I stopped by Goteblud zine shop on Saturday to check out the new Popstitutes show that was opening later that evening. Matt Wobensmith, the shop’s proprietor and former Outpunk zinester, was busy stapling and collating and putting a lot of love into thick stacks of paper that were being folded into one-off zines about the Popstitutes, a group of “three no-account gay barflies [who] decided to fight back against the rising tide of Reagan-era conformity, complacency, and consumerism by forming an agit-prop band.” Matt described his later teen years, spent hanging around the Popstitutes’ post-modern debacle/danceparty that was Klubstitute: “They let me in underage–I was 19–and showed me an alternative side to queer culture that I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else. Everyone performed there: Pansy Division, Tribe 8, all those random SF queercore bands that were just starting out at the time. The Popstitutes were ridiculous and participatory (they pulled people out of the audience and onto the stage to perform, sometimes it was awful and sometimes it was brilliant) and they were ALWAYS a great time. San Francisco hasn’t seem anything like it since and that’s a damn shame.”
Matt went on to talk about the influence that the Popstitutes have had on queer culture in San Francisco and nationwide. Their parties were home base for some of the most influential people in the queercore movement of the early ’90’s and dozens have (unsuccessfully) tried to recreate the chemistry of Klubstitute in San Fran and internationally. The Popstitutes also played with a ridiculously wide breadth of “straight” bands including MDC, Operation Ivy, and Gwar (!!!).
It was also clear from Matt’s descriptions of the time that countless queer musicians since then have (knowingly or not) attempted to pay homage to (or blatantly rip-off) Diet, the driving force behind the Popstitutes and so-called “task-master” whose attention to detail and innovation appear both in the beautifully recreated flyers that decorate the walls of Goteblud and in the crazy stories people relate about his performances.
Apparently, the Popstitutes have managed to stay a San Francisco secret due to their lack of recordings and the fact that few were writing them or Klubstitute up in the zines of the time. Matt’s show hopes to change that.
If you’re going to be in San Francisco on any weekend from now until May 29, 2010, you should stop by Goteblud and check out this essential piece of queer punk history.