In 1987 Williams O. Williams hosted the Headbangers Ball, a heavy metal show that ran for eight years on MTV before it was abruptly cancelled in 1995 (The series was re-born in 2003 and still runs today on MTV2 for those of you who care). If you know who Wendy O.Williams was, then you are in for a treat. If you do not know who she was you really must change that and perhaps this will help. Headbangers Ball had a reputation for giving everyone from their guests to their hosts carte blanche on the show, which usually led to metalheads running amok on set. During the four-minute bit of footage below, Williams continually refers to the Ball as the “Maggot Moshers Ball” while the green screen shows a pile of the squishy bugs crawling around, juxtaposed at times with the cover to the Plasmatics’ 1987 record Maggots: The Record. She cracks jokes, is overly dramatic and makes a few anti-establishment statements along the way that likely went WAY over the heads of the average Headbangers Ball viewer. All while looking like a gymnastics team dropout that just doesn’t give a fuck.
Occasionally you can find copies of the old Headbangers Ball on VHS. You can also track them down on eBay and elsewhere on DVD-R that some die-hard metal fan burned for a pretty reasonable dime. If you can track down a copy of Wendy’s show (May 27th, 1987), it will be worth the effort. The original 90+ minute episode also contains footage of her jamming with Lemmy Kilmister at London’s Camden Palace in 1985 as well as the video for the Plasmatics’ song “The Dammed” which is nothing less than an iconic snapshot of pure punk adrenaline.
Directly following the Headbangers Ball bit you can see clips Williams did for Radio 1990, a TV show that ran on the USA cable network for a few years in the early 80’s.
Lastly, if you draw the conclusion that Williams was “high” or “drunk” during her appearance on the Ball, forget it . She was straight-edge. A vegetarian and exercise junkie who dedicated much of her too-short life to protecting animals and speaking out in support of wildlife advocacy. Let there be no doubt, we lost one of the great wild untamed spirits when we lost Wendy O. Williams in 1998.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Plasmatics blow up shit on SCTV’s ‘The Fishin’ Musician’