It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Pussy

Super she-dawgs Bitch and Animal rescue our favorite female parts

"Hi ... ," says the gritty voice on the other end of the line. Before I answer, I say to myself, I'm a liberated woman, a feminist, a big girl. I can do this. "Hi, Bitch," I say, trying to sound cheery and nonchalant. Bitch is half of the New York-based Bitch and Animal; she scribbles poetry in notebooks and is a classically trained violinist. She and partner Animal consider themselves performance artists in a genre all their own. They call it "tribal chick hoedown funk poetry with a political wedge and a bass line edge."

Their true origins are explained, Marvel Comics-style, on their Website, bitchandanimal.com: "At an unnamed point in the late Twentieth Century, the sperm of a metallurgist and a math teacher mixed with the eggs of a tap dancer and a kindergarten teacher. The results of this cuntcocktion are the heroes of our story, Bitch and Animal." They count among their superpowers the ability to turn anti-female slurs, like "bitch," into compliments. For example their vaunted "Pussy Manifesto" explains that one might say, "That was so Pussy of you to help me move to my new place!" and "You've really made this a Pussy move!"

Though not the first musicians to wield the word pussyas a politically charged feminist weapon (riot grrrls Bikini Kill released the album Pussywhippedin 1994), they are perhaps the first and only ones to inject it full of playful humor and infectious rhythm. Back in October, opening for powerhouse singer/songwriter/musician Ani DiFranco at the Jackie Gleason Theater, B&A put their manifesto to work in front of an eager crowd. Bitch stood tall and rumpled at the mike with her unruly hair, electric-stringed instruments, and snarly attitude ("I'm sick of my genitalia being used as an insult. Are you?"). By her side Animal attacked her own assortment of instruments (including djembe, ukulele, and her body), resembling, with her blond shock of mohawked hair and unbridled enthusiasm, the manic Jim Henson creature for which one can only assume she's named.

Aren't you sick of your genitalia being used as an insult?
Christopher Kreiling
Aren't you sick of your genitalia being used as an insult?

Like a punk-fem They Might be Giants, the unconventional duet bopped through perky odes to anatomically correct self-empowerment, such as "Sparkly Queen Areola" and the aforementioned humdinger "Pussy Manifesto," as well as a gender-fucked anthem titled "Best Cock on the Block" and "Ganja," a goofy hosanna to the wacky weed. At least part of the entertainment value came from watching the stony-faced middle-age-male security guards posted at either end of the stage being jostled by swarms of pierced and androgynous teenyboppers chanting "“Pussy Manifesto!' “Pussy Manifesto!'"

When they were first starting out, Bitch, originally from Detroit, and Animal, from Queens, both in their twenties, left New York City together for gay-mecca Provincetown, Mass-a-two-tits, as the girls call it. There they waited tables, made music, and eventually made a bold move. "We just hit the road, and for like two years we didn't have an apartment to go home to," says Bitch. In the midst of this all-or-nothing gambit, good fortune came calling in the form of the little folk goddess DiFranco, who offered them tours, a recording deal on her Righteous Babe Records, and help with their sophomore effort, Eternally Hard.

The couple's performances and the recent release of Hard have generated not only media attention but also enough analysis to fill a women's studies course. "[A]s colorful and animated as two sex-positive Muppets," cheered Natalie Nichols of the L.A. Times. A "poor attempt at in-your-face fem-core," groused Sacramento News & Review writer Keith Lowell Jensen. Consequently, depending on which of them you ask, B&A's "Best Cock on the Block" is either "a brilliant sendup of hip-hop's sexual braggadocio" or it "proves that the show-us-your-tits mentality remains distasteful, even in the hands of lesbian folk, rap, and would-be superstars."

But don't think a little pussy envy can dampen the spirits of a pair of crusaders bent on bringing about what they describe as a genuine "spread-it-yourself revolution born inside the eggs of us all."

"It feels great that so many people were ready for ['Pussy Manifesto']," says Bitch, adding with a laugh, "It gives me hope in humanity."

 
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