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Earliest known Plasmatics footage, unseen for decades, surfaces
05.05.2017
09:25 am
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The Plasmatics, formed by lead singer Wendy O. Williams and manager Rod Swenson in 1977, were at the forefront of the first wave of American punk, getting their start at the legendary CBGB with their first gig in July of 1978. Their taboo-busting stage show gained them a huge cult following through the early 80s, featuring the shock antics of Williams, who was prone to wearing little more than electrical tape over her nipples and short school-girl skirts, while chainsawing guitars in half and blowing up cop cars onstage. Wendy O. Williams, who sadly passed in 1998, was one of rock’s all-time ballsiest performers, and her act lead to 1981 obscenity arrests in Cleveland and Milwaukee, where she was also beaten by police and received a charge of battery to an officer (which was later dropped, along with the obscenity charge). 

Rod Swenson, the Plasmatics manager, shot all of the band’s conceptual videos and many of their live shows. Much of that show footage has never been released and was thought, for a time, to be lost. 

During a recent move of Plasmatics/Wendy O. Williams archive material, a cache of unlabeled boxes was found, containing footage of the early shows shot by Swenson. Though much of the material had degraded over time, a restoration and salvage job saved many of these historic performances.  A DVD release has been prepared and is currently available as a pre-order. The DVD contains sixteen songs recorded at various venues between 1978 and 1981.

Dangerous Minds has obtained a clip from this footage, which is the earliest known Plasmatics live video, and you can see it after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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05.05.2017
09:25 am
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‘A Pig is a Pig’: Wendy O. Williams on sexism and female objectification in 1981
11.14.2016
10:40 am
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The Plasmatics at The Rathskeller in Boston. Photo generously provided by Mike Mayhan.

 

You Can Dress Up In Disguises
You Can Try To Mesmerize ‘em
You Can Surround
Yourself With Friends
Who Tell You What You Want To Hear
But In The End No Matter What You Do
You Will Come Shining Through

 
A few lyrics from the Plasmatics 1981 song “A Pig is a Pig”
 
I wasn’t old enough to truly appreciate Plasmatics vocalist and heavy metal crusader Wendy O. Williams during her punk-era heyday. But by the time I figured out who I wanted to be sometime in the late 80s I was fully in awe of her.

Williams was an inspiration for me back when I had become brave enough to put myself out into the world—writing about music, weirdness and other lowbrow pursuits. She was confident, strong and never ever took a backseat to anyone. Not the press who hounded her, people who flat out didn’t understand her and chose to label her as “obscene,” or the cops who sent her to the hospital when she defied them. Last week was a challenge to me as a human. I know I wasn’t the only one who laid in bed a lot because the contemplation of what our future looks like was too much for me to handle while standing up. I’m now past my “mourning” period and have moved on to being very fucking angry.

Basically, I hate conformity. I hate people telling me what to do. It makes me want to smash things. So-called normal behaviour patterns make me so bored, I could throw up!—W.O.W.

As a woman, forward thinker—and a mother—I want you to listen to Wendy share her feelings spoken some 35 years ago about sexism and female objectification—two negative attitudes that have become even more magnified (as well as seemingly completely acceptable to half of the residents of the U.S.) of late. They echo the spirit of lyrics of the Plasmatics powerful (and timely) song, “Pig is a Pig” (from the band’s second release Beyond the Valley of 1984) which Williams’ references during the short interview with Jeanne Beker on the Toronto-based The Music Show back in 1981. While trying to sort through all the madness that has been the past week, like many of you I relied on music to get me through as nothing else made any fucking sense. When I came across the footage of Wendy O’s interview I felt a distinct wave of reassurance thanks to her powerful words and point-blank fuck-this-bullshit attitude which are very much reflective of the many emotions I’ve been rollercoastering through myself.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.14.2016
10:40 am
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The Plasmatics wreck shit on ‘Solid Gold,’ 1981, plus Wendy O. interviewed by a ventriloquist dummy!
11.20.2015
09:29 am
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Solid Gold was an acutely ‘80s syndicated pop music variety show that set itself apart from similar offerings with the utterly baffling Solid Gold Dancers. The show was conceived at the tail end of the disco era, and so along with the usual hodgepodge of mimed and live music performances, the show featured disco-inspired dance accompaniments—no matter what kind of music was being featured. It was silly and often wildly inappropriate, but sufficiently distinctive that the phrase “Solid Gold Dancers” still conjures images of vapid glitz even to people who never saw the show.

It’s hard to say whether it’s a relief or a cryin’ goddamn shame that those dancers didn’t accompany the Plasmatics, but either way, the very fact that that appearance even happened is amazing. This was in 1981, the year that multiple arrests for indecency made the band’s singer Wendy O. Williams notorious outside of underground music circles, and Solid Gold was a broad appeal, all-smiles show that usually aired during the family hour. (I myself was an avid watcher at age nine, the age at which Solid Gold turned me on to a little band called Blondie. That and my discovery of DEVO that same year set the stage for a great deal of weirdness to come.) But despite the general family-friendliness of the program, nothing particularly set this performance of the Metal Priestess track “Black Leather Monster” apart from any given Plasmatics show except for a lack of breast exposure. Williams shrieked, danced suggestively, and chainsawed an innocent Les Paul while the band made a spastic punk spectacle of itself. And the segment is followed by a preposterous and wonderful interview—Williams chats (or rather, haltingly reads cue cards) with ventriloquist Waylon Flowers’ famously raunchy dummy Madame.
 

Billboard Dec 19, 1981, page 8

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the band is here introduced by the show’s co-host at the time, the Bee Gees’ youngest brother Andy Gibb (the other co-host was 5th Dimension singer Marilyn McCoo). This may seem as odd a juxtaposition of punk filth with squeaky-clean pop as their booking on the show itself, but Gibb’s spotless image was a pop pretense. He would soon be fired from the show on the grounds that his apparently monstrous cocaine binges made him a frequent and unpredictable absentee from shooting.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Plasmatics destroy the stage with an exploding Cadillac
Insane footage of The Plasmatics annihilating the stage on German TV show, ‘Musikladen’ in 1981

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.20.2015
09:29 am
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The Plasmatics destroy the stage with an exploding Cadillac
05.28.2014
09:11 am
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The Plasmatics gained a unique notoriety in late-70s NYC, not necessarily for their metal/punk hybrid music, but for twisted and over-the-top live shows. These regularly featured live chickens and the chainsaw deaths of their own guitars and items symbolic of consumer society (like TV sets), but they mostly focused on the flaunted sexuality and aggressive attitude of singer Wendy O. Williams, known for performing practically nude save for a g-string and a “top” fashioned from shaving-cream or pieces of strategically placed electrical tape.
 

 
When you’re better known for your live stunts than your songs, there’s always a need to keep pushing things further, so when the time came to publicize their debut LP, the classic New Hope for the Wretched (their insane version of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” is, by itself, worth the cost of the album), The Plasmatics devised something extraordinary.

Per the September 1998 issue of Spin:

The defining moment for the punk-metal band The Plasmatics was in New York City in the fall of 1980, when Wendy Williams jumped out of a moving Cadillac just before it exploded and catapulted off Pier 62 into the Hudson River. The victim, a ’72 Coupe de Ville, had been purchased from a couple who initially had doubts about selling the car they had driven all through their high-school days to the Plasmatics. “I don’t want my car to die!” the young wife said.

“Everything must die,” Wendy said sensibly, “but your car will be immortal.”

 

 
Williams was born on May 28, 1949, and so would have been 65 today had she not taken her own life in 1998. In their pursuit of the outlandish, she and her band did nothing halfway, and the Pier 62 show was just the beginning of an awesome career of wrecking shit. If you’re at work, be advised, Wendy O. Williams is in this video, and thus there are boobies.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.28.2014
09:11 am
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