by Tasha Green

I met Tasha Green in 2012 in New York City while participating in an exhibition commemorating The Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary at the Morrison Hotel Gallery. I had just finished AMERICAN STORY and was slowly turning my attention to encouraging “Your Stories” when I was introduced to Tasha, who was talking to a friend of mine. In short order, Tasha declared her childhood devotion to Madonna. This was perfect for me. In AMERICAN STORIES I tended to dismiss Madonna in comparison to the musical heroes I had grown up with. But I knew all this was generational, and I truly wanted new voices. When Tasha agreed I was delighted. Tasha was born in 1982. (Her PLAYLIST is at bottom of her post.) — ETHAN RUSSELL

Tasha on stage

For my eighth birthday—because I made it clear to my parents that these wishes were non-negotiable—I received a subscription to the Madonna fanzine and a black bowler hat (exactly like the one she wore in her Blond Ambition tour). It was 1990. Bush, the elder, had just declared, “This shall not stand!” and Exxon Valdez was still wiping down oil-drenched wildlife. But of course none of that existed under my Madonna bowler hat. I was as devoted a fan as they make little girls. I knew every word to every song (Papa don’t preach!); every move to every dance (C’mon, Vogue!); and then, with the help of said fanzine (this is before the internet people), I knew every glossy moment in Madonna fashion history.

There were the jewel-encrusted bustiers paired with tattered jeans, the pinstriped menswear only to reveal a dangerously pointy brassiere and garter, and the fuck-you-I’m-a-bride look—lingerie as outerwear (thank you Gaultier) featured in all the above. Even at such a young age, I was aware of the fact that Madonna was toying with world, and quite specifically, the world of men. I remember my mother once asking me to explain what it was about Madonna that enthralled me so, and much to her mild terror, I responded without skipping a beat: “She uses sex as power, and she’s in control.” I’m still eight at this point.


Tasha with the band.

Throughout the next decade, meaning throughout the glorious 1990s, this early fascination with wielding feminine sexual power would manifest in new and interesting ways. This was not just true for suburban teenage me, but the culture at large. For this was the dawning of the Riot Grrrl. Did I mention that I grew up in Seattle?


Madonna Bowler Hat


Click BELOW video

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The grrrls—and most of them hailed from decidedly non-glamorous places like Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon—made good on the early promise of Madonna. Let’s never forget that East Village beginning. But when MTV turned punk into packaging, Madonna gleefully led the pack. Over the years, I became increasingly alienated from the Madonna I had loved, until that dreadful moment in 2003 when she kissed Britney at the Grammy’s and I immediately clicked off the TV in disgust. What a betrayal. It was Britney who was the anti-Christ, or in this case anti-Madonna, to the cause of girl power; a Disney-owned-and-manufactured product, perfectly content to look and sound like a dummy with the express purpose of putting the world of men at ease. Oh, the second Bush years—such a dark time. As a culture we regressed in every way and were told to “go shopping” to console ourselves. One of the major differences I’ve noticed about coming of age in the 90’s, versus those youngsters of the new millennium, is there was much less comfort with flagrant commercialism. In the 90s, perhaps as a reflection of the 60s, there was a fundamental distrust of the Establishment. It was cool to be couture-culture, to have Kurt Cobain hair; it was not cool to sell-out, and those Kurt Cobain types who eventually got commercial success, struggled with it every step of the way.

But I digress. Back to the women—and the bands—that ushered in what textbooks now call third-wave feminism. Courtney Love was a part of this, but with the clear vision of hindsight, perhaps her rise to fame happened in a she-doth-protest-too-much kind of a way. So let’s focus on groups like Bikini Kill, L7, and Sleater-Kinney; and less riotous but nevertheless fearsome women like Tanya Donelly of Belly and The Breeders, and of course, with the Breeders, born of the Pixies, the unflappable Kim Deal. This list is not meant to read like an insider’s guide to the genre—I never claimed to be cool enough to pull that off—this is just what mattered to me post Madonna years (so right around middle school) and how I remember it. But far better to listen, than have me keep rambling on. Moral of the story—long live the 90s!


Hear it on iTunes.

1. L7—”Andres”, Hungry For Stink
2. Bikini Kill—”Rebel Girl”, The Singles
3. Hole—”Doll Parts”, Live Through This
4. Sleater-Kinney—”Turn It On”, Dig Me Out
5. Veruca Salt—”All Hail Me”, American Thighs
6. Breeders—”No Aloha”, Last Splash
7. Pixies—”Gigantic”, Surfer Rosa [Here’s a Kurt Cobain quote: “The main reason I like [The Breeders] is for their songs, for the way they structure them, which is totally unique, very atmospheric. I wish Kim was allowed to write more songs for the Pixies, because ‘Gigantic’ is the best Pixies song, and Kim wrote it.”]
8. Belly—”Puberty”, King
9. Liz Phair—”Flower”, Exile In Guyville
10. And for good measure, still one of my all time favs: Madonna—”Like A Prayer”

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