THEO: GLAM SLAM
Byline: Karen Parr
NEW YORK — The Lunachicks’ lead singer Theo pounds the stage with her sparkly silver disco boot. Young girls watch wide-eyed. And the air in a vacuum-packed CBGB’s seems hotter by the second.
If she had known it would be so hot, Theo howls at the audience, she wouldn’t have worn a ballgown to perform in. But she did. It’s a metallic blue prom-style dress covered in white lace, and it makes her look like a German hausfrau gone mad.
“Take it off!” a couple of random guys yelp.
“No,” she curtly dismisses them. “Out of the question!”
Guys, here’s a tip: Don’t say things like that to girls like Theo. She’s five feet nine inches with wild blond hair, has arms painted with tattoos, wears blue and purple eye shadow on her lips and — well, frankly — looks like she could kick some butt.
“There have been times when I’ve punched people in the face for that,” Theo says of the comment, following the show. “And there are times when I just blow it off. And sometimes, it’s just friends saying it to mess with me.”
While only in her mid-20s, Theo is a seasoned performer. She’s been working since 1998 with the Lunachicks, a hard-core, all-girl band, which has a new album, “Drop Dead Live,” coming out next month on Go-Kart Records. She has modeled for Calvin Klein’s fragrance ads and is represented by APM Models here and has starred in an underground film by Ned Ambler, aptly titled “Rock Star.”
Despite the non-stop schedule, there’s nothing jaded about Theo’s act — and her fashion style makes it all the more fun.
She describes her stage look as “somewhere between Barbie and what you do to your Barbie dolls when you’re a punker — you kind of wreck them.”
On the night of the aforementioned CBGB’s show, Theo’s shoulder-length blond hair was augmented by a teased-out blond ponytail — kind of like what Madonna would have looked like on the Blonde Ambition tour if you shook her really hard.
Theo’s real eyebrows were erased by concealer and replaced by pencil lines arching an inch higher. Blue beaded earrings hung from some of the many holes in her ears.
Inspirations for this ultimate glam rocker include drag performers and Lucille Ball.
“I’m a huge Lucille Ball fan,” Theo says. “Her style is different from mine, but there are ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes when she’s wearing a ballgown and being really ridiculous ‘cus she’s trying to get into Ricky’s show. It’s almost vaudeville.”
Unlike Lucy, Theo has tattoos — from wrist to shoulder on both arms — that would have raised Ricky’s ire for sure. Among these amazing graphics are a Barbie’s head on a pink anchor, eyeballs, a galactic scene, both of Theo’s cats, a space lady on a rocket and flowers.
“It costs a lot of money,” Theo says, then rationalizes, “Well, I don’t have a car.”
Penny Basch, owner of APM Models, said that as a model, Theo attracts interest from clients looking for “an individual.
“She stands out,” Basch says. “People love that about her — she’s beautiful, but she has her own style.”
Theo’s go-sees include some mainstream and some fashion projects, Basch said, noting that the CK project was one of her most well-known jobs.
“Sometimes clients call me and say, ‘Send over a girl who looks like they’re from the East Village,”‘ Basch says, and that’s a job for Theo, who’s attractive, but “with an edge.”
While music comes first, stage style is also important to Theo.
“For me I like to give a show — it’s visual as well as being musical or dramatic,” she says. “I like to have all my senses filled when I’m seeing a band, so that’s what I like to give to our audience.”
For a while, the band was doing a matchy-matchy tuxedo look, where they wore sleeveless suits with bow ties and skirts.
“It wound up looking somewhere between Vegas and Jon Benet,” according to Theo. She has also worn a “Carrie” style dress with a knife sticking through the back, a vinyl nurse outfit (in white and in red), a French maid dress and tutus.
In a way, the dressing up is reactionary. Theo, who pokes fun at the bizarre ritual of beauty pageants and at children’s pageants through her own tongue-in-cheek dressing, says the idea is to say, “look how this has made women be.”
Because of media hype, she says, “almost every woman I’ve met is obsessed with her body in one way or another.
“You have to be an anorexic Barbie doll, which most of us are not,” she says.
Her style both celebrates and denigrates this idea of what female beauty should be.
“The thing about us has always been to take femininity — or supposed femininity and sort of mess with it,” she says.