During the PMRC hearings of 1985, Sen. Paula Hawkins of Florida displayed three record covers as examples of what was wrong in the music industry at the time: “Much has changed since Elvis’ seemingly innocent times,” she said. “Subtleties, suggestions, and innuendo have given way to overt expressions and descriptions of often violent sexual acts, drug taking, and flirtations with the occult. The record album covers to me are self-explanatory.”
They were: Pyromania by Def Leppard, W.A.S.P. by W.A.S.P., and W.O.W. by Wendy O. Williams, her first solo, post-Plasmatics, record.
Fitting, I think, considering Frank Zappa’s involvement with those hearings that Williams would sit for a brief interview with Dweezil.
This is only tangentially Zappadan fodder, I know. But Wendy is quite a trip to me as she’s one of those local gals make good kind of stories. She was born in Webster, N.Y. and was an alum in some regard of the Eastman School of Music.
Zappa was flabbergasted at Sen. Hawkins’ cluelessness.
Oh, it was stupid. It was utterly stupid. When Paula Hawkins held up a cover of the Wendy O. Williams album, she knew so little about what was really going on there. If you look at the C-Span tapes of the hearings, you’ll see her hold up this album and she doesn’t know what to say about it. And this little voice in the background says “porn rock,” and she says “porn rock”. You know, how Ronald Reagan does? I was the same knee-jerk reaction. She was waiting for the cue: And then after she said “porn rock” she still didn’t know what to do, so she started to read the names of the songs on the album and here’s what comes out: “Porn rock, uh, it’s my life and I like sex.” I mean, that’s how corny all this stuff was and people are supposed to take this kind of thing seriously? I mean, do kids really rush into the stores to buy a Wendy O. Williams album?
A few things to consider, by the way, regarding Williams’ erstwhile outfit:
Literally created the Irving Plaza rock venue? The Plasmatics.
First rock act in history to headline the Palladium at full ticket prices without the support of a record label? The Plasmatics.
Introduced the Mohawk haircut to rock and roll? The Plasmatics.
Wendy O. Williams retired to Connecticut in 1991 and voluntarily discorporated in 1998 at the age of 48.
I think she was one fascinating broad.