Poly Styrene by Zillah Minx

By on 26 April 2011

Zillah Minx and Sid Truelove of Rubella Ballet were close friends of Poly Styrene, Zillah speaks about Poly Styrene, who classed Poly Styrene as her best friend.

Poly Styrene by Zillah Minx of Rubella Ballet.

Poly Styrene died on Monday 25th April after a long battle with cancer. She had been admitted into a hospice after collapsing, no longer being able to stand, it was discovered that she had cancer in her spine. Poly personally told me that she was shocked when told it could be terminal but being a spiritual person and a Hare Krishna devotee, she wasn’t afraid to die.  In fact, when she was depressed and suffering with bi-polar, there were times when death had been talked about, she’d ring me and we’d talk through the night, she’d tell me about Krishna, and I would tell her she was a genius at writing, and that her lyrics were known by every punk.

In 1976 I was a punk before the Sex Pistols were on TV and no-one knew what a punk was or cared. I lived in the East End and was turning into a punk myself. I’d shop at Beaufort Market where Poly Styrene had her stall. Poly made her own clothes in the true punk DIY way. She made kitsch clothes using plastic, pegs, slogans, day-glo, feathers, Oxfam clothing, she recycled. She wasn’t interested in selling herself as a sex symbol as she had something to say, so I listened and my world turned Day-Glo.

When she formed X-Ray Spex and performed in a Kings Road pub or at The Roxy, her lyrics, stage performance and style were inspirational to a whole generation of females. Poly was using her lyrics to talk directly to every thinking person of the time.

Poly Styrene would come to our Rubella Ballet gigs and support me by being there. The last gig she came to was ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’, the Crass celebration gig in 2007 at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, she then came to the after party to watch Rubella Ballet. The audience where amazed to be meeting Poly Styrene and talking to her like they had been friends for years, after the gig she helped us pack up and came home with us. Poly was my best friend and as such, I took Poly Styrene to Spain for a holiday at Vi-Subversa’s house when we went to celebrate Vi’s 70th birthday in 2006.

When she finally gave in to my pressure to play a gig, she played the Roundhouse on Sepetember 6th, 2008. The gig was amazing as it was like a punk karaoke as every person in the 3,000 strong audience sang every X-Ray Spex song word for word along with Poly. I was surprised when she asked me to join her on stage for ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’ and at that moment she reminded me that she was asking her best friend to share her stage with her for the celebration. Sid and I edited her DVD of the Roundhouse gig and she stayed at our house for weeks deciding on every shot and edit. She was part of my Day-Glo world, she was a real Punk rock woman and she really was as approachable as any other punk, sharing punk rock ethics as a vegetarian too.

Poly Styrene, even in hospital with cancer, called me on my 50th birthday on 31st March and called Sid on his birthday on 18th April to wish us both a happy birthday. On 20th April she rang me to discuss HAARP as we often discussed conspiracy theories, violence, rasiscm, religion, raw food, love, music, everything, as we had been friends for ever. We had been making plans for the future.

Quotes from “She’s A Punk Rocker U.K”,  directed by Zillah Minx:

”In 1977 we said ”some people think little girls should be seen and not heard but I think………Oh Bondage Up Yours.”

POLY. The fact that we could go out and people were shocked was brilliant wasn’t it? When you’re 18 and everybody hates you, you’re getting a reaction from all these people ”oh no, you’re dangerous,” ”you’re our future”, ”the future generation – what’s going to happen to society?” I suppose we loved it at the time.”

POLY. ”Yeah, I wrote my lyrics and I basically could do exactly what I wanted to in that band, so for me it was great fun. I could dress wacky, I could dress how I wanted, I could sing about anything and just express myself, I think it was a great teenage adolescent outlet really. Sort of creative expression.”

POLY. ”When we were around you couldn’t buy youth culture. We made Youth Culture.”

Diary Of The 70’s Poly Styrene.

DAY 14

BBC News bulletin. ”Scientists claim only one chromosome makes us male or female. Only our genitalia divide us I think. Why do people think I’m unusual for a girl? I wonder is it because I have short hair and am the lead singer of a punk rock band? I don’t see what all the hype is about! Only one chromosome! Really!”

Diary Of The 70’s Poly Styrene.

Beaufort Market, the Poly Styrene boutique, Kings Road, Chelsea SW3. ”Mad mad day! No sales! Everyone comes to see the curious girl with the braces on her teeth. Me! I am now Poly Styrene, the face of my homespun label. This is fun! THE SUN has even reported me hiding behind a fake façade. Think I will use Poly Styrene for my Nom de Plume. It’s so much cooler, than Mari Elliott, the boring girl next door Cliché. I like this caricature, Poly Styrene feels like a fantasy comic book name from THE BEANO.”

Many thanks to Zillah Minx, Rubella Ballet.

‘She’s A Punk Rocker UK’ Facebook.

To buy ‘Generation Indigo’ online

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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