Sugar Coat – part of the VAULT Festival 2020 – is a riot grrrl-themed play with a live band. Produced by Emma Blackman, and starring Anya Pearson (Dream Nails‘ amazing guitar shredder) as musical co-director, guitarist and actor. Described as a “powerful feminist gig performance that follows the coming-of-age story of a young woman, spanning across eight years of sexual highs and lows, from nineties shag bracelets to 21st century non-monogamous relationships”. Sounds like a must-see!
Performance Dates Tuesday 10th March – Sunday 15th March 2019, 19:30 (Matinee Saturday 14th March, 16:30)
Location VAULT Festival (The Forge), Leake St, Lambeth, London SE1 7AD
Very excited to announce the first of a new monthly open mic nights – 23 Feb at The Apple Tree London! Hosted by the inimitable Alotta Nerve … everyone is welcome, especially musicians and poets who consider themselves to be LOUD WOMEN!
Sign up here for a spot in advance or on the night … or just come along and be entertained. Free entry 💋
An exciting start to 2020 in LOUD WOMEN HQ – already January has seen the launch of two new chapters!
LOUD WOMEN Canada is headed up by Dana Eileen – the force behind and very much in front of the mighty Hello Delaware. The band (who wowed us at last year’s LW Fest) have just announced that they are one of 74 new international participants in the PRS Keychange Capacity-Building Programme. Dana is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and runs the Nova Scotia Music Week showcase.
LOUD WOMEN Ireland is headed by Sam McCann – Bangor-based front-hero of the awesome band Gender Chores – and Jamie Canavan – Queen of the Galway Pro-Choice organisation. Their first collaboration is coming up 23 May with the This Legislation is Shite fest in Galway, with performances by Gender Chores, Secondhand Underpants (our friends from Turkey – who also played LW Fest last year!), and London LW’s own I, Doris. It’s gonna be mega!
The idea behind these and all the LOUD WOMEN chapters is to bring female and non-binary DIY musicians together to support each other, share news and ideas, and build a global, united scene. Bands are using the groups to find new members, gain fans, land gigs, link up with reviewers, and promote their own music. The groups are open to all music-lovers.
Where’s next for LOUD WOMEN? You decide! If you’re interested in setting up your own chapter, get in touch with us and we’ll get you started.
There was undeniably a fuck ton of Bad Shit that happened this year, but let’s end it with a look back at some of the Good Shit we’ve witnessed! Team LOUD WOMEN members Keira, Lucy, Karis, Chris, Tony and Cassie told us which bits of 2019 were their Top Shit.
Keira Anee: The picking Up The Pieces EP By The Other Onesdeserves a mention I think! Plus I loved the Nova Twins‘ releases, the emergence of Big Sea Creature, every gig I saw Gold Baby, Gaygirl, Junodef, Calva Louise, Ghost Car, Lilith Aiand Cocaine Pissplay and a great unexpected album by Amy Studt. Discovered Straight Girl, Sudan Archives, Secondhand Underpants, The Empty Page, Cable Ties and loved seeing Adia Victoria, Gaptooth and band, Pleasure Venom, Miss June and LIINES live! Dammit – and LibraLibra for sure!
Cassie Fox: Yessssss. Seeing Bikini Kill kicking supreme ass this summer was hugely inspirational. On smaller stages though, LOUD WOMEN has done a lot this year … we’ve put on some amazing bands, in London, New York, LA and Perth. Too many to mention here (maybe I’ll do a separate 2019 hall-of-fame!) but extra special joy was sparked by T-Bitch, SlutMagic, TheNoiseand the Naive, GGAllan Partridge, MissEaves, HAVVK, Shitsick, Gaptooth, Hagar the Womb, and – fuck it I’ll say it – my brilliant I, Doris, who I am superproud of achieving so much this year. And we got to put on a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, with the awesome ILL! My top highlight was of course LOUD WOMEN Fest in September, where PleasureVenom absolutely blew my head off and completely made all of the hard work organising the festival worth it.
Karis: For me, DEFINITELY seeing Bikini Kill for the first time and seeing the Gossip for the first time in a long time. But particularly getting to see Big Joaniesupport both of these bands – I’m so happy that they’re doing so well!
Chris Fox: I really liked that Misfortune Cookie Record. And the Lakes record – the Constance LP. And I really liked Pleasure Venom – I thought they were amazing at LOUD WOMEN Fest. Those are my top LOUD WOMEN things of the year.
Tony Rounce: “Good shit that happened in 2019”? How much space have I got! The unstoppable rise of ARXX on their way to future world domination, the impossible not-to-adore double whammy emergence of the Slugs and Breakup Haircut, the Phoenix-like arrival of Big Sea Creature, truly great records from all of the aforementioned except the yet-to-debut BSC – plus Gaptooth, Personal Best, The Other Ones, Scrounge and Lauran Hibberd, beautiful live and vinyl memorials to LongTeeth, Loud Women 4 and the prospect of Loud Women 5, some super download-only stuff from Lemondaze, Goddammit Jeremiah, PartyFears, I, Doris and above all Currls, great gigs and the prospect of great recordings from newbies Lime and Wife Swap USA, the rebranding of CrypticStreet as Genn (although they’ll always be CS to me), the double-headed vinyl 45 of the year in Bloom’s ‘Ground’ and ‘Escape’, great shows from other old favourites Nervous Twitch, CalvaLouise and the Regrettes, a rare chance to see the wonderful CatlowMorris on another wet night in New Cross – so much more besides, and did I mention ARXX (who are always worth a second mention if not more).
“Best good shit gig day of 2019” was the Saturday of the Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May, started it by seeing Cryptic Street in New Cross in the afternoon and ended it by seeing Cryptic Street (again!) at 1AM on Sunday in Brighton, with gigs from Bloom, Lime and ARXX (there they are again!) in between…
“Bad shit that happened in 2019?” Mercifully very little that affected my listening habits, but I’m sad that WolfGirl called it a day, QueenZee and the Sasstones fragmented and my lovely, completely adored Bloom went on a hiatus from which I hope with all my heart they will return…
…I’ll raise a glass to the oncoming new decade with the same optimism that I’m saying goodbye to the current one. Let’s try to keep it LOUD!
Dolly Daggerz is the fiery powerhouse behind, at the front of, and often twirling round a pole high above rock band Tokyo Taboo. She recently disclosed online that she had been sexually assaulted during a performance – an assault further compounded by vitriolic backlash from internet commenters keen to blame her for the assault. Clearly some still have lessons to learn from the #metoo movement. With those lessons in mind, Dolly writes about the experience here in her own words (as told to Cassie Fox).
I’ve been sexually assaulted so many times I can no longer count. This is not me ‘bragging’. This is me being brutally honest.
I’ve found myself in the most absurd and, at times, dangerous situations. The most extreme: Once a man who claimed he was an A&R executive locked me in a room and told me I couldn’t leave until I had sex with him. Luckily I got away, but when I spoke about reporting him I was talked out of it by a barrister friend of mine. He said, ‘Look at your sexy image. No jury will care.’ This seems to be a common theme: If a woman is attractive she becomes the ‘temptress,’ the one in the wrong. Poor men are ‘confused’ and can’t help themselves.
Now that I’ve added a pole onstage, things have gone from bad to worse, in terms of unwanted sexual attention. But I am not to blame for being a ‘pole addict’. Pole has simply exaggerated the issue that has been there throughout my life from the age of fourteen.
I remember once walking along a busy main road in the middle of the day. A guy approached me from behind, put his hand up my skirt, and asked ‘Can I have your phone number?’ Seemed a little odd that he felt he could grab what he liked and then ask for my number. How about a simple, ‘Hello?’ Or just leave me alone as I walk along the street with headphones on? He seemed shocked when I was angry, as if he had no idea what he was doing was disgusting and actually illegal. He quickly ran away when I mentioned the police. A common reaction. It’s just ‘a bit of fun’ and that I need to ‘lighten up.’ Such casual assault, as if it doesn’t mean anything to these creeps.
Now, men, I know this isn’t all of you. And I know some women who haven’t experienced anything like this (albeit very few, after the ‘me too’ movement revealed how awful and widespread this problem is). But there are lots of instances in my life like this. You can victim-shame and blame me, or you can wake up and realise that young women (especially those in the entertainment industry) are very vulnerable. I’ve been in rooms with modelling agents who offer work in exchange for sex. I’ve worked with music producers who have made a move on me simply because they had the upper hand. If you are young, female and dream big you might (naively) think these men will help you. They will guide you in your career as they have the knowledge and experience to do so. But in fact the worst kinds simply take advantage.
Even as we approach a new decade, women are still massively vulnerable. If a woman walks into a male-dominated space she generally feels unsafe. You won’t catch a man feeling worried about being surrounded by women. At gigs I’m very aware that men are everywhere and it’s so important that women should feel safe whilst watching bands and artists they love.
Things hit a new low for me recently. A guy decided to grope me whilst I was walking back through the crowd after singing in the audience. This has hit me hard. When I am performing I am ‘Dolly Daggerz’: a superwoman character who is physically and mentally strong, a woman who doesn’t take any shit. I’ve dreamt up this persona that, I thought, terrible things could never happen to. So this assault felt like a kick in the face and I was so shocked I could barely react. I went from feeling strong and empowered to small and weak in an instant.
During our ten-gig ‘Lips Can Kill’ tour I counted five instances of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour: A man asking for a kiss who I’ve never even met before. A man actually kissing me to say goodbye. A drunk man sweeping his hands down my ass when leaving. And so on. It’s something I can shrug off at first. Maybe chat to the guys in my band about it all the next day and be like ‘weirdos…yuck’ but after a while it’s actually exhausting. Hands Off Gretel’s Lauren Tate, who spoke out publicly about this same behaviour recently, revealed that she ‘doesn’t enjoy’ touring anymore due to the harassment she receives. She claims, ‘I had guys taking the piss out of me asking if they “had the consent to kiss me now.” Disgusting.’ Speaking out about it is apparently not always very effective. Following this last assault, what’s been particularly scarring is the backlash about this awful incident online. I’ve had (a very small percentage of) people saying if I dress like a stripper and pole dance, it’s my fault. ‘Of course men will grope at you! What do you expect?’ Then lots of laughing emojis. I’ve had direct messages from fake accounts saying I ‘might as well whore myself’ and should ‘sell naked photos’ as I already ‘sell my body’. Wow, and I thought that I could dress how I wanted whilst on stage and perform how I want without any random old man touching me? Crazy thinking!
I also read someone saying that posting about sexual assault is ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and that some people do it to ‘seek attention’. All men commenting of course. Another female jokingly wrote that she’s unsure of why she hasn’t been assaulted herself or seen anything at shows. Maybe she’s not ‘good looking enough’ or doesn’t ‘behave in a way that attracts attention.’ Maybe because she is ‘moody and unapproachable at gigs.’ These remarks point to an underlying consensus that it’s about the victim: how they look or act might provoke assault in some way. I’m sure that since performing pole onstage I’ve received more male attention. However I have also been assaulted when walking in the street, when dancing in a club, when singing in a recording studio. I’ve been harassed whilst in full make up, no make-up, in pyjamas, in running gear. This has nothing to do with how hot someone is or what they are doing at the time of assault. If someone wants to grab flesh they will. The victim is not to blame.
Let me write that again: THE VICTIM IS NOT TO BLAME.
I’ve received hundreds of comments writing how unacceptable this incident was. And mostly men in shock and horror that someone would grab at someone else without consent. But then I’ve read a post with someone confused. ‘Why is someone who dresses so sexy upset with male attention? Stop complaining’.
Attention is fine. Touching out of turn isn’t.
When it comes to such a sensitive topic, I wish people would please think before commenting online. Women are made to believe they ‘deserve’ assault, rape and violence. If you dress sexy it’s ‘your own fault.’ If you pole dance or show skin expect to be groped. We are moving into a new decade where I want to encourage women to report sexual assault no matter what the outcome. I wish I had ignored my barrister friend and reported the fake A&R guy who I naively believed wanted to help me.
Make sure you publicly support women and question the assailant not the victim. A woman could be completely naked and we still need to look at the guy who grabbed her inappropriately. It’s our human right to feel safe.
Also, a message to young women starting out in music: some male producers are full of shit and want to take full advantage of your hopes and dreams. If it seems to good to be true, sadly, it probably is.
What am I going to do to feel safer? I’m currently considering hiring security at our gigs (though part of me thinks this is giving in to those guys who don’t know how to behave). Maybe pepper spray in my bra somewhere, microphone in one hand whilst my other hand grips the pole?
An interview with artist Maedb, founder of $exquisite, by Ngaire Ruth – legendary feminist music journalist, and Maedb’s mum.
Working towards making the unconventional, conventional, the invisible, visible: Maedb. She’s a writer, poet, performer, curator and the producer of $exquisite events – a night of stigma-defying art, activism and glamour from artists, performers and comedians who work in the sex industry, which aims to bring the audience and artist closer through performance, debate and Q&A discussion. The next is on 15th November, at London’s Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
Why did you decide to work with multidisciplinary arts and sex workers?
Well, I’m an artist – poet and theatre maker – and knew I wanted to curate a cross-arts night. It was only in discussion with a friend – a full-service sex worker and human rights law student – that I was informed of a law passed in the states, FOSTA-SESTA. This prohibits sex workers all around the world who work online, and the bill was passed with the view to stop sexual exploitation but has in turn prohibited sex workers working safely. It has shut down various sites sex workers use to work safely online and feeds into algorithms designed to silence sex workers on Tumblr, Instagram and other social platforms. This is really dangerous and prevents workers from screening their clients and could even potentially push sex work into the streets. I was shocked that no-one was talking about it, at least in my circle. So, I thought it would be really cool to create a celebratory space for sex worker artists, to build a community and have conversations.
You’ve pin pointed a feminists’ armour: female friendship and support – which seems especially key for isolated online sex workers. Events like $exquisite give sex workers an opportunity to share their art, but also where they can meet other sex workers, creatives and have some kind of camaraderie, fun and friendship. It’s really important; did you consider that at the time?
No, I didn’t. I do think it is important to mention that issues that exist within and for the sex worker community certainly expand that of those who work online – of which I am learning about now. But, in regard to camaraderie, fun and friendship – no I didn’t expect it. I really just was focused on creating my first event and set on getting to know the women first. I guess it is just an amazing by-product, and one I definitely want to build on. In the future I am planning to start a collective, so a community can exist beyond the events.
What was some of the feedback you got from the first event?
Many people approached me afterwards and presented good feedback. But I was most shocked by those of my university friends, who said that the event had opened their minds and changed their views on the industry. Some said it was a journey of education and were pleased that there was a space to speak on such ‘taboo’ topics. I think it’s really important that the night remains a space where people outside of the industry attend. I want creating conversations, with a view for it to continue beyond the event, to be a strong focus. That way we can make a ripple effect.
So, you have performances – what sort of things have you had before and what can we expect?
We try to have a consistent mix of different art forms, and primarily focus on poetry, theatre, dance and comedy. I think the event lends itself well to cabaret and burlesque so we will be seeing a bit more of that this time, alongside some drag.
So what about sexuality, are you an intersectional feminist? Do you believe that using your sexuality as an object is empowering?
Different things empower different women. I simply can’t say that it is empowering, or I would be speaking for everyone. I don’t think we have the agency to speak for every woman. The best I can do as a feminist is to support other women. Patriarchy has and will continue to divide us; I don’t believe you are a feminist if your feminism is exclusionary. And, furthermore, I don’t agree with the assumption that sexuality is an object. I’m not quite sure by what you mean, but if you mean to make money. I don’t think it is empowering, I don’t believe in a ‘happy hooker’ narrative to defy stigma. I think it is work, and sometimes it is shit, but having stigma and a society that isolates you is even shitter.
And, do you have men coming to your events?
And, do they behave themselves?
Yeah, and I think there’s nothing wrong if men want to come
and enjoy themselves. It’s a safe, powerful and feminine space. It’s always a
celebration and never an exploitation.
What do you think you’ll do next?
I would love to start a community where we will have monthly meet-ups. I think sex work can be really isolating – the stigma can destroy lives. Some people can’t even be open with their friends or family, as the judgement can often be so harsh. So, I really think it’s important that we have spaces where we can just make friends and form our own families and even debrief about our days. It’s just a job. Society makes it a label.
What about helping people develop their art?
Yes, I would love to eventually programme workshops where
people can develop their craft. I remain in contact with the artists throughout
the creation process in the lead up to events and am there if they ever want
feedback or a second eye.
Do you think you’ll come across stigma when applying for grants or rehearsal spaces? If so, what’s your argument? In the past, feminists have, for example, picketed Soho saying sex work is demeaning to women.
I think that type of feminism is very exclusionary. It’s one type of middle-class, white, feminism that cannot speak for everyone. A lot of women who enter sex work are generally working-class women and it’s a very small minority that enter it with a “Hey I wanna have sex and get paid for it” mentality. The bottom line is that people need to make money, pay their rent and we are all victims of capitalism. Survival sex work and sex work are two different things. But most people enter it with a view to make money and I don’t think you are a feminist if you put down another woman for doing things you wouldn’t do.
A lot of people fall victim to sex trafficking, or, begin sex work because of poverty or abuse. Arguably it’s not a choice, even when empowering as financial independence, or enabling the pursuit of further education, but a result of a patriarchal society in which women are de-humanised. Bringing it out into the open is a most brilliant way to make the invisible visible.
Yes! If we decimalise sex work, it will certainly cut down sexual exploitation. Decriminalisation equals regulation. The more something is pushed underground, the further room for misconduct. The more it is pushed into the darkness, the more room for those entering underage or trafficked. Currently the law in the UK states if two or more girls are working in a location, it is a brothel and therefore illegal. But if one works, it’s okay. Tell me how on earth can that be safe?! If it is legalised it allows for monitoring, screening and ultimately safety.
Have you considered giving money to any charities related to sex work?
Yeah, so at our next event we are hosting an ‘afterhours’
pop up strip club which will take place after the art section of our night from
11pm-2am. This is in collaboration with East London Strippers Collective to
raise money for United Strippers of the World and United Voices of the World
Union; who provide legal advice and action for sex workers.
Is there anything else you want us to know, is there any way we can get involved?
We would love to have your support, come and listen to what sex workers have to say and join the conversation. All the money raised will go back into $exquisite, we hope to eventually programme a sex worker festival where we can further support sex workers and sex worker artists. Share some love with us on Instagram, we just want to build an online platform and a real-life community.