Liam Warfield is a writer, editor, and educator living in Chicago.

Walter Crasshole is a journalist in Berlin and English-language editor for the city's forty-year-running queer magazine Siegessäule. He is also a regular contributor and columnist for Exberliner, Berlin's English-language magazine, covering queer and cultural topics. He occasionally translates books from German to English, having just finished his third book translation for punk performance artist Wolfgang Müller.

Yony Leyser grew up in Chicago and relocated to Berlin in 2010. He is the writer and director of three award-winning feature films: William S. Burroughs: A Man Within; Desire Will Set You Free; and Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution. He has received critical acclaim in publications including the New York Times, the Guardian, Sight and Sound, and the Los Angeles Times.

Anna Joy Springer is the author of The Vicious Red Relic, Love (Jaded Ibis, 2011), an illustrated fabulist memoir with soundscape (Your Metaforest Guidebook), and The Birdwisher, A Murder Mystery for Very Old Young Adults (Birds of Lace, 2009). Her work appears in zines, journals, anthologies, and recordings. An Associate Professor of Literature at UC San Diego, she teaches experimental writing, feminist literature and graphic texts. She's performed in punk and queercore bands Blatz, The Gr'ups, and Cypher in the Snow and toured the U.S. with the writers of Sister Spit. She lives in Los Angeles.

Lynn Breedlove is a writer, performer, musician, entrepreneur and community activist born and raised in the SF Bay Area. He's toured comedy solo shows and with bands Tribe8 and The Homobiles. He is the founder and CEO of Homobiles the ride service. Author of Godspeed and Lynnee Breedlove's One Freak Show.

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution: An Oral History by Liam Warfield, Walter Crasshole and Yony Leyser

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution: An Oral History is the very first comprehensive overview of a movement that defied both the music underground and the LGBT mainstream community.

Through exclusive interviews with protagonists like Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Jayne County, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, film director and author John Waters, Lynn Breedlove of Tribe 8, Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, and many more, alongside a treasure trove of never-before-seen photographs and reprinted zines from the time, Queercore traces the history of a scene originally "fabricated" in the bedrooms and coffee shops of Toronto and San Francisco by a few young, queer punks to its emergence as a relevant and real revolution. Queercore is a down-to-details firsthand account of the movement explored by the people that lived it—from punk's early queer elements, to the moment that Toronto kids decided they needed to create a scene that didn't exist, to Pansy Division's infiltration of the mainstream, and the emergence of riot grrrl—as well as the clothes, zines, art, film, and music that made this movement an exciting middle finger to complacent gay and straight society. Queercore will stand as both a testament to radically gay politics and culture and an important reference for those who wish to better understand this explosive movement.



  • "Finally, a book that centers on the wild, innovative, and fearless contributions queers made to punk rock, creating a punker-than-punk subculture beneath the subculture, Queercore. Gossipy and inspiring, a historical document and a call to arms during a time when the entire planet could use a dose of queer, creative rage."

    – Michelle Tea, author of Valencia
  • "I knew at an early age I didn't want to be part of a church, I wanted to be part of a circus. It's documents such as this book that give hope for our future. Anarchists, the queer community, the roots of punk, the Situationists, and all the other influential artistic guts eventually had to intersect. Queercore is completely logical, relevant, and badass."

    – Justin Pearson, The Locust, Three One G
  • "This is a sensational set of oral histories of queer punk that includes everyone from Jayne County to Eileen Myles, from Vaginal Davis to Lynn Breedlove. The whole book works like a giant jigsaw puzzle that never offers a final or complete picture but at least scatters the pieces around to allow the reader to assemble some truly exciting scenarios. This is very possibly the best and only way that subcultural histories should emerge—namely as incomplete and incoherent, as a magnificent poly-vocal roar, as sound, fury, rebel yells and screams. This does not just capture queer punk, it is queer punk."

    – Jack Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure and In A Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives





Anna Joy Springer and Lynn Breedlove

AJ: Hey! This might be our first collaboration! Except the five-plus years we spent together. Which started at the Tribe 8/Blatz meeting about the cover of that first split 7″ we were on.

LB: Love is political action.

AJ: True. But we haven't been together in twenty-five years. Unless you count our friendship. Which I've always believed is the model for lesbian post-breakup feminist family.

LB: EX-tended family.

AJ: Sad to discover it's rare to hate someone you love, then keep loving them as a BFF for twenty-five years after the fallout.

LB: And now that we don't take ourselves so seriously, we get to make each other laugh till our eyelids turn inside out.

AJ: And talk about the Goddess.

LB: So much for cool.

AJ: But, really, so many people in this oral history were somehow part of your and my story. Except those mansplainy guys. But they are represented here too, for those who love them.

LB: Someone's gotta do it.

AJ: All touched some, and some touched all. Like Iraya Robles of Sta-Prest and organizer at Epicenter and QTip, and Miriam Klein-Stahl. And Sister Spit. Enough for a whole other book.

LB: You write, I'll snark.

AJ: This book, though. Frankly, I thought, surely, it might be kind of enraging, before I read it. I was like, "If Adele Bertei isn't mentioned in the first few pages, I'm not gonna read it." But yay, she is.

LB: Don't call me Shirley. But tell me more.

AJ: Adele Bertei, queer punk musician extraordinaire of The Contortions and The Bloods in the Lower East Side NYC queer punk wildness times, before homocore and parallel to the fancy cocaine club scene. Lives around the corner from me in LA, a gold record in her bathroom.

LB: There was so much more going on in the '70s and '80s than I knew, besides RuPaul living in a park as a nonbinary pink-mohawked teen. I claimed we were the first all-out, punk dyke band. Always lying.

AJ: Me too. Except when I say that one of my favorite stories here is how Popstitutes (probably) made that 1989 gay parade float, the cop car squashed by a giant high heel, and they were handing out heels and baseball bats to beat the cop car. That's where Justin Vivian Bond met up with Silas and Leslie and Diet and all these incredible people! That, and lesbian theater at the Rhino.

LB: I was extremely high somewhere. I missed that, the White Night Riot, Fab Mab, everything. Blanks need filling in for those who were not born yet, too little, or too checked out.

AJ: I'd just graduated high school in Merced. And you definitely did not miss the amazing parts. You were one of the main attractions. Too bad we're all hurling toward the next abyss now.

LB: Lighten up, will ya, Professor?

AJ: As someone who is extremely skeptical of "let's pretend this isn't a hierarchy," I do tend to mention misogyny, environmental collapse, and systemic racism more than people like. But they gave me a whole section here to rail.

LB: Careening between awareness and action, fights and apologies.

AJ: Justin Vivian Bond gave one of my favorite quotes about that: "I have failings in my own consciousness, in my own habits, and what we used to see as humorous is totally unacceptable now." So generous and elegant, like she has always been, before and after Broadway. What a great model for us to use today, to admit the truth without defensiveness or blame! Maybe you're right: this history is a roadmap. So glad none of us had Twitter back then.

LB: Social media would have overwhelmed us. But instead … meet me at the merch table and let's talk/hug/fuck it out. Or if people gave your band side-eye, you'd just wonder why. Now we can access online tomes about what to do different, fail at, learn from, while discerning selfcare from narcissism.

AJ: On a good day. We had rules though, like No talking shit about dyke bands. Cypher borrowed it from Tribe 8.

LB: Our rule was about chick bands. So Lilith Fair got a pass. Just as it's not a boycott if you never use it anyway, it's not service if it doesn't make you puke a little.

AJ: And No fucking anyone in the band. That made the orgy birthday party guest lists challenging.

LB: A panicky-at-play-parties ex–speed freak, I found safe spaces at snack tables and smoking areas. Anyway, there we were, disrupters of the disruption, making out on the iffy couch, beyond the sweaty sold out Bikini Kill show, soundtrack to our fluorescent-lit world. (Although I wondered, why can't we be popular? Castration and blowjobs are as charming as girls in short skirts yelling "girls to the front!")

AJ: At Klub Kommotion. We'd just gotten together. You helped me move into Shred of Dignity House at 666 Illinois, a queer anarchist collective of organizers, artists, technicians, rabble rousers—I couldn't believe I'd get to live there.

LB: Queen of punk. Why not?

AJ: I'm not big on the monarchy.

LB: You slid right into the SF homocore scene.

AJ: Standing on a ladder in my 1940s dress and tool belt and hairy legs and no deodorant, installing the neon sign I'd made for Silas Howard and Harry Dodge's Red Dora's The Bearded Lady Truckstop cafe.

LB: If you don't like the scene, grab a hammer and make one of your own.

AJ: I was always so busy and freaked out. School, the Gr'ups, the peepshow, neon, a girlfriend with DID [dissociative identity disorder]. She developed AIDS and killed herself just a few weeks before the protease inhibitor cocktails came out. Fucking awful.

LB: I should have been more empathetic. But death was all around me, from bike messengering, homoing, or dope fiending. I saw it and kept moving, while bonding over grief. Once a self-centered bastard, always a lovable jerk.

AJ: I get it. I'd first met Silas, you, and Leslie after our split record came out when you guys were on tour with MDC in Europe. We all met at a meeting to try to fix the mess of our ignorantly fucked up split 7″ that'd already been distributed. Blatz members, including me, had no idea how not-in-a-good-way rude it was.

LB: Now you tell me.

AJ: Tribe 8 was right to say two bands with no South African black members, or any African American members, or trans women, should not use documentary South African black transgender slow dancing photographs from midcentury Apartheid as a representative and delightful cover image, or that the long ramble from the record-label guy about how American blues (which he related to whatever music must have been playing in those documentary photos) was really just another way to package a queer record with no songs about anything in the photos or about the blues.

LB: Mahia, Leslie, and Silas spearheaded that. I was Rip Van Winkle, awake after a long slumber, lucky to be in a band where I got caught up to speed by people of color and the working class, who, as usual, did all the emotional labor.

AJ: Right. I was the working-class feminist on the Blatz side of things, trying to keep up. And most people don't know half of Blatz was queer. One member couldn't be out because he was a Vietnam vet and could lose his benefits. After two or three meetings about cultural appropriation as racism, we pulled the records, got a new label and a new cover, which I drew with my ex, who was still alive then. I never finished it, so the woman in the foreground should be sitting on a pillow, but instead seems just to be hovering …

LB: Floatation device ancestor homos, here/not here.

AJ: That meeting was the big pivot, where I saw I was more like the members of Tribe 8 than Blatz. I could seem not crazy for noticing hypocrisy and ignorance under the banner of anti–political correctness. That's also where I crushed on you. So butch in your leather pants, but crying and telling Cat, your first drummer, "If you don't shut up, I'm gonna punch you."

LB: We were processing so earnestly about really crucial shit, and she kept yelling, "Core of my asshole!"

AJ: Enraging. But I loved that you could be such a boy and also PMS during a feminist meeting about representations of race in punk.

LB: That slip was usually more appropriately funneled into my budding onstage persona of blowfish dissonance. Homocore meant that rejected by outsiders, we colored inside new lines we'd just learned to draw, laughing at "anarchy! no rules!" But boundaries are crucial in chaos.

Punk's main rule: NO MAKING OUT AT THE SHOW, NO LOVE, NO ROMANCE, NO SEX. We perceived that as some counterrevolutionary shit; our paths diverged. Some people did need to stop thinking with their dicks. We needed to start thinking with ours. So we loaded bags of silicon into vans, arguing with feminists: Is stage diving male behavior? What if femmes/queers/trans, fistfuck while crowd surfing. Did that happen? Was it physically impossible? If it's a myth, promote that lie, make quistory. No, really, make it up.

AJ: But I never thought the "not having a sexuality" thing was part of punk at all. I loved The Yeastie Girlz, and as we said in Blatz, "the Ashtray's just a petting zoo." Meaning lots of tweaking and fucking on beer-pee floors. So gross/so hot. I love how the book starts with nightmare genderfuck monsters wrecking nerves for fun, instead of sad little shame spirals in our own kitchens. reconfiguring emotional history, fun and tragedy in the same space, through swirls of hysterical ecstatic contagion, dead-serious operatic, grotesque absurdism articulated by contributors to this history. I'd never heard how the Toronto homocore scene was a "faction" till I read this. I was not a zine reader. I had heard of Fertile La Toyah Jackson. Luckily, a lot of the zines mentioned are now online and in paper archives. I love when Sarah Schulman expounds on zines and papers that informed punk and queerpunk zines. And theatricality in AIDS activism and bands.

LB: Zines! At every show I got handed three. Bamboo Girl by Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan was one of Tribe 8's faves. And Diseased Pariah News, a compilation by people with HIV/AIDS. Facing death? Make a joke. Time honored tradition of the traumatized and targeted.

AJ: People in the same room, transforming each other—different from sending digital notes with an audience of invisible watchers. The power of physical proximity, leaving the house, meeting people outside the Mini-Herd.

LB: Band name!

AJ: Reading about the anarchist gathering where Deke and Tom met, I got misty. I'd meet people accidentally, at shows, or from flyers on cafe walls.

LB: Phone poles! That OCD self-appointed pole-cleaning gay, with his X-Acto knife in the Castro. I'd yell, "Dude! That's our bulletin board. Give it a rest." He finally did. RIP.

AJ: But I wish I had known about the SPEW convention and Homocore Chicago. I know Cypher did at least one gig at Fireside Bowl.

LB: Bowling and queercore, together at last. I remember Joanne and Carolyn and Mark, founders of Homocore Chicago, greeting us in their living room where we laid down our gear. They treated us like royalty, a van fulla studded-up dykes, POC, femmes, genderfuckers, kickin' ass for the working class, who barely got through middle America intact, recognized as helpful geniuses. A homecoming.

AJ: But sometimes I was so upset because of stuff happening in our relationship …

LB: I spent a lotta time in the van crying …

AJ: … which took place when both of us were on tour, and then I'd get to these venues all over the US and Europe and see Tribe 8 posters, and I'd be proud of you and also braggy and also mad because I was monogamous and you weren't, and that broke my old-fashioned girl heart.

LB: I did like finding your punny love poems addressed to me in silver Sharpie all over Chi Town and New Orleans.

AJ: I loved leaving you notes on tour in venue bathrooms. Still, I hated that people thought of Cypher in the Snow as "Tribe 8's Girlfriends." So now I'd like to claim for history that you guys were our girlfriends. Boyfriends. And that Cypher was a phenomenal band and deserves a whole book of its own.

LB: My name is Lynn Breedlove, and I approve this message.

AJ: Like for instance, how beautiful were the members of Cypher? Remember Ulla McKnight? And Daniela Sea, Dorothy Wang, Carmen White, La La Hulse, Chloe Sherman, Margaret Hitchcock, Elitrea Frye, and Rusten Menard? Cypher sounded queer, like creepy circus self-help party time, all off kilter. We're all still doing so many cool queer punk things. Which leads me to a small critique of this book: It kind wraps the whole queercore thing up in the past at the end, like oral history documentary things do so often.

LB: Punk is loose ends. Quit tying us up. Unless it's consensual.

AJ: But like I said in my rage-oration after the East Bay punk documentary in Hollywood, we are not done. Old is not over, or stupid.

LB: It's adding A for asexual to the unpronounceable acronym. Buying Les-baru soccer dad SUVs to play for the six people of fifty, who said they were interested/going on Facebook but were too screen-drained to leave the couch.

AJ: And an asterisk for so many unimaginable ways of being queer we have yet to know, as we grind away at systems that keep sexist, antiqueer, normative, white-supremacist, antifreak, empire-building, warmongering, earth-killing practices at the mythical center of "common decency." With humour and style. Punk didn't end when it dyed its hair a "natural" shade.

LB: Black is a color. Brown is a color. Gray. Add them to the queermo flag.

AJ: And can we stop acting like our art and interventions have an expiration date? It freaks me out when people from "the old days" say the scene is dead, while right in the middle of it, people of color, trans folks, and other targeted peoples make big splashes.

LB: Fuck You Pay Us, Squid Ink, G.L.O.S.S., Against Me, Trap Girl. Sarchasm, Cristy C. Road's Choked Up.

AJ: So many bands, all over the country and the world. I love how Deke pushes back against that notion of punk being dead ("It just smells like it is!") at the end. Punk is a stretched-out pantyhose, with lots and lots of elasticity still. It may smell of grandma foot, it may have a hole …

LB: Ageism is dead!

AJ: … full of discharge, dope, and Hallmark bunnies, but still a cathedral full of raging freaks who love wrongly and gloriously, a prismatic panty hose.

LB: Boundary! No unicorn puke.

AJ: I wish I had time to talk about what all the Riot Crrrones are up to now.

LB: Hag crusties!

AJ: Hey, remember when you and I took your mom out for her birthday to see Kiki and Herb at Eichelberger's in SF, and afterward Justin Vivian and your mom looked like twins and ignored us, smoking at the bar the whole night?

LB: And talked endlessly about Jackie Kennedy and Chanel suits, fell in love, and admired each other from afar in femme solidarity forever.

AJ: And that time we went to New York and stayed at Elitrea's squat, and we went with Chloe Transister to the Jayne County show, and then to that drag punk disco place.

LB: Don Hill's.

AJ: To see Misstress Formika aka Michael Formika Jones, who gave us free dinner at that De Sade themed restaurant, La Nouvelle Justine, where servers crawled to the table with plates on their back …

LB: And she was the dominatrix maître d', which made me love her even more than when she shredded an extra-large Tribe 8 shirt and braided it up the sides into a minidress before jumping onstage to introduce us, and then lounged in the laps of half-naked hunks in the basement. As you were saying, Justine's?

AJ: I beat one of the New York Hags on the whipping post by the bar.

LB: And Marilyn Manson waved at us from another table, and we were all, "Whoa. They know who we are." You could order perversions off the menu: your date's dinner from a dog dish, in a cage, on a leash! Straight rich people, but also trans women in Catholic schoolgirl dresses, lined up to get spanked by goth drag queens, who treated us poor punks special.

AJ: And I heard Apocalyptica for the first time. So sweet. Such good service!

LB: I felt super high. And confused. And happy. This was it.

AJ: And remember hugging Vag at the shows she put on in LA at that punk club, and how giant and magnificent and sweaty and friendly she was, like genuinely not stuck up at all, even though she was such a worldmaker?

LB: A mythical superhero in whose arms you'd be cradled, snatched from the jaws of monsters.

AJ: For realsies. I just learned about Cholita in this book.

LB: Her eponymous comedy routine was a crackup.

AJ: I also discovered G.B. Jones's first zine was called Hide. That's a good thing to do sometimes, achieve a certain safety that's not enforced invisibility, but agency. Who's peeping what, when, how.

LB: Hide and seek. Jump out from behind a couch! Then disappear.

AJ: Visibility is not a perfect 24/7 solution. I like that the participants in this book acknowledge a million ways of engaging, feelings, inver-sections, perverse politics. The strategies move and grow like a slime mold.