Chapter 2 (1980): Caddy Demolitions in NYC, Banned in London, Assault on West Coast

Now selling out shows in Philly, Boston and venues in NJ and elsewhere in the Northeast, while, as Chris Knowles of Classic Rock Magazine has written: Wendy and the Plasmatics "were the biggest live attraction in New York...and the media was on them like white on rice...they scared the record companies shitless."  “It's one thing to play at subversiveness", Knowles wrote in Classic Rock Magazine, but Wendy and the Plasmatics "unlike other Punk bands..put their Punk philosophy into action." What everyone fully knew was that Wendy was no poseur, a true radical...and this scared the shit out of the establishment.  But whereas corporate governed US labels were running the other direction, Stiff Records the irreverent British independent was hot.  Picking up on the buzz they'd gotten from all away across the pond, they flew over their head A&R guy to see a show in person and determine if what they'd been reading and hearing could possibly be real.  The day after seeing the performance Stiff put in an offer and a deal was inked within a month and only a few months later Wendy and company were laying down trax in NY for the “New Hope for the Wretched” album.

Stiff had thought it would add interest to the project if former Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller as producer on the project. Unfortunately Miller's heroin addiction took almost complete control from the day he arrived in NY and he was virtually useless to the project, nearly bringing the whole project down with him.  The record company gave Miller his walking papers and the album had to be finished by Ramones engineer, and later award-winning producer, Ed Stasum and Rod over in England.  In addition to songs like “Corruption” and “Living Dead” linked to TV smashing and automobile destruction the song “Butcher Baby?” featured, as with the live shows, a chainsaw sawing through a guitar in place of a guitar solo.  Stiff released it as single where it made it into the top 40 on the UK charts.

For Wendy and the Plasmatics UK debut they were booked into the famed Hammersmith Odeon with the intent of blowing up a car. The entire band and crew flew to London for the sold-out show and Wendy, who had changed into a nurse's uniform on the plane announced to the throng of reporters that had come to greet her at the airport... interested in what this 'anarchist' had to say...that she had come to the UK to give the British people a “cultural enema".  All went well until the day of the show when the Greater London Council or "GLC" announced they wanted to see a further demonstration of the way the car would be detonated.  It turned out later they had already made up there mind that the show would be banned.

Banned in the UK but with an album coming out in the States where Stiff America had scheduled a release and a full blown US tour set to go to the West Coast for the first time plans were already underway to work off the frustration of the UK Hammersmith banning and get the momentum back.  Wendy would drive a brakeless Cadillac towards a stage loaded with explosives jumping out moments before the car would hit the stage and the stage and all the equipment on it would blow up. The permits were hard to get and only allowed for an estimated 5-6,000 people, but the day of the performance over 25,000 showed up jamming the downtown streets and lining the rooftops.  Even though it cost virtually the entire advance for the US release of New Hope to do it Wendy was quoted by a reporter from the Associated Press as saying "it was worth it because it showed that these are just things and...people shouldn't worship them", a point she'd repeat more than once.

Wendy and the Plasmatics debut in the LA market was at the famed Whiskey A Go Go where 2 nights were extended to 3 and then extended to 4, all of which sold-out with lines as in NY around the block. "Even LA punks were shocked" headlined the Associated Press about the performances, the buzz so strong that Avalon attractions now wanted Wendy and the band to return to the LA market just 6 weeks later to headline the Santa Monica Civic Center.  Then on November 30, 1980, prior to returning to do the Civic Center, Wendy shaved her hair into a Mohawk something she'd wanted to do since before the forming of the band but diligently held off on until the public became aware of her the other way with the belief that it would be a stronger statement. It must be pointed out there were no bands with mohawks and no women at all in the public eye at that time with mohawks.  Most generally speaking no one had ever seen a woman with a mohawk, and the result was shocking. "I want say 'Fuck You!' to all the cosmetics companies" Wendy said in a much publicized interview.

The show at the Civic Center was one of many shows that was almost shut down before it happened (and the Hammersmith Odeon Show the first of many that were), but Rod was able to get both the authorities on the phone and appease them by agreeing to do a demonstration of the car explosion in the parking lot just hours before the doors were set to open, and the show went on as scheduled. In the meantime, the ABC show “Fridays” which was looking to be a more cutting edge version of “Saturday Night Live” only on Friday nights booked Wendy and the Plasmatics to appear roughy 4 weeks later and go live on nationwide TV.  Struggles with the censors again went on to within minutes of airtime.  "Conservatives (across) America," Chris Knowles would write in Classic Rock, "all of a sudden had castration anxiety when they saw Wendy wielding a chain saw."