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vi subversa - what a life | lance d'boyle - the impossible dreamer

Vi Subversa is the mother of Honey Bane

Vi has two kids, Pete Fender and Gem Stone. Both were in Fatal Microbes with Honey Bane. Gem went on to play with Rubella Ballet. Pete played with a whole bunch of bands including Poison Girls (of course) Rubella Ballet, Omega Tribe and Charlie to mention but a few.

Poison Girls and Crass lived in a commune together

Poison Girls moved from Brighton to live at Burleigh House, a licensed squat just outside Epping in Essex. It was the only house in the area slated to be demolished for the London Orbital Motorway, the M25. By chance, Crass lived four miles up the road at Dial House, just outside Ongar. Upon such coincidences legends are built.

Bella Donna, Poison Girls first bass player,
was Honey Bane/Donna B

Very very different people!

Vi Subversa once beat up Paul Morley

Though beat up is a bit of an exaggeration (perpetuated by PM himself?). Morley wrote a vicious personal put down of Vi at a gig at the Factory in Manchester whilst, according to reliable sources, he spent the whole set in the bar with his tongue down the throat of his girlfriend. A week or so later Vi tracked him down at a gig in the Music Machine in Camden Town, and being unable to talk because of the noise, slapped him round the face. He wrote a very good review of 'Hex' a month or so later.

Richard Famous made his own guitars

Richard Famous made 2 eight-string guitars for himself (top E and B strings in unison pairs to give a 12 string jangle with a solid bass sound) and a 6 string for Vi. His favourite guitar was made from Australian Jarrah, which had been salvaged from the decking of Brighton pier when it burnt down.

Poison Girls were never given a Peel Session

In the late 70s and 80s the John Peel Show on BBC Radio 1 was the only place on national radio where any alternative music was played. Peel had a nightly 2 hour show and usually had 2 sessions by bands each night. Every band with any sort of following or record out (and many that hadn't) got at least one session at some time or other (and some like 'The Fall' or 'The Very Things' got dozens). Poison Girls were never asked to do a session!

Poison Girls fronted the money for the first pressing of Crass's 'Stations of the Crass'

Yeah, Crass wanted to bring out a record and by some chance Poison Girls had the cash flow for a loan. The record came out, the cash re-paid, and Crass records were up and running.

Poison Girls were supported by the National Front

In the late 70s there was a growing skinhead faction that came to political punk gigs, usually looking for trouble. As anarchists we believed (maybe, in retrospect, naively) that most skinheads were just kids looking for a gang to join, and that it was better to engage with them rather than take the 'Rock Against Racism'/SWP line which was to ban them. There was obviously tension at gigs, and a lot of criticism over our political position. This amongst other things led to us pulling out of a RAR gig when we were told that we couldn't play certain songs 'The Bremen Song' (which was about Jews being burnt alive in Bremen during WW2), and 'Bully Boys' (a blatant anti fascist song) as they incited the skinheads. As a result wee were attacked both onstage and at our house by skinheads. I am personally still sure that most of the 'skinheads' were just confused kids, and that it was better that we talked than isolated them.

Poison Girls played over 500 gigs and had fans
from all over the world


Over 1000 people turned up for the Poison Girls reunion gig for Vi's 60th birthday

The breaking up of Poison Girls in 1989 was met with industrial strength indifference. The brief reunion was however a triumph, and the interest and significance of what Poison Girls achieved still resonates as clearly today as it ever it did.


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