Punk à LaMode

Killer Pussy front woman exited the stage for suburbia

I'm the only adult male at the Mason Jar tonight who isn't wearing a black tee shirt with sawed-off sleeves. My Kenneth Cole polo sweater marks me as a loser, but at least I'm a loser waiting for a former punk goddess to join me for drinks. Lucy LaMode, once the penultimate punker, had agreed to meet me here the night before, but canceled at the last minute when her 4-year-old son drank a bottle of her best cologne. Tonight, her eldest son's 12th birthday, Lucy has returned to the scene of several years' worth of musical crimes, where she once reigned as front woman of Killer Pussy, Phoenix's fave '80s punk band.

Back then, Lucy poured herself into a teeny white nurse's uniform and took the Mason Jar stage to holler the words to the band's signature hit, "Teenage Enema Nurses in Bondage," and other three-chord screamers from their Bikini Wax long-player. After Killer Pussy busted up, Lucy fronted the proto-grrrl Ultimate Makeup Party Bitches, but by the end of the decade had traded in head-banging for housekeeping. She married her musician boyfriend and vanished into suburbia, resurfacing occasionally to perform in little theater productions but mostly staying home with her kids. Today she's Lucy Payjack, and her most recent gig was playing vice president of the PTA.

While a trio of mutton-chopped thirtysomethings ("Rock guys never give up," Lucy snorts) wail through their sound check, Lucy and I shout back and forth about her wild past and relatively tame present. She swears her current life is "too boring for an interview," but within minutes she's answering my "What's new?" with a story about how she's trying to buy a painting of herself by actor Dennis Hopper.

All grown up: Former punk rocker Lucy LaMode is not just another housewife.
Kevin Scanlon
All grown up: Former punk rocker Lucy LaMode is not just another housewife.

New Times: Why did Dennis Hopper do a painting of you?

Lucy LaMode: Who knows? Maybe he was a fan of the band or something. The painting's called "Killer Pussy" and it's a triptych with me in the center in my nurse's uniform.

NT: So now you're trying to buy it from him?

LaMode: Yeah, but Julian Schnabel wants it. You know who he is, right? Julian Schnabel can't have it! He probably only wants it because I look like his wife or something. Why else would he want it? I saw Dennis Hopper in a restaurant one time and he was staring, staring, staring at me, and now I know why.

NT: So you used to be a punk goddess; now you're a PTA mom — a typical American housewife and mother.

LaMode: Sort of. Typical except I take my son to New York to see Lee Breuer's new play, and we hang out backstage after. And I'm putting together a new theater company that will not do cutesy musicals or stuff like The Glass Menagerie. So I'm like any other mom, except in my spare time I'm writing a play called AKA Doris Day, about my childhood obsession with Doris Day.

NT: That's an odd continuum. You're a child obsessed with Doris Day who becomes a punk diva who becomes a housewife who's writing a play about her Doris Day obsession.

LaMode: She's the reason I was a punk who always wore matching outfits. She's why I always wanted to be an actress. I was studying acting when these punk bands came along. And we were a hit and I did that for 10 years. So it was like Lucy LaMode was a role I played in a really great play that was a hit and got extended for a whole decade. Except everyone thought I was Lucy LaMode.

NT: So what was a day in your life like back then?

LaMode: I'd wake up at two in the afternoon. I'd make sure the fliers for the show were made.

NT: You were the publicist for Killer Pussy?

LaMode: I was the only one who was responsible enough to make sure the shows got promoted, yeah. I'd be up all night at the clubs with the other bands, and everyone would be wasted except me. People would be smoking crack or whatever they did, and I was the only normal one, as usual. I had very little tolerance for people who did drugs, and there were a lot of people in various bands back then who did drugs. It was hard to deal with.

NT: So what were you doing there, then?

LaMode: It was about being seen, being theatrical. I started this all-girl band called The Roll-Ons. My mom loaned me the money to rent the Firemen's lodge, and we debuted at an event called Trout-O-Rama, which was a blast. People brought trout and threw it at the band. Then I started Killer Pussy, and it was really a hit. It was me, and Robert X. Planet, and Gary Russell. The whole punk era was a good time to be in a band because you didn't have to know anything about playing music. But Killer Pussy was always more about theatrics, anyway. Long before I started the band, I used to do . . . what do you call it, when you're like that girl who used to stick the yams up her butt?

Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Ricardo Aguilar
Ricardo Aguilar

Hi Lucy Boy it has been a while since I seen the gang. I now reside in Bisbee, Arizona. I just heard of the renounion. Please contact me at my email address