Femme Fatale

Just In: Ladyfest Philly announces lineup for June 7-9, 2013 fest benefiting Project SAFE and Women In Transition

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June 7-9, 2013 | The Rotunda, Locust Moon,
and AIRSpace Gallery

All Proceeds Benefit: 
Project SAFE and Women in Transition

BANDS:

US Girls (Toronto)
Screaming Females (New Brunswick)
Potty Mouth (Western Mass)
Parasol (Boston)
Void Vision
Aye Nako (New York)
In School (New York)
Priests (D.C.)
Peeple Watchin’ (Boston)
Black Wine (New Jersey)
Shady Hawkins (New York)
Whore Paint (Providence)
Attia Taylor (New York)
3Jane (New Brunswick)
+HIRS+
Trophy Wife
Blizzard Babies (Chicago)
Big Mouth (Baltimore)
Batty
Amanda X
Ghost Ship (Rosali Middleman and Mary Lattimore)
Kate Ferencz
Mindtroll (New York)

WORKSHOPS:

Amps, Pedals and PAs: Demystifying Electronics with Girls Rock Philly
The Stop Motion Stomp Station
Drumline with Girls Rock Philly
Urban Gardening at Plotland
Feminist Organizing Workshop with For the Birds
Sexual Communication and Consent with Dr. Justine Marie Shuey (Juicy Justine)
Drawing Autobio Comics with Liz Prince and Ramsey Beyer
Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, and the MVA
Self Defense: From Eye Contact to Eye Poking
Readings by Liz Prince, Suzy XAnnie MokKerri RadleyKatie Haegele and Jes Skolnik
Queer and Trans Yoga with shay and Qui
Fix-A-Flat with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Herbal Infusions and Tinctures
Victim-Blaming in the Media: What It Is & What You Can Do About It with Tara Murtha
Project SAFE: What’s It All About?

Youth, Activism and the Arts
Radical Printmaking: Pulling the Personal and the Political with Leah Girardo

Ladyfest Philly - web site / facebook


Long Live Pussy Riot! 3/24 - 60 Minutes Interview with Yaketerina Samutsevich

CBS' 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl interviews Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the punk-feminist protest group Pussy Riot, who was one member of three (arrested--others escaped arrest) released after serving a little over seven months in prison and indicted with a trumped up 'hooliganism' charge following their act of protest against the Vladimir Putin dictatorship inside Moscow's Cathedral Of Christ The Savior Orthodox church.  Two other women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are still serving time (separated from eachother) in two of Russia's harshest condition prisons.  Stahl was also able to interview a member of PR still in hiding; the band still practices!  There are still other members of the group involved!  Here is to hoping that the girls make it out soon (alive) and don't give up hope on their dreams for freedom and individual rights under a Russian [leader]ship that seems to be making it up as they go along; it sounds as though the movement is still bubbling under the surface.  Let's open the conversation on this video: what did you think about Lesley's interview?  What would you have asked that you think Lesley missed the point of view on?

You can still help the girls while they are spending the remainder of their sentence in prison by raising funds to make sure that they receive the proper care:

http://freepussyriot.org/


Femme Fatale: Cherie Currie

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It's hard to imagine in this day and age of jaded and warped celebri-teens that back in the '70s teen stars were fewer and far between than they are today.  Of course there were Donnie and Marie (certainly not jaded) and Leif Garrett (definitely jaded).  One group of teens that broke the mold were The Runaways, an all-female rock band from Los Angeles that spawned the careers of none other than Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, and Cherie Currie.  The girls were an immediate success, known for their veritable rock star status - they were not a manufactured pop band but rather participated in the international rock and roll circuit with the big boys.  They broke through the LA scene and became respected everywhere for their musical skills, bravado, and style - all defying conventional female roles.  Part of the band's cultural significance aside from being an all-female band in the male-dominated 1970s rock scene was their involvement with the burgeoning punk scenes, both in New York and London.  The Runaways associated with everyone from The Ramones, The Dead Boys, Blondie, The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and Generation X. 

Each member of the band modeled herself after a rock icon - Cherie Currie choosing her hero David Bowie.  Currie was the lead singer of The Runaways, herself a stunning androgynous bottle blond who was spectacular in contrast to Joan Jett's raven-haired and kohl-rimmed boyish beauty.  Currie was just 15 when she joined the band in 1975, and achieved her own legendary status in the two short years she performed and toured with The Runaways, especially with the hit "Cherry Bomb".  Described by Bomp! as "the lost daughter of Iggy Pop and Brigitte Bardot", the teenage Currie had made a lasting impression on the music industry and fans alike.  She will especially be remembered for her outfits on stage, a cross between glam rock glitter and lingerie, making waves long before Madonna wore her first bustier on MTV.  Currie then left the band after a world tour in 1977 and three albums in to pursue a solo career in music and acting.

Currie was soon recording again, both solo and with her twin sister Marie, and put out two albums before landing roles in some major Hollywood films, including 1980's Foxes with Jodie Foster and everybody's favorite This Is Spinal TapFoxes was particularly important for Currie, as it portrayed a haunting and realistic side of troubled LA teens at the time, and more recently Currie explored this subject in her autobiography "Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story".  In the book, Currie reveals her thoughts on her time with The Runaways, growing up in Los Angeles in the '70s, and her issues with drugs and alcohol.  Her former band mate Joan Jett is currently working with Currie to turn the book into a film.  We can't wait for that!  In the mean time, you can see "Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways", a documentary from 2004 written and directed by Vicki Blue, a member of the band from 1977-78 and whom Currie shared another band for a brief stint in the early '80s.  Another film about the band, this one a biography directed by Floria Sigismondi, is in the works and hopefully will be out in the coming year. 

No doubt many people are still fascinated with The Runaways (who broke up in 1979) and Cherie, for their collective legacy is a strong one and has influenced countless bands and female rockers (The Go-Gos, Bikini Kill, Courtney Love, The Donnas for instance).  Cherie still rocks and she occasionally acts, but in a twist of fate she has become one of the few female chainsaw artists in the US.  A little different than rock and roll but still a show of girl power nonetheless.

Cherie Currie - website / myspace


Femme Fatale: Tish and Snooky of the Sic F*cks

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Tish and Snooky Bellomo, the legendary ladies of St. Mark's Place, are better known for their brand of brightly colored hair dye, Manic Panic, than for their musical contributions.  But for a short time in New York City in the late 70s, the sisters were part of local band Sic F*cks, who played their trashy style of glam punk at CBGBs and ruled the East Village.  The Sic F*cks were one the earliest of the CBGB punk bands, formed by Russell Wolinsky with infamous scenesters Tish and Snooky after their brief stint as backup singers in Blondie.  The sisters also opened their Manic Panic boutique in 1977, which became another hangout for the burgeoning New York punk scene.  The shop featured their signature hair dye, along with their DIY fashions, including the "Son of Sam" t-shirts worn by Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys.  The girls were known especially for their outrageous street wear and stage costumes, all which were self-made and sold at the shop.  Between the shop and the band, Tish and Snooky became the it-girls of the Lower East Side, hanging out with the boys of The Ramones, Television, and The Dictators, among others.  And over time as their band faded away into memory, only occasionally coming out to play special events, the Bellomo sisters spend their time managing the Manic Panic brand, which has grown over the years into a multi-million dollar international company, spreading the punk rock aesthetic around the world.

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Tish and Snooky at Hilly Kristal's 50th Birthday Party

With the closing of CBGBs in October 2006 and the passing of its visionary owner Hilly Kristal, MVD Audio is releasing on August 5th "CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live October 13, 2006 The Bowery Collection", which features The Sic F*cks playing their classic punk songs live at the club in the last days before it closed.  With songs titled "Insects Rule My World" and "(When We Say Go) Rip Up the Seats", these were no nice girl-meets-boy songs, but rather rag-tag songs that were abrasive and abrupt.  The band also plays a raucous cover of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop". The live set is just thirty minutes, but provides a good glimpse into the history of this long-lost band.  Reunited for the CBGB closing celebrations, the band also occasionally comes out of retirement to play events, such as Joey Ramone Birthday Bashes.  Joining Tish and Snooky on vocals is Russell Wolinksy, Dick String on guitar, Joey Schaedler also on guitar, Stink on bass, and Harry Vedercci on drums.  This release is a welcome addition to the very thin catalogue of the band's work, especially since they haven't released anything since the early 80s.  A must for fans, no doubt.  A portion of the sales of the CD will go to the Hilly Kristal Foundation for Musicians and Artists.

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Tish and Snooky - website / myspace
The Sic F*cks - myspace
Manic Panic - website / myspace


Femme Fatale: Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex

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"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard - well I think, oh bondage, up yours!"

And so shouts Poly Styrene, aka Marian Elliot, at the start of the 1977 punk anthem "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!".  An appropriate sentiment from the iconic front woman of X-Ray Spex, the lyrics were lobbed at society from her micophone and intended to sting.  While we all know about punk's beginnings, the story of women in rock - or more specifically women in punk - has been spotty at best.  X-Ray Spex had not one, but two, women in the band - Poly Styrene on lead vocals, and Lara Logic on saxophone (although her tenure was brief).  The five-piece was signed to Virgin after being included on a compilation with a live recording from their second gig.  The band released only one full length album in 1978, "Germ Free Adolescents", which today is one of several gold standards for British punk rock of the 70s.  The band was not known for a long time in the US because their album wasn't released here in the states until 1992, but in the UK it has been a staple for punk rock fans.  Besides "Oh Bondage!", the band had two other fierce songs that stood out: "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo", and "Identity".  Themes prevalent in their songs revolved around fear of the modern world - nuclear war, mass production, consumerism, and sexism, all common for the time.  While not as vile or hopeless as the Sex Pistols, nor off-key or nonchalant as The Slits, the X-Ray Spex found a niche with their new-wave persona, anxiety-ridden message, and danceable tunes.  Their look was quintessential, and Poly Styrene, their odd-looking frontwoman, led them to stardom.  She rebuffed any attempts to make her a sex-symbol, preferring her braces and ad-hoc wardrobe over adulation from male fans.  This backfired, however, as Poly Styrene's weird voice and looks - both abrasive and loud - fit the punk lifestyle and made her the center of attention.  Legend has it that the super sexy Richard Hell (Television, The Voidoids) pined for Poly, but she started to lose interest in the band and her status as frontwoman after playing a residency at CBGBs.

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X-Ray Spex were short-lived, as they broke up in 1979, a year after they particpated in the infamous Rock Against Racism concert held in London and after returning from New York.  Poly then put out a solo album in 1980 called "Translucence", and became a Hare Krishna.  She married and had a daughter in the 80s.  Despite their short stint, the band's legacy is firmly rooted in history for their brave, outspoken frontwoman who upheld her beliefs without wavering to convention.  Some people believe that Poly Styrene and "Oh Bondage!" are precursors to the riot-grrl movement of the 90s, and rightfully so (Le Tigre or Bikini Kill could easily share a stage with X-Ray Spex today if they were still together).  But reunions have been short lived - one concert at Brixton Academy in 1991 with Poly Styrene at the helm (which needless to say wasn't successful), and another in 1995 where a disappointing album was the outcome.  Recent news, however, is exciting: Poly Styrene will be performing as X-Ray Spex with other musicians different from the orginal lineup on September 6, 2008.  The show will be in London at the Roundhouse, thirty years after the band played there the first time around, and no doubt will be a treat for the surely packed house.  And it will look something like this:

X-Ray Spex - band site