The world was never ready for Rockbitch.
At its best, rock and roll is a way of communing with forces beyond human comprehension. The pounding drums, insistent bass and wailing guitar evoke our primitive inner wildness, and the all-time legends are people who shed their inhibitions and let it all hang out on stage.
Think of Iggy Pop, stripping naked and rolling around in glass, or Jerry Lee Lewis setting fire to a piano and playing feverishly as it burned.
Only one problem: Those artists are men. Where are the women who lay it all on the line for rock & roll?
You missed them. They broke up in 2002. They were called Rockbitch, and they were incredible.
Founded in 1989 by the British bassist Amanda Smith-Skinner, a member of a polyamorous feminist commune in France, Rockbitch took the stage with a mission of making rock & roll powerfully sexual. The mostly-female group delivered pounding, intense compositions in concert while stripped nude and engaged in all manner of sexual acts.
Unlike many other female-fronted ensembles who acted wild for the crowd and then were painfully conventional backstage, Rockbitch were for real. This wasn’t a pose, it was a mission.
Modern culture, they believed, demonized human sexuality, treated it as something shameful?—?to be done behind closed doors?—?as opposed to a vital and necessary part of every adult’s life.
So they tried to bring sex out in front of the world and make people look at it.
In the 2003 documentary “This Is Rock Bitch,” singer Lisa “Babe” Willis made it very clear. “We’re what you get when strong, intelligent women decide to free themselves from the expectations of other people and live closer to the heart.”
There was no such thing as a “typical” Rockbitch concert. Band members were naked, clad in bondage gear, faces painted. Sex priestesses and “slaves” writhed at their feet, engaged in oral copulation or penetrating band members with head-mounted dildos.
It could seem shocking, and the band would gladly admit it, but it wasn’t done for publicity or attention. Rockbitch wanted everybody to share in their sexual freedom. When you watch their performances, you get the feeling like the exact same thing would be happening without anybody watching. Their sexual antics were for their own pleasure, and the crowd just amplified it.
During shows, the band would often throw a “Golden Condom” out to the audience. The mosher who caught it would then be invited backstage after the show to get it on with band members in a wild inversion of the traditional groupie paradigm.
All of the fornication wasn’t just for shock value. The members of Rockbitch really saw getting it on as a sacred act, one that was worthy of celebration. In one interview, sole male band member The Beast commented that they wanted to “sexualize the world.”
Their music was equally confrontational, with driving drums backing up angular bass lines, crunchy guitar riffs and wildly squelchy keyboards.
Rockbitch was constantly butting heads with promoters and venue owners who wanted to damp down their act. At one show in Southampton, England, they were prohibited from penetration onstage, so they responded by inviting all 400 audience members to come have sex with the band later in the month.
In the end, only one person showed up?—?a young virgin?—?but Rockbitch made his sexual awakening truly memorable.
Needless to say, the world was never ready for Rockbitch. They only managed to release a single album, 1999’s “Motor Driven Bimbo.” Some countries were more welcoming than others?—?the band drew huge crowds in the Netherlands, for instance. Other times they really had to tone things down, like when they played for a British elementary school fully clothed as “Rocky Beaches.”
Rockbitch broke up in 2002. Many of the members attempted to start a less controversial group called MT-TV, which released a few albums and toured. Although they’ve stepped back from the public eye, many former members of Rockbitch still live together in their French commune, embracing the wildness of free sexuality without the amplifiers and electric guitars.
Willis summed it up beautifully in an interview by saying “If you’ve got a bunch of women doing exactly what the fuck they like, that is a huge threat. It’s a threat to relationships, it’s a threat to society, it’s a threat to the world. What would the world be like if we were all just having sex, having fun and loving each other?”