Lace Up Corsetry
Two Witches
The Cramps
The Midnight Configuration
Elvira - Mistress of the Dark
The House of Gord
The Hellfire Club
Gitane Demone
Carnival of Souls
Carnival of Desire
Marquis Masquerade

The rock scene in one way or another has plundered the fetish world many times over in search of "shocking" imagery to sell what is usually uninspired heavy metal pap. Whilst Rock fans in general remain self righteously apart from fetish culture, neither understanding nor wanting to, the roots and artistic impetus of the scene and scene members.

Some bands however are different, this is one such band. The Cramps.

The band drew it’s collective first breath in New York in 1976 and went on to establish itself along with a whole lot of other "New Wave" bands in the glory years of 76 and 77. Their music is not gothic in any way whatsoever, taking obscure 50’s psychobilly and 60’s garage punk as total influence. However, part of what the "Cramps" are about is 50’s underground "junk" culture, low budget sci-fi films, horror films, comics etc. Singer Lux once said "We like other worlds, and independently made horror films are other worlds".

In the days of the late 70’s and up until the mid 80’s most people saw the band as a "punk novelty act which refused to die". They as a band made more of the "horror" image and a lot of interest was heaped on other guitarist Bryan Gregory, whose appearance was quite ghoulish - long white quiff which covered the right side of his face and with his high cheek bones he looked like a skull on a stick! A living incarnation of your worst "E C Comics" nightmare. The "Cramps" also used throughout this period endless horror film images and promotional catch phrases to consolidate their image in the public’s mind. Hence the "gothic" connection. A friend of mine saw the band in 1979, he being a committed "punk" at the time said this about them, "They’re not punks, they’re just a bunch of weirdo’s".

The fetish element of the band at this time was not immediately apparent, the first hint we had was an interview with guitarist Poison Ivy in which she mentioned having a pair of back fastening gold lurex slacks specially made for her. She went on to say that she had a lot of pants made for her as she liked them really tight.
Throughout this period nothing much else was said about the "sexual" nature of the band. Then in the early 80’s after a lot of band problems, most notable of which was the departure of Bryan Gregory, the band resurfaced with a new and freer perspective. They released the live mini LP, "Smell Of Female", the cover of which featured Ivy wearing a kind of Circus performers glitzy leotard, seamed fishnet tights and high heeled stilettoes. All this caused a shock in the complacent "right on" early 80’s independent rock scene. Cries of "sexist" went up all round but Ivy, in an interview at the time, said that the sexual side of the band had been repressed and now was asserting itself. The Cramps’ world was to all within, a "Cornucopia of sex and horror!"
One of the bands main constituents was that they wanted to play "hot sexual Rock’n’Roll", now they were on track! Lux in a later interview talked about one of the first dates he went on with Ivy "We went to a rock show and she wore a see through dress with nothing on underneath, that’s when I knew she was an exhibitionist!"
As time went on Ivy would repeat her LP cover performance in differing variations, sometimes she would be wearing a cat leotard type costume, sometimes another Circus type costume and so on, generally reflecting singer Lux and guitarist Ivy’s interest in 50’s glamour/fetish photography, particularly the work of Irvin Klaw and his most famous model Betty Page, something they had always liked along with the rest of the aforementioned 50’s "junk" culture, but only now was coming to the fore.
The accusations of sexism and exploiting the female image via Ivy still continued to be mumbled throughout the 80’s until the 90’s with the release of the "Stay Sick" album. This again on the front cover featured Ivy in typical pose, but this time she had on only a pair of fishnet tights! The back cover, as a tongue in cheek stab back at the critics, had the whole band in fetish t.v. rubber wear. This being quite easy as half the band were women! But the fetish angle continued onstage with Lux wearing a full p.v.c. body costume and ill fitting stilettoes. Infact on their U.K. tour, to promote the album, they did an interview and photo session at "Skin Two’s" London show room. With both Ivy and Lux enjoying the dressing up! Now the critics were silent as they realised that their simple accusations of deliberate sexism were nonsensical next to the image of a zombie- like Lux in patent leather stilettoes.
Although some people say "The Cramps" are cartoonlike, in my opinion they embody in obvious and somewhat extreme forms the greatest elements of the rock’n’roll beast. They are dark, reflecting the primeval and basic impulsion of mankind, they are shocking and singleminded in their celebration of sexuality, they are the example that rock music is the devil’s creation to many a preacher man. But most importantly, they are untouched by rock music’s fads and fancies, as Ivy once said,"Rock’n’roll has no room for closed minds", and they do everything in the best bad (good) taste!