It's little secret that I am a QueenAdreena fan. Easily, the group is in my top 5 picks that define my musical interests. It is however, an interest fraught with less than desirable results. Katie Jane Garside, for better or for worse embodies the mantle of the band, she is in effect: Queen Adreena. The "wrecked nymph waif" that saunters onstage in a salacious, seemingly-possessed persona that eclipses all the senses is well-beyond any other element of the experience. And it is in that framework that KJG is vilified...
Let's be clear, in appearances alone, the emotionally unsound affect coupled with being barely-clothed and possibly naked and offering yourself to an audience of strangers to grope, molest, and violate is the blanket ingredients to shock value recipe. It is also akin to watching a schizophrenic attempt to coexist in a sterile world. It feels wrong, it feels dirty, it feels like it shouldn't be seen. And that's exactly at the core of what's transpiring. You should feel that way. Unfortunately - with much of society, what we don't want to see, we also don't want to understand.
There has been the obvious comparison to Courtney Love. Both women exude a tortured and unsettled emotion that is a pain that can't be exorcised... and it presents itself in a seething, volatile assault on the listener. But I would draw closed the comparison there. While we know much (probably too much) about the path Courtney Love has traveled, that same cannot be said about Katie Jane Garside. One can assume that there is a lifetime's worth of hurt that is personified in her lyrics and stage-persona, but we don't really know. And it's really not the point, and if you think KJG doesn't realize that, you are taking her wholly for granted. If for instance she made a statement that claimed she had been victimized as a child - it would make it so much easier to understand her presence; neatly categorized and packaged for individual judgment. And now suddenly, it's not as important, I can choose to care about this or not.
I will argue that Katie Jane Garside and Queen Adreena should draw more comparisons to Marilyn Manson than perhaps anyone. MM stoked the conservative rhetoric fire for choosing to be the embodiment of every parent's worst fear. A figurehead that questions organized religion, decency, morality, and packaged it into a fearsome, androgynous, educated and well-spoken antichrist. The image was so disconcerting that few could look past the spectacle to read and listen to the lyrics; to sit back and question what is happening and why? MM made the decision, quite reluctantly, to let America in on the joke... and now he is palatable enough for tv and film.
So, why in this morality lesson that Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Rozz Williams chose to teach us that we aren't ready to go beyond the "transgressions" of KJG? I would offer that it's three reasons: Unlike MM, Bowie, etc., she is unwilling to give definition to this aspect of herself; the music is so seething and angry that it's off-putting; but I am willing to claim that the biggest reason is because sexuality is a much different monster than religion, morality, decency. A women using her body as a statement and eliciting a sexual response without explanation is simply too egregious an act to quantify.
Now, if you couple the image with the word, perhaps the revulsion seems absolutely correct. With song titles like, "Pretty Like Drugs", "Suck", "Kitty Collar Tight", "F.M. Doll" - surely this is all just shock value and that is all that should be elicited as a response. But what is painfully evident when you listen to those songs and read the lyrics is that even from Daisy Chainsaw days, that KJG was drawing parallels between a woman's sexuality being her only currency in a world hell-bent on exploiting that. And suddenly, the spectacle makes perfect sense. The trap has been baited with silence and that enticement was too much to refuse. Out fell, the basest of human decency, the double standards by which women live their lives, and the judgmental bubble by which we navigate life. Accepting that you are a victim of this trap is a bitter pill... thinking that somehow you are better than other's for not swallowing is worse. So much effort is spent on victimizing KJG, when the reality is quite the reverse.
But perhaps it's all a mute point now. The exposition of 10 years of QueenAdreena seems to have slithered away back into the dark... the band has continued on as The Dogbones, and Garside has devoted a lot of time to writing and Rubythroat. I feel it's worth noting, that despite song-writing that remains true to her nearly 3 decades in the music industry, somehow when the stage-stripping, writhing and screaming stopped - the press suddenly expressed a profound love for the "new KJG". It's laughable, I know she's laughing. Being a sedate, intellectual woman is clearly more respectable than an angry, hell-bent, intellectual woman... but I guess we already knew that.
KJG has a new book coming out, if it's anything like her previous efforts, it will be painstakingly constructed and a special piece in your collection:
Katie Jane Garside