Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains
There have been films that have escaped me for years. Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains (1982, DIR. LOU ADLER) was one of these films. Thankfully Dazed and Confused Magazine's The Best Feminist Punk Films of the Last 50 Years brought the film to my attention. I tracked it down on Amazon Video (free to Prime members). Quickly the stains made their way into fictional bands I wished existed. Writer Nancy Dowd was inspired to write this after seeing the Ramones, which just strengthens my love for this film.
The film follows the rise of an all-girl punk band, called the Stains, which echoes that of The Slits, Siouxsie Sioux, and The Raincoats. The Stains are a self-taught act consisting of two sisters, Corrine (Diane Lane) and Tracy (Marin Kanter), and their cousin Jessica (Laura Dern). Corrine Burns is the leader and the driving force of the band. She quickly learns that television is a way to grab a footing in the world and uses that to her advantage often in the film. They aren't the best musicians, as seen in their first gig on tour with Metal Corpses (think Iron Maiden) and the Looters (British punk band in the vain of the Sex Pistols) lead by Billy (Ray Winstone), but Corrine dons the right attitude to overcome any setbacks.
By gig two, the attitude is fully paired with The Stains' look: white streaks through the hair, see-through red blouse, bikini briefs over fishnets. Her call that she "never puts out," is something that resonates with future punk bands (though the film was a considered a flop when released, it received cult status and garnered fans such as Bikini Kill, L7, etc) and it is a refrain women still stand by today: I will not be played or defined by you.
Female empowerment starts to make waves throughout the area, not just with teenage girls, but women of all ages (even a journalist who champions Corrine's message and style). Fans dub themselves Skunks, dying their hair and donning similar clothes. The Stains have their ups and downs, there is a slight love story, a bit of betrayal, but that is par for the course when it comes to fame and making a feminist stance in a scene which is mostly run by men.
There are easy ways to adapt The Stains style into your everyday wardrobe; therefore, instead of focusing on complete looks, I will again give you six vintage pieces that you can mix and match. I hope they will inspire you not only to rock The Stains look, but to always keep thrifted / vintage pieces in mind when shopping (always the most ethical and environmental choice you have for your closet).
From top to bottom/ left to right: 1) A red see through blouse is a must. There are a variety of styles there, so find what works best for you. 2) a lace tank top (easy to pair with those black briefs. 3) A pair of black booties (bonus if you pair them with peek a boo red socks. 4) A beaded / embroidered ivory cardigan (the more affordable layer in lieu of a leather jacket. 5) Fishnets - and yes, you can find vintage fishnet stockings still in their packaging. 6) Lastly, a red beret, the best way to reveal those contrasting streaks you will will want after watching the film and of course to match your new red eye shadow.
As always, if you have a particular film you would like to see in this series, please leave a comment below. Until next week.