Queer Punk is Pride

Sun. August 15, 2004 12:00 AM
by Eric Roldan

This year’s line up for Market Days was a triumph for queer performers. Ember Swift, Dylan Rice, Ripley Cain and Melissa Ferrick were a handful of local acts that were booked to play on stages usually overwhelmed by straights. Believe me, I know first hand how fun it is to shake your ass to circuit beats on the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. In the summer, with beautiful men all around and no fewer than many beers in me, what’s better? But events like these frequently overlook the “pride” in “Pridefest,” the “gay” in “Gay Parade” and emphasize the “market” instead.

What unifies “punk” is an attitude. One punk band may sound completely different from another. Even the three chord blueprints made by Joey Ramone, the quirky yelps of David Byrne and the sassy calls of Debbie Harry were all distinct sounds, but they are cemented in the history books in the section about how CBGB was the place to be to watch an entire new movement blossom. Punk is about questioning the norms we are given and unification through a common goal of creating a time/place/artifact through those questions. Today, countless bands carry that torch and punk lives strong. Queer punk dares to throw sexual politics into the fire and laughs while social walls burn down. A man singing a song about how “everybody loves a muscle boy” or chanting “your asshole is political” over and over again is truly subversive.

Pansy Division put out their first album in 1993 and was soon branded the leaders of the Queercore movement. Not having strayed too far from their juvenile rhymes and pop hooks of those days, they are currently touring in support of their new album Total Entertainment! Their set brought together all kinds of fans—young and old, tucked in collared shirts, cargo shorts, mohawks—you name it. I even caught a pretty drag queen head banging so hard she kept having to adjust her wig! It was sweet party with a still energetic band getting all the love they deserved. Ironic, though, that they were stopped mid-set and told to keep down the profanity by the fest’s organizers. The band’s response was “Why did you hire us then?” and kept on screaming about f*cking tennis players in the ass.

Photo (Right): Pansy Division's Jon and Chris performing at Market Days. The band was told to keep down the profanity. Photo courtesy: Kirk Williamson, Nightspots Magazine

Jinx Titanic is a Chicago band that is making a name for itself with hot monthly performances at one leather bar or another. At Market Days they brought the Lickity Split Radical Cheerleaders to chant along about S-L-U-T…SLUT!! and other various gay incarnations and situations. They gave out fireworks (also nixed by the organizers), threw frisbee’s and tossed out underwear and bras that only got nastier every time they touched a sweaty, queer head. Jinx Titanic’s front man couldn’t get any more drunk and kept calling for naked muscle men to join him on stage (give me spontaneous, real looking go-go boys over thonged dancers that smell like hair removal cream ANYDAY). On top of the interactive show, this band has the hooks, the attitude, the chops and the song writing skills to go national, and I can’t wait.

Photo (Left): Local band, Jinx Titanic, peforms at Market Days. Photo courtesy: Kirk Williamson, Nightspots Magazine

Pride comes in many forms. To me, it’s rare that music can transcend the performer-listener communication chain. When the art you create is in itself a push towards social change, you have celebrated and communicated at the same time. Booking queer performers at queer events is so important. And with the sunshine on your head, a drink in your hand, and all kinds of queers having a good time, to the left, right and even under you, who can argue with that?