Tomata du Plenty: Part Two

Years Active

1968-2000

Associated Artists

The Lewd

The Tupperwares

Ze Whiz Kidz

The Telepaths

Meyce

The Cockettes

 

Selected Discography

In a Better World – The Screamers [Mostly live recordings] (Extravertigo Recordings/Xeroid Records. 2001)

The Screamers ‎– Live In San Francisco: Sept 2nd 1978 [ video] Target Video, 2004

122 Hours of Fear- The Screamers; Rvng Presents JD Twitch [Unofficial Release], (Rvng International, 2008)

Screamers Demos 1977-1978; The Screamers (Sob Records, 2013)

THE BEAT GOES ON (LIVE 1978)
THE SCREAMERS


In 1976 Three guerrilla-drag performers turned punk rockers left Seattle for Los Angeles. The trio was Rio de Janeiro (David Gulbransen) Melba Toast (who would later take the name Tommy Gear) and Tomata du Plenty (David Xavier Harrigan). The three had been part of the loose-knit theater, cabaret and street performing troupe Ze Whiz Kidz. When the three split from Ze Whiz Kidz they had also gone on to form a band called The Tupperwares. The Tupperwares had created a bit of a stir in Seattle, but were left without bookings and many venues to play. Clubs, taverns and bars were the province of cover bands and any other (inexpensive) local outfit that was a sure draw that would bring in crowds. Seattle nightlife in the mid-70s also consisted of disco’s-like most American cities; not only because it had become fashionable, but because it was cheaper to pay one person-the DJ- to pump out recorded hits that kept people dancing and drinking. The advent of the disco craze had ruined the careers of hundreds of thousands of local bands across the US and stifled the creativity of working musicians.

The antidote for a small number of artists, musicians and fans of original music was a startling reaction to the state of things with a new form of do-it-yourself, makeshift clubs that would pop-up and just as soon disappear. It would also foster a movement that was coming out of New York City and London; punk rock Punk rock itself was a do-it-yourself artform created by young, discontented artists, musicians and impresarios. It was out of that milieu that The Tupperwares arose. Los Angeles had become a hot-spot for a newer form of punk that differed from the movements in NYC or London. It was angrier, more passionate and closer to assaults on audiences rather than pure entertainment. Whereas bands like The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Blondie and Television relied on conventional melodies, precision and musicality the west coast version of punk rock was more free-form and relied on the outrageousness of characters like Darby Crash of the Germs, Alice Bag of The Bags, and the provocation of bands like Black Flag. There were notable exceptions, including the political ethos of The Dead Kennedys and the American-roots rock based band X.

The Tupperwares decided to take a chance on L.A.,but either out of legal necessity or pure creativity changed the name of their band to The Screamers and headed south.

Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, David Gulbransen left the band “due to creative differences”. He was replaced by David Brown while also adding drummer K. K. Barrett. Brown soon left to found the seminal punk label Dangerhouse Records; he was replaced by Paul Roessler-brother of Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler. The classic line-up of The Screamers was formed.

The Screamers were a hit nearly immediately after settling in Los Angeles. A good deal of this popularity was based on the band and their friends designing posters and putting them up for non-existent shows-a tactic Seattle’s Mr. Epp and The Calculations would very successfully exploit several years later. Even before their first live gig The Screamers and Gary Panter’s Screaming Man logo were on punk rock’s radar. In fact, Panter’s image is still one of the most recognizable piece of art on L.A.’s punk rock history. The logo Panter designed for them has been popularized beyond its’ original intent; today it’s seen on trendy clothing who’s wearers have no idea where the design came from. It’s been reproduced very much like the famous Ramones logo. It seems everywhere, and is often stolen by printers and clothing manufacturers without credit or royalties going to Panter-the original designer. The design is akin to Arturo Vega’s iconic Ramones logo or Jamie Reid’s ransom-note design for the album Never Mind The Bollocks; Here’s The Sex Pistols and several of the singles released from it.

As the The Screamers began to appear live they were decidedly low tech, choosing to focus on Tomata du Plenty’s stylized vocals, theatrical moves and facial expressions. The band itself relied on a drummer, a beat-up ARP Odyssey, a Fender Rhodes electric piano and a fuzzbox. There were occasional back-up vocals by the band itself, but were usually buried behind du Plenty’s maniacal screams and grunts. A stripped down set up behind a charismatic lead singer was one of their strengths during a time that punk relied on lousy guitars and singers who usually stood in the same stance throughout their performance. Again, there were exceptions, but most of punk rock in it’s early days was pretty standardized. An ex-hippie drag performer would help change that.

In 1977 Seattleite and musical conspirator Lee Lumsden, wrote in his fanzine Chatterbox;

So – what you see here, at its starkest, is a group with a lead vocalist, a synthesizer, a keyboard, and a percussion section. The first reaction (though whether it is “logical” or not could be debated) to this assemblage is “WHAT?! NO GUITARS?!!!” followed quickly by the silent deduction that without any guitars this group called The Screamers must sound (to coin a Sex Pistols lyric) “pretty vacant.” In fact, the omittance of a lead, rhythm. or bass guitar is downright scary to those breast-fed on an instrument which is considered a rock ‘n’ roll essential. Obviously questions are raised…and obviously (in the Screamer tradition) no answers are given. They need not bother with defending or justifying what they are doing. That they are doing it is enough of a plaudit, and that it works knocks down any further need for justification. Actually, the courtroom positions should be reversed, with The Screamers for the Prosecution, scolding the Guitar Man who mindlessly quotes passages from his “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rule Book”…..Rock ‘n’ Roll is not free with a rule that is supposedly binding”.

The question of guitars is as moot today as it was back then. Audiences simply didn’t care. The Screamers did buck conventions, but they were also essence of what punk rock was meant to bet. During the period of their success they were sometimes referred to as “techno-punk” or “synth-rock”. Any serious student of musical technology would laugh at those names back then as surely as much as they would today. Sometimes the band were even pegged as “new wave” but this was before all the above terms were not used to disparage a band. First-wave punk rock-especially on the west coast-was still finding its way.

It was Tomata du Plenty’s road from gay teen runaway to The Cockettes and Ze Whiz Kidz gay guerilla tactics and sense of humor that led both The Tupperwares and The Screamers to create, whole-cloth, a new approach to social criticism-while having fun. There was no template for what they were doing. The Screamers and other punk bands around the US, Canada and Britain were in the process of creating it.

In 1977 Lumsden further commented in Chatterbox:

“Greg Shaw, famous critic, “historian and organizer” (and owner of the L.A. Hotspot BOMP Records) wrote in the newest Bomp Newsletter that The Screamers are the most. photographed and written about group in L.A.. I can easily vouch for that, having witnessed and heard news of publicity like this: a large photospread in the debut issue of_Slash Magazine (focusing on the “New Wave” scene), a picture & article in Record World. (an international trade magazine resembling Billboard), a photo session with Bravo (Europe’s counterpart to America’s 16 Magazine), an interview for the L.A. Free Press (done the day I was leaving for Sea-ttle), three plugs in the latest Phonograph Record Magazine (w/Eric Carmen on the cover), an interview for I Wanna Be Your Dog (a popular fanzine originating in France), countless items in New York and Los Angeles gossip columns, and most re-cent1y, a photo on the cover of the June 27th issue of the National Observer (as part of the feature article entitled “The Music They Call Punk Rock.”

The Screamers were in ascendance. From 1977–1981 they were L.A.’s leading punk band, and they played sold-out performances at L.A.’s cream-of-the-crop clubs including the Whisky a Go Go, the Starwood and the Roxy Theatre, where they became the only band to ever headline a sold-out show without having released a single record. Exene Cervenka of the band X says The Screamers was the first band she saw when she came to L.A. Later she and her band wrote and recorded the song “Adult Books” with a cryptic reference to

.”Do plenty people go for Tomata?

Yes, but he just goes for that special girl

Who says, “NO”

The Screamers travelled to San Francisco where some of their finest stage performances were caught on tape at the Mabuhay Gardens (The Fab Mab). In an Interview done on December 1997, at a Vancouver, B.C. house party John Ruskin (Nardwuar the Human Serviette) asked Jello Biafra about his fellow San Franciscan band The Avengers. He said;

“I miss them more than just about any other early punk band except maybe The Screamers”.

He also admitted;

“One of the things that shocked me about the Screamers and made me want to see them so badly before I actually got to was, I think, KK the drummer said, “Well, yeah, we pay attention to the Pistols and the Clash but we’re equally interested in what Nelson Riddle is doing.” I was going, “What?” And so when they listed The Screamers’ record collection, I figured well we’d better inject some that The Screamers didn’t put in.

The Screamers could have easily signed a record deal, but major labels simply did not know how to market them, and were still hesitant to release anything that even approached punk rock, The band themselves were not eager to tour which would be essential for sales. It’s odd, however, that the band never released anything on one of the more successful independent labels of the day. There were independent labels that had national distribution. They were, in fact approached by several but the band passed on the opportunity. The closest the band came to releasing anything as a commercial project was a series of video-clips for Target Video, who du Plenty described as being shot in Target’s basement. The band believed their debut album should be on videotape rather than vinyl. No major label would agree to that and most independent labels simply didn’t have the money to pay for an album’s worth of videos.

The Target videos done “in studio” were not of especially high quality, The live performances they would have included are dynamic, but the sound quality is….well…shit, but it proved The Screamers were anticipating the popularity and power of music videos. Unfortunately these videos, combined with a 1978 performance at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco wasn’t was released on DVD until 2004 simply because there was so little available documentation of the band at that time.

Jello Biafra once said The Screamers were “the best unrecorded band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.” What he said wasn’t exactly true. Aside from the Target Videos that were shot during the band’s career, The Screamers recorded a few demo’s with both Pat Garrett (of Dangerhouse Records) and Geza X. Bootleg recordings of these demo tapes have made the rounds since the time Jello Biafra first bemoaned their being “unrecorded”; but his observation was fair enough because he said it before the advent of the internet and may have even been unaware of the demos-which like the videos were of generally poor quality-they were, after all, demo’s. The most unfortunate thing is that there is no record of the Tupperwares and only one short video clip of Ze Whiz Kidz during an impromptu performance at the University Street Fair is Seattle.

The best punk rock was always political with an eye toward the future. Often this was lip-service by immature musicians, but The Screamers took it seriously. Instead of doom and gloom much of their material is forward-looking. Often cynical and caustic, but always fun. Tommy Gear said for himself he took music as a way of getting a point across. He believed the music was secondary to meaning.

“It’s true” Tomata told Lee Lumsden in 1977

“Actually, we don’t really write songs, we write more like anthems. When we write our songs, we visualize thousands of people marching. Music is not really the correct context to place us in” said Tommy “Unfortunately, I think, in the culture as it stands today, there really is not a niche that we can really feel meaningful in… The kind of niche that would be meaningful to us would be more political…political-artistic, than say, musical. I find music to be very tawdry. I prefer to think or myself as a designer – of sound, of noise, in the context of time. I think that’s a more realistic way of looking at music, the pur-pose being some kind of political outcome…I think of politics in terms of power. That’s what politics is, is power -am I think a lot of times Americans get confused that politics means political parties, of left wing – right wing, and all politics really has to do with is power and the exercise of it. . . Power to control people’s wants, power to control people’ s conceptions”.

“Like a magazine, in a way” added Tomata.(n.b. for those who don’t know what a “magazine is, you may google it.)

The Screamers lasted less than four years. Their first official performance was at a party for Slash magazine in 1977. From there they became the toast of the L.A. scene, mostly because of Tomata’s personality and stage performance. Their final performance was July 11, 1981 according to The Screamers chronicler Mark Deming. The event was the last of three nights of

“A long awaited multi-media extravaganza, titled “The Palace of Variety,”…the elaborate show, which featured only Barrett and du Plenty on stage, received savage reviews from critics and a lukewarm response from fans. The three night run of “The Palace of Variety would prove to be the last shows the Screamers would ever perform” We might postulate that du Plenty and the band was borne out of performance art, and du Plenty simply wished to return to it. Deming goes on to mention some of the footage of this multi-media event would later appear in “Population: 1” a 1986 film by Dutch filmmaker Rene Daalder starring Tomata du Plenty.

The Screamers have often been called “The Great Lost Band of L.A. Punk” or similar statements made about the “lost genius” of Tomata du Plenty. But it’s clear that over the years The Screamers and to a certain extent The Tupperwares and Ze Whiz Kidz have been subject to more and more interest, not only in Seattle or Los Angeles. One online search or a you tube exploration is proof in itself. Even more importantly there has been a revival of interest in the history of gay cabaret and theater, intellectual punk and the tactics that marginalized groups used to bring their agendum to the forefront during the 1970s.

Dave Lang in his March 2000 essay wrote:

“The Screamers stuck out like a sore thumb, because unlike their compadres in the Germs and Weirdos, not only did they not subscribe to the trash-for-trash-sake/kill-the-hippies idiom in an attempt to scare the previous generation of longhairs away from their door, they were also “intellectual”and no one would ever claim LA as an intellectual town”.

As has been mentioned before, David Gulbransen (Rio de Janeiro) left the band early on. He returned to Seattle, and eventually took over management of Seattle’s beloved greasy spoon, The Doghouse. His mother, Laurie Gulbranson had been the owner and manager of Seattle’s beloved greasy spoon The Doghouse for decades. When she retired, David and his brother Boone stepped in until it closed in 1993. His trail goes cold for me at that point, though I’m sure readers of this story know where and how he is. Please notify me!

David Brown who had also left The Screamers early to co-found Dangerhouse Records along with the aforementioned Pat Garrett. The enterprise was underfunded, wasteful and disorganized. Dangerhouse Records lasted until 1980 and would release only 14 7-inch 45’s, one LP, and one 12″ compilation EP. Every single one of them is a classic. Their crowning achievement was the one-sided 1979 compilation “Yes L.A”. (a take on the earlier no-wave compilation “No New York”.). One side included tracks by six early, influential L.A. bands The Bags, The Germs, X, Black Randy and The Metrosquad, The Alley Cats and The Eyes. The other (ungrooved) side is a silk-screened design by Pat Garrett.

K.K. Barrett would go on to be a well-known production designer for music videos. He won MTV awards for The New Pollution by Beck and Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins. Barrett also worked with eccentric videographer Spike Jonze, and collaborated with him on the film “Being John Malkovich”. In 2013 he was nominated along with fellow set decorator Gene Serdena for Academy Award for Best Production Design for the film Her.

In January 1980 Paul Roessler (Melba Toast) left The Screamers and go on to play in Nervous Gender with former Germs drummer Don Bolles as well as in Geza X and the Mommymen. He was also involved in playing with DC3 (with Dez Cadena of Black Flag) and Crimony (with Mike Watt) while also working as a session-man with The Dead Kennedys and Saccharine Trust, among others. Later Roessler was recruited to work with Nina Hagen on one of her European tours. He continued to work with Nina on her album Nunsexmonkrock. Pat Smear (born Georg Albert Ruthenbergm) formerly of The Germs, joined Nina’s band and when Smear walked away from the Nina Hagen Band Roessler also quit. In 1981, he formed the band Twisted Roots with Pat Smear and his sister Kira. Paul has continued to work with Nina Hagen and Josie Cotton. Over his career. Roessler has chalked up an impressive body of work that includes solo projects such as ‘Curator,’ ‘The Arc’, ‘Abominable,’ ‘6/12’ and a rock opera, ‘Burnt Church’.

Tomata du Plenty did not rest on his laurels after the demise of The Screamers. If anything, he would become more involved in the world of avant garde Los Angeles. He continued his involvement in art, music and theater for the next 20 years. He held near-legendary status mot only because of The Screamers, but also because he was there at all the events, all the openings, all the street fairs. He was constantly involved in the creative process as an important part of the L.A. underground cultural scene. Always looking for the new and exciting and acting somewhat as an elder statesman whose opinions were valued. He was also known for his sharp wit and incredibly developed sense of humor. He was also responsible for 50’s icon Vampira (Maila Nurmi) coming out of retirement to re-appear in some of his productions, making personal appearances, several movie and TV parts (as herself) and as an actor in a film Tomata himself starred in; “Population:1”

“Population:1” was a film directed by Dutch filmmaker Rene Daalder. It might be described as a “punk rock musical” but it’s more than that-even though it’s cast includes du Plenty in the lead role, members of Los Lobos, K.K. Barrett, Penelope Houston, Beck Hansen, Eldon Hoke (“El Duce”) Gorilla Rose, Tommy Gear, Tequila Mockingbird, the aforementioned Vampira and a host of underground performance artists and musicians.

According to IMDb

“The film stars Tomata du Plenty of the Screamers as a defense contractor who somehow becomes the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust. In his solitude, he traces the history of U.S. civilization in the 20th century through musical numbers featuring himself and 1980s punk diva Sheela Edwards”

The film had was released in 1986 and made the rounds of film festivals including the Cannes International Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival and The Chicago International Film Festival as well as other screenings. It was later released in Europe and Japan. “Population:1” was received very well by the critics. The LA Reader’s Henry Sheeran called it “Bold and daring”. The LA Weekly was far more effusive in saying “Population:1” was “A no-holds-barred assault. As if Frank Zappa and Hieronymus Bosch took angel dust together and created a nightmare”. The film is definitely dated, but it’s still a good, fun watch, even if only to see LA’s top punk rockers and performance artists as the young turks we remember them as. The film got little attention, but “Population:1” was re-released on DVD in the U.S. in October 2008. It’s still available at online retailers.

Brendan Mullen observed that;

“Tomata was a prolific stage producer,playwright and lyric;st who wrote scores of songs, plays, sketches, and musicales. His stage presence was magnetic, his voice loudly unconventional. He was fond of quoting an old review by Rex Reed. “No, talent is not enough” but hundreds of avid fans disagreed”.

In 1985 Tomata wrote and performed “The Weird Live Show, a series of unconventional performances at the Anti-Club and the LACE Gallery in Los Angeles. Tomata then assembled “The du Plenty Players” and staged “A Shakespeare Travesty” at the Ocasco Gallery, blending camp comedy and the work of the great Bard. He joined Fayette Hauser and performance-artist Gronk (Glugio Nicandro) in writing and performing in “The Royal Family” at the Lhasa Club in L.A. in 1985 and 1986. In 1986 he appeared onstage at L.A.s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in conjunction with Gronk’s “Morning Becomes Electricity” show. In the late 1980s he also directed a series of short films with Los Angeles filmmaker Kevin Kierer, including “My Baby”” featuring Styles Caldwell and “Pick Up on Olvera Street” featuring Juan Garza.

In 1987 Tomata won the L.A. Weekly’s Best Set Design Award for his work on John Fleck’s one-man stage show, I Got the He-Be She-Be’s. He also directed the Compulsive Players in a performance at MOCA and guest lectured at the Fashion Institute of Los Angeles. In 1988 he made one of his last onstage performances in The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe with Gronk, Fayette Hauser, Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer and Styles Caldwell at L.A.’s Casa Confetti.

However, it wasn’t film, music or stage that would become Tomata du Plenty’s main form or art. He says that there was a time in the early 1980s that he broke his leg, and didn’t have the ability to jump around. He found a used paint box on Hollywood Boulevard, took it home and from then on dedicated himself to painting. His first public exhibition was a one-man show of watercolor portraits at Hollywood’s Zero One Gallery in 1983. In 1986 he showed his first canvas paintings in a show called Whores, Sluts and Tramps at L.A.’s equally politically incorrect titled Cheap Racist Gallery. Attendees were encouraged to come dressed as their favorite “low-life” In 1987 he also showed his work alongside Diane Gamboa’s at the Bye Bye Gallery.

An exhibit called “Knock Out!,” featuring portraits of boxers, appeared in 1988 (again at the Zero One Gallery in Los Angeles). That same year he was the art critic on the public access television series, What’s Bubbling Underground. The program was short-lived but Tomata mixed his sense of the absurd along with oddball and art that would have been considered outside the mainstream.

He continued painting after moving to Miami’s South Beach in 1989. His exhibits—in bars, restaurants, small galleries around the country and even laundromats—were often arranged around a single theme, saluting his favorite poets, TV stars, country/western singers and boxers. Tomata painted people he admired, from historical figures to friends from the punk world, in a style that was emotional, provocative and accessible. His “canvases were mostly “found objects” that included pages from books and manuscripts. He was proud of his status as an outsider artist; he once observed he would rather sell 100 pictures for $25 than one picture for $2,500.

In the mid-1990s he moved his studio to New Orleans. Several times a year he would hit the road for exhibits in California, New York and Florida. In January 1999 he appeared in a CNN interview, along with series of paintings featuring Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley and other pop-culture icons. The interview/appearance on CNN was taped at a junk store called “You’ve Got Bad Taste” that Exene Cervenka operated for three years in the 1990s.

In March of 2000 Tomata set out for San Francisco for an exhibition he called “Black Leather Kerouac” at Cafe Vesuvio, a one-time hangout for the Beat Generation. At the artist reception on March 12, Kerouac’s birthday) poets Rafael Alvarado, Dafydd McKaharay, Fayette Hauser, Penelope Houston and Jello Biafra read selections of Kerouac’s writings. Gail Warning also performed. Although Tomata had looked well and happy in the months leading up to the Kerouac exhibition, it was obvious Tomata was ill by the time he got to San Francisco. He spent the summer in San Francisco and eventually died of cancer on August 21, 2000. He was only 52 years old. His death came as a shock to most of his old collaborators and friends. On Sunday, October 8, 2000 a Memorial was held at Hollywood Forever Cemetary where he was buried.
Brendan Mullen DJ’d. Mitch Handsome acted as M.C. The Oh! Sisters sang “ My Guy”and Tequila Mockingbird and her band played Sex Pistols covers. They were joined by many of Tomata’s friends in the punk rock and performance art scene. Others in attendence included Fayette Hauser, The Groovy Rednecks, Shoofly, Belissa Cohen, Hal Negro and the SatinTones, the Lewd, Mink Stole,former Screamers K.K. Barrett, Paul Roessler, Phranc, Geza X, Human Hands, Lance Loud, Claire Glidden, Deborah Exit, Vampira, Ellen Vinitsky, Craig Collins, Robbie Hochderffer, Carol Cetrone, Rob Wray, Sal De la Riva, Monica Townsend, Craig Roose, Ron Stringer, Shawn de Lear, John Dentino, Skip Arnold, Weba Garetson, Mark Wheaton, Scotte Craign, Peter Alexander, and many many more.

On Tomata du Plenty’s memorial page Chuck Fulton wrote a very poignant letter he called “Tomata’s Godsend”

I know that many of you not knowing about Tomata’s illness have concerns about the last weeks of his life. I just want to assure you that there’s an unsung hero that came back into Tomata’s life just at the right time. His name is Satz (Satin Sheets from Ze Whiz Kidz and J. Satz Baret of San Francisco’s The Lewd). When Tomata came to SF for the Kerouac show it was obvious that he needed medical attention. Although it had been 25 years since Satz and Tomata had spent much time together, Satz took Tomata in and gave him his own room in the apartment building Satz manages.

Because he’s an apartment building manager, Satz is able to make his own schedule plus he works right at home. So he was able to be available to take Tomata to all of his doctors’ appointments plus got him set up financially so Tomata was able to pay for the expenses of his chemo and radiation, etc. He told Tomata he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted at no cost to Tomata. He even set up a studio for Tomata in the basement of the building. There was nothing he wasn’t willing to do for Tomata and Tomata would so often refer to Satz as his angel and his Godsend.

Tomata’s only concern was to get well. All of us, including Tomata beleived he was going to be getting better. He had finished his chemo and radiation a week earlier and was looking forward to the next week when his doctor said he’d be feeling much better. But all through his treatments, Tomata retained his optimistic humorous attitude. He would compare himself to the other chemo patients and remark how lucky he was to be having such few side effects. It was Satz’ great misfortune of finding Tomata’s body the morning he died. But I’m so thankful to Satz for providing Tomata with the security and comfort he deserved as his life drew to a close. I hope this helps reassure all of you that Tomata was surrounded by comfort, security and love when he died.

Since his death Tomata du Plenty’s body of work-especially his paintings-have been displayed in several exhibitions. In 2012 art collector Gordon W.Baily gifted a number of Tomata’s portraits to the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens Georgia. In honor to the founding members of R.E.M. From October 2014 until January 2015 The Museum also held an exhibit “Boxers and Backbeats: Tomata Du Plenty and the West Coast Punk Scene” News of the exhibition made its way to Carlos Iglesias, the founder of The Remainder Is Productions. In response, he and a number of friends and associates of du Plenty’s mounted a multi-media event and retrospective in Los Angeles. “Big Hair:The Life and Times of Tomata du Plenty was mounted at Art Share on May 2nd and 3rd of May 2014.

The same year, 2014, a kickstarter campaign was created by The Remainder Is Productions to fund a documentary film of Tomata du Plenty’s life. Their promotional pitch said:

“The goal is to bring Tomata’s untold story to life. We’ve already begun shooting footage of the cast of characters essential to Tomata’s story. As the research continues, we’ve realized what a challenging road lies ahead. This project will be one part detective case and one part treasure hunt. We will most likely need to travel to the various cities where Tomata left his artistic footprint, seek out the players, and find the stories. The people we have met with so far have been generous of time and heart. The interactions have felt somewhat symbiotic in our mutual desire to commemorate his spirit and legacy.”

The Remainder Is Productions’ documentary is currently in pre-production.
As of February 2018 nothing has materialized.

More recently a show was held in New York City at Arturo Vega’s foundation Howl Happening Gallery (remember Arturo? The Ramones designer?) The exhibit,, originally held on December 7, 2017 included a one-night-only exhibit and sale of 25 of Tomata’s watercolors, a slideshow and a panel discussion. The show prompted so much interest that it is now being mounted at various cities around the country. The show is now at The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach Florida. It closes February 14, 2018. In May 2018 the show will open at The Castelli Art Space in Los Angeles. Tomata’s fans and extended family will be pleased to know although a date hasn’t been set, a Seattle show is in the planning

This article has been cobbled together from multiple sources.  Some of them are living people. Some are simply quotes from books (which are noted).  In some cases the sources are in conflict. Many of Tomata du Plenty’s friends and colleagues are still with us. If you have a correction, suggestion or omission please leave a message in the comments section.

 

 

-Dennis R. White.  Sources:   Mark Vallen; “Who was Tomata du Plenty?” (Art For a Change [blog], May 4, 2014); Brian Miller “Bumbershoot: Remembering Ze Whiz Kidz and Their Glam-Punk Descendants” (Seattle Weekly, October 31, 1970: Ze Whiz Kidz” (Countercultural Seattle Remembers, October 31, 2015); Brenden Mullen “Goodbye Tomata du Plenty” (L.A. Weekly, August 23, 2000); Mark Deming “The Screamers: The Great Lost Band of the First Wave of L.A. Punk” (Nightflight, September 14, 2015) “Population: 1”  (IMDb  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091781/, Retrieved January 31, 2018); Dave Lang “The Screamers” (Perfect Sound Forever,  March 2000); “Screamers” Various reviews (fusetron, www.fusetronsound.com/label.php?whomart=SCREAMERS , Retrieved January 30, 2018);  “The Life and Times of Tomata du Plenty” (kickstarter,    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2147432630/the-life-and-times-of-tomata-du-plenty/description); Mark Deming “The Screamers Biography” (allmusic.com retrieved February 1, 2018); Mark Spitz & Brenden Mullen “We Got The Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk” (Three Rivers Press-New York, 2001); “The Tupperwares”  (Synthpunk, www.synthpunk.org/screamers/history75.html , retrieved January 1, 2018); Roger Downey “Glitter and Be Gay: The inspirational extravagance of Seattle’s Whiz Kidz. (The Seattle Weekly, Oct 9 2006); Stephen Tow “The Strangest Tribe: How a Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge” (Sasquatch Books, 2001); Paul Hood “Meyce” (pnwbands.com  September 2002.  Retrieved January 28. 2018); Jacob McMurray “Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind” (Fantagraphics Books, 2011); Art Chantry “Tomata du Plenty, Primal Screamers” (Madame Pickwick Art Blog, madamepickwickartblog.com/2011/08/tomata-du-plenty-primal-screamers . Retrieved January 2, 2018); “Tricia’s Wedding” (IMDb.com, Retrieved January 31,2018); Lee Lumsden “You Don’t Know Anyone Until You Know The Screamers” (Chatterbox issue 6, Summer/Fall, 1977); “Population: 1” (IMDb.com, Retrieved February 3. 2018) Leslie Meyers (Contribution, February 4, 2018

 

 

 

 

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