Speaks One on One
with MERI ST. MARY
Photo: Moshe Bracha
St, Mary and I have been close friends
since the 80's and I was happy to hear that she was back performing
live. She is busy preparing to release the long awaited "GIRLFIEND"
the second Housecoat Project on Vinyl. The following interview covers
questions about her early days in punk and what she has been doing
since the band broke up.. It also spotlights on what Meri is currently
doing.. I hope you enjoy!
for the interview Meri. Can
you give the readers some background about yourself?
Tell us about what you did
well um I grew up there
(except when we lived in a van in Europe) I got turned on to the
Hollywood punk scene as a teenager and got exposed to alot of great
music and art that was going on and was inspired to be in a band as a
result of some very creative people I was friends with. There was alot
of clubs that let teenage girls in, including the Masque, the Starwood,
the Whiskey, the Hong Kong Cafe, Club 88, not to mention the parties.
Stonefox Studio's in North Hollywood was a fun one. Ukranian Cultural
Center somewhere in South Central. My favorite bands: The Wierdo's!!! ,
Screamers, Dickies, X, Castration Squad, Mau Mau's to name a few.
You also worked with Janet
Cunningham and her casting agency C.A.S.H. Tell us about some of your
I first heard about Janet
when the Zero was on Cahuenga and Janet had her C.A.S.H. club next door
- she was interesting and often let people crash at her space. Later we
both lived at the "Chelsea West" (Western and Melrose) building that
was mainly artists. At that time there was a thriving art scene in
downtown LA and people would say things like "oh, we don't go west of
western" - so we were right on the cusp. Alot of art going on in that
building Mary Wornov was my next door neighbor. But I digress. Janet
got alot of us punks work in videos, tv, movies, commercials. It was on
one hand demeaning work as an extra you are the lowest life form just a
piece of scenery. On the the other hand we were all usually friends
doing the shoots and had alot of fun at the expense of the "serious"
actors. I lived about two years getting jobs from Janet. I did
everything from 20 bucks for a Ramones video to getting scale for some
movie of the week. I remember having fun with Pat Smear , Nicky Beat
and I doing goose stepping tango on Remington Steele.
were the happening clubs in Hollywood
when you were playing?
I played the Cathay de
Grande with Roadhog a couple times, really good bills as well (Roadhog
was the band with Nicky Beat, Smog Vomit, Rhys Williams). With Toejam
we played the Radio which was KK
(from the Screamers) club - we played there a few times and I believe
Ice-T introduce us.
Club Lingerie was fun - Brendan Mullen was doing shows there and Janet
did a night where she made red beans and rice and all these old soul
bands from the south would play with the jerry curl and the capes.
There was always The Zero whatever location it moved to. I had a great
show at my apartment on Melrose and Western. There was the Paladium,
the Palace. Also of mention is Vinyl Fetish which was a fabulous record
store and the first place I ever met Iggy Pop.
What were some of your
favorite bands to play with?
We played with Fear (I
stayed sometimes in a house where Philo and his wife lived) - I
believed we played with the Minutemen - the first Roadhog show was
packed and we got a really good mention in the LA WEEKLY - it's been so
long I can't remember all the bands.
What prompted your move to
San Francisco from L.A. where you were pretty well established?
umm, I had gone to SF as a
kid in 69 and had a big feeling about how much I liked it. I went up
with several bands (as friends) including the Dickies, the Circle
Jerks, the Mau's Mau's. I loved SF and alot of the people I met and
alot of the bands I saw. As a kid I had this recurring dream that I was
in an old dusty apothecary store with shelves jam packed with jars
filled with I didn't know what, then one day I was on Grant Street and
I walked into this Chinese herbal shop and it was exactly what I had
seen in my dreams. The smog and hot weather of LA I couldn't bear, the
SF climate more to my liking. I felt alot of love from people, did alot
of writing and art and spent time in coffee shops talking over theories
and how we could change the world. I will say this, quite a few people
got mad at me when I moved from LA to SF. The first time I went back to
LA I opened the paper and there was something snotty written about me.
I didn't want to hurt anyone or leave any bands high and
dry but I was
on a personally detrimental track and needed to leave.
Was Housecoat Project your
first San Francisco or had you played with other people?
I use to sing backups for
Frightwig, I played in the Skankin Babylonians with Snakefinger - I
can't remember everyone I played with but Housecoat Project was the
main band I was in from SF.
Tell the readers how you
came up with Housecoat Project for the bands name?
Well, that's funny, I was
friends with these guys from East LA who had a band called the Stains.
There were three young punky girls named Mary (I was Meri). Mary Red
lived at the Canterbury, Mary Black went out with Robert (from the
Stains) and then there was me, I always wore these housecoats from
thrift stores over my little thrift store outfits, so those guys
(Snickers, Ceaser, Sal, Robert) dubbed me "Housecoat" and it just
Can you tell us who was in
Eric Rad Yuncker (who
apparently saw a picture of me in Punk Globe and said "I'm gonna be in
a band with that girl") - he and I connected creatively as I wrote the
poetry and he put music to it so we were the core then he had his Sound
of Music, Rose & Thistle buddies Erol Cengiz and Michel Schorro
who were the rythmn section of the band.
After Erich's death did
you want to quit playing with the band?
Well that was tragic and I
mean unfortunately being around the scene for a long time I had
experienced alot of death - his dying was probably the most interesting
as he was playing guitar on stage at the Mab and then just collapsed.
But I had also just found out that I was pregnant and felt it was
important to move to the country and be healthy and concentrate on the
birth of my son so it all sort of worked out in a weird way.
How long did it take you
to find Jay to replace Erich?
I think Montgomery was
very young and you asked me to come play some Housecoat Project songs
with your band which was actually Erol Michel and Jay (who I did not
know) opening for Divine. I came down from Humboldt and did a few songs
and Bruce stayed with Montgomery and evidently when I performed the
songs all the guys said the hair on the back of their necks stood up
and they knew they wanted to work with me.
You also added a Sax
Player to the band . Can you tell us about him?
Oh that would be Bob Sax.
He came and jammed and just stayed. We all really liked him he added to
the sound and was young and enthusiastic. I was a huge X-Ray Spex fan
and love the sax in the mix. We also had cello playing with us, a girl
who played bagpipes, Lemon did
harmonica, and violin. I was pretty open
to adding new sounds to band.
How many releases did the
Housecoat Project release?
We put out Wide Eye Doo
Dat on Subterranean Records and it did well. We played the New Music
Seminar in NYC and after that did a national tour (after doing a few up
the west coast). We recorded and mixed a second album right after we
got back off the road and Bruce and I basically produced it cuz
everyone just came in and did their part and left. I'm very proud of
this piece of work it's called "Girlfiend" and I am working with Steve
Tupper from Subterranean Records to release it in the near future. Even
after 20 years it still stands up.
What are some special
shows that stick out in your mind?
I loved playing the
Pyramid in NY - I liked playing the Mab, the On Broadway, the I-Beam
with Flipper when Bruce and I dosed everyone who came in. My favorite
show was probably our record release party. We found a concrete slab in
the parking lot of Grocery Outlet across the street from all the cab
companies on Division. We got a generator and just played until the
cops shut us down. There were birds flying, Mexican women with shopping
carts full of kids and food and all the cab drivers on top of their
cabs jumping up and down - it was fun. I also liked playing the first
ever Folsom Street Fair. Touring you have alot of magical moments. I
liked the Farm. We played with alot of really great bands. I liked the
acoustic shows we did at the Albion. I'll probably remember all kinds
of shows after I go home.
What prompted the band to
break up and what have you been doing since the band's break up?
Well we test pressed the
album and I just sort of dropped the ball. I was a young mother trying
to have a family, career and relationship and everything just sort or
imploded. I raised my kid and was very
involved in his schooling. I started playing again in the 90's and am
currently a broadcaster and am playing shows again and recording my
first solo effort.
I remember that White
Trash Debutantes played at a H.E.A. R. Benefit for Kathy Peck- with Sex
is a Witch. The band was doing well playing and drawing crowds.. Did
you release any product with them?
Unfortunately not. That
was a fun and creative band, I do have cd from a Bottom of the Hill
Show that's pretty good. We had a really good momentum going and I had
some recording set up and a producer, but girls will be girls.
Who was in the band?
Mia Levin and Rachel
Thoele (both from Frightwig and Mudwimmin) and Mark Pino on drums and
the year is 2008 and you
are living up in Nevada City.. Tell us about what you are doing?
I live a very healthy life
and have alot of support in this little country town. I'm doing shows
in SF, recording, enjoying my life. I still do activism work and am
involved in supporting organic farmers and people that are concerned
about our earth crisis and are politically to the left - way left. I'm
also very proud of my son (who is 22 now) and he and his friends give
me hope for the future generations.
How long have you been a
D-J on KVMR? Tell the readers how to tune in to your show?
Meri : I got certified
in 2007 and got a show pretty quickly. My show is called the
Underground Sound and is on alternative Wednesday nights/Thursday
mornings from midnight until four a.m. - you can tune in on KVMR.ORG - or if your
in range it's 89.5 FM. I also do a Gospel Show the 1st Sunday of the
month from 3PM to 4PM.
What are you doing
musically? Are you performing?
I'm doing acoustic shows
at the moment and yes I am performing.
There has been rumors that
a long lost Housecoat Project LP may soon get released and that you may
be reforming the band.. Care to elaborate?
That is a reality - I'm
having to get a band together to support the release of "Girlfiend". So
far I have Bob Sax and Lemon d' George. The others are jazz snobs now
and Errol is in Arizona, so I have alot of work cut out for me. I've
never had to form a band in this manner so it will be a new challenge.
If you want to play in Housecoat Project and tour get ahold of me or
Now you are also playing
more of an acoustic act as well. Tell us about what you are doing?
Songs that I wrote for the
most part in the 90's that I can perform solo but I choose to have my
old friend Neo play with me as well.
You recently played a show
for Dog that featured Punk Globe contributor and all round sweetheart
Miss O.. Tell us how the show went?
IT WAS FIERCE!!!!
You have a My Space
address care to give the readers the address to check you out at?
You can check out
Housecoat Project on myspace. I am on the KVMR.ORG
page under personalities and you can email me from there. Also when I'm
in the studio doing a show you can call 1-800-355-KVMR
Any shows or special
events you would like the readers to know about?
I'm playing the Bayview
Boat Club this Thursday, September 18 ... I'll be playing the SOBARR in
LA in the future and I'll probably play Dog's Salon again. I'll keep
Any final thoughts that
you have for Punk Globe readers?
I've been in this magazine
since I've been a teenager and it feels good to still be in it.
Congratulations Ginger on keeping this publication alive.
with Hellin Killer at
The Punk Globe Party
Photo: Craig Pop Artist
Thanks so much Meri... Be sure to check out
the Housecoat Project My Space profile at