Challenging an audience’s assumptions about sex and gender dates back to the earliest days of rock & roll, from the lustful hip-shaking of Elvis Presley to the confident but effeminate style of Little Richard. But a new generation of musicians is pushing the boundaries farther than ever before; on the independent music scene, transgender performers are achieving a new level of visibility and acceptance, and filmmaker Madsen Minax profiles a handful of transgender artists bubbling up from the underground in this documentary. Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance In Music Performance features performances from Systyr Act, Coyote Grace, The DeGenerettes, and Lipstick Conspiracy. Riot Acts was an official selection at the 2010 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.
–Excerpt from the N.Y. Times Review of Riot Acts, by Mark Deming.
Lipstick Conspiracy’s trio of guitarists employ different rigs to drive the band’s ’70s-inspired sleaze rock. Sarafina Marachino plugs a Gretsch G3140 Historic Series into a Carvin SX200 combo, Shawna Love uses a Les Paul and a Fender Super Reverb, and Marylin Mitchell plays a Stratocaster through an ADA preamp, an ART Multiverb, a Tubeworks Mosvalve power amp, and two ADA cabs loaded with Celestions.
Wicked Textures, by Buddy Saleman, Guitar Player Magazine, July 2006.
Shawna Love has an enviable talent for driving in stiletto heels. On a recent Saturday, she’s driving through a quiet, suburban neighborhood in South Hayward that looks as if it burst out of a Sears, Roebuck catalogue and hasn’t been touched in fifty years: All the houses are squat, ticky-tacky things with manicured lawns, window boxes, and identical American flags hanging in the windows. She squints out her passenger-side window, skeptical that one of these stucco boxes actually belongs to her friend Kari, who fronts the all-tranny-girl rock outfit Trans Central Station — a spinoff of Shawna’s own band. Kari is hosting a barbecue and jamboree, and Shawna is dressed for the occasion: dark, smoky pantyhose, a black sequined dress to go with her heels, lipstick the color of cabernet.
She parks in front of a Pepto-Bismol-pink house whose only distinguishing features are the plastic flamingos on its front lawn. A cat jumps on the roof of the car and climbs through the window onto Shawna’s lap, trying to claw at her stockings. A woman with poofy hair and culottes scurries over to scoop the critter up, apologizing profusely. Her eyes widen a little when she sees Shawna. “Oh, you must be a friend of Kari,” she stutters.