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Music / The Plasmatics

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The Plasmatics were a notorious American Punk Rock band, notorious for breaking countless taboos because of their vandalizing stage acts, which even included chainsaws and sexual simulation by their sometimes semi nude lead singer Wendy O. Williams. The band was arrested several times because of public indecency. In 1981 their stage performance in Milwaukee led to the arrest of Wendy O. on charges of indecency, after reportedly "simulating masturbation with a sledge hammer in front of an audience". After resisting being searched she was thrown to the ground and she and her band members were beaten severely. The obscenity charges always led to to the band being acquitted, but made them more infamous.

The band was active between 1977 and 1987. Wendy O. released three solo albums of her own. Sadly, she committed suicide in 1998.

Album Discography:

  • New Hope for the Wretched (1980)
  • Beyond the Valley of 1984 (1981)
  • Metal Priestess EP (1981)
  • Coup D'Etat (1982)
    • Coup de Grace (2002; demos of the songs from Coup d'Etat, recorded in 1982)
  • Maggots: The Record (1987; credited to Wendy O. Williams/Plasmatics)

The Plasmatics' work provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: "A Pig Is A Pig", "Butcher Baby".
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Their album Beyond the Valley of 1984 explores Orwellian themes.
  • Careful with That Axe: Wendy O. could shriek like no other. During the tour to promote Coup d' Etat she pushed her vocals so hard she had to follow treatment to avoid permanent damage to her vocal chords.
  • Concept Album: Maggots: The Record, about humans being hunted into extinction by killer maggots.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: They used chainsaws and machine guns during concerts.
  • I Am the Band: Wendy O. Williams was clearly the most eye-catching member.
  • Let's Duet: Lemmy (Motörhead) did a duet with Wendy O. once: "Stand By Your Man" (1982).
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: During some shows Wendy O. performed in a nurse costume.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Wendy is notorious for inventing the "punk rock pastie", a piece of black gaffer tape stuck over each nipple like a physical Censor Box to avoid breaching the letter of obscenity laws. Copied subsequently by other punk and metal performers with similarly body-flaunting habits.
  • One-Word Title: "Corruption".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: The band is perhaps more notorious for their anarchic and semi-pornographic stage shows and being arrested for this than their actual music.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The spectacle during their shows was amazing: chainsaws ripping up guitars, band members performing in masks and dresses, automobiles blowing up, televisions being smashed, shotguns being fired and Wendy O. regularly performing (half) nude, simulating sexual acts. They were arrested a couple of times because of public indecency, greatly increasing their notoriety.
  • Revolving Door Band: Several musicians came and went in the band, making Wendy O., guitarist Wes Beech and manager Rod Swenson the only mainstays.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: And TV sets! Sometimes they even use sledge hammers and chain saws to do so.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: As violent and sexually suggestive as her shows are Wendy O. was actually a very sweet and nice person. Compare her stage shows to her interviews afterwards: it's quite a contrast.
  • Shout-Out: Wendy O. Koopa, a character from Super Mario World lend her name from Wendy O. Williams.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Their stage shows traditionally ended with this.
  • The Unintelligible: Like most hardcore punk bands their lyrics are difficult to make out and drowned out by the music.
  • Un-person: Guitarist Richie Stotts was a co-founder of the band, but after the release of Coup d' Etat he was edited out of band videos and not referred to by name in a 2006 compulation DVD of the band.