We’ve mentioned vintage rockers The Stranglers before in our post about a memorable 1980 London gig. We have also considered whether or not The Stranglers are a bunch of sexist pigs in another post – On the End of a Skewer. Often, with all-male bands, there’s little to say in our blog because it’s mainly about women in punk music. But we’ve found another reason; the 1982 video that accompanies The Stranglers’ Strange Little Girl features an army of leather-clad mohican-styled punk girls.
Part of the video is now a well-used GIF – a prime contender if you search for a ‘punk girl’ GIF
The lyrics tell the story of a rural girl running away to the big city and finding it ‘difficult’ – surviving but finding ‘all things cold’. In the video, the narrative is different; she doesn’t face the song’s mournful end. Instead, the protagonist overcomes her new city problems by meeting a mainly-girl punk gang who shave her head and then march purposefully through a bunch of Stranglers who are ‘Just Hanging Around‘. Inspirational stuff!
And the story behind the record and video is also fascinating. Although recorded and released in 1982, the track is a ‘severance’ release – made to fulfil the Stranglers’ contract with EMI/Liberty Records before moving to Epic Records. The band later revealed that the song was, in fact one of their oldest from 1974, and that EMI had turned the band down originally when the demo of Strange Little Girl had been submitted as an example of The Stranglers music. Having the last laugh indeed.
It’s not clear whose idea the punkgirl procession was, but some information exists about who the girls were. Bass player and singer with Dutch band ‘Cheap n Nasty’, Terry was in the UK at that time. She’s the one to the right of the strange little girl when they’re walking through the alley. Apparently Terry was asked to audition for the main role but turned it down, for one thing because she felt she was too old for the role of a 16 year old girl. Instead she was cast as one of the two friends, but couldn’t make it for the close up scene of the three friends as she had to go back to the Netherlands.
The lead part went to ‘Spanish Lisa’ Lisa Molinaro. According to Spanish blogsite The Last Rage: “Molinaro was a keyboardist for the female punk project Las Brujas, which had a short existence … she married the musician Johnny Canut.” Because she was willing to have her head shaved in the video, Molinaro was paid £100. The others in the video got a fee of £10 and some food.
Some of the punkgirls were recruited at a Damned concert by a ‘posh women with a bodyguard’. On Kill Your Pet Puppy blogsite, a number of people comment about how they were recruited for the video:
“My friend Andrea and I were in the Stranglers video, we were approached in Kensington Market as we both had mohicans and the right look !!! , we were paid £10 for the day.” Leigh
“I was in this video, i was approached up the kings road and asked if i wanted to be in a video, they said they were looking for 50 mohican girls, i took my mate Diane (last known living in Milton Keynes) with me and her boyfriend Paul (Pink spikey hair), you can just see him looking over the shoulder of the girl with the ‘rock’ t shirt at 1:30 … I got too bored with the whole thing, too many people pushing to get up the front, so you don’t see me anywhere in the video…but good times all the same. “ Debbie
“Hey, yes it was me and Ruth from Hagar. We got paid a tenner each and the main girl got £100 as she agreed to have her head shaved; the rest of us wimped out. We were also fed and spent a merry ten minutes pelting buns at a Sun photographer who ran and hid in a phone box. Whilst we continued to bombard him with bread products. My main memory – was of a group of us running up and down and shouting Jean Jacques at the top of our voices in cod French accents. We were very young and it made us laugh till we all got sore sides and hiccups.” Elaine
Whilst The Stranglers are not punkgirldiaries’ most favourite band, we like the concept and how empowering this video looks; it must have been fun to take part in the filming and we’d love to hear from anyone else who was recruited for this project. Nice one, Stranglers!
Tori Amos recorded a version of Strange Little Girl in 2001 but we’re not that keen on it. Sorry.