4 min

Live and recruiting

Queercore explosion hits town

TRIANGLE TRASH. Having fun, raising awareness and working towards social change. Credit: Shawn Scallen

Ottawa’s Triangle Trash exists at the lively crossroads where punk rock meets the gay village. If you haven’t been there yet, hold onto your hat, especially if you plan to attend this month’s show by Vancouver band the Skinjobs..

Triangle Trash is a queer punk collective made up of people with punk leanings and like minds.

“Triangle Trash came about because we wanted to have our cake and eat it too,” says Adam Hodgins. “We were tired of having to choose between doing gay things, doing art things and doing political things – all the things that we wanted to do basically – then trying to squeeze in a couple of hours at a gay bar just to have some kind of connection with other queer people at the end of the night.”

Bringing bands like the Skinjobs to town is part of an attempt to allow queer punks to avoid having to make those kinds of choices.

The band has just released their debut CD, Burn Your Rainbow, and has already performed with such name bands as Pansy Division and Tribe 8. “We’re queer and we’re recruiting,” says the front page of their “official fucken web site dammit!”

Skinjobs’ band members perform as their alter egos: Mason Newlove (Mimi Mahovlich) on bass, Lee Hendon (Laura Schultz) on drums, and Mitch Fury (Kim Kinakin) on guitar and lead vocals. Together they play a tight, energetic blend of chainsaw guitar and impudent lyrics over pop punk rhythms. They regularly swap instrumental duties and everybody does vocals.

Like Triangle Trash, Skinjobs are out for a good time. “For one of our first shows we dressed up like replicants [from the movie Blade Runner],” says Kinakin. “We kept telling people to have fun, to participate. Some people just spontaneously got up and started go-go dancing on stage. It was so much fun that it just sort of kept happening.”

Hodgins says he was actually aware of Kinakin even before he began the Skinjobs.

“(Kinakin) publishes a zine called Faggo that I picked up at a Pansy Division show in Montreal in ’99. I’m a big fan of that zine. It’s got a focus on boys which is really nice because the scene can tend to be mostly girls – which is great – but it’s nice to have some boys too.”

Coincidentally, that’s exactly why Kinakin started making Faggo in the first place.

Zines are a big part of Ottawa’s queer punk scene too. There will be a zine table at the show, and Hodgins is “trying to get local people to make copies of their old stuff, and, if they have projects that are half completed, to get their ass in gear and bring them out to the show.”

It’s that DIY spirit found in zines that is the key, the method to the mad array of music and outsider art in the scattered canon of punk. Triangle Trash is no exception, says Hodgins.

“A lot of people in Triangle Trash are into the music, or make music themselves, or write zines or do websites – lots of different kinds of things.

“The local punk scene is whatever the people involved in it want to make it. It’s not like some people make it for other people to go and consume. It’s not that kind of product. It’s about people getting involved and creating their own kind of culture, their own scene, their own music, their own art. Keeping ownership of it, and keeping responsibility for it as well.”

But for Hodgins, “Triangle Trash also has a political mandate” to raise awareness and work towards social change. The things they do as a collective tend to be politically oriented. During the Take the Capital G8 protests, Triangle Trash “organised a ‘pink bloc,’ a visible queer bloc in the ‘No one is illegal march.'”

Triangle Trash members were involved in last summer’s Ladyfest which took place during Pride week. Hodgins helped give a workshop called “Politicizing your Pride.”

“We did a history of Pride and talked about how it wasn’t always a kind of Rainbow beer ad day, it actually has political roots. We talked about the commodification of gay pride, and how a Labatt’s Blue float does not equal social progress or social change.”

They also got involved in the parade. “We handed out anti-war stuff as the parade passed the Cenotaph. A bunch of girls, associated with Triangle Trash, or just out for a good time, got together on bicycles, all dressed up, and crashed the beginning of the parade. People really liked the ‘dykes on bikes,’ except some of the Pride organizers kind of freaked out,” Hodgins laughs.

At the same time, Hodgins stresses that what Triangle Trash wishes to do is question, not attack, get people thinking about these issues, and hopefully continue the legacy of the gay liberation movement. “That kind of questioning is pretty prevalent in queercore,” says Hodgins. “The mainstreaming of queer culture… that’s not about gay liberation, it’s about making money.

“I don’t want to paint everybody with sweeping statements. I’m not out to condemn anybody either, or attack other queers or put down what they do. At the same time, I think our community is mature enough to take some criticism from within. There can be discussion about these kind of things and there can be dissent, and there can be people challenging power structures without necessarily trying to tear down what’s been built up. If there’s no healthy discussion around these kinds of things, it gets kind of stagnant.”

As for the Skinjobs, Hodgins is excited about the show. “I’ve never seen them, it’s their first show in Ottawa.”

And he plans to get into the spirit of the show, which will continue the Blade Runner theme by offering a dollar off the admission price to anyone dressing up as Pris, the replicant played by Daryl Hannah in the film.

“The fluidity of gender is great,” says Hodgins, “and to have fun with it, while making music and building community…”

Skinjobs will be joined by local band Sophomore Level Psychology who have played an impressive collection of local events. Other acts have not yet been finalized, but Triangle Trash is hoping to get a few more boys on stage. “We’re hoping that this show will be a good opportunity for people to plug in if they’re interested,” says Hodgins.

He describes the show as an “alternative to the bar scene for people who want one, and a musical alternative too. It’s an all-ages show, so for people who can’t get into bars this is something they can actually go to.”

Triangle Trash doesn’t have any kind of “five year plan.” When asked about the future, Hodgins says, “Ladyfest is happening again this year for sure… Who knows what happens next?”

Triangle Trash has no designs on becoming a “thing.”

“Not everything has to get bigger or change,” says Hodgins. “Just putting on a good show is an accomplishment. After that, we’ll see what happens.”


Triangle Trash party with Vancouver band The Skinjobs .

Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St.

March 29 at 7PM.

$7 ($1 off if you dress-up in your sexiest rendition of Blade Runner a la Pris).