An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
In 1998, shock rock queen Wendy O. Williams walked calmly into a wooded area near her home in Storrs, Connecticut. Basking in the tranquility of her natural surroundings Wendy reflected on her life as the shrieking, chainsaw wielding, pelvis gyrating lead singer of proto-punk-metal band The Plasmatics. Images from her decade spanning whirlwind career, including exploding a Cadillac on the Long Island Pier and a violent arrest by the Milwaukee police for charges of indecency, swirled about in her brain like pieces of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup swirl from Dairy Queen. Then she placed a shotgun to her head and pulled the trigger.
Or so "they" would have you believe. It is my firm belief that certain persons placed high in the United States government orchestrated the death of Wendy O. Williams to silence her powerful calls for women's liberation and animal rights. In this article I will lay out my clear argument that a conspiracy to assassinate Wendy O. Williams, queen of shock rock, can be traced back to a secret committee of powerful business interests whose members include some of our highest officials.
Eh, forget it. The truth is, as rocking as Wendy was, she was no more a threat to "the man" than Lenny Kravitz or an obscure web-zine entitled Acid Logic. If we've learned one thing after forty years of rock musicians screaming about revolution and anarchy while things just keep getting worse, it's that genuine social upheaval cannot be achieved with electric guitars and soldiers too high on PCP laced marijuana to tie their shoes. Real revolution is too much work. And not nearly much fun as rock and roll.
But even if ruminating on Wendy won't expose a secret government cover-up, she still had a pretty kick-ass life worth reflecting upon. After all, how many gals do you know used their head to bust open the window in a moving bus in a little movie called "Reform School Girls." Or made a career out of chainsawing guitars in half? Or recorded a version of Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man" with none other than Lemmy from Motorhead?
What's that? You say your great Aunt Edna did all those things? Well I can't wait to meet her!
Legend has it young Wendy got her start in show business doing a tap dance performance at age six on the Howdy Doody Show. That led, as it almost always does, to an adult career as a stripper a mere fifteen years later. (Wendy also had a small role in a porno film - "Candy Goes To Hollywood" - but due to my well-documented aversion to pornography I was unable to confirm whether she does any penetration.) Then, during the height of the madness we call the seventies, Wendy was "discovered" by America's answer to Malcom McLaren, Rod Swenson (aka "Captain Kink) and placed in the role of lead singer for his new shock rock group, The Plasmatics!
I, of course, being more interested in Star Wars action figures than rock music during the seventies, never saw The Plasmatics in person. Indeed, the first time I ever heard the name was while reading a "Dazzler" comic book (circa 1983) wherein Dazzler mentioned that the Plasmatics are doing a show and "Wendy's going to blow up a Cadillac." But via the magic of the Internet and the wonders of YouTube I managed to watch a few Plasmatics performances and videos. Musically, it's abysmal garbage. Loathsome clatter that tries so hard to be offensive it ends up only achieving the status of easily ignorable white noise. As with much of punk rock, no one in the band is a musician in any real sense, and they seem dimly aware that stringed instruments require tuning in order to replicate the same sounds night after night.
But as a visual performance group The Plasmatics definitely had something going on. While certainly connected by proxy to other outlandish seventies groups like The New York Dolls, The Tubes or KISS, The Plasmatics took things to such utter extremes it's impossible to see how they could not draw notice. (Even today, with such groups as GWAR and Marilyn Manson roaming about, the Plasmatics would undoubtedly raise eyebrows.) Wendy fired blank sawed off shotgun shells into the audience. Guitars were blown up. Super tall guitarist Richie Stotts hopped about in ladies lingerie (which, I suppose, is better than wearing men's lingerie, if such a thing even exists.) Crossing Gallagher with Hirschel Gorden Lewis, the band filled mannequins with fake blood and chainsawed them in half, soaking the audience in crimson cruor. I'm frankly at a loss to understand how any of this was legal, but it was seventies and a different sort of moral code ruled.
Wendy herself was just as much an attraction as the flames, explosions and blood. Often wearing a top that consisted of electrical tape on her nipples (perfect for those humid New York summers) and panties below, she scampered across the stage, her toned, buffed-to-perfection body tantalizing the male (a many female) members of the audience. Wendy exuded a raw sexuality that could only be found in the underground. And it's interesting because while Wendy was certainly in great shape, she wasn't exceptionally attractive. Even in her early days there was a roughness to her features that generally takes years of chain smoking and binge drinking (or a few months dating me) for a woman to attain. But Wendy managed to bypass her average looks with pure force of personality. Like Madonna's "Boy Toy" incarnation on steroids, it was obvious a night with a dominant doll like Wendy would involve lots of biting, clawing and elbow burns as she threw you up against the wall and had her way with you.
While the Plasmatics could pack them into the theaters, their album sales never took off because, as mentioned, they sounded like shit. But they did tour, and it was when Wendy and company took their obscene and violent stage act out of New York into the more chaste sections of America they ran into trouble. In 1981, after a concert in Milwaukee Wendy was arrested for simultaing sex on stage. (Apparently that sort of things was frowned upon.) As Wendy later recounted in a famous appearance on the Tom Snyder show, she was sexually manhandled and abused by the police during the arrest. The Milwaukee police in turn accused Wendy of battery of an officer. Since neither police officers or rock stars are beacons of truthfulness it's hard to know what really happened, but eventually all charges were dropped.
As the eighties hit Wendy was becoming the dominant force in the Plasmatics and released a solo album, produced by Gene Simmons, in 1984. Replacing the cross-dressing punk rock anarchists of the Plasmatics, Wendy's backup band were now an indistuigishable collection of Kip Winger style buffed metalheads. While they were skilled musicians, the songwriting was mostly forgettable, sub-par heavy metal.
In 1986 Wendy achieved what I view as her greatest success - starring in the sexploitation update of '50s "women in prison" films, "Reform School Girls." It was here the Wendy O. Williams "tuff as nails" persona was laid out for all to see. As the bad girl in a Auschwitz style Reform School run by fat lesbians (and Sybil Danning!) Wendy led the kids in an explosive revolt against the oppression of a hard edged anti-rock and roll power structure. (Think Tipper Gore.) Was the film a metaphor for Wendy's eternal battle against the suits of establishment society? You better believe it, bucko!
But "Reform School Girls" was also the beginning of the end. People were tiring of The Plasmatics, of punk rock (at least the "safety pin through the nose" iteration of it.) and Wendy herself. In the early '90s, as the world embraced the dressed down stylings of flannel grunge stars like Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder (two fellows who wouldn't know how to chainsaw a blood filled mannequin their way out of a paper bag) Wendy moved to the solitude of Connecticut to work with animals. (She had been a vegetarian and animal advocate throughout her career.)
If it wasn't a secret consortium of conspiracists, what caused Wendy to take her own life? Boredom. Descending into middle age is dreadful work for most people, imagine what it's like if your youth was spent blowing up cars and walking around in a bikini top made out of shaving cream. Wendy was unable to quell the raging tide of adrenaline that had always surfed her system, but now had no release in sight. Purportedly, her suicide note read, "I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm."
And who knows? Wendy could be driving a blood soaked Caddillac into the throne of heaven as we speak.
God's gonna be pissed!
Wil Forbis is the pen named shared by such noted authors as James Ellroy, Katie Roiphe, and Jim Thompson. E-mail him, I mean, them, at firstname.lastname@example.org
View Wil's Acid Logic web log, a stirring endorsement of sex with pandas!
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