Music News

O. Williams, Where Art Thou?

Wendy O. Williams always said she liked to make "aggressive art," and that's what she did as the front woman for '80s punk-metal band The Plasmatics — sporting a Mohawk on TV, wearing nothing but electrical tape over her nipples, blowing up luxury cars and school buses, cutting guitars in half with chain saws, and actually employing her anti-establishment angst in her day-to-day life (being a vegetarian before it was trendy, and punching cops who grabbed her ass). The Plasmatics and Wendy O. Williams: 10 Years of Revolutionary Rock and Roll (MVD Visual) contains more than four hours of footage (most of it shot between 1978 and 1988), including pictures of the Milwaukee police holding Williams on the ground and kicking her in the face (the result of the aforementioned cop-clocking). There's plenty of The Plasmatics here — live performances, videos, and a two-hour documentary in which rock critics from Maria Raha to half the staff of Kerrang! go on and on about how revolutionary, mind-blowing, and unique Wendy and The Plasmatics were. What's missing is more perspective: Despite the fact that Williams was the most uncompromising female artist in the history of rock, she's now largely unknown to a younger generation of music fans, many of whom think Joan Jett was as radical as female rockers got in the '80s. And since Williams is gone forever now (she killed herself with a gunshot to the head in 1998), this exhaustive DVD is as close as we'll get to experiencing an electric, primal piece of sadly forgotten rock history.
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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea