Proposed PMRC Rating: Profane or sexually explicit
Explicit Lyrics: "I got pictures of naked ladies lying on my bed ... /I'm making artificial love for free/I start to howl in heat/I fuck like a beast"
W.A.S.P. Then: By the early 1980s, shock rock was in an odd place. Alice Cooper had gone new-wave and Kiss were taking off their makeup. So a group of L.A. metalheads seized the day along with their buzzsaw codpieces and formed W.A.S.P., a group whose name was an acronym for "we are sexual perverts." Frontman Blackie Lawless has described their early shows as psychodrama, in which he drank "blood" from a human skull, threw meat into the audience and tortured semi-nude women on stakes as part of the show. The group introduced itself to the world with the lascivious, howling 1984 single "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)," which was available only as an import after Capitol refused to include it on the group's self-titled debut. It eventually got a domestic release, which the PMRC found and exploited as porn rock. Both W.A.S.P.'s first album and 1985 follow-up,The Last Command, went gold the month after the record-labeling hearings; neither album contained the song at the time.
What They Said Then:
"I think we've created quite a bit of a controversy here lately," Blackie Lawless told
a screaming Montreal audience in 1986 while introducing "Sex Drive." "I've been reading a lot in the newspapers and the magazines about me and my boys here. You know what they say about us? They say that we are sexual perverts [rim shot
]. They say that W.A.S.P. are a parent's worst nightmare. Have you ever heard the expression, this one's for you? Well, this is for Tipper Gore and all the rest of the fuckin' PMRC."
After the PMRC: The band went through a number of lineup changes throughout the rest of the Eighties, though they stuck to their guns with presenting controversial stage shows. W.A.S.P.'s fourth album, 1989's The Headless Children, which contained their hit cover of the Who's "The Real Me," was both their highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 and last to make onto the chart. The group has consistently put out records since then, and its most recent –Golgotha – is due out next month. Frontman Blackie Lawless became a born-again Christian.
What They Say Now: "At the time, to have a female senator hold up a picture of my crotch in front of the Congress of the United States made me ask myself, 'Are you kidding me? I'm just some kid in a rock & roll band. Do these guys have nothing better to do with our tax money?'" Lawless tells Rolling Stone. "But now being a born-again Christian, I've not played that song for almost 10 years.
"Knowing what we know now, the PMRC should have stood for 'Politicians Masked as Reelection Campaigns,'" he continues. "It was Al Gore's 'Joe McCarthy moment.' I was supposed to have gone to the Senate committee hearings and I opted out three days before, on the advice of my label. I was with Frank Zappa the day after the hearings were over and he told me, 'Be glad you didn't go — it was a big dog-and-pony show.'
"Looking back, after all was said and done, more was said than done. Talking with Frank was interesting because he had seen this all before, back in the early Sixties. What I didn't understand at the time is that he was running interference for the rest of us. He had been through these 'witch hunts' before and although he didn't have a dog in the hunt as far as a record goes, he understood how dangerous the idea ofany suppression of free speech could be. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who didn't understand the magnitude of the seriousness. A few years later, I had a chance to thank him for it before he died. He just smiled graciously and nodded his head. He knew what he had done for us.
"As far as the PMRC having any real impact? Yeah, Al sold out to Al Jazeera and left a huge carbon footprint on Nashville before he and Tipper divorced. Talk about an inconvenient truth."