Friday, June 26, 2015

Pansy Division at the Bowery Electric

In 1991 in San Francisco, California, Jon Ginoli was frustrated by both the lack of openly gay rock musicians and a stereotypical image of a gay culture that embraced dance music and show tunes over rock. He started performing solo sets under the moniker Pansy Division, the name being a pun on World War II Germany's Panzer division and the word "pansy." Intent on creating the first openly gay pop punk band, he placed an ad looking for "gay musicians into the Ramones, Buzzcocks and early Beatles." Chris Freeman joined as bassist, and with a series of drummers Pansy Division performed as a trio. Presently, the group consists of Ginoli, Freeman, lead guitarist Joel Reader and drummer Luis Illades. Pansy Division's sixth and most recent album is 2009's That's So Gay.

Pansy Division's first East Coast appearance in six years was a headlining engagement at the Bowery Electric during Pride weekend. It also happened to occur about 12 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was constitutional in all states. The musicians in Pansy Division triumphantly mentioned the court ruling, but the focus was more on cheeky gay humor in the between-song chatter and in their lyrics. The band opened with "Fem in a Black Leather Jacket," the first Pansy Division song ever written. "Twinkie Twinkie Little Star", "Bad Boyfriend", "Dick of Death", "James Bondage" and a poppy cover of the Pet Shop Boys' "It’s a Sin" were among the highlights. Ginoli also introduced new songs, saying that Pansy Division would be recording them in the coming weeks; these new songs also were similarly rooted in 1960s pop and 1970s punk. "Queercore" has yet to hit its peak in contemporary music, but the veteran Pansy Division may lead the march.

Visit Pansy Division at