She’s a Punk Rocker UK is a useful corrective to the male-dominated arena of U.K. punk directed by Zillah Minx, formerly of the day-glo anarcho-punk group Rubella Ballet. It came out in 2010 but hasn’t been available to watch online until a few days ago, when the filmmakers posted it on YouTube.
Rubella Ballet’s origins stem from a Crass gig in 1979 when the band called on audience members to join them onstage and play the instruments. So it’s not surprising to see Eve Libertine and a few other Crass-affiliated women interviewed here.
As a firsthand witness and participant of the original U.K. squat/punk scene, Minx’s credentials on this subject are unimpeachable. Perhaps inevitably, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex plays a central role in the story Minx is trying to tell (the musical bed for the opening credits is “I Am a Poseur”).
The movie, which clocks in at a crisp 68 minutes, features women punkers including, as already mentioned, Poly Styrene, Eve Libertine and Gee Vaucher of Crass, Gaye Advert of The Adverts, Michelle of Brigandage, and Olga Orbit of Youth in Asia as well as other figures like writers Julie Burchill and Caroline Coon.
The story is one of offhand marginalization, both as punks within society and as women within the punk scene. But what sticks with the viewer is the endless parade of vital, expressive, confident, funny women embodying the benefits of liberating self-discovery and defiance. Vi Subversa might have the most interesting story of them all, starting the radical feminist band Poison Girls as a mother of two in her 40s when punk landed in the U.K.