impressed. At a show in Milwaukee, police arrested Wendy on “public indecency” charges and severely beat her and manager Swenson. 1982’s “Coup D’Etat” signaled the Plasmatics last gasp as a media-fueled metal-punk spectacle. Plasmatics material continues to be released and re-released to this day. Proving that the group had a sensitive side, the Plasmatics website released an album of the band’s collected “love” songs in 2002 “Love Songs For The Apocalypse” contained titles such as “Fuck That Booty,” “Jailbait,” and “I Love Sex.” Perfect background music for an evening at Mistress Wendy’s House of Domination. Williams released two solo albums-the Gene Simmons produced “WOW” released in 1984 and 1986’s “Kommander of Kaos.” She also recorded “No Class” and “Stand By Your Man” with Motorhead’s Lemmy. As the 1980s ended, so did Williams’ career as a punk/metal priestess and she appeared in a few films and television shows. She also promoted her interest in macrobiotic and vegetarian food, teaching a class in macrobiotic cooking at NYC’s Learning Annex in the early ’90s.