Chapter 8 (1988): Thrash Rap, Final Tour and 'Hiatus'

Although Wendy was called the "Queen of Punk", "she'd outgrown punk", wrote rock writer Chris Watts in a feature story in 1987, "before the Plasmatics were noticed let alone outlawed.  Since those heady days Wendy O. Williams has become an institution...(and) she has never stopped campaigning....(and) it is entirely appropriate," Watts continued, "that Wendy O, Williams should make a...thrash rap...album called "Deffest and Baddest" (and) it's also appropriate that she should stir reaction once again and stray so far from the beaten track that she's almost washed away."   The album, the last of the 7 full studio albums (or 8 counting Coup DeGrace although that, of course, was a demo) that make up Wendy O's and the Plasmatics career, was never intended in its original concept to have Wendy's or the Plasmatics name on it at all.  The artist is listed as Ultrafly and the Hometown Girls, an imaginary fictitious group that was part of the concept.

The whole album designed to be fresh and spontaneous as a kind of a 'blurt' was written in about a week and recorded and mixed in two.  It allowed Wendy to do a few things she'd wanted to do and hadn't done including bring in a female guitar player to play alongside Wes Beech and use female voices for backup.  The guitarist was Katrina Astrin, the guitarist from a Wisconsin all girl hard rock band (“The Hunted”) that had opened a number of mid-west gigs for the Plasmatics in previous years.  Katrina sang back up vocals on the album and on stage along with La Donna Sullivan who had travelled with the band for two tours and sold T-shirts when she wasn't on stage.  After Maggots, Profile had agreed to pick up another album for distribution but balked when the package they were presented with only said "Ultrafly and the Hometown Girls" as the artist and Wendy's name was added at the last minute, which unfortunately undermined what might have been an interesting effect. 

When Wendy and Rod decided to go ahead with the project Wes flew into NYC and he and Rod with Wendy checking vocal parts, wrote the entire album in less than a week, moved out to Broccoli Rabe and recorded and mixed it there. "With Wes Beech," wrote Watts, "drilling his guitar across Wendy's gruff raw vocals like a crazed dentist Deffest and Baddest is erotic agony".  Rod’s lyrics filled the album with archetypal Wendy O,/Plasmatics themes of among them what Watt's called the "demented thrash rap" 'Lies', a a centerpiece dealing with lies through the media, by corporations, cosmetic companies and government. "This fantasy world that the media creates", Wendy told Watts, "that is getting bigger,more dangerous and more the real enemy...People don't realize how much bullshit is around them...".

For the Deffest tour the band was back to two guitars, bass and drums since all the tours always contained favorites from all the previous records.  The tour was filled with enthusiastic fans in city after city, but it was the last tour Wendy and the Plasmatics were to do although the decision wasn't made until several months after the tour ended and then fairly quickly.  Wendy and Rod had agreed from the beginning that when a point came where diminishing returns meant having to compromise the integrity of the effort, they'd shut down and bail out, and the point they felt had been reached, or at least was too close to gamble.  About doing material that would appease rather than assault the status quo, there could be no compromise; about softening the image, the edge, the trademark vocals, the attitude so as to be more acceptable to radio or corporate America there could be no compromise; and without such compromise there was a price to pay and it wore on over time.  Beginning with Milwaukee there were more towns added to the list with almost every tour that Wendy could not go back and play. Town after town where confrontations of one kind of another made it impossible to get bookings.  Promoters would privately say how much they loved Wendy but many would not take the local heat. Conservative groups would send shills into shows to make complaints and the complaints would start as soon as shows were announced. And there were it seemed endless numbers of threatened males who either needed to prove 'who was the man' and pick some kind of a fight and try and win with Wendy, or else do something that would engender a response and then file a lawsuit to try and get money.

The funds were not there to take all these things on, and with widening gaps between tour bookings particularly in the heartlands of the country, it was at a point where to continue would have meant compromise in one or many ways or another.  That was never an option so in 1988 it was officially announced that Wendy was "going on hiatus" although as Rod told Classic Rock Magazine later, they both knew they had stopped.  The world has spent the last three and a half decades trying to catch up and in most regards never has, and has never seen anyone or anything really like Wendy or the Plasmatics ever since.