The fire you’re looking at blazing behind Wendy O. Williams is an exploded school bus. Yes, that’s right, an exploded school bus. Wendy here blew it up after driving it through the Arizona desert full of dynamite, climbing on the roof as it barreled driverlessly forward and jumping to safety moments before it burst into flame.
Did I mention that all of this was the real deal-done with no stuntmen or safety harnesses?
This type of incendiary, in-your-face spectacle was something Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics did regularly. Whether it was sledgehammering televisions in protest of the brainwashing media or chainsawing through an electric guitar in lieu of a self-indulgent solo, The Plasmatics’ live shows were raw and chaotic peices of performance art.
Check out their video for Butcher Baby.
The Plasmatics was one of the many bands that evolved in downtown Manhattan during the late seventies. Though they were among the likes of other CBGB-playing acts such as The Ramones and Patti Smith, their sound was more aggressive, a mixture of two genres that were at odds with one another: punk and metal. Wendy frequently detonated cars live onstage which got the band banned in some cities. Their doomsday scenario message coupled with their onstage antics often scared promoters into cancelling gigs, yet the band performed relentlessly. Although Wendy was victim to arrests, police brutality and sexual harrasment she continued to spread her philosophy and blow things up.
Wendy O. Williams was a punk rock superhero with amazing personal style and a rock-solid, healthy body. She sang with a powerful, gutteral snarl, often had gravity defying hair and never missed a gig unless she was incarcerated. She usually performed in some stage of undress but was always in control of her own sexuality. Wendy was a true feminist: neither a “female rock artist” nor a butch girl but Wendy O. Williams- undefinable and unique.
Check out the Plasmatics documentary, 10 Years of Revolutionary Rock and Roll.
More pictures of Wendy O. below.