Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Date With Jack

A nice fellow named Rod Zink recently emailed me a copy of a Castration Squad gig flyer that brought back some memories:

Castration Squad was an L.A based all-female punk band back in the early 1980's. I recall my Canterbury roommate, Shannon, sitting around, brainstorming ideas for the band back in the

late seventies, but it wasn't until the 1980's when her nightmare vision of a militant, death/horror fixated, all-girl band was realized. Shannon was a dark-haired, pale beauty, never leaving the apartment without her "full face" on. Pleasant once described her as a "punk Vivien Leigh." She found her deathly beautiful blonde counterpart in another L.A. punk, Mary Bat-Thing, later to become famous as Dinah Cancer, lead singer of 45 Grave.

Among others, Castration Squad's lineup included Tracy Lea (who was also in Red Cross and appeared as Tanya Hearst in the cult movie Desperate Teenage Lovedolls), Tiffany Kennedy (Cambridge Apostles), Phranc (Nervous Gender, Catholic Discipline), Elissa Bello (Go-Go's) and yours truly. With Shannon as lead singer and Mary as backup, Castration Squad and its avowed mission "to repair men" could have been somewhat intimidating, but it was mostly in the spirit of fun.

Getting back to the gig flyer, Castration Squad, and in particular, Tiffany had an obsession with John F. Kennedy, so much so that the band played a JFK memorial show each year on the anniversary of his assassination. Tiffany wrote a love song to her favorite dead President, entitled "A Date With Jack", which you can listen to here. I'd go anywhere with him...even Dallas!

Very sadly, I heard from friends that Shannon is no longer among the undead. She is one of the fallen comrades to whom I've dedicated my Women in L.A. Punk page. Along with bands like the Slits and the Raincoats, Shannon was ahead of her time and adopted an aggressively feminist punk stance long before anyone had heard of Riot Grrrls. If you want to learn more about female punk musicians of the 70's and 80's from all over the world, a great resource out of Switzerland is Jenny Woolworth's archive.


Anonymous said...

castration squad... it's long past time that there was a cd retrospective! i'd be glad to be the one to release one, but that's a whole different issue of course :-)!


Karl said...

Alice, I recall you saying there was a recording of a Castration Squad set that was done for a radio show. Has that ever turned up? Maybe you could post a song or two from it. How long ago did Shannon pass? I wonder what did her in. I never met her, but judging from your descriptions and photos of her, and that classic New Wave Theatre performance & interview, she must have been quite a character. And she was really photogenic.

Anonymous said...

I heard the song "The Ex Girlfriend" years ago on some comp and was totally blown away. A great tune that left me wanting to hear more CS. It might have been bootleged from the JFK show? Anyway, this may sound weird, but I swear it sounds like Rick (Mau-Maus) Wilder was singing on that tune. This makes sense, since the Mau Maus also played that show. Any recollection?

kaplan said...

Did Patricia Morrison (Gun Club, Sisters of Mercy...) was in C.Squad ?