Toshio Meronek

Grrrls in Front

Filed By Toshio Meronek | March 04, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History
Tags: Lucy Thane, Miranda July, music, punk, riot grrrl, Sara Marcus, She's Real, Tammy Rae Carland

I was just turned on to the fact (thanks, Google) that filmmaker Lucy Thane has made her lucy-thane-shes-real.jpeg 90s
dyke/queercore/Riot Grrrl documentary "She's Real (Worse Than Queer)" available for online consumption.

All 51 of its under-appreciated minutes feature interviews and performances from artists like Team Dresch and Tribe 8 (the influential dyke punk bands); Tammy Rae Carland (who founded the all-woman, queercore record label, Mr. Lady, that put out stuff from Le Tigre and Tracy and the Plastics); and Miranda July before she went huge.

The interviewees describe the lovely shit they had to deal with as girl artists, such as people wanting to categorize punk as a men's-only music genre. As one female musician recounts, women desiring to learn more about the craft of making music were usually brushed off by guys in the scene. ("That's nothing you should be worried about, little lady!") We're shown a "How to Buy 2nd-Hand Guitars" workshop for girls that was organized as a result.

Other conversations cover self-defense classes started as a response to queer bashing, and racism within punk. The movie's a great introduction to and record of a DIY art- and politics-focused culture that saved a lot of kids (like me) from wanting to kill ourselves. Or at least saved us from actually killing ourselves.

Part One:

Part Two is here.

For bonus points, pair your viewing with Girls to the Front, a new book on Riot Grrrl by Sara Marcus. I found it interesting not only because of the compelling (and occasionally juicy) way in which she tells the movement's story, but also because I was a few years late to the party and knew way less than I thought I did about its origins and aspirations. We didn't really get Riot Grrrl in Orange County until the mid-nineties, by which time the national movement was kind of fading.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

thank you for sharing this!! can't wait to watch it

Just need to say that Mr. Lady had a rep for putting a lot of their bands in the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival... yes, right when there was perhaps the peak amount of protest against it for their policy of excluding trans women. And, despite the label's weak attempts at sounding trans positive ("we're all part of the LGBT movement, blah, blah") they firmly supported the womyn-born-womyn policy. Why wasn't this issue even mentioned in the film (nor is it discussed in the recent tour documentary about Le Tigre). Not that the films should be in any way centered around that issue, but to not discuss it at all seems disingenuous. Moreover, Kathleen Hanna, who has made some blurry statements about some extremely transmisogynistic writings and statements she made when she was younger, vaguely speaks about her "horizontal oppression" yet doesn't even name at whom that was targeted. To me, completely avoiding these issues compromises both these documentaries.

Oh, Gina.

This documentary was made in 1997. There weren't any Mr Lady bands playing the MWMF until 1999.

The Le Tigre documentary was only about following them around on one tour in 2004. They didn't play MWMF that year.


I stand corrected about the chronology of the Mr. Lady and Le Tigre in relationship to the films, thank you for clarifying that.

It still doesn't make me feel better about what those bands did in terms of the WBW policy and their unapologetic playing at MichFest and their justifications of it later on but, you're right, considering when the films were shot it wasn't their responsibility to point out that issue.

Damn... I would LOVE to know where these dykes are now today. Amazing!

I once watched a documentary from like 1995 on queer core and there was Beth Ditto, just another rocker in LA. Yup.