When I was little – I loved Hair Metal bands. All of us Primary schools kids did – our older siblings had mixed reactions. The uncool ones that like us – loved noise & stars who dressed exactly as little kids dress – everything bunged on, nothing fitting, Mum’s make-up smeared on anyhow – enjoyed hair metal – the more grown-up, status-aware teenagers loathed it – preferred New Wave and Alternative, and maybe a few ‘curated’ soul tracks.
The draw back of being loved by tiny people is that they think nothing of you. Hair Metal was on the telly & I never wondered Who They Were or How or Why it was on the telly – so I never wondered where it went to when suddenly it wasn’t… I moved on to pretending to like New Kids on The Block to fit in with the other girls who seemed to fancy them & didn’t care that they were naff & ridiculous – before toffee-nosing it to Indie & Grunge.
But you never stop loving childhood heroes – so it was fascinating to come across a documentary – Twisted F**king Sister – and learn the history of a band I knew from one video played over and over on kids t.v. in 1984.
They started off as a Bowie inspired Glitter Band – with material based on having a good time in the New York suburbs rather than Anthony Newley, Jacques Brel, William Burroughs or Whatever. Their image was wildly at odds with their lifestyle – but in the suburbs – that’s the attraction. It’s a wee bit of sartorial showing-off when really all you need is your work clothes, something smart for an occasion and your pajamas. It was Halloween, Panto, Christmas, A Fancy Dress Party, A Holiday Camp… mindless fun… it wasn’t out for anything but a reaction.
And that was their biggest bar to success.
They started the Disco Sucks Movement… the thing I think of as sinister, racist, sexist, homophobic and violent… they were just bonding their crowd with a bit of chanting and some visual shtick… they claim they didn’t think it had worse connotations until they were hanging an effigy of Barry White (!) on stage and someone approved while using the n-word… So they moved on to putting an effigy of Andrea True (!) in an electric chair. They were so deep in their own world they had no wider perspective.
Those who did – thought they were trashy & awful. Their inexplicable devotion to make-up and blasted spandex in an era when even Bowie was all about short hair and a nice suit looked like a bad joke. But they meant it – they believed in it – and they were willing to stick with it past cancelled gigs, bankrupt record companies and line-up changes until one great record reached out to the lunchbox set and said – you too – can defy your parents and teachers with nothing but an electric guitar and a giant poodle perm.
Still heroes to me.