from Heavy Metal Performance Art Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 4

The Heavy Metal Woman sat on the lumpy bed holding a can of off-brand, lemon-lime soda, a half-smoked cigarette dangling from two fingers of her left hand.  Her motel room was one of those soggy and efficient numbers that turn up in sparsely visited towns.  She was there to see a mid-level band play a rarely used local amphitheater on a date near the end of their tour.  I’d arrived slightly early for our interview and as she opened the door, she’d squinted against the morning sun, still hungover from the previous night’s Millers.  I started our conversation asking about her history.

HMPAQ: When did you first know you wanted to be The Heavy Metal Woman?

HMW: It was more of an event than a knowledge.  I wasn’t sitting in my chair and thinking about it. I was just in the middle of a place, a sidewalk.  And then I knew it had already settled on me.

HMPAQ: The whole identity, aura and glamour?

HMW: The whole bowl of nachos.

HMPAQ: Did your decision to legally change your name upset your family?

HMW: My previous name was prissy and had an oppressed heritage. I felt myself stepping away from that, but not falling into something similar. If I was going to be The Heavy Metal Woman, I wouldn’t hide from it. My mother didn’t understand and my father said that he understood, but I knew he really didn’t.  He later died in a truck fall.

HMPAQ: Do people call you Miss Woman?

HMW: (snort) People who know me personally call me Heav. People who don’t know me call me The Heavy Metal Woman.  People who don’t know me and might want to know me call me ‘babe’. People who don’t know me and don’t like me or what I stand for call me ‘that pale stupid metal chick’ or other things.  On instant messaging forums they call me THMW.

HMPAQ: What do you eat for breakfast?

HMW: Cigarettes, raw oatmeal and stale beer.

HMPAQ: Is the heavy metal woman a dying breed?

HMW: It never was a breed in the sense of a pedigreed amalgamation of genetic traits. But in the sense of a wild stallion-like expression of femininity at the edges of existence, you could call it a breed.  There is a kind of gentrification of heavy metal women that my practice attempts to critique.

HMPAQ: I read in a fan forum that you sometimes like to ride skateboards in the nude?

HMW: Fans say a lot of stupid shit! (snorting)  I did that in Barstow. I wanted to show that city how to open up to a new expression.  I also was really hot in terms of thermometer reading. Later, I bought a T-shirt at the Family Dollar.

HMPAQ: Is there room for just one Heavy Metal Woman?

HMW: In this motel, there is.

HMPAQ: How about in the world?

HMW:  At one time, I wanted to be a role model, but then I woke up and smelled myself. Who died and made you princess hot shit? If people want to imitate me, like, be a Heavy Metal Person, or be Heavy Metal Questioning with capital letters, they’re welcome to it, but I’m not out here on a recruiting mission.

HMPAQ: Is salad a heavy metal thing?  Can you eat watercress or kale?

HMW: Heavy metal came from the ‘burbs, and I eat ‘burb food. I ‘burb it up. I keep it ‘real’. I use a lot of mayonnaise, mustard and potato chips. Also beer.

HMPAQ: Can French people listen to heavy metal?

HMW: My philosophy is, no.  I don’t think about French people, but I can answer your question without thinking.

HMPAQ: Why don’t you think about French people?

HMW: They don’t exist on the heavy metal horizon. When Napoleon came and invaded France, they didn’t rock out and destroy, they just submitted. I want to shred the memories of submission, wherever they manifest.

HMPAQ: Napoleon didn’t actually invade France.

HMW: I don’t think about France.

HMPAQ: Have you explored the Swedish heavy metal scene? I hear it’s really dark and extreme.

HMW: I explore it in a way that doesn’t involve travelling to a country that’s not the United States. When a band comes to my country, I take them under my arm and wrap that band around me, and roll in them. But if I have to leave the soil that permeates me, that gave me my metal roots, I’m not cool with that.  I don’t want my metal roots to wither and decay while I’m on some un-American soil.

HMPAQ: You have your own fans that come to the shows, sometimes to see you as much as to see the band. Do you ever feel like you’re detracting from the main event?

HMW: No one can tell you what the main event is, because you have your own brain. (Pointing at the interviewer’s brain.)  Whatever happens in your brain doesn’t happen in anyone else’s brain.  There’s a metal song about that. I once knew a girl that tried to do what she thought happened in other people’s brains, but she lost her job.

HMPAQ: Five quick questions. Which fictional character do you find most terrifying?

HMW: Mary Poppins.

HMPAQ: What’s your position on keeping chickens in closely confined quarters?

HMW: As long as they’re not around me.

HMPAQ: Vladimir Putin?

HMW: I would go to their show.

HMPAQ: If you could be a playwright and write a heart-rending drama of staggering dimensions, what would it be titled?

HMW: Cleo in the Tidepools.

HMPAQ: Do you use underarm deodorant?

HMW: Does the Pope wrestle pigs?

HMPAQ: Thank you for your time, Heav.

HMW: Rock on.

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