Flashback January 18, 1981: Debbie “Dr. Rock” Dalton, my boss at 92 MAD (not that current country crap – rock n roll from a field in Sun Prairie) tells me Wendy O. Williams will be calling in for an interview as The Plasmatics are playing later that night in Milwaukee. We’re playing the one song on New Hope for the Wretched that won’t get us knocked off the air due to obscenity charges. I was a bit intimidated by this woman who blew up cars on stage, smashed TVs, cut stuff in half with a chain saw and frequently wore little more than strategically placed strips of electrical tape.
WOW didn’t disappoint. But off air, Wendy O was one of the sweetest and thoughtful people I’ve met. I must have treated her right because Wendy O invited my friends and me to the show later that night and offered to stay in touch – check in as the tour progressed. I passed on the show (respected punk but never embraced it) but was struck by the juxtaposition of Wendy O’s ball-breaker persona on-stage and her sweetness when off. Guess that’s why I was a little worried for her when learning what happened later that night in Milwaukee.
Seems Chief Harold Brier and his thugs from the Milwaukee Police Department took issue with Wendy O’s antics on-stage with a sledgehammer. It got downright ugly when Wendy O and the band were trying to leave The Palms. Long story short – she and her manager spent a couple days in jail. Wendy O’s obscenity charges and beating went to court. Thankfully, some witnesses had actual photos of the cops beating Wendy O and other band members. Case dismissed. Charges dropped. Wendy O’s manager later penned “Pig is a Pig” to honor the hospitality of Milwaukee’s finest.
Wendy O committed suicide in ‘98. A lot of people remember her for a lot of things.