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REAL WOMEN: IN MEMORY OF VI SUBVERSA

vi-subversaYesterday I awoke to see the sad news on various social media postings that Vi Subversa had passed away at the age of eighty just a few weeks after her last gig in Brighton. Vi’s son posted a blog on the excellent Hippies Now Wear Black site – see it here : https://thehippiesnowwearblack.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/vi-subversa-20-june-1935-19-february-2016/

I first discovered Vi via the Crass/Poison Girls split single Bloody Revolutions/Persons Unknown as a 16 year old living in a small town in the midlands. It was when I realized that there were people out there who thought like I did, people who were appalled at the treatment of animals, people who wanted to challenge the “system” – I was hooked by Crass but massively intrigued by the Poison Girls. I went onto buy Hex, Chappaquiddick Bridge and every record the band released. Vi confronted my rather narrow view that punk was for us ‘young people’ and Penny Rimbaud did the same BUT, Vi was a woman, a mother in her forties – her lyrics rallied against sexual inequality – in fact, inequality of all types – I could feel my mind expanding with every groove navigated by the needle in the records.

Three years later I was a student in Sheffield and producing a documentary on the famous local venue, The Leadmill. One night, Poison Girls were headlining a gig at the venue that was a benefit for the local striking miners. I wanted to film the performance and got there early to ask permission from the band. I was nervous, Vi was someone that I respected enormously via her music and words and, in person, she communicated an aura of confidence, fun and, yes, personal strength. She immediately agreed to let me film the concert only asking that I send her a copy afterwards and then went onto give one of the most effective live performances I have ever witnessed. The air was charged with politics (it was a combustible time in Sheffield in the early eighties) and she embraced the angst in the room along with the band to project hope, togetherness and personal responsibility. I remember that Vi smiled a lot more than I was expecting – she continued to break my stereotypical views.

When the Poison Girls added keyboards and melodic backing vocals and released genre bending albums I gobbled them up with a hunger. For me Cry No More is one of the best songs of all time as are Statement, Promenade Immortelle (oh those drums), Tension, Too Proud, Real Women, Take the Toys and I’ve done it all before.

 

 

As the years have passed and life has produced many turns and changes in direction I now find myself living on the West Coast of the USA thinking that Vi’s lyrics are as relevant today as they were originally – in fact, the Poison Girls are needed now more than ever. I will miss Vi – her recent gig was well reviewed and I was delighted to see her smiling face, view the YouTube videos and see her look a picture of health. I would like to have told her that she has had a lasting impact on my life and a positive one – I hope she knew that she had impacted many more.

Everyone here at punkonline.co.uk sends their deepest condolences to Vi’s friends & family – Pete Fender (Omega Tribe, Fatal Microbes, Rubella Ballet) and Gem Stone (Fatal Microbes, Rubella Ballet). Vi was a “Real Women” a punk legend and an inspiration to thousands.

Stumpy – Punk Online

 

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