When I was 17, in 1981, I discovered an outrageous punk rock band, full of super high speed energy and stage theatrics. And the music was so emotional, it touched you deep in your soul.
I first met them in a local record store. The drummer Stu Deutsch put me on the guest list for the show at a NJ niteclub called “Hole in the Wall.”
It was really something to see. The lead singer Wendy O. Williams was onstage, half-nude with black electrical tape covering her nipples, underwear and shaving cream all over her body.
The lead guitarist, Richie Stotts had a blue mohawk and dressed in a nurse’s uniform. He played so hard, this is what his picks ended up looking like:
Richie, sorry I spelled your name wrong, I was only 17!
Jean Beauvoir was the bassist, a black man with a snow white mohawk. And Wes Beech on rhythm guitar.
That original line-up was all from Long Island, New York. I am trying to get them into the Long Island Hall of Fame via Face Book (https://www.facebook.com/groups/701821216542687/). That is the line-up I saw quite a few times before original drummer Stu Deutsch left the band. And even as young as 17, I knew some of the magic had gone when he did. The band just didn’t sound quite right anymore and I stopped going to their shows.
At 17, I had finished my third year of music theory in high school and was able to see that The Plasmatics were so much more than a stage show.
Listen to the break halfway through “Sometimes I” and tell me it doesn’t hit the spot.
You can’t deny this is a moving pop song!
This band had so much musical talent that was shadowed by their theatrics and Wendy O’s sex symbolism. Though their theatrics are what made them so legendary that you have generations of new followers.
But like it was back in the day, you have those who loved the music and believe in everything Wendy O. stood for. She was a feminist ages before her time … so much so that she had to kill herself because the world wasn’t ready for her yet. In her suicide note she wrote that she didn’t feel she fit in society as an older woman. That was in 1998. Today older women are KILLING IT! We are ruling the world!! And we gotta admit, Wendy paved the way for us! Thank you Wendy!
There’s a video of Wendy O. on a talk show that was promoting Mrs. Fields cookies. Wendy spoke up about the amount of sugar in the cookies and ended up getting kicked off the show. She was a huge health food advocate and ended up on the cover of Vegetarian Times.
Sadly, I see on Plasmatics Face Book groups, that most people don’t get the depth of this band. It’s just “punk as fuck” to them and that’s as far as it goes. They don’t even know the names of the band members. Nor do they care to read a book by a journalist who was there, up front, first hand, my book: “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X
It’s like I wrote in my book, about going to the shows and being up front and really digging the music, while other “fans” were just there to get a glimpse of Wendy’s nude body or see her trash a Cadillac. No one quite got the message … that they were anti-materialists. If Wendy were around today she’d be trashing SUVs and iPhones.
The reason Wendy cut her beautiful long blonde hair into a mohawk was that she didn’t want to be seen as a “Barbie Doll.” Yet, underneath all that stage persona, when you saw her on talk shows you saw an undeniable softness. Whenever I met her, as a teenager, I was so afraid she was going to be mean to me, like the bullies in school where. But, no, Wendy and the rest of the band were always nice and respectable to their fans.
When I was writing “Guest List” I was lucky to get back in touch with Stu Deutsch and equally as lucky to have had him endorse my book and do a promotional signing with me at Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown last year: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/guest-list-book-signing-at-man-cave-in-bordentown/
Stu Deutsch, Me, Randy Now (press taking photograph!)
This is why it’s so important to get this band into the Long Island Hall of Fame. They are not only great talents (in 1980 they were featured on so many talk shows, including the Tom Synder Show and Fridays — a variety show like Saturday Night Live) but they were good to their fans!
One night my friends and I trekked out to a show that we had to take a train and a bus to get to. I forgot where it was, I have to look it up in my diary. But we missed the show. It was a transitional time for rock music. Shows used to start after midnight and things were changing, bands were going on earlier. Anyway, Richie Stotts came out to talk to us. He felt bad that we missed the show.
I can go on and on about stories like this from The Plasmatics. At the height of their success, they remained true to the people who put them there. The Plasmatics were more than a stage show, they were an experience.
So if you’re a REAL FAN, do your part and help get the ORIGINAL Plasmatics into the Long Island Hall of Fame:
Jeffrey James Arts Consulting
4Tay Records & ClassicalCDs.net
45 Grant Avenue
Farmingdale, NY 11735 USA
JamesArts Radio: http://songza.com/listen/jj-radio
INFO on ORIGINAL PLASMATICS
THE PLASMATICS (1978-1983) were an internationally recognized, notorious band from New York, with strong ties to Long Island (as specified below). Their world concert tours included numerous venues on Long Island: The Calderone Theater in Hempstead, where a red ford mustang was blown up on stage; My Father’s Place in Roslyn, where the audience would dress up like the band members at their traditional Halloween shows; The Malibu in Long Beach, and Speaks in Island Park.
Wendy O. Williams, vocalist. Outrageous lead vocalist, Williams sang and carried out theatrical stunts onstage, such as blowing up equipment and chain sawing guitars. Williams was known as “the queen of shock rock” and is considered the most controversial, radical female singer of her time. She sported a Mohawk haircut and performed nearly nude. In 1985 she was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance category during the height of her popularity as a solo artist. Williams died of a self-inflicted gunshot, April, 1998 in Stoors, Connecticut. Williams was born and raised in upstate New York.
Richard Stotts, lead guitarist and main songwriter. Stotts was with The Plasmatics since the band’s inception in May 1978 until he left in 1983. He was born and raised in Oceanside, Long Island and has resided in Brooklyn, New York for many years. Stotts was known for his wild guitar style on his Flying Vs along with his flamboyant stage outfits and blue Mohawk that topped his 6’7’’ frame.
Stu Deutsch, drummer. Deutsch was with The Plasmatics since the band’s inception in May 1978 until he left in April 1981. He was raised in the Flushing, Whitestone section of Queens, New York where he went to Flushing High School and Queens College; graduating shortly before joining The Plasmatics. He has lived in Nassau County since then.
Jean Beauvoir, bassist and songwriter. Beauvoir was with The Plasmatics until in the summer of 1981. He was raised and has lived in various Long Island Towns throughout his early days, where he attended Sachem High School. He continued to live on Long Island throughout his time in The Plasmatics. Beauvoir replaced Chosei Funahara of Japan, who appeared on early independent EPs. This was shortly after Wes Beech also entered the picture.
Wes Beech, rhythm guitarist and songwriter. Beech joined the band approximately one year after its inception. Wes was born and raised in Freeport, Long Island and lived there throughout his Plasmatic tenure.