"The bottom line of our story is our unrelenting friendship and love for each other, which is a rare thing in bands and in life." - Theo Kogan
Photo by Ben Trivett
The Lunachicks are a band whose name needs no introduction. With their eye-opening intensity, ferocious stage presence, and an appearance that would draw the attention of everyone in the room, the Lunachicks emerged out of the punk scene with a cult like following and status as feminist icons. Formed in 1987 in New York City, they've continued to use their platform to defy beauty standards placed on women and speak out on important issues that affect them. Following their first performance in 17 years, we got the chance to talk to lead singer Theo Kogan about the Lunachicks reunion, their book, Fallopian Rhapsody: The Story of the Lunachicks, tackling sexism and building a supportive community, and how their legacy has inspired many to stand up for themselves.
The birth of the Lunachicks isn't some wild tale, despite their chaotic stage presence. After meeting in high school, four rambunctious teenagers got together and decided to start a band. Already involved in the punk scene at the time, the group would consistently see many of their peers form bands of their own, so they decided to give it a shot. "We formed in high school for fun, no other reason. We had so many friends in bands at the time that it was like, 'We can do it too, why not.'" And so, their story began. The Lunachicks garnered quite the reputation early on in their career. Adorned with eccentric outfits (such as cheerleading uniforms or a nurses uniform with adorned with fake blood), wild makeup, and songs ranging from abortion to donuts, the group couldn't help but have all eyes on them any time they took the stage. "We're just these people. We drank all the Kool-Aid of the 70's and 80's about beauty and femininity and then puked it back in everyone's face."
Despite their stage presence and empowerment through their songs, they were still dealing with was most female bands face in the music industry. Sexism was rampant in the 90's, and their first experience with it happened on tour in Europe in 1992. Hole and Babes in Toyland were touring at the same time and clubs were purposely not booking more than one to two female bands at a time, as they were seen as a novelty. "It sucked. And it still sucks. It happens all across the industry through all types of work." Soon, they were faced with it in the US, and it was as if every band during that time was vying to be the first band on the radio station, booked at a club, and interviewed for a magazine. While it was noted in the scene just how many female bands there were, it wasn't being reflected in the mainstream industry.
This type of mentality from promoters, clubs, radio stations, and more led to a competition style of mindset between bands, whether or not they knew it. "It becomes deeply ingrained into us without ever realizing it and it's something that has to be resisted as much as possible." Society has always had a reputation for pitting women against each other in any aspect, whether personal or professional. Despite the feminist ideal that everyone should be supported, empowered, and uplifted, the reality is that situations still arise where people feel like they're going against one another, and that's exactly what was happening. Nevertheless, Theo says that the one of the biggest ways to overcome it is to bond together and not let it overtake you. "Do it together, support each other, talk about each other. I do think things are better today than they were but I do hear from other bands that they still experience this same shit today. It's also hard not to compare yourself to others in general in any industry whether male or female, don't you think? Bottom line, persevere and resist."
Fallopian Rhapsody: The Story of the Lunachicks
This message can also be spotted amongst others in the Lunachicks newest book, Fallopian Rhapsody: The Story of the Lunachicks. Released in June 2021, the book tells the tale of four teenage girls from New York City who formed a band and found themselves along the way. Through sisterhood, salvation, and punk rock, the birth of the Lunachicks is raw, real, and inspiring. After initially working on a memoir, Theo had sidelined the project after the birth of her daughter, Lucy. It wasn't until later on that she revisited the project with help from her bandmates. "I asked Gina and Syd if they would be into doing a book together and talked to Jeanne [Fury] about it and boom! It took quite a while to get it done and we had no idea if we would get it out or have to self publish. We're just so thrilled that Hatchette [Books] picked it up!" The wait was well worth it, as Fallopian Rhapsody has garnered acclaim from punk rock icons such as Kathleen Hanna. "It was a laborious love. I hope people are empowered by our story to do their own thing with confidence, even if they have to fake the confidence at first."
People got a taste of this confidence Theo speaks of at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. After having their initial reunion shows in 2020 postponed due to COVID and their Punk Rock Bowling performance following suit, they finally took the stage together in September. It was their first performance in over 17 years. "We started rehearsing in 2019 and were doing that for six months and then blam! COVID. The weekend we were supposed to play in NYC for the first time would have been 16 years. We were supposed to play Punk Rock Bowling in May of 2020 but obviously that didn't happen. We practiced for another 5-6 months this year once we were all vaccinated and finally played Punk Rock Bowling." Their performance at Punk Rock Bowling was celebrated and a definite highlight for those who attended. Many expressed how much it meant to them to see the Lunachicks take the stage after their long hiatus. Yet once Theo and the band stepped in front of the crowd, those years without them disappeared. "It was trippy and fun! A lot of feelings leading up to it and then once my big toe was on the stage it was like no time had passed. Yet it certainly had."
Punk Rock Bowling 2021
So, what's next for the Lunachicks? The band has a few more shows to look foward to. "Rehearsals are starting up again soon to get ready for our long awaited New York shows. Those are at Webster Hall on November 26th and 27th. Yippee!"
Theo ended our conversation with some words of encouragement for anyone who may not feel like they have a voice, as the Lunachicks have helped many find theirs. "I would advise this - if you have trouble speaking up for yourself, imagine you're speaking up for someone else that you love and cherish and would never let anything bad happen to. Don't let anyone give them shit."
Follow Theo Kogan and Lunachicks on Instagram at @theokogan / @lunachicksofficial, @lunachicks on Twitter, and Lunachicks on Facebook. You can purchase Fallopian Rhapsody: The Story of the Lunachicks here.