It was close to midnight, and there was an old guy out on the street scrubbing plastic restaurant floor mats. The restaurant was closed. I said hello, we made eye contact, and then he said two words: “Chelsea Girls.” I told him that’s where I was headed, and then he smiled as if we were male bonding or something. “They put on one hell of a show,” he said, nodding in the direction of the nightclub next door. I asked if he was going. He nodded, blew out a gust of cigarette smoke. “I’ll be there.”
If Nick Tosches had not turned novelist and were still writing about rock music, he might’ve called the Chelsea Girls So Cal’s best menstruating cock-rockers. Four women doing spot-on covers of ’80s man-rock at significant wattage; fems doing justice to the power-chorded might of music like “Welcome to the Jungle.” But when I ask Corey Parks (the 6’3” ex–Nashville Pussy bassist who founded the Chelsea Girls in Los Angeles earlier this year) whether or not she thinks playing rock and roll is a guy thing, she says, “What isn’t? What isn’t on this planet? What profession isn’t a man thing?” She says that she and the Girls talk about the subject all the time.
“We grew up idolizing men when we started playing. For me it was Dee Dee Ramone and Cliff Williams of AC/DC.” Did Parks feel any feminine bonding to the first wave of hard-core chick rockers? “When I saw Joan Jett, what she embodied for me was that she was a totally smokin’ hot female, but she played like a guy.”
Chelsea Girls is a name on loan from pop culture. It’s the title of an Andy Warhol flick, Gene October’s London-based punk band is called Chelsea, and then there’s Chelsea Girl, Nico’s 1967 album.
“Chelsea Girls…” Parks says. “Sounds like a f***in’ chick gang, right?”
CHELSEA GIRLS: Brick by Brick, Saturday, October 31, 8 p.m. 619-275-5483. $15.