top of page

The Penis Wolves

Conversations in a high school honors English class. Rabbi Jon/Captain Panties and Cousin Stevie/The Ladies Man. (This is four personas but just two people.) The year was, let's say, 1992. They dream to rock 'n' roll stardom without any idea how to write a song or play an instrument. I mean, they had zero idea, even less than average for high school sophomores. This fictional band is called a number of things, including Rectum!, The Flaming Nipples, The Potters of Darkness, and Ernie's Milktime Cavalcade for some very '90s reason.

They have a distinct scatological sense of humor and Dadaist sensibility. Their aesthetic is inspired by professional wrestling and GG Allin. They like punk rock without ever really having heard much of it. This was the early 1990s when the underground was still there. Hard to find. Tuned into on fuzzy college radio stations. Whispered about in study hall. Pored over on hand-lettered mix tapes. You look for clues in your parents' musty record collection. Someone's older brother has posters of scary-looking bands you've never heard of. There is a copy of Ramones Mania! you can borrow from the public library.

Eventually they find a couple other weirdos in school who can actually play. The guitarist goes by the name "Spode Boy" after seeing the word on the back of a coaster. The drummer named Wubba could really jam the blast beats and even better owned a set of drums. A set of drums and set of parents who didn't care if the now renamed Penis Wolves practiced loudly in their basement. (No one expected the band name to stick. Like all the others it was a fleeting joke based off something Spode said at Taco Bell. But somehow it lasted, perfectly capturing the surreal stupidity and blunt bawdiness of the time.) Then another guitarist joined. He wore a clown nose and his mom's voluminous brassiere at shows.

That's right: shows! The P-Wolves started to play some gigs against all reason and logic. Wubba's basement, BMX house parties, eventually even the outside world at real venues who sold tickets. Places like Scarlet O'Hara's in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Okay, real-ish venues.) The second guitarist quit, bass players with names like Robbie Redballz and Testiclese Butterfinger were added. (Testiclese was pronounced to rhyme with Sophocles, the Greek tragician.) Somewhere in there was graduation from high school and the beginning of college. At college they found more venues and wore less clothing.

The songs took from punk and metal and a perplexing obsession with Richard Simmons' fitness-themed piano album Reach. They liked having two "singers" (neither of them of course could do anything even resembling singing) because one was always thus free to leap into the crowd and incite a good moshing or at least annoy the cool guys in the back. There were covers of TV theme songs, shouted tuneless renditions of totally '80s pop hits, appropriation of polkas and vulgar schoolyard chants, a musical interpretation of the encyclopedia entry on "Vermont." The music got heavier, the lyrics somehow even dumber. They sang about masturbation, fisting, getting drunk, about masturbating and fisting while getting drunk. Some of the songs were pure autobiography set to buzzsaw guitar. "You Don't Wanna Smell Me," for example, was 100% true. You really didn't.

The Captain and Stevie made real many of the ludicrous stage show ideas they dreamed up instead of reading Hamlet. "We should wear adult diapers." "We should stuff loaves of bread down our butt cracks and eat them between songs." "We should shit in a bag and give it away in a rigged raffle as intermission." Most of the ideas were about their butts.

The shows were fun. The outfits were great. The songs were songs. Much effort was put into the stage show, which grew to include epic sing-alongs, tightly choreographed dance routines, props, costume changes, and shenanigans. A lot of times they got naked. They wrote a song about turkeys so brought a frozen turkey onstage which could be heaved into the crowd like a fetid bowling ball. They hung balloons on their dicks. They played in firehalls and basements alongside some of the punk luminaries of the day. There were fistfights and there was lots of very cheap beer. The cops were called. Spode went through a window. (First floor, so he survived.)

The Penis Wolves never recorded an actual album, but they did press record on a tape recorder sometimes in Wubba's basement. There was one song on a compilation CD and a live set put out on a cassette album inexplicably called "Music for da Working Man."

Dance all night, sleep all day, dance on the tables, it's okay. Trust me: it really is okay.


bottom of page