Chapter 3 (1981): The Establshment Tried ot Put the Straps Back on; Busted in Milwaukee and Cleveland

The jackboot response from the establishment came down hard just 2 days later when Wendy was arrested and brutally beaten by Vice Squad police officers after a performance at The Palms Nightclub in Milwaukee. Arrested on a supposed obscenity charge for allegedly simulating a sex act with a sledgehammer, once outside the club Wendy was thrown to the ground and beaten into semi-consciousness.  Rod was also dragged off behind a car and beaten to unconsciousness when he attempted to come to her aid.  Both were taken to the hospital in ambulances and later thrown in jail. Others we also arrested on lesser charges and others threatened with arrest in an effort to keep people from seeing what was going on. Bail was raised but there were now mammoth legal bills to pay, and the actual threat of jail should a potentially conservative midwestern jury take the word of the police that no beating had occurred and Wendy (and later Rod) had actually attacked them.  Fortunately, a local photographer had been able to photograph Wendy being beaten, and this refuted the claims of the police. 

There was a show in Cleveland the next night but with Wendy and Rod in jail the show could not go on. It was re-scheduled, however, for the following night where again, following the massive national press of the Milwaukee incident, Wendy was arrested again, although not assaulted as she had been in Milwaukee. Legal bills continued to mount as in the words of Chris Knowles, the establishment attempted o "put the straps back on." 

Still recovering from a broken nose, ruptured sinuses, and other injuries, and against doctor’s orders, within 12 days Wendy and the band were playing in front of a sold out crowd in Milan at the beginning of a 3 week European tour which saw her blowing up a Mercedes on the German Musikladen TV show, and riots in Zurich. By the time the band reached Berlin Rod along with agent Jim Kramer and Bruce Kirkland who was running Stiff America in the states had organized the first of what would be three historic shows at Bond's International Casino in Times Square NY as part of the effort to raise additional funds to offset the legal fees that were now accruing.  The show had to be launched with little time for promotion but word of mouth spread and fans lined up beginning in the early morning in the bitter New York cold with some 2,000 people beyond the legal capacity packed in like sardines for the first "Wendy Will Win" show in NYC.  The crowd cheered as the show opened with Wendy bursting through a giant banner that said "Stop the Gestapo!" referring to the Milwaukee police and at the new song "Pig is a Pig" also dedicated to them and fascists everywhere.

A second album was long overdue but due to the ongoing legal battles and the Miller debacle with the first album which was costly both in terms of time and money it was agreed that this one had to be lean and mean, and Bruce Kirkland at Stiff agreed to put up the funds as long as Rod produced and the album was done in less than 3 weeks at a quarter of the cost of the first.  Given the recent turn of events Rod proposed the name 'Beyond the Valley of 1984" and the tour, in 1981, became "The 1984 World Tour".  In between touring drummers Alice Cooper's Neil Smith was brought in to do the drumming for the record, and the album with its Orwellian and apocalyptic theme and songs such as "Masterplan", "Pig is a Pig", and "Sex Junkie" was released a few months later.   In the meantime the Wendy and the group were booked on the Tom Snyder late night TV show where Wendy sledgehammered a TV and chainsawed through a guitar and Tom Snyder introduced them (following appearances by the Ramones and Iggy Pop) as possibly 'the greatest punk rock band in the entire world."

After shooting the epic album cover for 'Beyond the Valley" in the Arizona desert where Wendy appears on horseback with the band (without a drummer), the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" critics would write (photo by "Butch Star", Rod's pseudonym for the photography and design he did for the band), Wendy had to go to Cleveland for the trial there.  Protesters lined up on Wendy's behalf and Wendy grabbed headlines criticizing Cleveland's District Attorney for by prosecuting the case "flushing the taxpayer's money down the toilet”, she said," because he's "either afraid of the real criminals or paid off by them".  "This woman's gone too far", the Prosecutor told the jury, "it's time for you to draw the line!" but after deliberations that went on into the next day, however, they brought back a "not guilty" verdict to a cheering courtroom.  Touring continued with repeated attempts by local authorities to shut down shows, which in some cases they managed to do.  Reporter Lance Evans expressed it succinctly in the Scranton PA Sunday Times when he wrote "When the Plasmatics...were booked to come to town Saturday night there were two chief fears: The first was that, due to their ongoing legal troubles centering around recurrent charges..aimed at the act's star Wendy O. Williams, the performers wouldn't show up.  The second was that they would".  Scranton's Director of Public Safety, it was quoted in the same paper "hit the roof" when he 'found out the details of the concert" and announced that the towns “entire police to stand by during the concert".

Wendy and the band were booked into Bond's for another two night sold out stand, where she blew up two facsimile Milwaukee police cars and then back on the Tom Snyder show were she blew up a car again during the song "Masterplan" and then it was back to Milwaukee.  The trial began June 3, 1981 in the Circuit Court, Milwaukee County, State of Wisconsin with Rod as the sole defendant. The DA wanted to get out from under the intense scrutiny of the media that had been on the case to that point and felt if they tried Wendy and Rod separately and tried Rod first the media would lose interest.  It failed. The trial was still construed as the Wendy O. Wiliams/Plasmatics trial and the media was there full force.  Fans came in from more than 2,000 miles away and it was standing room only in the court room.  The trial lasted over one and a half weeks. Wendy's testimony was strong and when the jury saw a full color blow-up of her being beaten on the ground it couldn't have failed to create a shocking impression. Courageous citizens who'd witnessed the events came forward crucially too, and after days and days of testimony, the jury deliberated only 3.5 hours: “Not Guilty” was the verdict and the courtroom erupted in applause.  The DA had already decided that if he couldn't get a conviction against Rod, he'd drop the charges against Wendy and so it was a victory all around.

The 1984 World Tour continued with the bold slogan "Down On Your Knees and Pledge Allegiance" through city after city from the Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco, Golden Hall in San Diego and then back into the LA market to Perkins Palace for four consecutive nights with a car blown up every night.  During the last part of the tour Rod had been contacted by music wunderkind Dan Hartman's office asking that Dan have a meeting with Wendy and Rod.

Hartman who first came to the public’s attention as the teenage bass player for the Edgar Winter group and writer of such classics as "Frankenstein' and others, later going on to produce .38 Special, James Brown and others had been working on a session in LA when he picked up a copy of  Beyond the Valley of 1984 and couldn't stop playing it.  It was "ground breaking" he said, "I knew I wanted to meet these people and do something with them." Dan came down to the Tribeca loft met Wendy and Rod and month later he and Rod were working on the production of the Metal Priestess EP.  The band needed more product but another album was premature, partly because Capitol records was now making overtures for the next one. Bruce at Stiff was ready to release the EP and that summer “Metal Priestess” was recorded at Dan's private studio off his schoolhouse turned home and studio in CT and released early that fall.  It included such faves as "the Doom Song" and "Black Leather Monster" as well as "12 Noon".  Then it was back on the road in September where Wendy and the band closed the season of New York's Dr. Pepper Festival and then continued through January...the controversy, and attempts at repression only escalating with continued attempts to shut shows down, one, at the the Strand Theatre (with a show promoted by 60's radical Abbie Hoffman's brother Jack) succeeding when local authorities called a special meeting of the Town Council and revoked the theater's permit.