‘I’m In The Band’ Ep. 1: Allison Wolfe and Donita Sparks Talk Bloody Tampons, Pantsuits and More
Today, TIDAL is thrilled to welcome a new podcast to our growing stable, I’m in the Band, hosted and produced by iconic riot grrrl Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile and Sex Stains, and co-produced by Jonathan Shifflett. The podcast takes its name from a song off of Bratmobile’s 2002 album, Girls Get Busy.
Our first episode features Donita Sparks of L7, who emerged from the ’90s grunge scene to fight sexism and misogyny with humor and wit (and a barrage of bloody tampons) and also founded the abortion rights group Rock for Choice. Sparks talks with Wolfe on the inaugural episode about her rebellious youth, L7 getting back together and the new documentary, L7: Pretend We’re Dead, out October 13.
Donita Sparks on early rebellion… I will tell you a story of rebellion. I went to a public school, but for some reason we had this very peculiar principal who would not allow girls to wear pants to school. And I’m not talking about jeans, I’m talking about Marcia Brady pantsuits. So I organized my friends to all wear pantsuits on the day that he would be in the classroom handing out the report cards so it would be in his face. And it actually worked. Surprisingly, there were a couple of girls who were completely against this, and I think that that was my first experience of like, ‘Oh my God, these girls don’t want to be liberated. How freaking weird is that?’
Sparks on early bands… I started a band for my high school talent show, just as a weird thing to do, and we did ‘Surfin’ USA’ by the Beach Boys. I was playing guitar and my friend Esther was playing bass and we both dropped acid before the performance. We had two friends, one on tambourine and one on bongos, who were terrible. We came out on skateboards, none of us knowing how to skateboard. We were on acid and I looked at my friend Esther and her hands were in a completely different place [than] where they were supposed to be and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, like what the hell does this sound like?’
On throwing a bloody tampon at the UK Reading Festival… I think it’s really fun to shock people, especially squares. But also there’s also sort of a method to our madness as L7. I think a lot of people just think we’re just these pants-dropping lunatics or something, but there’s a method to the madness. … As far as the context for throwing the tampon [in 1992 at UK’s Reading Festival], we were pelted with mud the entire set and it was very demoralizing and I was also getting pissed off and I was also going with the absurdity angle, because I like absurdity. I’m also from a performance art background.
I mean, it’s pretty shocking. I’ll say it. I feel it has yet to be topped, with maybe the exception of GG Allin throwing his shit into the audience… but I don’t know what was quite behind that. For a while I was really kind of not into the fact that I did that, because I was like, ‘Whoa, that was really hardcore.’ But now these young feminists just like love it and they’re throwing tampons at us on stage. Not used ones, they’re throwing [tampons] with love letters written on them in Sharpie.
On the L7 reunion… Since our reunion and Trump getting into office, we’ve had fans kind of grasping onto our arms like, ‘Save us!’ There’s such desperation for a band that will say something, to be a threat and to be challenging in this challenging time.
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