Glen Meadmore boasts a career that spans a broad stylistic collection of media. Be it film, music or performance art, Meadmore has embodied the availabalist technique of drag in both his solo and collaborative career with such luminaries as Vaginal Davis (as part of Queercore legends, Pedro Muriel and Esther) and worked with recording legend Steve Albini. Read on as we talk serial killers, punk notoriety and performance art…
Dis) So, Glen, you got your start as bassist/vocalist of Winnipeg based punk group, the Psychiatrists. How do you view the Canadian scene – it has been commented that at the time, there was only disparate activity for alternative culture in Canada – would you agree with this?
Glen Meadmore) I don’t really know much about the Canadian scene or any music scene for that matter. I’m pretty much a hermit and live in a cultural void.
D) Your move to Los Angeles saw you teaming up with queercore poster girl, Vaginal Davis, forming Pedro, Muriel & Esther. This signified the beginning of an incredibly fertile and creative period for yourself and your contemporaries. Can you tell us a little about performing with PME and your involvement with the burgeoning queercore scene…
G) I met Vaginal on the steps of the anticlub a venue we both performed at . At the time I could tell we were kinderd spirits. PME didnt come until several years later. he wanted me to play guitar behind his poetry and I thought it would be a good idea to form a band. I didnt know anything about queercore. I still dont know much about it except the term. As i’ve said I am pretty out of the music scene.
D) I believe at this point as well, that RuPaul was also working with yourselves, are you still in contact with Ms. Paul and how do you view your time working together…
G) I met Ru while performing at the limbo lounge in west hollywood. We would later perform together at club rio in atlanta and later with vag at the pyramid in ny. Ru and I hadnt spoken for many years till last year he invited me to chat with him in the dressing room of his tv show. He is very ambitious.
D) Drag, particularly ‘outsider’ or what could be termed ‘availabalist’ drag, became a great vehicle for you during this time as represented in your videos from the ‘Squaw Bread’/’Chicken and Biscuits’ period of your solo career. What about drag, particularly this style, appealed/appeals to you?
G) When I first started doing drag it was mainly just to get attention walking down the street. I would just throw on any old dress without makeup etc. very frumpy. Later in performance I would try for an asexual minimalist look. usually all black sometimes just a body sleeve with no arms so I had restricted arm movement. Later a simple black t shirt form fitting dress. Later a black body suit and later pink spandex and a pink sequin body suit. minimalist makeup usually just foundation black eyeshadow and red or pink lipstick. My smokey eye look was inspired by Serge Luten. my looks after that were very spontaneous i wore a large plastic sheet I found on the street etc. or some black fabric I found which I fashioned into a burka. later my friend collaborator Jim van Tyne would design and make elaborate outfits for me.
D) You’ve been credited, with creating the genre of ‘Christian-new-wave-country-punk’ – what a mouthful! – blending bluegrass with DIY punk and synth. What drove you to combine this unusual melange?
G) When I started doing music it was spontaneous also. I had given up guitar and started playing synth and was interested in disco and repetition but wanted it to be demented. I liked things that broke rules. Later I got back into guitar and thought I might be able to do something with country music which I found corny and thought if I thought it might be interesting to pervert it in some way. I use the term christian loosely as i’m more of a spritualist. There are some christian ethics I find appealing.
D) Aes-Nihil recently added videos from your early period to YouTube and I believe still distributes a number of films and albums of yours. ‘No Money, No Honey’ for instance, features Ms. Davis again, how do you characterise your relationship with each other and the work you’ve produced?
G) Vaginal is a dear sweet soul and we are of a like mind, so working together comes naturally.
D) The video for ‘Do Me’ featured a risqué performance during which you performed a hyper-acidic and cartoonlike black face character being hired by a suspicious, suburban couple to keep house for them. What drove you to create this character and employ this imagery?
G) The video for ‘Do Me’ was a video created by ken camp . the look was one i put together for performing. like i say all my creativity comes spontaneously not much planning. What can I say, I was possessed!
D) Your third album, ‘Boned’ dropped the synth element of your sound in favour of a more aggressive ‘Grunge’ flavour, what was your reason for this diversifying of your sound?
G) ‘Boned’ was the album where I first got the band together. I think it was recorded right after the band was formed and the songs were thrown together and not rehearsed much if at all. Which is how we usually work.
D) Advancing further, your next record, the acclaimed, ‘Hot, Horny and Born Again’ garnered your inclusion on the soundtrack for Bruce LaBruce’s ‘Hustler White’, did you have a pre-existing relationship with Bruce through the Homocore association?
G) I dont think I knew Bruce before the film but I did know the girls from fifth column (GB Jones et al.) and the boys from shadowy men
D) I’ve heard that songs from this album are to be included in a compilation record entitled ‘Queercore Explosion’. What’s your reaction to being canonised within this cultural frame?
G) I dont know about the queercore explosion but I’m all for being canonized
D) Returning to ‘Hot, Horny…’ it would be remiss of me to overlook the cover art, created by infamous serial killer, John Wayne Gacy. What lead you to contact Gacy and, further to this, include his artwork in your release?
G) I had heard that Gacy did commissions so I wrote to him and he agreed to my portrait. I have 4 altogether based on photos Rick Castro took of me. I suppose I was interested because I was curious about how the criminal mind would interpret art . Also being able to talk to Gacy a few times I was able to get a glimpse inside the personality of a murderer. He seemed like an average guy. Nothing unusual at all.
D) After a long hiatus, PME returned in 1998 on the Spectra Music label with ‘The White to be Angry!’ which featured a sardonic VD proclaiming herself a white heterosexual male and keeper of all societal privilege’. What encouraged your return, collectively, to this project?
G) The PME cd was sponsored by our friend Mark Freitas , without him it wouldn’t have been recorded. He was the one who wanted to do it.
D) Steve Albini produced this record and then returned to produce your following album, ‘Cowboy Songs’, how did this partnership occur and do you plan to release any further material with Albini in future?
G) I asked Steve if he would record my country band and he agreed. I would love to work with him again. He is very efficient and gets a great sound. He works very fast too , plus he is very funny and sweet
D) Thank you so much for your time today Glen, can you tell us, where is best to purchase your awesome music and merchandise? Where also, can we see you next and what upcoming projects do you have in the works?
G) You’re welcome Dis! The best way to purchase music is to write to me 225 s olive st #1607 LA CA 90012. no gigs as yet but we are always ready and able for any.