The Butcher Babies, Boobs, and Blood
Here's what I expected from The Butcher Babies on the opening night of their "Hush Little Baby" tour: Sexy, sexy bitches; electrical tape-adorned boobs; vocals ranging from erotically melodic to ear-shatteringly demonic, intermixed with headbang-worthy breakdowns.
For those of you who don't know what you're missing out on, we're not talking about little nip slips here and there, like Janet Jackson at the 2004 Super Bowl , or Mardi Gras-style flashing. We're talking straight up nudity. Heard of balls out? How about tits out, by chicks who nod to such predecessors as Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics and Alice Cooper.
Well, I wasn't disappointed, except that it seems the leading ladies, former Playboy TV personalities Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, decided to rock not electrical tape at the show, but tank tops that gave props to their main opening band, The Gemini Syndrome.
The Butcher Babies' claim to fame may be the two headstrong women who coined the term "slut rock," and attract male groupies like John Travolta, but they do have a certain feminist approach to their music, recently telling Revolver magazine: "When girls are perceived as sexual or outspoken, they get labeled sluts, but we embrace those qualities and bring them to our music."
During my research of the band, I found it very surprising to find so much press by male rock writers that was negative about the Butcher Babies, mainly about how the stage personas the ladies have adopted takes away from whatever musical talent there may be. It's been said that they use their sexuality, bared breasts, and painted-on leather pants to draw fans to shows or augment their music. Um, maybe if their music sucked, right? See for yourself.
Trust me, this isn't about rock chicks sticking together. They've definitely have got the talent, drive, and enthusiasm to make it big in the metal industry. But I was shocked; dudes, bitching about semi-naked, Pantera-provoked screaming chicks on a stage? Rockin' out to double bass and shredding guitars? What the hell is going on here? And speaking of Pantera, check out their cover of "Fucking Hostile," the same tune they dedicated to yours truly at the Joe's Grotto show. (Yes I'm bragging and yes, I have a huge chick crush).
"I'm going to be honest," explains Harvey. "I feel like a lot of guys who haven't really gotten very hard in their musical career may be intimidated that we have gotten this far already in just three years."
"Well, even if they have, I think that's something that's innate in males, even some females, to be like 'females shouldn't be doing things like that, and the only way they can is if they are using their looks, or their tits," adds Shepherd. "But you know what? We put on a great fucking show on stage. You look at metal bands, and a lot of us --Heidi and I included--we weren't popular in school. And a lot of these guy fans were the same way. Having two girls up there on stage that people may find hot, doing those things that are out of heavy metal guys' comfort zones maybe could be intimidating. Of course, we don't want it to be that way and for females we want it to be more of an empowering thing, like we represent you."
Wake up people. This concept is nothing new. Tons of chicks have gone down this road, promoting femininity and flaunting what their mamas gave 'em, all while somehow making metalhead men feel inferior because they can't live up to their own expectations.
Think Mares of Thrace, Huntress, Possessed Demoness, Iranian death metal mistress Somi Arian. Even punk, for example. San Francisco's Tribe 8 were pros at using nudity to confrontational feminist ends. Singer Lynn Breedlove would rally lesbian-filled crowds with her breasts bared, donning a strap-on dildo that would be severed at the end of the show with knives and, on occasion, chainsaws. Of course, this was after any men in the crowd who were brave enough to be there in the first place were invited to please the rubber appendage, submitting to Breedlove's boot heel. ("I was scared, I was really scared," says one young male concertgoer with admirable honesty in Tracy Flannigan's Rise Above: The Tribe 8 Documentary).
"Punk is fun, but metal is just such a natural aggression," says Harvey when asked about the influences behind their music. Of course the list is chock full of women metallers that dominate their male counterparts, but others include Guns 'N Roses (Harvey's favorite) and lots of nu-metal (Shepherd's preference) like Slipknot, Korn, and Limp Bizkit.
A lot of these influences have larger-than-life stage personas, and the Butcher Babies clearly take on that challenge as well, not just physically but mentally. And whether the choice to bare all and utilize their sexuality has a negative impact in the long run of chicks' power in metal, at this point in time should we really bemoan their success as to being down to how they dress? I don't feel that "slut rock" is the next movement in feminist theory by any means, but I'm not about to bash my heavy metal sisters either for carrying on such a movement that's been around for decades.
And when it comes down to it, I think those guys that are bitching about it are just reminded of the hot chicks that turned them down in high school. Maybe they should just hush, little baby, and let some great metal and lovely tits cheer them up.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.