Back together for Burger Boogaloo, raunchy surf-punks the Trashwomen reflect on SF's garage heyday
The aesthetic was based in high camp and cheap glamour — also seen on the cover of Spend the Night with the Trashwomen, the trio lounging in bed together, dolled up and looking tough in leopard print bras, red lace crop tops, and black babydoll dresses.
"It came from a lot of pin-up stuff and '60s go-go girls. We wanted to have a weird persona, I think, like Russ Meyer bad girls," Lucchesi says.
The group was known to play live in matching outfits, often trashy lingerie. "I don't know if you'll see us wearing lingerie on stage again though," Zolot says.
Though Lucchesi and Pimm do mysteriously mention possible planned outfits for Burger Boogaloo, noting that they're working on a little something.
"There may be just a little flair," Pimm says with a laugh.
"No bikinis though!" Zolot again reminds everyone.
The three have an easy rapport, which Pimm says took only about 22 years to master. Each time they get back together in Lucchesi's garage, it's like starting over fresh, but the songs eventually come rumbling back to them, she says. They've been practicing for about two months this time around, going back through the classic tracks, with no intention of writing new ones. "I get disappointed when I see an older band and they don't play much of their stuff that we all grow up with," Zolot says. Everyone nods in agreement.
The group originally came together fresh out of high school. Lucchesi and Pimm had gone to school together in Corte Madera and both moved to San Francisco at age 18, where they met Elka. She'd grown up in Los Angeles, and moved to SF, forming the psychobilly group Eightball Scratch.
The Trashwomen were supposed to be a one-off Trashmen cover band for a New Year's party at a long-gone venue called the Chameleon, kicking off 1992 in surf garage style. The idea was masterminded by Mike Lucas from the Phantom Surfers, then a popular local surf band.
For NYE, they learned a handful of Trashmen songs, got drunk, and played the set twice.
"After that, people kept calling, so we realized, we better write a bunch of songs," Zolot says.
Since she'd been in Eightball Scratch, she'd already been playing punk and rockabilly guitar parts, so she continued to do so in the Trashwomen, adding even more surfy reverb.
She's been playing music since before she can remember, and as a teenager was influenced by the Go-Go's. "I'd listen to the Go-Go's and pretend I was on stage."
"I think every girl did that when that album came out," says Lucchesi, who since the Trashwomen has gone on to front a dozen bands, including the Bobbyteens. "The Ramones definitely got me more into guitar. Every day after work I would just come home and play to the tape."
Their personal influences all seem to overlap with those creepy-sexy goth punks, the Cramps. "All the great punk stuff, and new wave, all that stuff was happening. We were lucky we got to see it," Lucchesi says. Putting on a mock cranky-old-lady accent she adds, "Kids today, they don't kno-ow."
In the early days of the Trashwomen, the threesome often played the Chameleon (in the space formerly known as Chatterbox and which is now Amnesia), and also the Purple Onion, frequently popping up at lesbian nights at clubs, warehouse parties, or underground house shows. They once wore bras scrawled with the word "Feminist" to the Faster Pussycat lesbian night at FireHouse 7 in Oakland. Often, fights would break out at their shows at the Purple Onion, just the high drama of the scene.