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Incredible unpublished 1995 interview with Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna
06.11.2014
09:42 am

Topics:
Feminism
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Riot Grrrl
Zines
Kathleen Hanna

kathleen h singing
 
I stumbled across a box of old correspondence recently and found a few forgotten letters from Kathleen Hanna, singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin, from almost two decades ago. I vaguely remember sending her an embarrassing number of interview questions for a fly-by-night zine and, to my shock, she responded. She typed a lot of her answers on an honest-to-God typewriter. Unfortunately the zine stopped being produced and this interview didn’t see the light of day…until now.

Kathleen’s support for aspiring young female writers and musicians cannot be overstated. She was the riot grrrl movement’s big sister, muse, and fairy godmother. Bikini Kill wasn’t exactly raking in a ton of money, but she still bought zines from riot grrrls all over the world.

Not only that, she was amazing at introducing girls and building a support network. She asked me to suss out a nearby midwestern college town’s LGBT community for a dyke friend of hers who was moving there to teach at a small conservative university with no out faculty members or LGBT student organizations whatsoever. How could I say “No” to the amazing Kathleen? I was pregnant, prostrate with endless, debilitating morning sickness, unable to look at a computer screen without throwing up, but you bet your ass I still called around, researched, and compiled twenty pages of notes for her to pass along to her professor friend.
 
kathleen zine
 

Q: What was the best show you’ve ever played? What was the worst? And why?

Kathleen Hanna: BEST SHOWS ARE ALWAYS IN MINOT because the kids are spazzy and don’t care about cool….also some of our first shows in Olympia meant a lot to me just because we met w/so much opposition and our friends supported us…...oh yeah, our show in Richmond about a year ½ ago where my sister sang rebel girl & demirep with us and when the bass amp broke she did an acapella medley of songs we used to sing a long to (like on the family record player) and it just about broke my heart. My sister is actually an amazing singer and performer, Imean, I always knew she could sing, cuz we learned together by mimicing records, but I didn’t know what a performer she was till that nite.

Q: What was the stupidest remark any music store clerk has ever made to you?

KH: Okay, both these come from the same guy. 1. I was asking if I could sell my fanzine/writing thing and he said he wouldn’t sell it cuz it didn’t have anything to do with music and I should come back after I write something about my groupie experiences or something. 2. After living in the same town for like 7 years and being in tons of bands, putting on shows, putting out writing, etc….the same guy comes up to me when I’m reading a comic book in his store (incidentally he sold the comic book even thouggh IT had nothing [to] do with music) and starts telling me what a great guy the dude who made the comic is and he used to be in this local band blah blah blah, what he didn’t know is I wrote the comic I was looking at and went out with the dude (asshole) he was talking about for like two years. Duh.

Q: Do you think that there are more or fewer young women these days who fall into the “I’m not a feminist, but…” category than there were five years ago? Why?

KH: I really don’t know, I can’t answer that one.
 
bikinikill
 

Q: What are your thoughts on the following feminist theorists and writers:

a) Andrea Dworkin

KH:  saw her give a lecture. Went up and told her I felt erased by everything she said because I “am a feminist AND a sex worker”. She totally condescended to me and told me i’d pay for what I’d done for the rest of my life. She also lied and said that COYOTE, an organization by and for women who work as prostitutes was not happeneing at all anymore and trashed its founder, Margo St.James, and acted like there were No organizations by and for sex workers in existence (which is and was a total fucking lie) She also believes (or at least she did at this lecture a few years back) that feminists should work with law enforcement agencies which is just fucking stewpid…..and was in support of a bill/legislation (it passed) in WA state that made it so all sex workers (dancers/models/and other legal sex work situations and women who’d been arrested for prostitution) have to register with the police and pay a $75 dollar liscensing fee(obviously this is for legal sex professions) and get fingerprinted.  THIS IS TOTALLY FUCKED UP AND CLASSIST and bogus because it makes it so poor women have to come up with the same 75 dollars as middle class/rich ones would PLUS if you are in a jam because of domestic violence, or whatever and you need a job that pays cash quick, like dancing, say but they make you pay this fee…I mean, who can afford it. I could go on and on. My main problem is that she thinks she can speak for all of us (sex workers and women in general) and she can’t. She’s also totally mean. BUT some of her writing is interesting even though shes full of shit.

b) Germaine Greer

KH: I know about her but am not really familiar with her work.

c) Susan Faludi

KH: I liked backlash, it was sorta like pulp novel reading for feminist theory heads and seemed good, just in general, but I already knew sexism existed.

d) Mary Daly

KH: Shes like an ecofeminist and that shit scares me. I’m sure I’ll read her someday but I really hate the idea that women are more nurturing/close to the earth than men or something…...I think its stewpid and strategically flawed.

e) Naomi Wolf

KH: I read The Beauty Myth, and while it was interesting on some levels, like the idea of beauty being “the third shift” for women, I hated how she kept playing white women against Men and Women of Color, like how she’d be all like (this is not a direct quote) “No employer would expect an African American to do blah blah blah, so why do they expect women to do blah blah blah…” I mean, that shits just stewpid cuz Naomi Wolf doesn’t know jack about whatever any individual African American male OR female has to deal with in terms of employment, and also she would act like all women are white over and over and over and, well, it just so annoying and dumb that I stopped reading it, so whatever.

f) bell hooks

KH: I think bell hooks is one of the most important and creative scholars around. I’ve read almost all her stuff and cant wait till she puts out some fiction ( maybe she has and I don’t know?) Anyways, yeah, I could go on and on. I like studying her writing style because it seems really fluid and effortless even though she is explaining very difficult/complex ideas that are operating on several different levels, usually in a way that both academics and non-academics can understand.
 
kathleenint
 
Q: What do you think of the anti-feminist writers such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Paglia?

KH: I haven’t read them because I don’t feel like it. I have heard stories though and it makes me think that, you know, while some of their ideas maybe interesting, MEN tend to tokenize any woman who says anything that sounds at all, even remotely anti-feminist, and then this whole duality thing starts happening where no one really pays attention to their work anymore. Men just use Them to make women who disagree with them feel like shit…….and then certain feminists dismiss them altogether as male identified. Actually, I think that whole phenomenon is probably more interesting then some of these ladies ideas, but I don’t know, like I said I haven’t read them. I’d like to see more writing by feminists about Tokenization, specifically how it functions in different feminist contexts.

Q: What is your opinion of misogynist FEMALE musicians who insist on bashing other women and not supporting them?

KH: Courtney is boring. I am not interested in her.

Q: What is your favorite piece of musical equipment?

KH: My mouth.

Q: Last two books read?

KH: BE MY BABY by Ronnie Spector. Baudellair Live, Interviews with Baud. edited by Mike Gane

More delightfully outspoken opinions from Hanna, including what rock star might be a candidate for getting “beaten senseless with a brick” after the jump…..

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
This could suck: Kathleen Hanna on public speaking
11.13.2013
01:31 pm

Topics:
Activism
Feminism

Tags:
Kathleen Hanna


 
Feminist performer, punk icon, writer and frontwoman for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna’s talents also include being an engaging public speaker. Thanks to her experience talking in front of journalists, unruly crowds at concerts, tamer audiences in university classrooms, libraries and lecture halls, she knows what she’s doing. Here she explains how to get up in front of a group of people, who may or may not be throwing things and yelling sexist insults at you from the mosh pit, and get your point across without undue worry about whether you suck at public oratory.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’: Kathleen Hanna tells the story behind the song
08.29.2013
08:56 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kurt Cobain
Nirvana
Kathleen Hanna

Smells Like Teen Spirit
 
This one doesn’t need a whole lot of setup. See, there was this band in the 1990s called Nirvana, and they had this song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that everybody liked and….

Oh, for Chrissake, just watch this thing, it’s great.
 


Shot at Joe’s Pub, New York, December 15, 2010

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Kathleen Hanna: The Riot Grrrl Manifesto


 
If I wrote something this good when I was young, I think I’d read it now with real satisfaction:

WHY RIOT ?

BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.

BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other

BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.

BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.

BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments, in the face of “authorities” who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US and who attribute any validation/success of our work to girl bandwagon hype.

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t “good” music or punk rock or “good” writing AND THUS need to create forums where we can recreate, destroy and define our own visions.

BECAUSE we are un willing to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” and not the true punk rock soul crusaders that WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock “you can do anything” idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.

BECAUSE we hate capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits of being cool according to traditional standards.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl=Dumb, Girl=Bad, Girl=Weak.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.

BECAUSE self defeating behaviors (like fucking boys without condoms, drinking to excess, ignoring true soul girlfriends, belittling ourselves and other girls, etc…) would not be so easy if we lived in communities where we felt loved and wanted and valued.

BECAUSE I believe with my whole heart mind body that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.

Kathleen Hanna’s “The Riot Grrrl Manifesto” was originally published in “Bikini Kill” fanzine issue #2, 1991.

Below, Bikini Kill perform “Suck My Left One” live in a clip from the 1994 UK video zine “Getting Close To Nothing.”
 

 
After the jump, a recent Kathleen Hanna interview…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Le Tigre: Who Took the Bomp?


 
It’s been some time since we’ve last heard from iconic feminist rockers, Le Tigre. A new DVD titled Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour has just been released with a mix of footage from their 2004 world tour and conversations with band members JD Samson, Johanna Fateman and Kathleen Hanna. It was directed by Kerthy Fix.

Spinner.com interviewed Hanna about the project:

How did the documentary come about?
We were about to go on tour in 2004 and I was thinking how there was no good documentation of the projects I’ve done, and about how weird we all were in the ‘90s, like “Don’t photograph me!” We were so freaked about being sucked up by the mainstream that we didn’t even document ourselves. I didn’t want that to happen to me, as a grownup. We put some money into a camera to shoot our shows, just to have it, not really thinking that we’re making a movie. Then we started filming stuff on the bus or backstage. After, we stopped touring, revisited some of the material and slowly started putting it into the project and finally it’s done, six years later.

What’s your favorite part of the movie?
I like a lot of the stuff that Johanna says about JD in the interview part. There is some stuff that we never really say to each other because it’s too corny. Like, you don’t actually sit in a room and go, “Here’s what you brought to the band.” It was interesting to hear Jo say these sweet, sentimental things about JD. She talked about a lot of stuff that happened in terms of JD’s gender and presentation, how that did change how people perceived us as a band. I definitely got an education by seeing the way a journalist would treat her and not know how to treat her. I don’t know, I guess it just brought this issue to the fore. It felt really good to have that spoken out loud.

Was there anything that you might have forgotten about or were surprised to see?
Just how goofy we were. I don’t think people think of us as being that goofy and I don’t think of us as being that goofy, but looking back at the footage I was like, “Oh my God.” Every time the camera went on we were totally goofy and I know when the camera went off, we were equally goofy. I sort of forgot about that, that everything was kind of a joke and lighthearted and it was really in contrast to some of the other things that were going on that were really heavy. It was either really heavy, like “We’re being boycotted!” and then trying to put a Band-Aid on everything with humor, all the time.

Read more of Kathleen Hanna Looks Back on Le Tigre, Praises Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride, Dismisses ‘Boring’ Odd Future (Spinner)
 
Below, a live “Deceptacon” from Who Took the Bomp?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment