From “Punk-A-Rama” by Venus and the Razorblades…
“The New York Dolls started it all, along with the Modern Lovers and the damned dirty whores, The Hollywood stars were the Runaways, they did punk rock in the Rotten-y way. The CBGBs and the Bowery zone, Patti Smith and The Ramones, and in old London across the sea, the Hot Rods and the Sex Pistols were mystery. But now from us, we’ll never fade….Venus and the Razorblades”
Hardly a terrifying example of punk’s bad reputation as the great destroyer, Punk-a-Rama sounds more like a novelty record.
Maybe more than all other places, the punk/post punk music scene in California, seemed willing to accommodate everyone from the heads down hardcore punk of Black Flag to the more chart friendly energetic hooks of The Go-Go’s. In between these extremes were the trashy, the flamboyant, and the artsy – and the heap of bands put together by arch svengali Kim Fowley. Within that scene and in the clubs like Rodney Bigenheimer’s English Disco, The Masque and The Whisky-a-Go-Go, band members and those behind the scenes could exchange information, fill in for absent band members or even form new alliances. This was the world inhabited by Kim the record producer and former manager of the Runaways, particularly after the Runaways severed all ties with him in 1977.
Kim’s new project was to be called Venus and the Razorblades, and true to form, it was to be fronted by two teenage girls.
Assembling the band through auditions, he set out to create a boy/girl new wave band to rival his previous charges. A sort of trashy underage Bucks Fizz if you will.
In the lead singer roles were the 14 year old Dyan Diamond and 17 year old Vicki Arnold (Vicki Razorblade) – who standing side by side with Runaways Cherie Currie in the photo above, almost looks more like Cherie Currie than Cherie Currie did. They were joined by co-vocalist/guitarist Steven T, guitarist Roni Lee, bassist Danielle Faye and drummer Nickey Beat who had formerly been a member of The Germs. They lasted less than a year.
While punk rock gave many aspiring musicians and energetic teenagers the jolt they needed to get out there and form their own bands, it also signalled to the more cynical or experienced people like Kim a “gap in the market” to be filled by whatever approximate Franken-bands they could cobble together. If it had been Kim’s intention to create another Runaways it didn’t really work, not because Venus and the Razorblades weren’t smart and competent, but maybe because they were.
Guitarist Roni co-wrote the Runaways song “I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are” and is still active today with both recording and touring. Dyan continued to be managed by Fowley and released a solo album on MCA in 1978.
Although rarely remembered as the sharp tip of the spear in terms of their musical output, the weird thing is that name Venus and the Razorblades might just have been the inspiration for the popular brand of shaving equipment aimed at women. Launched in around 2002 and with a name so similar, it’s now almost imposible to see a packet of these razors and not think of the band. Maybe Kim and the band did reach their world famous goal in a way that even they hadn’t thought of… household name by default!
2 thoughts on “Venus and the Razorblades”
I remember hearing “Punk-O-Rama” in… 1980 or so? Yeah. Sort of a novelty tune. But I was interested in hearing the Dyan Diamond album since things from that time period of US New Wave that went under the radar interest me now. I bought a copy a few years back but being an LP there’s no time to play it! But the back cover is so New Wave. The use of theNew Wave Grid prefigured Blondie’s with “Eat To The Beat” a year later.
I didn’t think anyone remembered them! Every time I showed this lp to my friends, I was met with ” huh? Who are they?”. Fun fact: Nickey was in one of the first LA punk bands, the Weirdos. And in addition to his hair metal days, did a stint in The Cramps as well. Great article- as always.