'You loved the Huns. You raved over the Vandals. You
marvelled at the Goths. You will SHIT when you see the
Plasmatics.' - Alan Plan, Soho Weekly News.

' I too found it very entertaining I must confess'. - Tony Lioce, Boston Journal-Bulletin.

' I don't much care for the Plasmatics, but manager Rod Swenson has got his fingers on the
pulse evernif his thumb is squarely up the ass of the kaptive Amerikan konsumer.'
- Roy Trakin, New York Rocker.

'If this in Nihilism, waiter, bring me Nothing with Everything on it,'
- Alan Platt, Soho Weekly News.

THIS HAD better be good, because if it
doesn't match the build-ap" aaargh!
Mental processes aborted as a thousand
pairs of hands clutched their owners' ears
in united alarm at the noise which had
suddenly erupted from the PA.
It was either the Plasmatics or World War
Three and, whichever, we were in the front
line. Oh the pain!
The man to blame first off was Richie Stotts,
he of the waspie, the tutu, the suspender-
belt, nylons and blue Mohawk hairdo. He
seemed to be performing open-heart
surgery on his guitar without benefit of
anaesthetic. It was screaming, well,
wouldn't you?
And there was Wendy 0' Williams in a catsuit and
a pink leather jacket swinging a sledge-hammer
like John Henry to fragment a couple of radios
which had been set up for our entertainment by a
passing member of the Ku Klux Klan (who let him in?).
She grabbed a mike and started to bawl. This must have been a song. Once I heard it say
'You keep comin' but now
I'm tellin' you you're goin'.'  
Those were the last words I heard until nearly an hour later when what must have been
another song said quite clearly
'Hey you in your monkey suit you look just like a monkey'. Aaargh! Chaos.
What happened was Wendy hammered a TV to bits,
blasted a few amps and brought down a section of the
lighting rig shooting a sawn-off shotgun from the hip, and
took an amplified chain-saw to a couple of electric guitars
cleaving them with Barry Bucknall precision, all the while
vigorously rubbing her crotch as if she only wished she
had a Black and Decker sander so she could do the job
Meanwhile the KKK delegate doffed his hood and
doggedly took a broom to the mounting heaps of debris
while a 'cop' strolled about the stage unconcerned and
the band played maximum-speed maximum-noise God-
knows-what highlighted by the Intercity 125 power
drumming of Stu Deutsch and coloured by the blood of
Richie Stotts who was biffing himself about  the head with
his Flying V. Songs? An artsy-fartsy old notion. Chords?
Who needs 'em. Aaargh!
Three miked-up explosions O' had changed into her
leopoard-skin off-the-sternum number, Bristols a gogo
and the well-known strips of black sticky tape on station.
She teased the smouldering fuses of the sticks of
'dynamite' over her body as if they reminded her of
something rather less potent, then lobbed them into the
shining red coupe. Aaargh!
Three miked-up explositions axed our skulls. The last one
flipped the bonnet off and blew a ball of fire 50 feet into
the air to gust around the stage curtains and, somehow,
fail to bring them down in flames.

Aaargh! And the stage was swamped with dry-ice clouds and a string quartet came on and started sawing away inaudibly
amid the bedlam and the 'cop' burnt his hands flapping at a fire in the car and Wendy fragged a few more amps with her
shotgun and the bass player 'hung' himself and the show's over, folks. No encores. Aaargh. Aaargh.
Desperate Dan meets Wonderwoman in crazy cartoonland. I'm all shook up. I didn't even mind the clumsier sleight of
hand tricks and I loved the way the front wheel of the car fell off before the first explosion. But why do Stiff believe they
can sell records relating to this mayhem? Are the Plasmatics scheduled to be the first video disc megastars?

IN ACCORD WITH the state of anticipatory tension among the British
delegation, when Wendy 0' Williams walked into Stiff's West 57th Street
office hidden choirs should have burst into song and a battallion of
Busby Berkeley dancing girls sprung out of the toilet to go into an epic
production number featuring a million ostrich feathers. Instead there was
a girl in a T-shirt and jeans with the slightly nervous look of someone who
feels that too much is likely to be expected of her most of the time. First,
I imagine, we all looked furtively at her chest, were not disappointed, and
then panned upwards to her face which is an MGM spectacular in itself —
big smile, big teeth, big eyes shimmering behind improbable mountains
of mascara and mutli-colour shadow. She shook hands firmly.
With her was the
Plasmatics' manager Rod Swenson, Brooklynite,
balding, neatly bearded, early thirties, anonymously clad. Fine Arts MA
from Yale University. Captain Kink the sex show promoter from 42nd
Street. Creator of
Plasmatics, the 'ultimate product' of his dreams back
in '77 when all existing rock bands bored him rigid. With the established
musicians failing to meet his demands he turned to his sex star Wendy 0'
Rod: "I was impressed with her after two years working together on
various projects. She couldn't stand living without doing things that are
somewhat insane. I've never been able to think up anything she wouldn't
Join Wendy to a couple of chords by Richie Stotts and the
had begun. Swenson gave his on/off switchable business smile, the
visible surface of a brain buzzing with old-fashioned rudeness, a
showman's desire to make Barnum And Bailey and Cecil B. Demille look
like cheapskates, and a post-grad academic's intellect with analytical
capacity spare to play endless mind games with ethics, morality and
legality. Later when we visited his loft office/home it seemed the image of
his character — elements of suave cool, like the bath under the
skylight in the middle of the living-room, amid a tumbling chaos of papers,
broken guitars, overgrown plants and kitchen condiments. A character.
Yet alongside Wendy 0' he seemed an ordinary fellow. Her voice is
pitched low, the accent country-girl with lots of New York nose in it, 'aws'
all over the place (you know, 'strong' becomes 'strawng', 'soft' is 'sawft'
etc.). The overall effect is John F. Kennedy meets Mae West. The rusty-gate giggles are pure Wendy Williams and a
good sound to hear, full of unknown fun.
She listened to my questions and tried to give me what I wanted. When Rod got lost in discourse on the nature of art, or
freedom and the constitution, she carefully examined the corners of the ceiling until he'd done. Clearly a mutually tolerant
and appreciative working relationship.

ME: WENDY, HOW do you react to Rod's
portrait of you? The 'ultimate product',
taking insane chances . . .
Wendy: I am a blatant exhibitionist and I
always wanted to be a rock 'n' roll singer.
Now that I got the opportunity I'm thrilled.
I mean I've never had so much fun in my
life, I've never had so many orgasms in
my life.
Me: You literally have orgasms on stage?
Wendy: The energy, the whole thing, it ...
really really gets my blood pumping, my
adrenalin flowing, it gives me that instant
orgasmic rush. It's just like fucking, super-
fucking. Well, my panties are always wet.
I can't help it (chuckle).
Me (gulp, struggling already): What do
you see as the 'chances' you take. I
mean, I've seen you on video in possible
danger of blowing yourself up with
dynamite ...
Wendy (big grin): I love it, it makes it even
more intense. It's half-excitement and half-fear.
Me: Was that New York Palladium show the first time you'd handled dynamite? (Seeing the live show the next night I
realised how naive the question was and how gracefully she skated round it.)
Wendy: We'd blown up a coupla test cars to see how loud it would be and how far the pieces would go.
Me: So there's some sort of control, it's not totally anarchic?
Wendy: It is wild but.
Rod: The people that come, well, you don't wanna blow them up. Rule number one is not to maim the audience, though
some people think we're conservative in saying that. Rule two is not to seriously damage the venues we play in, at least
not at this point because the band is on the way up and we want to be able to return to those places. When the band's
peaked and it's on its way down then we'll be able to do the 'OK you got 15 seconds to get out!' and BOOM, destroy the
whole auditorium.
Me: What about this plan you've been quoted on to ram an airship with a helicopter over a stadium?

Rod: YEAH, THAT would be visual. Like the Hindenberg
disaster. The aura of catastrophe is intriguing to me. I
think people come to the
Plasmatics with an idea of
what they're going to see but when it actually happens
they're afraid and for an instant they wish they hadn't
come. 'Uhoh, this is it!' Y'know. That's a great moment
because when it's over they think 'Hey! We made it! We
got through!' and they feel good. Our job is to take it to
that edge, but control it.
Wendy: The
Plasmatics are preserving those feelings you
have as an adolescent that you don't fucking know what to
do with. Most people are forced to repress them and they
become middle-class. Personally I'd rather be dead than
Me: Which 'adolescent' feelings are you talking about?
Just finding out you're sexy?
Wendy: Yeah, but also end-of-the-world feelings, what am-l-gonna-do feelings, a million things. Paranoia, anger,
sometimes you'd like to bomb your parents' house. That's all part of what we do on stage. Blowing up the Cadillac, it's
become like a religion with-people to worship material objects and the
Plasmatics are showing that these things are just
... things. By wrecking them. That's why we could change society.
Rod: It's a destruction of culture symbols, though I realise that's a paradox because a rock 'n' roll band is a very effective
financial vehicle.
Me: You're really serious about all this?
Wendy: Everybody in the band feels the same way. That's why every morning when I get up I run at (east four miles and
work out with weights. I've had this regime for two years now. I would call myself a professional body­builder.
Me: Was that your idea or Rod's?
Wendy: Mine, though I'd been fit when I was doing-the sex shows. I did 12 a day.
Me: Not much time for jogging?
Wendy: I got plenty of exercise, let's put it like that. I ran around between two theatres changing clothes in elevators and
taxi cabs. But I'm in better shape now than I was then, I look better.

ROD STEPPED OUT to talk  business for a few minutes and I asked
Wendy about her background, the weird route to becoming W.O.W.
She was born on an upstate farm 28 years ago, got rock 'n' roll fever
from seeing Elvis' head and shoulders on the Ed Sullivan Show, and
knew she wanted to be a performer at seven when she starred on the
Howdy Doody children's TV programme doing a Shirley Temple tap-dance.
As her parents were concerned that she should be looking forward to
collecting her pension from the local Kodak factory after a lifetime's
job-security a rift formed and she was thrown out at 16. She hitched
West and made a living crocheting string bikinis (giggle) in Boulder,
Colorado, then lifesaving and selling her own craftworks {beads and
macrame) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (her hippie phase). Then the
exhibionist bug took her to Europe for two years as all kinds of a
showgirl but, as she quaintly puts it, she "wasn't getting the chance to
express herself" so she took a fix on Times Square, flew back to New
York and studied the want ads.
Wendy: "That's where I met Rod. He intrigued me. And scared me to
death. Also he what can I say? (Chuckle). So I became a starlet of the
New York scene."
Me: Was it a big decision to start working in sex shows?
Wendy: No, I will do anything as long as there is a certain quality
involved. These were like the fucking Cadillacs of sex shows. It was all
costumed, choreographed, scripted, This was where I was developing
my voice. I was cast as like a domineetnx, a strong female character.
I liked it being slightly illegal. I was arrested over a hundred times — I
loved it. They'd take me down to the precinct and keep me there for a
while and see if they could make me miss a coupla shows.
Me: I wonder if you're just doing a pretty painting and decorating job
on some rather sleazy shows.
Wendy (indignant): There was nothing sleazy about them at all. It
wasn't just a girl walking on stage and fucking. This was not a sex
show {read on). Some numbers were funny, some of them were
terrifying, some of them were just sexy. There was a Victorian one, a Western show. Animals: girls dressed up like gorillas
or horses or dogs.
Rod (embarrassed?!): They were parodies. It's a little complex...
Wendy: Sure, one of my favourites was a vampire number with the fangs and the blood dripping out of my mouth. It
wasn't the kind of show...there was never a guy and a girl fucking in these shows.

MEANWHILE: WHAT ABOUT this line  that you've screwed on stage  1700
Rod: I don't know why she's saying that there weren't guys and girls fucking
on stage because there were.
Wendy: In the last couple maybe. It wasn't the main constituent of the show
Rod: Yeah, there was an emotional dramatic build-up to it which is why
there was standing-room-only in our theatres. But her speciality was in the
girl-to-girl numbers. She did perform hard-core sex but not with men on
stage. It was as hard as you can get. Oral sex, penetration with...whatever.
Wendy: I'm not a lesbian, I'm bisexual, I like girls just as much as I like guys.
Me: What do you think you were doing to the audience at those shows?
Wendy: Turning them on . It's like a cartharis, people working out their
fantasies and therefore you feel better. It's great. People say 'Don't do it!'.
Rod: On the occasions when they actually did manage to close the theatre
down we reckoned the crime rate went up because those guys were out on
the streets. I think it's true about the
Plasmatics too.
Me: I'm wondering if you have any inhibitions at all, Wendy. I did see you
pulling faces when Rod was talking about Richie and his Mohawk hairdo.
Could you do that?
Wendy: Sure. I thought about shaving my head for the next tour. I think it
would make my body look even better (cackle). There's nothing that
doesn't slide through my mind.
Rod: I have to take responsibility for holding her back. Although she's used
to herself this way, the world isn't and she should make the change after she's well-known because then it would be more
meaningful. We communicated about that. Now she is this combination of glamour, hard but soft female. Once she's got
that statement out that will be the time to go in a completely different direction.
Me: Finally what I'd like if possible is a story that maybe will show what the Plasmatics are all about.
Wendy: What's green and red goes ninety miles and hour? (Blank faces from the GB contingent. A frog in a blender!
(Wendy giggles, omnes groan.)
Wendy Orleans Williams: seems like a nice girl.

IN THE CALDERON dressing-room after the show Wendy 0', still
bare-breasted, posed for the photo squad, refusing offers of beer
because she only drinks a health potion called 'ginseng rush'.
I found myself propping up the wall beside Richie Stotts' mum. His
73-year-old dad was around too, and Richie is the last person you'd
expect to have parents. Mrs. Stotts was looking resolute if bemused.
"What can you do? He's our son," she said. "He's a good boy. His
brother's quite normal..."
Apparently they lost track of Richie for a year and only found him
through a picture on a magazine cover. Now they are back on terms
and Mr. Stotts has set aside a whole room at home as a
They can accept almost anything from him now. Except when they saw
the album sleeve pic of Richie in the waspie, tutu, suspender belt,
nylons and blue Mohawk, Mr. Stotts said: "Son, did you really have to
cross you eyes?"
First published in SOUNDS MAY 31ST 1980.

Wendy retired from the music scene in the early 90's and became
involved in animal rehabilition when she moved to Storrs,
Connecticut in 1991. However she never found a replacement for the
excitement of life on stage and became despondent.
She committed suicide by shooting herself with a handgun in some
wooded area at the back of her home in Storrs, Connecticut in
April 1998. She was found by her former manager and longtime
companion Rod Swenson.
Plasmatics in action (DC Collection)
Wendy ready to punp with Richie Stotts bloodied (DC Collection)
Plasmatics in a West Side meat locker NYC 22nd July 1980 (?)
Wendy backstage 1980 (DC Collection)
Wendy looking for that black 'n' decker (DC Collection)
Wendy Orleons Williams (DC Collection)
Wendy backstage NYC 1980 (DC Collection)
Wendy NYC 1980 (DC Collection)
"At the moment we don't want to maim our audience or seriously damage
the venues we play in..."
"...But when we've peaked we should be able to say 'OK you got 15
seconds to get out' and BOOM! destroy the whole auditorium"