06 February 2012

Homosexual Death Drive: Fat Queer Old Lady Punks

I'm in a band and, even though this is a little self-referential, I want to write about it, so I will.

My band is called Homosexual Death Drive and it consists of me, my girlfriend Kay Hyatt, and a couple of occasional collaborators. Although we have both performed in bands before, neither Kay nor I would think of ourselves as musicians; we make songs with the barest minimum of skill, often just singing, or making a song using instruments, pedals and home-made gadgets that are easy to play. We have a small repertoire, did our first performance in December 2010, and hope to release a 7-inch EP on vinyl some time this year. We've played a handful of shows and no one has booed us off yet. Soon there will be some videos and digital downloads. We don't have a website, just a little corner of Facebook for now.

Corinna Tomrley painted this picture of Homosexual Death Drive entitled 'Showbiz'.
I don't know about Kay but I think of Homosexual Death Drive as part of a queercore tradition in punk. Our name comes from a branch of queer theory that's preoccupied with anti-social sensibilities and is somewhat nihilistic – just like us! Our songs, mostly written by me, inhabit fairly traditional punk turf: revolution, riots, burning things down, but we also sing tenderly about being alone, regret, survival. I use Homosexual Death Drive as a place where I can express unspeakable things. We try and make our performances energetic and memorable, this sounds high-minded but I try to pass on the same feelings of freedom and openness that I've felt when seeing and being inspired by other people performing. It doesn't always work, performing can often feel quite humiliating but I still feel compelled to do it because there's something good about falling on your arse in public, being okay with being the buffoon, letting people take from that what they will.

Since I was a teenager punk has been this amazing force in my life. Punk means many things to different people but for me it has to do with queerness, belligerence, impertinence, politics, rawness, immediacy, anti-authoritarianism. These are great sensibilities for girls and women to draw on. But punk can be very conformist. When I was a girl I thought punks were always thin, I never saw a fat punk anywhere, I still struggle to name many, let alone fat queer punks beyond Nomy or Beth, certainly no one like me then or now. Being a real punk was the main thing that motivated me to want to be thin. Aged 15, 16, 17 I wanted to look like Iggy Pop on the cover of Raw Power, I thought that's how it would have to be if I wanted to be recognised as a punk (this would also have meant being a man and being a drooling drug addict). I never got thin, and always looked chubby and wholesome, even when I behaved otherwise.

With Homosexual Death Drive I feel like I'm carrying on the lifetime's work of reclaiming punk for myself. Fat used to be the thing that I thought was incompatible with being punk, but it turns out that it's central, it's an asset. Often people will never have met anyone like us, they have no idea about fat activism, they see us and perhaps expect us to be comic, or fulfil a stereotype. Then we turn out to be something else, something they never expected from a pair of fat old dykes. Our bodies are a rare spectacle of public fatness unmediated by hatred, fear or prurience. We invite people to look and listen and relate. The people we play to seem hungry for people like us, they are desperate for evidence, that until now has always been slightly out of reach, that disproves the inevitability of fatphobia. It feels good to be able to deliver this in some way.

The band is still new and tentative and I don't know how it will develop. I'm happy with the way it's going and the way we mix fat, queer and punk together. That's all I'm going to say for now.

Homosexual Death Drive are playing R I O T S N O T D I E T S #5 along with Halo Halo, Bellies, and Town Bike, plus a screening of But I'm A Cheerleader from 6pm onwards, Saturday, 11 February 2012 at West Hill Hall, Compton Ave, Brighton, United Kingdom. It costs £6. Please come.


http://tinyurl.com/homodeathdrive

4 comments:

microbat said...

Nobody was more punk than Edith Massey:
http://youtu.be/JZCFdd3c8QI

I'd love to see your band one day.
:)

Charlotte Cooper said...

Yay Edie!

I'd love you to DJ at a thing where we play. Is there anywhere in H'brg that would have us?

microbat said...

Oooooh... why didn't I think of that?
I must go and ask around!

Charlotte Cooper said...

That would be a dream come true.