A couple weeks back, Bikini Kill reissued their very first demo tape from 1991, Revolution Girl Style Now, via the band’s own record label. You’re probably about dried up after drooling over those three previously unreleased tracks included on the reissue and all the killer old photos of Kathleen Hanna and the band that emerged across the internet as a nod to the occasion. But get ready to salivate anew, coz we did some time travel of our own and rifled around (as gently as possible) the Kathleen Hanna Papers.
Thanks to permission we received from Bikini Kill and help from Lisa Darms (senior archivist at the NYU’s Fales Library & Special Collections and author of The Riot Grrrl Collection) we’re able to share some of our truly excellent findings.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out those new tracks yet, we highly encourage you to do so. You might just hear a side of Bikini Kill you didn’t know existed. “Just Once” sounds like a powerful ode to nostalgia for love lost, but it’s Kathleen Hanna’s Ian MacKaye-like moans that are blowing us away.
Speaking of Ian MacKaye, we found a typewritten essay of sorts by Hanna in the “ideas” section of her papers. “So, Ian, right, he is this person, right, only he’s not a person because he is also a icon of some sort […] he was in this band, Minor Threat, and he was really funny and charismatic (in a real sort of way) and a lot of people had kind of, been waiting for this band […] Its like they weren’t just this thing about jacking off, they were totally young and raw and full of FUCK YOU energy… funpower… right on.” [sic] Anyway– Hanna wasn’t happy that “the Machine” made Ian MacKaye (the guy), into a “leader” and “icon,” a commodity to be packaged and sold basically– so she may or may not appreciate the comparison.
The demos are exciting to be sure, but perhaps compilations are more your thing? In that case, hold your horses till October 13, when Bikini Kill Records is set to release the Punk Singer Soundtrack (digital only) which includes a selection of tracks from all of Kathleen Hanna’s major projects: Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin.
Last time we made our way into the confines of the The Riot Grrrl archives, we were preoccupied with some amazing zines Kathleen Hanna had held onto all these years. But this time around we stuck strictly to Bikini Kill materials. We found way, way too many amazing items, all the stuff of ’90s punk culture and the Riot Grrrl movement: fan zines and band zines, manifestos, mail interviews, hand-drawn flyers, and more. Check out a few fun selections below.
1. Cover for Bikini Kill’s 7″ record from 1995, I Like Fucking/ I Hate Danger
2. “A Day in the Life of Kathleen Hanna, Punk”
3. “Punk Rock Feminism Rules, OK?” from Bikini Kill Zine #2 (1991) – both #1 and #2 zines sold out and the requests kept coming. In another zine, Hanna writes, “Dear Specail [sic] Friend: We are all out of our zines #1 and #2 SO PLEASE STOP SEND US $ AND REQUESTS for them. There is talk about making BK #3 focusing on the politics of representation in terms of media fuckos, so watch out for this.”
4. “Bikini Kill is more than just a band or a zine or an idea, it’s a part of the revolution,” from Bikini Kill Zine #1 (1991)
5. Also from Bikini Kill Zine #1 (1991), “Writing and words by Tobi Vail [Bikini Kill’s drummer].”
6. From Bikini Kill tour itinerary, 1997 in Tokyo, Japan
7. Hand-drawn flyer for Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill UK Tour 1993
All items courtesy of Bikini Kill and the Kathleen Hanna Papers (1988-2005), Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library.