Slymenstra Hymen - GWAR
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 1999
 
There are a plethora of bimbos in this entertainment universe but none as worthy of the great cosmic seed as Slymenstra Hymen of the almighty GWAR. As The millennium approaches the lactating bearer of the infernal egg has revealed that she needs to have here girlie ways known and understood by the men of earth. I, for one, would simply love to "embrace the pussy everyday" as she requests, alas I have been taken, nee given myself to another which is a good deal for you because maybe you will actually have a chance with this cosmic rock and roll babe. Let me know what happens. Slymenstra, I'll keep her given name to myself for now, has been queen of the GWAR expedition for long enough that one could hardly imagine a GWAR sans her and those amply perked boobies. Now, she sings and shocks her way into all the young boys hearts in support of the latest collection of GWAR infernalties, "We Kill Everything." This is a girl with plans and on a cool Midwestern morning she laid them all out too me over the phone. Probably a good thing too 'cause all that groveling and drooling was just so unbecoming.

DL: So, tell me of your girlie ways.
SLYMENSTRA HYMEN: My girlie ways? Oh it's all screwed up, it's pathetic, it's horribly dramatic.
 
DL: I guess that's good for the business you're in.
SH: That's right, all stars must be drama queens.
 
DL: Absolutely, scream queens, whatever you've got!
SH: So that's my new song on the record. I finally got to write my own lyrics and my own melodies and stuff like that. It was really fun
 
DL: You've cast off the bondage of co-writing?
SH: That's right, it took ten years, but I'm happy. I'm no longer just an ass shaker!
 
DL: Well, you know! I was showing my son the photo, and he goes "You know she's almost naked!" I said "Yeah" he said "Am I going to go to this show?" I said "Hmmm probably not"!!! Actually, I think he saw you once before and he remembered you. You did a talk show, I don't know if it was Geraldo.
SH: I did it a Jerry Springer twice.
 
DL: Oh, well it was one of those times.
SH: I did one time with GWAR and then another time they asked me back and they said it was going to be women in rock. And I got there and it wasn't, they had past quests there to confront me. I was on stage with a bunch of strippers and hookers. I got on stage and it was like "What am I doing here with these low lives? Everyone hates me" And then a girl tried to beat me up, I was trying to restrain myself from hitting her and stooping down to the Jerry Springer level. I just think that show is so stupid, it's like "hitty, hit, hit". anyway, eventually I did punch her because she wouldn't stop hitting me after leaving the stage five times and coming back and being assured that she wouldn't touch me, so I jump up and finally hit her. And when they cut the show together it's just me jumping up immediately and hitting her. So they just tried to make me look bad. Especially after yelling across the stage "who are you to judge after sleeping with a fifteen year old and paying for it with a City check? A fifteen year old prostitute and paying for it with a City check and getting impeached. Who are you to talk?"
 
DL: That didn't make it into the final cut, I'll bet?
SH: Of course not! Jerry's position went from hard on to limp d***! fuck him, I hate his show anyway.
 
DL: I hate all those shows. I don't think there's a good one.
SH: It's rotting the minds of America, it's just gross TV. It's an insult to this Country's intelligence.
 
DL: Well, you're probably a little bit more optimistic about this country's intelligence than I.
SH: It just goes to show by watching a show just how moronic the youth of America is. Wait a minute, I'm being positive!
 
DL: I know! The make up and stuff hasn't evolved much. I could bullshit you and tell you I've got every GWAR album since the first, but I don't. I look through my file and see that there hasn't been a lot of progression in costuming and stuff, is there like a theme that you want to keep?
SH: I think that it has progressed a lot. My first costume was way different from my new one. You know the look is the same, the processes are better and the length the costume lasts is better. My first costume was made out of paper maché, and now I'm into full on hard cast rubber and things like that which we just discovered a year ago. As a group with such a large production, it's not like we can afford to constantly change everything, the look of everything. We have to keep it semi affordable. I mean it's really not affordable we lose money every year. But the characters develop and there are new characters every year but it's all basically the same, you're right.
 
DL: There's the story behind it and people can follow, maybe I picked it up and I thought "These people have got to have escaped."
SH: It's kind of strange with GWAR, everybody knows us and everybody has seen us at one time or another but it's not the same people that come back year after year. It doesn't have to be completely and totally different every time because although the story is different its really similar. It's not like the fans that saw us in '88 and '89 are still coming out to see us, they all have kids and are sending their kids out to see us. It's like you harvest a new crop each year. There are some return
visitors then there are some that come back after five years and think "I should go and see them again" to them it's like "Wow, this is so much better, the production is better, the costumes are so much better"
 
DL: You guys have got a lot of people on the payroll, you've got a whole shop?
SH: Yes fifteen people. It's very costly, it's more a labor of love. It's not like we're all getting rich or anything. I use it as a tool to put me one the map for things I want to do later as an artist.
 
DL: Like what?
SH: Like acting or art direction or production design or working on movies. It's putting me on the map in the art world, I moved to LA a year and a half ago and I go to the art gallery openings and everybody knows who I am, so that was very helpful, that was one of the good things that came out of it.
 
DL: That's great. Do you think that people don't take it terribly seriously sometimes?
SH: Some people don't, but I don't think they have seen us. For instance, the other night I did some shows with my Girlie Freak Show at House of Blues in Las Vegas when that was opening, and a European promoter came up and said "Your band does not impress me, blah, blah, blah..." and I'm like "Then you have not been" you know "You have not been, you've just read that somewhere" I'm sorry, but I've never had anybody walk out of my live show and say "You do not impress me" I blow twenty five foot flames out of my mouth, what are you talking about?!!! I'm doing a new stunt in the new show that no woman has ever done before. Only two men have ever done it before and they are both the scientists that developed it. They put electrodes on me and run electricity through my body, and I shoot ten foot lightening bolts out of my fingers. And as far as the costuming is evolving, my character, every year I bring in something new and have five or six costume changes in a night. Last year for instance I was half woman half snake for a jazz number I do called "Don't need a man." I also do a goddess with six or seven arms which was a back pack with the arms. It changes all the time, there are little evolutions within it, but we can't afford to just say, like THE RESIDENTS have the Rock and Roll show and this show and that show and every time you see them they are totally different except for the eyeball heads. We just can't afford to do that with the way our costumes are built.
 
DL: I remember seeing at someone's house, they had an actual club and different assorted stage props. If you have to go through those every night it's got to get costly.
SH: Oh we don't go through them in a night, they last a year. We'll build everything for a year, and it'll be, not ruined totally but starting to fall apart by the end of a year. This year we start in April and will be done by thanksgiving so these props that we build will last till then. Unless someone steals one or something which we've had happen quite a lot.
 
DL: Maybe that was what I was looking at, stolen GWAR goods.
SH: Yeah, good thinking, we don't give that stuff away!
 
DL: I though maybe during the mayhem on stage they had fallen out into the crowd.
SH: We have a crew that's watching for that and the minute anything goes in we jump in after it. Often when fans end up with props it's when they've somehow managed their way back stage and stolen something from us. We harDL:y ever lose anything falling off the front. Someone stole my titties last year, I didn't have any breasts for the whole tour, they deprived everyone else of seeing my beautiful nude breasts.
 
DL: Now that is something I'm looking forward to seeing myself. I'm leaving my wife at home.
SH: Of course you are my humble servant.
 
DL: I'm working my way up to mastery now so I want to dominate! Oh, I had intelligent questions to ask.
SH: My beauty and intelligence are just stunning you, it's just muffling your brain. It's like all men.
 
DL: Of course. I'm just putty! This record goes back to more of a hardcore, punky base, why is that?
SH: It wasn't really a decision, I think a lot of our records sound totally different from each other, it's just where we're at at the time or which musicians are working with us. This year Pete Lee, our guitar player for several years, he was shot years ago when we were in an attempted car jacking, he's having complications and he had to go home to have tests and stuff so he's not with us this year. He was a really totally metal player, I think his presence made a change, his being gone made a change. Casey who's also a big heavy metal dude, he's from RIGOR MORTIS, he wasn't with us for the recording of the album or the writing of the album. He was thinking of quitting but now he's back. He's going on the tour, but on the record we have the original "Beefcake The Mighty", Michael Bishop, back playing. We had Tim Harris on guitar, he is a guitar player from a band called KEYPONE that he started after leaving GWAR. So, they were on the record, and Tim's been on almost all of our records as a studio musician, playing a few leads here and there putting his two cents in. So it was really a homely crew, it felt really old school, really nice. The whole record making process was a breeze.
 
DL: Looking back over the seven or is it eight..
SH: I think it's eight
 
DL: Eight records, is there anything there that in hindsight you wish "God, even for what we do, I wish we hadn't done that?"
SH: There was a song called Baby d*** fuck that I was always against which got us thrown off Warner. I think it was a dumb decision, the song didn't mean anything, it's not like this big meaning behind it that we all had to stand behind, that we all believed in as artists. It was basically a song written to piss people off and it did. In my opinion, it stunted our career. I'm all for subversivness and fucking the system, whatever, but if it's really just going to fuck with your livelihood, and it doesn't mean anything, why should you stand behind it? So now we can't reach the masses like maybe we could have, and really doing something subversive. Instead of going "I'm a little baby" I just thought it was stupid.
 
DL: I know when this came in, one of my ex-con friends was around, and he was immediately drawn to the baby rape song.
SH: I know, some of that kind of stuff, I wish GWAR wouldn't do, but you can't control Dave Brock's stream of consciousness, his writing. You can't tell someone like that "Don't write stuff like that" "Why can't you do something more marketable?" His artistic brain doesn't work that way. He's a great writer I totally respect him, but sometimes I just wish it could have been put a different way. You can say the exact same thing without the word fuck. Maybe that would have made us a little more successful, or cross over into a bigger market.
 
DL: There was a band that came out a long time ago, who seemed to bite a chunk off what GWAR had established and did get popular. That was GREEN JELLO [after a lawsuit, GREEN JELLY]. Was that something that annoyed you guys and girl alot?
SH: I never thought their ideas were that strong. I don't want to diss anyone, they're friends of mine. It's like GREEN JELLO was so baby, so sophomoric, even worse than us. I'm not saying we're not down there, coz we are! I couldn't watch it, it was just too stupid. I'm sure there's people out there going "And what about you?" Fine, I don't expect everyone to love GWAR, it's a thing that certain people are into, it's just one of those fringe things.
 
DL: I would think that that was most of the reason, besides that fact that you guys make good music, that's probably been the key, as an outside observer, to your longevity. That you are out on the fringe and you didn't make it big, I think biggness would have killed you guys.
SH: In a way I think it would. It would have to be totally cleaned up and it wouldn't be GWAR. So it's a hard decision to make, that the group's been fighting about forever, whether to make a jump like that or not. Right now I've been living in LA, and I've been trying to raise money to do a GWAR movie. I'm talking in the range of forty million dollars, I'm talking to investment bankers that deal with raising funding for movies. If we get that kind of money we're gonna have to make some changes, we're gonna have to let go a little and let people who do these things everyday do it, like a screenplay writer, a real screenplay writer, not one of us. We can work on a team with these people, but we can't expect to get into every nook and crannie ourselves. Some of the people in GWAR are so control orientated that they can't even allow people within the group to help them do something. We're once a year filmmakers. I love our movies, I think they're great, I think they could have been a lot better if we'd used a director and a lighting crew and people who knew what they were doing. And we would probably spent the same money. Instead we learnt everything the hard way and did everything ourselves and it shows, in my opinion.
 
DL: Now that you know? Do you see the idea festering "OK so we didn't know beforehand, but now we do know so now we can do it on our own"?
SH: Well, I've known the whole time and I think a lot of people knew the whole time, but there were certain powers that be within the group that wanted to control the whole thing themselves. Whether that was beneficial or detrimental, it's hard to say. I love the movie "Solace in Wonderland," I love "Skullhead." I think they're brilliant but I can just imagine what they would have been if a real director was doing it. I'd just love to work with GWAR in a real situation, I think it would be awesome. To do something like Spinal tap and do the video game and the toys to go with it, then end this dammed project!
 
DL: If there has been a band that could rival Kiss for merchandising, it's GWAR. I can't see why that hasn't been fully exploited. You've done the comics and stuff like that.
SH: I think it has a lot to do with the label that we're with and the type of money that's been put behind GWAR. Compared with the money that's been put behind KISS. If you have an entrepreneur behind you that sees the vision and puts the money behind it to make the vision a reality things happen. Just like MARILYN MANSON, he's a perfect example. He has money backing, he has a proper team and his shit is put out there properly and full force, not as a trickle and not having to rely on the bands reputation kind of business which is what I feel we have done. I'm not dissing Metal Blade, I think they did what they could do and we agreed to work with them so that's partially our doing, but with the right person it could have just exploded.
 
DL: You keep saying "Could have."
SH: Could have, would have should have, maybe still will. That's why I'm still here. That's why I moved to LA to try and help fix things. There's been a lot of improvement and a lot of progress since I got here that I'm really happy about. We've renegotiated our contract, we used to make fifty cents a record, now we get two fifty, we don't have to sell a gold record to recoup, we can sell fifty thousand and recoup which we can do. We sell sixty to seventy to eighty thousand per record. When we were young we didn't have management, we signed record contracts, we signed merchandising deals, we sold our souls, and now we're getting out of all that. All the publishing is going to revert back to us and we're going to be in a strong position. I'm really happy, that's why I'm still here.
 
DL: And then all the reissues will hit the shelves?
SH: Yes, and we'll resell the publishing. Maybe we'll be in a better position then. If somebody with vision actually decides to become interested in us. We've been yelling on our little pedestal, telling people GWAR, GWAR, GWAR, and nobody's been "Hey, I want to talk about this" about the record deal side anyway. The movie side is overwhelming how many people are interested. I've been working in the movie industry since I got here, doing art direction, production, design. little bit parts, non speaking roles, speaking roles, commercials, this and that. I'm learning so much and I'm really getting into the possibilities of what could explode and happen.
 
DL: You've got your Union card, right?
SH: Yeah, Yeah.
 
DL: There you go, you've got money for life! There's always something to do if you've got your card. OK, you seem pretty settled on the fact that this isn't going to be the end of your career with GWAR.
SH: No.
 
DL: and you've given me a couple of ideas of what alternatives you'd like to do, but if you could plan out the next year or two? Is it touring then another record or what else is in there?
SH: I'd like to see us finish this tour, we regroup and we have to find ourselves another record deal. I would really like to see the movie happen next, take two years to do that and put a record out simultaneously with that, and a game. So I would think two years after coming home from the tour expect to see us again.
 
DL: At that point everyone will forget about Spiceworld.
SH: And how bad that was.
 
DL: And we'll have GWAR world next.
SH: And then they'll say how bad we are! What overacters we are!
 
DL: But there's a beauty in your badness.
SH: I know, it's wonderful, I love it! It's so evil
 
DL: But evil is beautiful!!
SH: Did you like the "Girlie Ways" song?
 
DL: Yes, I did actually.
SH: Good, that was fun.
 
DL: I like this whole record a whole lot, it sounds very good and it's long.
SH: It's our first self-produced record. We've always, pretty much, self-produced, but we always had the guy sitting there being "the producer." This time we didn't pay anybody, we did it all ourselves in about three weeks. We practiced for two weeks and then they did it. I don't understand these bands who don't do anything for so long and then are in the studio for a year or six months, it's like "What do you do?"
 
DL: There's a certain amount of self-indulgence you're allowed after you get some success, but then you think how Black Sabbath put out three records in a year in the 1970's, three of their best records too!
SH: Then there's bands today like Courtney Love, who's only done three records in her whole career! Excuse me?!
 
DL: And at the risk of pissing them off, none of them have been too good! To me anyway!
SH: I think she's totally flat, or sharp. I don't know what it is. It's just wrong.
 
DL: No, I like the song, I don't know who wrote it.
SH: She's a great writer.
 
DL: It's a good hook, it's a great hook really.
SH: Well, I'm glad you like it. I'm always so insecure about all my musical attempts.
 
DL: Well, there's a certain lack of objectivity there, huh?
SH: Yeah.
 
DL: I know I'm looking forward not just to seeing your boobies but to hearing your song too.
SH: Alright! I modeled them on Jayne Mansfield, they're pretty nice. And they milk too, they're milking mammories!
 
DL: Cool! Is it like two percent?
SH: Low fat!
 
DL: OK!
For more information about GWAR - http://www.gwar.net
 
Written by David Lee Wilson & Jinny Jerome

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