Pansy Division is an American rock/punk band that formed in San Francisco, California in 1991. Featuring primarily gay musicians and focusing mostly on gay-related themes, Pansy Division is one of the more mainstream-oriented bands to emerge from the queercore movement that began in the 1980s.
Frustrated by the lack of openly gay musicians in the indie rock and punk scene, Jon Ginoli formed Pansy Division (the name itself a pun on Panzer Division and the word "pansy") in San Francisco in early 1991. The intent of the band was to defy the common stereotypes towards gay men, particularly that they were more or less limited to enjoying and/or performing disco and showtunes, and that rock was strictly heterosexual territory. Originally a solo act on guitar, Ginoli eventually recruited bassist Chris Freeman and drummer Jay Paget, forming the first openly all-gay rock band.
Pansy Division's sound was heavily influenced by 1960s pop and 1970s punk rock, most notably bands such as the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and early Beatles: short, catchy pop punk numbers with humorous, in-your-face lyrics that dealt with various aspects of both gay life and life in general. Most of their early repertoire featured explicit and near-pornographic (though firmly tongue-in-cheek) lyrical depictions of gay sex, though some songs focused on more universal, unisex topics such as loneliness, friendship and attraction.
In 1993, following extensive Californian touring, several 7" singles and compilation appearances, Pansy Division was signed to Lookout! Records, released their first album, Undressed, and embarked their first national tour.
In 1994, with the release of their second album Deflowered and an appearance on Outpunk's seminal compilation Outpunk Dance Party, the band had proven themselves to be one of the more prolific and well-known artists to spring from the budding queercore movement. Also catching the wave of pop punk's mainstream explosion, Pansy Division were selected to tour with Green Day on the band?s Dookie tour, thus introducing the group and queercore to a much larger audience.
While signed to Lookout!, the band continued to release an album a year: 1995's Pile Up (notable for its various cover songs, including Ned Sublette's "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (covered as "Smells Like Queer Spirit")), 1996's Wish I'd Taken Pictures (featuring the single "I Really Wanted You", whose music video played once on MTV) and the 1997 B-sides compilation More Lovin' From Our Oven.
Pansy Division also toured prolifically during these years, both nationally and internationally, touring with such alternative rock and punk bands as Chixdiggit, the Groovie Ghoulies, cub and Servotron, God Is My Co-Pilot and Team Dresch, while often sharing the stage with such bands as Rancid, The Vandals, New Bomb Turks, Jimmy Eat World, Supergrass and The Supersuckers.
During this time, Pansy Division primarily performed as a trio, with Freeman and Ginoli being the only constant members amid a slew of perpetually rotating drummers, both gay and straight. In 1996, the band finally found a permanent gay drummer in the form of Luis Illades and became a quartet in 1997 with the addition of lead guitarist Patrick Goodwin.
New direction and label
1998 saw the release of their fifth studio album Absurd Pop Song Romance, which was a departure from earlier Pansy work, featuring less humorous, more introspective lyrics and a darker, two-guitar layered alternative rock sound. Although fans regard the album as perhaps the band's best work, it was their least-selling album and curbed their six year long touring and recording streak.
In 2001, Pansy Division was finally ready to record another album, but the lack of support from Lookout! caused the band to leave their long-time label and sign with Alternative Tentacles later that year. What resulted was 2003's Total Entertainment!, an album that the band described as a meeting point between the lighthearted humor of their early work and the introspective rock of their previous album. Goodwin left the band the following year, being temporarily replaced by Bernard Yin and then by former Mr. T Experience member Joel Reader.
In 2006, Alternative Tentacles released The Essential Pansy Division, a comprehensive 'best-of' compilation featuring thirty tracks hand-picked by Ginoli and a DVD of various video footage.
Following the release of Total Entertainment, Pansy Division's active touring and recording schedule declined as most of the members relocated to different parts of the country. The band continued to perform sporadically, usually at various gay pride festivals or local shows in San Francisco. In 2007, Pansy Division launched their first national tour since 2003 with reformed San Francisco punk band The Avengers, whose current line-up features both Illades and Reader.
In 2008, the band became the subject of a documentary film entitled Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, directed by Michael Carmona. The film has been touring internationally, playing at various LGBT film festivals, and was released on DVD in 2009.
Recently, Ginoli announced on Pansy Division's official website that 2009 would see the release of their seventh studio album, titled That?s So Gay, a live DVD, another national tour, and his memoirs, a biography of the band entitled Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division.
In February 2009, the band released a vinyl 7" of "Average Men," their first single from the album. The B-Side is a cover of "Coming Clean" by Green Day.
Jon Ginoli - vocals/guitar (1991 - present)
Chris Freeman - bass/vocals (1991 - present)
Joel Reader - lead guitar/vocals (2004 - present)
Formerly of The Mr. T Experience and The Plus Ones
Luis Illades - drums (1996 - present)
Both Reader and Illades are members of the reformed San Francisco punk rock band The Avengers.
Jay Paget - drums (1991 - 1992)
Now of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
David Ward - drums (1992 - 1994)
Liam Hart - drums (1994)
David Ayer - drums (1994)
Patrick Hawley - drums (1995)
Dustin Donaldson - drums (1995 - 1996)
Now of I Am Spoonbender
Patrick Goodwin - lead guitar (1997 - 2004)
Now of Hammers of misfortune and Dirty Power
Bernard Yin - lead guitar (2004)
Now of Astra Heights
All Pansy Division lyrics
- A Song Of Rememberance For Old Boyfriends
- A Song Of Remembrance For Old Boyfriends
- Beercan Boy
- Bill & Ted's Homosexual Adventure
- Bill Ted�s Homosexual Adventure
- Boyfriend Wanted
- Cocksucker Club
- Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other
- Crabby Day
- Cry For A Shadow
- Deep Water
- Dick Of Death
- Expiration Date
- Fem In A Black Leather Jacket
- Fem In Black Leather Jacket
- Femme Fatale
- Fluffy City
- Fuck Buddy
- Groovy Underwear
- Hippy Dude
- Homo Christmas
- Horny In The Morning
- I Can�t Sleep
- I Really Wanted You
- James Bondage
- Luck Of The Draw
- Negative Queen
- New Pleasures
- Not Enough Of You To Go Around
- Pillow Talk
- Ring Of Joy
- Rock & Roll Queer Bar
- Rock And Roll Queer Bar
- Rock Roll Queer Bar
- Smells Like Queer Spirit
- Strip U Down
- Surrender Your Clothing
- The Cocksucker Club
- The Story So Far
- The Summer You Let Your Hair Grow Out
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.