1981 was a busy year for Doris Fish and the Sluts A Go-Go.
She was working with Martin Ryter on Click TV, she attended the Gay Rodeo in Reno, and West Graphics greeting cards had come calling. The Sluts performed as dancers with both Timmy Spence, and Calling All Girls, the band Miss X had joined. Blonde Sin ran throughout the year and in between runs they and Eddie Troia added new elements, and in some cases, changed cast members. Newcomer Ginger Quest, a loyal Sluts fan turned drag queen, had replaced Freda Lay in Blonde Sin in October.
So it was that Ginger was in the cast of Fish For Xmas in December of that year while Blonde Sin was on hiatus.
The setting was Previews, a nightclub space on Geary and Polk that often played punk music. The Sluts had done a show there in 1980, Slut’s Slumber Party and Doris performed there in September 1981 for an appearance promoted and filmed by Martin Ryter of “Click TV”.
Video from the 1985 Happy Hour Christmas Special featuring Black Light Baby Jesus/You Light Up My Life
The show was a review of popular numbers from previous shows (“You Only Live Twice”, “Beauty School Dropout”) with some new comedy material worked in. Miss X sang “Fry Me A Liver” to the tune of “Cry Me a River”. Doris also performed “I’m Hip” and “Past, Present and Future”. New cast member Sara Cecchini, a cis woman, did “Beauty School Dropout” and a Patsy Cline number. Her girlfriend, Lori Naslund, a futureVegas In Space actor, was also a performer in this show.
The Christmas-theme highlight of the show was Doris giving birth to the Blessed Savior, which was a black light wrapped in pick fun fur as they sang “You Light Up My Life”. Video sadly does not exist of this show, but the song and gimmick were reprised in the Happy Hour Holiday show in 1985. Doris could never resist a good special effect.
Fish for Xmas Show Photos
Dan Nicoletta attended the Xmas show on December 5, 1981 and took photographs. He gave copies to the performers and the four below are scanned from Ginger Quest’s collection. The other photos were taken on a different night by a friend of Ginger’s using her camera. Many of these have not been published before and we are delighted to see them, especially the various looks Doris put together. Our eternal thanks to Greg and Dan for these gems.
“In late 1981 the Sluts were planning a rehash of old routines they called Fish for Christmas; Doris painted a six-foot tall self-portrait in fluorescent hues and hung it as a billboard above a card store at Market and Church.”
Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?
Craig Seligman’s book mentions this painting in conjunction with Fish For Xmas, but it is unclear if they were related or simply occurred in the same time frame. It is possible that the greeting card store was the site of a personal appearance promoting the West Graphics cards, but the end of 1981 might be a little early for that. In any case, its took on a mythic status in my mind as soon as I read about it, and I’m so glad to be able to see it. Thank you to Dan Nicoletta for making it available to us.
Aggressively self-promotional, as you would expect from Doris, it is quite bold and would have been impossible to miss with its vivid pink and orange hues. The portrait style is really interesting, a simplified somewhat cartoon image, a style she surely chose for visual impact and economy of time to produce it. The face is beaming and friendly and filled with so much Goddess energy, with her LOVE earrings and LIVE necklace. Special attention is lavished on the eyes, naturally, and the radiating pink hair draws you to them. The lettering is deft and fun and really pops.
The painting would hang in the 422 Oak Street apartment afterward, dominating the entryway. It was later used in the grand finale of the “Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?” benefit for Doris in 1989. Eight days after her death, Timmy Spence, X, and Doris’ friends mounted it to Timmy’s 1964 Oldsmobile convertible and drove it in the 1991 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
Its whereabouts are currently unknown.