Bitch and Animal were kicked out of South Carolina for indecent exposure. While performing a song called “Sparkly Queen Areola” in Columbia around 2001, the queercore duo decided to protest the fact that women aren’t allowed to legally expose their breasts — after all, men can do it.
But when Animal, who played drums and ukulele in the group, ripped off her shirt, the police escorted the band off stage. “F--- you I’m a dude!” Animal screamed. The police didn’t realize Animal was a transgender man.
“A lady cannot expose her breasts in the State of Carolina,” says Bitch, affecting an exaggerated Southern drawl. “Finally the police agreed to let us go but we had to leave the state. Literally pack everything up and get out of town.”
South Carolina wasn’t ready for the theatrical, politically charged, feminist lesbian band, which featured violin, ukulele, bass and hand drums. But audiences throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s loved it.
Songs like “The Pussy Manifesto” were empowering for audiences, and the four world tours Animal and Bitch undertook with Ani DiFranco in the early 2000s were life-changing for the band.
“We were very consciously working to empower the individual,” Bitch says. “At some point we felt that our job as women and artists was to be the most liberated that we could possibly be. We were hoping to be a living example of freedom in some way.”
And they were. They spoke their minds unapologetically on their 1999 debut, What’s That Smell, as well as on 2001’s Eternally Hard and 2003’s Sour Juice and Rhyme, both of which were released on Di- Franco’s Righteous Babe Records.
But life on stage and within Bitch and Animal’s personal relationship wasn’t always a fairy tale.
The duo broke up in 2004, and Bitch set out on a solo career that she continues to develop today.
Her show combines spoken word, theatrical monologue, and avant-garde music. Her songs — about witches being burned at the stake, dildos being confiscated by airport security, breaking up with The L Word movie star Daniela Sea — are uncomfortably personal. Yet they shed light on the larger experiences and oppressions women face as a gender.
But what seems to make Bitch and her violin-charged music such a force to be reckoned with isn’t necessarily her words. It’s her presence.
“I really value the medium of the live performance,” she says. “Occupying a space is a very powerful thing and when you walk onto a stage you hold a certain presence, a physical selfconfidence. I believe in being that strong presence for other people.”
Yes, Bitch sang songs about sparkly pink nipples, but it’s this forward, fearless presence alone that continues to push audiences’ buttons.
Bitch • Thurs, March 31, at 8 pm • nYne • $10 • 21 • 474-1621