My Slut Icon: Stacia

I.

“Mostly I remember standing at front drooling at Stacia, the girl with her breasts out. It was like our education.”
Mick Jones in Lemmy: The Movie

Look Stacia Blake up on the internet and the first thing you’re likely to find is a cornucopia of tributes from grown men to her “busty,” “buxom,” “Amazonian” figure. So let’s get that out of the way first.

Stacia is a visual and performance artist who helped define the multimedia space rock experience that was the band Hawkwind. She performed interpretive dance with them, often naked and adorned with body paint, from 1971-1975. According to Penthouse, she stood at 6’2” tall and measured 48-22-39 at the height of her fame. For many a middle-aged rock musician who came of age in the pre-internet U.K., her tits are appreciatively remembered as the first pair they’d ever seen.

Next you’ll hear how cool she was. She was an openly bisexual swinger who loved to sling back pints with the boys. She was fondly regarded as a peer by Lemmy, who played bass with Hawkwind before being kicked out for methamphetamine-related shenanigans. It’s not surprising then, that the fan material out there on her smacks so much of adolescent awe. The dominant perspective on her distills down to this: “Wow! A chick with big cans who hung out with LEMMY!”

As for me, I was a former groupie turned insecure band girlfriend turned timid bassist in the late aughts when I was first exposed to Stacia. I remember her tits fondly, too. They were the one of the first pairs I’d seen on a sex symbol that looked like my own. They made my body feel ok.

II.

We are the lost, we are the ravaged
We are the unkind
We are the soldiers at the edge of time
And we’re tired of making love
– Hawkwind, “Standing at the Edge”

Interwoven as it was with the work of sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock, early Hawkwind was a soundtrack to swords & sorcery literature as it came of age, dropped acid, heard its first free jazz album, then ended the night on the floor of a dirty biker bar, shaking in a pile of its own puke and muttering about the void.

Hawkwind sang often about turning toward the void, about the madness and chaos that ensues. In post-hippie psychedelic lore, the void is a place where men go. As illustrated in Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone novels, the straight cis male counterculture anti-hero is compelled to journey there alone. His compulsion alienates him from his long string of girlfriends, who stand on the sidelines getting killed, driving him insane, lacking the psychological constitution to apprehend the cosmic horrors which plague him. The void is not a gendered space, but the archetypal journey into it is a deeply gendered narrative.

Stacia complicates that narrative. There are multiple legends of how she came to join the band. In my favorite, she simply jumped on stage. She related to what the boys were doing and wanted to do it in her own way. She used her body, the artistic medium she had available. She claimed space without asking permission.

Watching Stacia is watching the process of creativity itself. It’s watching a marginalized person use what she has to stitch together something that wasn’t there before (literally, as Stacia stitched together her own costumes). It’s watching a priestess descend into the void, relating back what she sees to the audience in a wild-eyed frenzy of dance. A priestess who doesn’t exist to usher men through the journey, but who has shown up to journey beside them. Or, who has chosen them to journey beside her.

Stacia shows us a glimpse of what a remarkable difference it can make when multiple narratives intertwine. No longer does the story of the straight white cis man alone, folding in on himself, destroying everybody in his path in a doomed struggle against his own isolation, dominate the stage. The cracks begin to show. The truths that have always existed at the margins come forward. There is potential for new story.

III.

Welcome to the oceans in a labeled can,
Welcome to the dehydrated lands,
Welcome to the self-policed parade,
Welcome to the neo-golden age,
Welcome to the days you’ve made
-Hawkwind, “Welcome to the Future”

2017 has been a rough-ass year. The cold war vision of dystopia Hawkwind imagined was not just a paranoid fantasy. It’s here. My anxiety peaked this year around the time the Nazis marched in Charlottesville and our pussy-grabber in chief tweeted escalated nuclear threats. I developed a mild case of agoraphobia. I powerlessly watched loved ones struggle with the life crushing ramifications of living in an ableist, classist, cissexist, sex negative, white supremacist, patriarchal police state. Sometimes I, like the psychedelic antihero, can’t resist the call to spiral into myself. Sometimes I need to retreat to survive. Sometimes we all need to.

It was contemplating Stacia while I binged on Hawkwind that helped me feel brave enough to poke my head back out into the world when it was time. Her image came to represent the power inside myself that I fear. Inspiration comes from unlikely places.

Things weren’t particularly easy for Stacia. Her body was marked from the beginning. As female. As Too Much. When she was a kid, she was kicked out of ballet for being too tall. And though her large natural breasts were a source of power on stage, I understand as a fellow large breasted woman how complicated it can be to carry around such a visible target for other people’s projections. Stacia was assaulted by a fan onstage. After that, she started wearing less revealing costumes. What slut doesn’t understand how devastating it is when you’re forced to make compromises to keep yourself safe?

But she kept showing up. With so few role models to look up to, that matters immensely to me. She kept doing her own thing. She kept creating with shimmering authenticity. She still does. She lives a quieter life in Ireland now and she still makes art. She identifies herself as an Artavist.

Stacia reminds me that what we do in this world influences others in ways we might not realize. We have power whether we want it or not. She inspires me to stand at my own full height. Because it’s how I’m built. And because whether or not I do impacts the world around me. She inspires me to let myself be seen naked. To jump on stage. To take up space. To make art because it’s what I have to offer. To trust that it’s worth all the bullshit. She reminds me that whether or not we can succeed at dismantling the machinery of oppression, we help each other survive the crushing emptiness and despair by showing up. That is, in fact, the only way we’ll survive.

Stacia inspires me to journey into the Black Corridor of space and bring forth light.