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The girl with pink hair is in the opening band. Later, she will sing and writhe on the stage. Her red microphone cord will be wrapped around her head and neck so tight that it will leave marks. But right now the couple working the door don’t know who she is. The are taking tickets and checking identification. They either don’t recognize her or don’t believe her when she tells them she’s performing. “I can show you my ID,” she says, “If I have to.” They tell her that, yes, that would be good. The girl with pink hair opens her pocket book and the couple at the door check a sheet of paper and wave her through. The couple at the door are with the company that is promoting the show.

First come, first serve. One per person. No returns.

  • The Hypnic Jerks
  • Riff Medusae
  • Harumph!
  • My Share of the Dildo
  • Animals for Feminist Research

“The chick in White Zombie” became an affectionate nickname for me thanks to Beavis and Butthead and legions of Metalheads. It not only singled me out as the only girl in the band, but also as the only girl in a huge boys’ club. A big, sweaty, long-haired, denim and leather, moshing boy’s club. This was the arena of heavy metal, where not only the fans, but the bands, the road crews, the stage crews, the club owners, the managers—were all guys. As a musician, I was head-banging into unchartered territory, hoping to sneak by before anyone noticed. Once I had, I was not only accepted into this club, but fans accepted me on a level reserved for their favorite band members, and bands gave me respect as a musician, songwriter, and performer. I felt extremely lucky and thankful to have bypassed the sexism that was still prevalent at the time and place—at least with the bands and our fans, the people that really mattered.

Of course, being “the chick in White Zombie” wasn’t always easy, but I enjoyed the challenge and the adventure. In the early days, sharing a hotel room with three or four guys required extreme tact, as did the single dressing room we were frequently faced with at clubs and stadiums. Over the years of rigorous touring, I was sick or injured a disproportionate amount of time compared to the guys. It was hard to pull my weight when my gear was the heaviest, although I tried anyway. Later when we were headlining arenas, local stagehands would see me walking from backstage towards the stage at show time and try to stop me, thinking I was a friend or fan of the band. “No one allowed on stage,” they’d bark. Frustrated, I would have to explain that I was in the band as I’d hear the intro tape with my stage cue rolling and watch the pyro firing up. Eventually my bass tech or stage manager would freak out and come looking for me, and only with his assurance would I be allowed to pass. When we played Castle Donnington in 1996, my appearance on stage was so unusual that a TV crew filmed me afterwards, asking what it felt like to be the only girl to have ever performed there in all of history besides Doro Pesch. There were nine other bands playing that day, including Metallica, Skid Row, and Slash’s Snakepit. All the members were men. Even the 80,000-strong audience was 99% male.

Back when White Zombie played with East Village punk and art bands, I would meet other female musicians. But once we crossed the line over into the world of rock and metal, that all ended. I’m sure there were some like-minded girls out in the audience somewhere, but I never met them. The only women I met now were girlfriends or groupies that wanted to get backstage and “meet” the band. Whether that meant clawing their way on stage, or somehow getting past security and the road crew (don’t ask), it was always awkward for me to encounter these women. Especially when the crew had them tagged with a “Tulsa” backstage pass (“a slut,” backwards). Even more bizarre when they got backstage and wanted to meet me, thinking I was a dude. (Yes, that happened.) Once a gay man even placed an ad directed at me in the LA Weekly personals, having mistaken me for a guy. Remember, this was the world of metal, where everyone had long hair. So even though I was wearing hotpants, my stick thin figure and engineer boots left me looking fairly androgynous. I wasn’t helping matters by going by Sean, which is what my parents called me, instead of Shauna. And while I wasn’t trying to purposefully look like a guy, I also never wanted the fact that I was a girl to be an issue: I just wanted to be accepted as a musician and songwriter, first and foremost. So, I was stumped when the interviewer at Donnington asked me that question—the same one that came up in every interview I ever did—how does it feel to be the only girl? I had nothing else to compare it to, having always been the only girl in the scene, and I would banish that line of questioning with some glib response as, ironically, discussing my gender only seemed to belittle what I was trying to achieve: equality.

It has come to my attention, and perhaps yours as well, that virtually everyone in the digital age considers him- or herself an artist. A glance at Facebook is like a trek through the Casbah, with so many people hawking their photos, their music, their writings, and so on.

How can a seasoned artist make a buck in such a climate? It was never easy, and it’s getting harder all the time, as the competition expands. Soon aspiring creative types will outnumber regular folk, who can only spend but so much money on things that—let’s face it—are almost always headed for permanent obscurity. Then, too, a lot of “artists” give their stuff away for free, leading audiences to think all creative output should be free, unless, for instance, it’s written by Jonathan Franzen, whose wealth must approach Illuminati levels if he charges by the metaphor.

In the film The Big Lebowski, John Turturro plays a character named Jesus Quintana. Jesus is a competitive bowler, and a pederast, and he has no problem whatsoever with his self-esteem. It’s impossible for me to think of this movie without thinking of this character.

The irony of this is that “The Jesus” is only in the movie for a few minutes. He’s in a scene early on, and a scene towards the end, and that’s about it. Yet he steals the show.

Please explain what just happened.

What?

What is your earliest memory?

The poodle attack.

If you weren’t a musician what other profession would you choose?

Pool-man.

So here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure Joe Daly is a nice guy. I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy hanging out with him. He’s a textbook example of the sort of person I write about in my new book, Rock & Roll Will Save Your Life. Which is to say, he’s deeply invested in music as a means of reaching the vital emotions inside himself.

For this reason, I looked forward to reading his recent piece, “Five Bands I Should Like, But I Don’t. At All.” The world of rock and roll is full of sacred cows, after all, and one of the perverse pleasures of being a Drooling Fanatic is watching a few of them get gored. I’m always up for good goring. Ask anyone.

I don’t know if Mark was the Paul to my John or if maybe I was the Keith to his Mick.  We got along far better than Glenn Frey and Don Henley, dressed more casually than Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, and didn’t carry handguns like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.  We were just a couple guys on Chicago’s North Side that loved rock and roll.

Mark and I had known each other for some time before we discovered our shared passion for rock.  But when the day came that we finally got around to discussing music, two things were revealed: 1) we loved The Rolling Stones; and 2) our favorite hobby was playing guitar.   You may reasonably assume that the reason we each viewed playing our instruments as a hobby rather than a career was largely a function of our musical abilities.

El Camino. 1984. V8 engine. 350. I never had one and I still don’t. But my just-graduated-son Landen gave me and a six-year-old punk girl named Jai Ann our first El Camino joyride. Destination: McDonald’s.

It goes like this: We hit Gosford Road and flew like the Furies were chasing us. Clouds rolled past. Time slowed. This was our video game. Pull out the joystick. Hit the fire button. Blast some asteroids. Jump like Frogger. Fly like the Pacman family. Donkey Kong it. You get the picture. Soaring Xervious adventure. This was old school.

We hit the drive-thru in style. Jai Ann had no idea what was soaring through my veins. She couldn’t feel the 80s. But she could feel something: 80s Generation X energy. After two Sprites, oh, and a coffee-for-the-old-man later, we pulled out. But suddenly Lando (as I usually call him) swerved back into the lot. “What’s going on?” I say.

“You’re drivin’.” Damn if he ain’t the captain.

Aw, hell yeah. My kid does love me. My foot still tingles as I remember. I imagine pressing down on the gas, the fuzzy dice above the dash, the fuzzy steering wheel cover in my grip like a puppy coming for a lick. I think about the tires on the road, the El Camino zooming toward the horizon. Yeah, Gran Torino should have been playing on my boy’s iPod followed by Fast and the Furious, Gone in Sixty Seconds and the highlights of Tron.

The next day my eyes were wider than usual. I’m standing around the car with he and his brother Jordo (Real name Jordan). The hood is up. We’re glaring into that secret of the universe that mechanics and teen boys dream about. We’re electricity zoomin’ through the distributor, fuel slippin’ through the filter, belts searing in hot passion, pulling by the radiator. “Aw yeah. I got it,” I say. My boys look over. “Candy apple red. White stripes up the hood.”

“Oh yeah,” Lando says then adds, “Can’t though. Cops would target that.”

I give him the I-don’t-care shrug as if I should be yelling out: “Murder is worse. Let’s do this thing. Let’s paint the town when we’re done with the car.”

While I’m tired and my head is spinning from having just pushed the El Camino through a busy intersection at Ming Avenue and Oak Street—as if JELL-O legs could ever attach to a robot—that doesn’t matter, I’m right back to dreaming: this car is a rocketship. “Oh yeah.”

VIDEO: El Camino, Lando On Guitar, At Intersection Right Before Breakdown

I like all these bands. The Broadways are from Chicago. The two guitarists are now in The Honor System and The Lawrence Arms. The bassist is now in The Lawrence Arms and The Falcon. I think they were something like 19 or 20 years old in these videos. I think these videos of them are from 1998.

I like Mirah. One time I was listening to Mirah in the car with my mom and my mom said, “What is that noise?” It was Mirah’s fingers moving around on the guitar. My mom said it sounded like she recorded it in her room and I said she probably did. My mom laughed.

I like Defiance, Ohio. I was in my friend’s car and she put them on. I had not heard of them before. The first song she played was “Petty Problems.” I said, “That guy is screaming.” One guy was doing a raspy voice for harmony or for doubling the melody. I like when bands do that. No-Cash does that. Leftover Crack does that. Or maybe not (not doubling or for harmony) but they do do the raspy voice. The Arrogant Sons of Bitches do it for doubling the melody. Good Riddance does also on their CD Ballads from the Revolution.