Riposte Nº10: W.O.W — Drop your jaw in awe at the life and times of Wendy O. Williams
Riposte is a smart magazine for women, made by editor in chief Danielle Pender, creative director Shaz Madani, photography editor Gem Fletcher, features editor Liv Siddall and a roll call of excellent creatives. I've served as contributing editor since it's inception in 2013. Here's an excerpt from my article on Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of Plasmatics and all 'round hell raiser.
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Before Miley licked a sledgehammer, before Slayer thrashed metal... there was Wendy. Lead singer of Plasmatics and the most hardcore punk to ever wield a chainsaw. She died in the tragedy of a self-inflicted gunshot, but lived with brutal beauty. In these times of hypernormalised conservatism, we could all learn a thing or two from her anarchy. And her strategic tit-tape.
Wendy Orlean Williams (W.O.W. to her fans) was born in 1949 in the suburbs of Rochester, New York. She was a quiet kid who hid from guests at birthday parties and once tap-danced on the Howdy Doody Show. Long after she grew into the ‘High-Priestess of Heavy Metal’, her high school guidance counsellor would say, “sometimes [they] turn out to be topless dancers, or go-go girls and you expected it because they were characters. But Wendy Williams? No way.” He was not the only one in for a shock.
She got stuck into teenage mayhem like a pro. Her first arrest came at age 15 on account of naked sunbathing. Soon after, she dropped out of school and skipped town, hitchhiking her way to Colorado to earn a crust flogging crocheted string bikinis...
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