Betty Blowtorch was an all-female American hard rock band from Hollywood, CA, formed in 1998, by former members of the band Butt Trumpet. The original lineup was Bianca Butthole (Bianca Halstead) on vocals/bass, Sharon Needles on guitar/vocals, Blare N. Bitch on lead guitar, and Judy Molish on drums. Needles and Molish left the group, and Jennifer Finch of L7 later joined. Betty Blowtorch played a mix of hard rock, sleaze rock, and hair metal with a dash of snotty punk. They released only one album proper, Are You Man Enough? (2001), but it was one hell of an album! Sadly, on December 15, 2001, Bianca Halstead was killed in a car crash in New Orleans, and, with her, the band died, too. Like Paula Pierce of the late great garage band, The Pandoras, Halstead was taken way too soon. In 2003, Last Call, a rarities collection featuring outtakes, demos, interviews and live performances. In addition, that same year, Halstead and her band were immortalized in Antonia Scarpa’s cool documentary film, Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures.
Are You Man Enough? was loud, explicit, melodic as all get out, and driven by big monster riffs. These were hard rock chicks singing about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, just like hard rock dudes did. The album’s opening track, “Hell On Wheels”, warns: “Watch out for us, baby / We’re Hell on wheels.” Later, Bianca declares: “We’re a bunch of horny fxxx-ing bitches / And we got something to say to you / Are you listening?!” Yes, I am, and so should you! “Love/Hate”, my favorite track, is definitely the best song Courtney Love never wrote. You’d think this song was by Hole if I didn’t tell you it wasn’t. Bianca’s pissed off, and torn: “You didn’t have to marry me, marry me, marry me / Why did you marry me if you never loved me / Liar, liar, I really loved you / I love you, love you, love you / I hate love!” “Rock My World” is a cool song that’s about self pleasure which ranks up there with other great songs about self pleasure, like Cyndi Lauper‘s “She Bop” (for the girls) or The Vapors‘ “Turning Japanese” (for the guys). Bianca sings, twisting the song’s title: “I really rocked my world!”. “Size Queen” is another cool song that’s about exactly what you think it’s about, and it’s one of the best since Kim Deal wrote “Gigantic” with The Pixies. Plus, Vanilla Ice(!) adds a sexually explicit rap in the bridge. I have to believe he’s exaggerating. In “Shut Up and Fuck”, Bianca proclaims: “I don’t care who you are / I just want to fuckin your car.” Apparently, Bianca wouldn’t have hit it off with Jello Biafra. He who wrote “Too Drunk to Fuck” with his band Dead Kennedys, in case you didn’t get that dumb joke. In “No Integrity”, Bianca spits out sarcasm at all the untalented pretty girls: “We got no integrity / But we sure do look good.” “I Wanna Be Your Sucker” is a nod to The Stooges, which is always cool, and the punker, “I Wish You’d Die”, is the most caustic track on this release. I wonder who hurt Bianca so badly when she sings: “I wish you’d die (slowly) / (Wish you’d die) / Die, die, die motherfucker, die” “Big Hair, Broken Heart” is a heartfelt tribute to 80’s hair metal which begins with a shout out to a true hard rock goddess: “This song goes out to you Lita Ford! We love you! We saw you on VH1!” Then, Bianca wonders, backed by a badass hair metal riff, in the catchy chorus: “Where did those hair bands go?” OK, so there’s still six more great songs, but I’ll stop with this one.
Watch Betty Blowtorch lip-synching “Hell on Wheels” live in a studio here: