The Birth of the Women’s Art Collective, The Sluts A Go-Go
After Tippi introduced him to Doris at Ambisextrous’ “Come As Your Favorite Fellini Character” birthday party in 1979, Brad Chandler was recruited to help write the script for a new show, “The Sluts A Go-Go”. His knowledge and affection for old Hollywood movie dialogue came in handy as the show loosely came together. Set in the seedy “Fishnet Club” where showgirls turned tricks between acts, Doris played the mistress of the club Dorice Poisson, Tippi (Miss Leading at the time) was her long lost daughter Lois Standard (hilariously, “born in an alley behind Finnocchio’s“-the famous San Francisco female impersonator nightclub), Freda Lay played the dumb blonde Candy, and Brad played Helen Damnation, a runaway heiress to the Brand X fortune….known mysteriously as MISS X. The name stuck, a new drag performer was born, and the Sluts A Go-Go were officially on their way.
Miss X recalls: The original Sluts A Go Go show was a one night affair at 330 Grove known as the S.I.R. Center. It was attended by (among others) Eddie Troia who approached Doris about rewriting it and adding live music. We left right after that for Sydney (South Pacific Nightclub Tour), but when we returned, Doris and Eddie started talking and we all began having creative meetings. Doris was all about publicity as you know and every time we mounted a new run we had a host of new posters, doing our best to get a new rash of photos posted in different publications (the Bay Area Reporter, the Sentinel, whoever she could get to post some publicity for us).
That first show in SF was my first time performing in drag. I’d been in drag over the years and I’d been onstage from a very early age but not the two together. Doris called me a natural, which was pretty funny considering how unnatural what we were doing was! The fact that I had ideas and could spell and put a sentence together lifted me up in her eyes, and Tippi was such a cheerleader for me!
Tippi was so great, so enthusiastic and so incredibly supportive of me particularly being a rank novice. So generous with me. I don’t remember her being as challenged then as she became later, but a lot of that was being sick. She was so clever and had names for everything and everyone: Shirley MacLaine became “Squirrelly MacBrain” and Tippi Hedrin became “Tipsy Excedrin”, like that. Pig Latin often came into play and the changing of names was so drawn from 30’s and 40’s slang.
The show was photographed by Dan Nicoletta. Below are some newly restored photographs, courtesy of Dan.
Dan Nicoletta recalls: “On Oct. 28, 1979 I went down to 330 Grove to see these newish girls in town the Sluts A go go. It was perhaps their first full length show under the “Sluts” banner. I shot one roll of color film. It was a very day glow palette but not exclusively. I think Miss X was working fire engine red for some of it. It was fun because it was less of a lip -sync show and more of lets get together and go go dance the fuk out of our favorite blaring hard driving songs kind of thing… maybe they lip-synched a few things like the Shangri-La’s “The Past Present and Future”? I remember a drag queen pile on under clear vinyl happened, it involved a whip creme assault by the group on one of them… in other words A LOT of Chaos Magick happened that night.. I was hooked instantly…. even though the amount of spandex in the show was off putting to me personally… but forgivable, it was after all the dawn of metallic spandex wear… Ambisextrous was the notable opening act and would come to be a regular opener for the gang… she marched to her own drummer which was endless consentual fodder for ridicule by the “other” gals…”