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Dancer Reviews

Reviews of Shows

There is a trend in the mainstream media towards getting ratings and ticket sales by "exposing" strip clubs and exotic dancers for the general public. This trend did not stop with movies and TV shows. Now it's time for live shows and stage plays to catch up with the rest. This section will review some of the ones that caught my fancy.

Switchblade Kitty, The Roxy

March 9, 2009
By Paul Hart

Switchblade Kitty girls
All photos by Paul Hart
Switchblade Kitty from left to right: Heidi Shepherd, Carla Harvey, Kelly Cole, and Gabriella DeMarco.
When I was a young lad growing up in L.A. in the 1980s, I loved punk rock. The speed, the adrenalin, the energy. I didn't go so much for the darkness and nihilism, so I liked sociopolitical punk: X, the Minutemen, Husker Du, Black Flag.

Once in a while though, it was fun to check your brain at the door and jump into the mosh pit (we called it "pogo" back then) for the Circle Jerks, the Ramones or the countless forgotten but great bands that made L.A. such a great punk town back in the day.

At some point, I ended up at a show that was being filmed for a movie: Urgh! A Music War. This show at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go featured the Surf Punks, the Alleycats, Oingo Boingo and the Go-Go's, and maybe even some more. I still have the ticket stub somewhere... It was eight bucks.

I fell in love with Dianne Chai, the singer and bassist for the Alleycats, a lithe woman with spiky hair and smeared mascara. She had a sexual energy that was riveting, and could play bass better than any man I saw on stage that night.

The Go-Go's (yes, they were considered part of the punk scene at the time), were undeniably cute, but they weren't my cup of chai. Some uncool jerk in the audience felt differently: He kept screaming over and over again, "SHOW US YOUR TITS!" It was kind of funny (maybe, if you were drunk) the first couple of times, but after a couple of songs, the whole crowd was sick of it. Belinda Carlisle put him in his place with a well-deserved putdown, and that was that.

On the way home though, I thought the jerk had it all wrong: Though I never would have been as crude and stoopid as he was, it was the dark, sexy, tough-chick of the Alleycats I wanted to see naked.

Switchblade Kitty band
Switchblade Kitty in the Roxy dressing room.
Well, flash forward 25 years: I'm at the Roxy to see Switchblade Kitty. A throwback to the best of the punk era, these four winsome lasses and their four-piece backing band.

They play a variety of classic punk and metal covers in a brash, party-anarchic style that feels like a riot on stage. The band is tight and smooth. No pointless chatter between songs, no retuning the strings, just bam-bam-bam from one song to the next. It's like the rock version of the movie "Speed" - They play as if they stop playing someone's gonna die.

Matt Fuller on bass, Ben Graves on drums and Ace von Johnson and Dallas Calscivitti on guitars play with full-on punk-metal fury, never letting up or slowing down. I wouldn't expect any power ballads out of this quartet anytime soon.

But as you'd expect, it's the women who are the focal point: Four hot, sexy, death-defying punks who command the stage from note one to the final crescendo, dancing, strutting, cavorting and whirling like dervishes; screaming, singing, and having frenzied seizures of out-of-control mania, exhorting the crowd, giving them the finger and completely being in control. In a brief, pre-show interview, the girls mentioned that one writer had called them "Pussycat Dolls on heroin." Yeah, well sure. Or the Go-Go's on acid or Bananarama on crystal meth. Pick your poison, but comparisons are unfair, because you have never seen anything like this before.

Oh, did I mention they are wearing little more than pasties, short-shorts and fishnet stockings? You want to see tits? Then step right up, if you dare.

Switchblade Kitty on stage

Channeling the late, great Wendy O. Williams, but without the threat of castration by chain saw, the women of Switchblade Kitty uphold the new feminist ideology of "sex is the new power" and show exactly how powerful they are. The men in the audience lined up to be humiliated at various points in the show, whether it was being pulled up on stage to have a shirt torn off and get spanked, being subjected to a three-way beer bong, or gaping like baby birds at the stage edge for mouth-shots of Jack Daniels, the men in the audience proved they understood that giving women total control can be a good thing. The women in the audience seemed to like what they saw as well. Chick-punk is the new girl power.

The show was such a blur, it is hard to distinguish any particular moments of supreme punkness, or express affection for the superior contributions of any one individual. Let's just say Carla Harvey, Gabriella Marco, Heidi Shepard and Kelly Cole all rocked the house, and at the same time, captured my heart, my brain, and my groin with their vocal prowess, unlimited power and down-and-dirty sexuality. These are women you don't want to fuck with.

The time is right for a female vocal group that isn't some perfectly packaged, record company exec's wet dream. A girl group that won't be role models for pre-teen girls because pre-teen girls will never be allowed to see them. A band of rocking women who speak to and for hardcore adults (albeit, young ones). That group is Switchblade Kitty. You have been warned.

Switchblade Kitty can be seen at the Roxy in West Hollywood, California on Monday nights at midnight.

UPDATE 4/2009:
Switchblade Kitty will be performing on Saturday nights at the Dragonfly starting April 11, 2009.


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