Text and live photos © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 1977
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Videos from the Internet
This interview was originally published in Issue 3 of FFanzeen, dated Winter/Spring 1978-79.
Be warned, the Sic F*cks in their day were crude and lewd, but what would you expect from a band named the Sic F*cks anyway. My guess is they picked their name in a similar fashion to Led Zeppelin. But that’s conjecture.
I don’t know what happened to the John Cale tapes, but in 1982, the Sic F*cks released an Adny Shernoff-produced and self-titled 5-song 12”-er on Sozyamuda Records. The musicians listed on the record playing with Russell, Tish, and Snooky are Bob Hopeless on guitar, Dick String on lead guitar, Stink on bass, and Harry Viderci on drums. For all I know, these are the same people who were playing with them when I interviewed them.
One side is dedicated to one song, “(Take Me To) The Bridge,” a droll spoof of the Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River.” However, the other side is so much more fun. There’s – in order of listing – “Spanish Bar Mitzvah,” “Rock or Die,” “Insects Rule My World,’ and that Sic F*cks classic, “Chop Up Your Mother.” Two of the songs, “Rock or Die” and “Chop Up Your Mother” were performed (well, lip synced, anyway) by the band in the 1982 horror film, Alone in the Dark, which starred Donald Pleasant and future Oscar winners Martin Landau and Jack Palance.
While the physical form is gone now, thanks to greedy landlords, Tish and Snooky have have successfully turned Manic Panic into a multi-million dollar hair coloring enterprise that started out as mail order, and is presently in drug stores and supermarkets (including the local Shoppers Drug Mart here in Saskatoon). Behind the scenes helping them is first wave punk scenester and bassist for the likes of Judas Priestess, Gyda Gash, who is Manic Panic’s webmistress.
The Manic Panic website is www.manicpanic.com, and tell ‘em I sent ya.
It was the first really hot night of 1978, the night I interviewed members of that fun group known musically and affectionately as The Sic F*cks (“All that’s missing is ‘U’”). Present were lead singer/guitarist Russell Wolinsky, and the back-up singers, Snooky and Tish, also known as the Bellomo sisters. Not present were the rest: guitarist Norman Schoenfeld, guitarist Joey Schaedler, bassist Jim Aresca, and drummer Greg Wassil. The following took place in Tish and Snooky’s clothing store, Manic Panic (St. Mark’s Place & Second Avenue):
Russell Wolinsky: Alright Trigger, how much is two and two?
Tish Bellomo: I ain’t tellin’ you. Why should I do your math homework for you?
FFanzeen: Okay, you wanna tell, like, the background to how you got into Barbara Markay & Hot Box, and all that?
Snooky Bellomo: No! We were bamboozled into that. We were tricked. It was disgusting. They promised us two hundred dollars a week to sing and dance and they never paid us.
FFanzeen: You were in another group at the time?
Tish: Our first real group – well it wasn't a real group – our first group was the Porno Rock Revue. Some of our songs were originals, sort of in the line of the Sic F*cks: “Jerk Off Blues” and “Sit On My Face,” and stuff like that; and then we had Rugby songs. We were in Blondie.
Snooky: We were the Bonzai Babies.
Russell: You were in Blondie? You know Debbie?!
Tish: We can get you an autograph. Then we were in Gorilla Rose and the Gutterettes. [Then] the Dropouts, who are now the Accidents. They were our back-up group. We fronted them. After that –
Russell: – The rest is history.
Tish: Well, during the time we were in the Dropouts, we did that Barbara Markay thing. It was just a fiasco. And then we were still in the Dropouts and then we started doing guest spots, you know, we did the thing with The Sic F*cks, and because of that we got thrown out of the Dropouts – now Accidents. Cruel band. Naw, we’re still friends.
Russell: How’s that for a success story?
FFanzeen: How did The Sic F*cks start?
Russell: There I was, in a five thousand watt [radio station in Fresno, California] – I had never played on stage before and I had been threatening to do an audition at CBGB for years. Well, maybe one year.
Tish: I would say more like two months.
Russell: Actually, the day before – no, so one day I was drunk at CBGB and I decided I could do better than the band playing. I kept on drinking and I thought I could do better than any of the bands playing. I knew Joey and Norman for a long time. They introduced me to Jim, our bass player, and at first we used the sound man at The Bottom Line [the club where Russell works – ed.], Ronald. So it was going to be the five of us for the audition. We had written the songs, like “Saint Louis Sucks” and “Chop Up Your Mother.” We told them (Tish & Snooky) about it. I know them from throwing up all over them.
Tish: No, Russell was throwing up all over himself in the front seat of the car, and I was in the back seat.
Russell: So, anyway, they were just opening up the store here and we told them about the band, and they said, “When do we start?” and it was like, one of those great ideas, like Edison inventing the light bulb or something. This is just what we need to make things whole for us.
Snooky: And the rest is history.
Russell: We had one more rehearsal, they worked out their own parts and we went up on stage. August 1, 1977, I’ll never forget it.
Snooky: Was that when it was? We have to celebrate.
Russell: I wanna do a first year anniversary show at CBGB.
Snooky: Yeah, great! A Tuesday night!
Russell: I’m trying to work it so everyone gets a free beer on the house.
Russell: Well, if they don’t get the free beer, don’t be disappointed. Anyway, we did it. I didn’t tell that many people about it, but this incredible amount of people, what was it, 300 people were there.
Tish: It broke the CBGB record at any rate.
Russell: It was an audition night record.
Tish: And Lisa (Kristal) said, “Dad will be sooo pleased,” as she looked down at the green. Did Handsome Dick show up?
Russell: Handsome Dick sang “Wild Thing” with us. You were wearing Girl Scout uniforms. The only time you surprised me was when you played in blackface. We told the crowd that it wasn’t Tish & Snooky, but The Chocolatettes from Detroit.
FFanzeen: The first time I saw you, you were wearing cut-out plastic garbage bags.
Russell: That was the night Snooky had the fight.
Snooky: Oh my fight? Yeah, because I was wearing a garbage bag. Robert Gordon doesn’t like garbage bags.
Russell: He likes paper ones.
Snooky: He was very upset. Robert’s my boyfriend and he didn’t like me wearing garbage bags on stage.
Russell: Only around the house.
Russell: They said, “Hey let’s start a store.”
Tish: We just decided to have the first punk rock clothing store in New York. My personal thing is I would wear things to CBGB and they were copied about two weeks later. So I figured why not sell it.
Snooky: It’s not like we said, “punk rock’s gonna be the next big thing, let’s cash in on it.” It just happened to be what we were into.
Russell: So they said, “this is going be the next big thing let’s cash in on it.”
Tish: I used to go to a designing school for a few months and I quit. I’ve always been into fashion and I always wanted to have a store.
FFanzeen: How did you pick a name like Sic F*cks?
Russell: It’s just a parody of a punk rock name. You’ve got to remember we never expected to do it more than once, a one shot deal. Unfortunately, it was taken the wrong way. People come in and expect to see the ultimate punk show: throwing up; fornication.
FFanzeen: Instead they get Jewish jokes.
Russell: Borscht Belt rock and roll.
Tish: Why did the Negroes move out of the outhouse?
Tish: The Puerto Ricans were making too much noise.
FFanzeen: What are your influences?
Snooky: Durwood Kirby.
Russell: The usual. Henny Youngman, the Ramones, the Dictators, Jonathan Richman.
Tish: The Shangri-La’s. Vaginitus. The sixties in general. Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts. The Rugby sounds.
Russell: “I Got a Right” by Iggy. “Rhapsody in the Rain” by Lou Christie, I listen to that a lot.
Tish: Herman’s Hermits. I still listen to those 45s. There’s some good new stuff here and there.
Russell: Yeah, ABBA. I like ABBA.
Tish: You would. Typical.
FFanzeen: How does a typical Sic F*ck song get written?
Russell: We get a case of beer. We always start with the title, then me, Joey, and Norman write the music, then I write the words over the music, then they (Tish & Snooky) fill their parts in. Well, there we were, trying to think up a name for “Chop Up Your Mother.”
Tish: We were blasting that outside the store last night. All these people were outside listening to the tape.
FFanzeen: Can you give me couple of your song titles?
Tish: We can give you all of them.
Russell: Even songs we don’t do anymore, if you want. Their song, “A Girl Like Me,” “Chop Up Your Mother,” “Teenage Abortion,” “Let’s Eat,” “Faster and Louder,” both of which were written before “Let’s Eat” by Nick Lowe and “Faster and Louder” by The Dictators.
Tish: “Ride the New Wave.” “Insects Rule My World.”
Russell: “Spanish Bar-Mitzvah.”
Tish: “Toni Tennille.” “Fags on Acid.” A classic.
FFanzeen: I came by here a while ago and someone said you were recording with John Cale.
Russell: We did that already.
Tish: Old news.
Snooky: Ancient history. Old Wave news.
FFanzeen: Is it coming out as a single?
Tish: An EP.
Snooky: It has nine songs. The title is “Rock It to Poland.”
Russell: It was supposed to come out June sixth. Don’t hold your breath. I like John, but I would have done the recording differently.
Tish: Yeah, he didn’t pay for our coffee.
FFanzeen: Do you think your name will hold you back?
Russell: It’s holding us back now. That’s probably what’s holding us back from a major recording contract. The world ain’t ready for a band with the name Sic F*cks.
Tish: Hilly suggested we change it to the Sic Folks.
Russell: We suggested Hilly should change his name of Sic Folks. Him or Jonathan.
Tish: Jonathan’s dead.
Russell: We should have a benefit for Jonathan. Remember the dog Jonathan who was always at CBGB? He died. I think CBGB should have a benefit concert every week.
Tish: I don’t think Jonathan had as many friends as Johnny Blitz.
Russell: It was close.
FFanzeen: Anyone who ever played pinball and stepped into…
Russell: Dog poo?
FFanzeen: Yeah, they’ll remember. That was his favorite spot, wasn’t it?
Russell: He used to do it on the stage occasionally. Especially the old stage with the carpet on it.
FFanzeen: What are the ultimate goals of the group?
Tish: Money. Fame. Get laid. I just always wanted to be a rock star. Even more than having a store, which was one of my main goals. Now I have everything. Except for the money and the fame.
Russell: We haven’t made People magazine yet.
FFanzeen: What kind of fan is a Sic F*ck fan?
Russell: Somebody with nothing to do on Friday night. We’ve established a solid following.
Tish: We get a lot of tourists coming to the name.
Russell: “Hey these crazy New Yorkers. What will they think of next?”
Tish: A lot of guys come to gawk. Men in raincoats with newspapers on their laps.
Russell: Just a lot of people who are tired of all these New York bands taking themselves so seriously. We’re punk and rock and roll.
Tish: We’re also power pop-oriented. Also New Wave.
Russell: Even reggae.
Snooky: Calypso. We even play weddings and bar-mitzvahs.
Russell: I mean, everyone has a definition of punk. There’s a big difference between the Ramones and the Dead Boys, a totally different attitude, but basically both play the same thing; they play rock and roll.
FFanzeen: What do you do to keep busy? I realize some of these questions are dumb, but I wrote them about half an hour ago on the train over, or I took them from old fanzines.
Russell: Yeah, I remember this one from the Teenage Jesus interview in FFanzeen.
Tish: We knit. Crochet.
Russell: We beat off a lot.
FFanzeen: That’s the same thing Lydia Lunch said (in the Teenage Jesus interview).
Russell: Then we don’t beat off a lot. Isn’t it great to be young and live in America!
Tish: I like hanging out once in a while. I love getting drunk. I like being on stage more than anything. But we rarely rehearse.
Russell: There’s nothing like being on stage.
Tish: What do you get when you cross a Jew and a Polack?
Snooky: Russell Wolinsky!