Pansy Division

Pansy Division

Infobox musical artist
Name = Pansy Division

Img_capt =
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Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = San Francisco, California, United States
Genre = Pop punk
Alternative rock
Years_active = 1991–present
Label = Outpunk
Alternative Tentacles
Mint Records
Lookout! Records
Associated_acts =
URL = []
Current_members = Jon Ginoli
Chris Freeman
Luis Illades
Joel Reader
Past_members = David Ayer
Dustin Donaldson
Patrick Goodwin
Liam Hart
Jay Paget
Danny Panic
David Ward
Bernard Yin

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 a founding example of the Queercore genre.


Early Days

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.

Mainstream Recognition

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 it’s 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.

Recent Activity

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 will be 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".


Current members

*Jon Ginoli - vocals/guitar (formation - 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.

Former Members

*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)
*Danny Panic - drums (1994 - 1995)
**Formerly of Screeching Weasel
*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



* "Undressed" on Lookout! Records (1993)
* "Deflowered" on Lookout! Records (1994)
* "Pile Up" on Lookout! Records (1995)
* "Wish I'd Taken Pictures" on Mint Records (1996)
* "Absurd Pop Song Romance" on Lookout! Records (1998)
* "Total Entertainment!" on Alternative Tentacles (2003)
* "That's So Gay" on Alternative Tentacles (2009)

Compilation Albums

* "More Lovin' From Our Oven" on Lookout! Records (1997)
* "The Essential Pansy Division" on Alternative Tentacles (2006)

7" Singles

* "Meer"
* "Fem In A Black Leather Jacket" b/w "Homo Christmas" & "Smells Like Queer Spirit" (Lookout! Records, 1992)
* "Bill & Ted's Homosexual Adventure" b/w "Big Bottom" (Outpunk, 1993)
* "Touch My Joe Camel" b/w "Homosapien" & "Trash" (Lookout! Records, 1993) (cover art by Anonymous Boy)
* "Nine Inch Males" EP: "Fuck Buddy", "Cry for a Shadow" & "The Biggest Lie" (Lookout! Records, 1994)
* "Jack U Off" b/w "Strip You Down" (Empty Records, 1994)
* "Jackson" b/w "I Really Wanted You" (K Records, 1994) (Collaboration with Calvin Johnson)
* "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond Of Each Other", on 'Stop Homophobia' compilation with Fagbash, Happy Flowers and Black Angel's Death Song (Turkey Baster Records, 1994)
* "James Bondage" b/w "Flower", "Real Men" & "Denny (Naked)" (Lookout! Records, 1995)
* "Gay Pride" split EP, with Chumbawumba and Spdfgh, (Rugger Bugger Records, 1995)
* "Valentine's Day" b/w "He Could Be The One" & "Pretty Boy (What's Your Name?)" (Lookout! Records, 1996)
* "For Those About to Suck Cock" EP: "Headbanger", "Sweet Pain" & "Breaking the Law" (Lookout! Records, 1996)
* "Manada" b/w "One Night Stand", "Hockey Hair", "Manada (Version Quebecois)" (Mint Records, 1997)
* "Queer to the Core" EP: "Political Asshole", "Two Way Ass" & "Expiration Date" (Lookout! Records, 1997)
* "Scutter Fanzine presents 'Tummy Shaking'" split EP, with Bis, Sourtooth & Ozma (Scutter Records, 1998)
* "Dirty Queers Don't Come Cheap" split EP w/ Skinjobs: "Your Loss" & "I Know Your Type" (Mint Records, 2004)
* "Average Man" b/w "Coming Clean" (Green Day cover) (Alternative Tentacles, 2009)

Compilation Appearances

* "I Can't Sleep" on 'Outpunk Dance Party' (Outpunk Records, 1992)
* "Homo Christmas" on 'Punk Rock Christmas" (Rhino Records, 1995)
* "Ring of Joy" on 'A Slice Of Lemon' (Lookout! Records, 1996)
* "Jackson" on 'Project: Echo' (K Records, 1996)
* "Bunnies" on 'Stars Kill Rock' (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
* "Pillow Talk" on 'Team Mint' (Mint Records, 1996)
* "The Summer You Let Your Hair Grow Out" on 'Heide Sez Lookout!' (Lookout! Records, 1996)
* "Can't Make Love" (w/ Tr'e Cool) on 'Generations, Vol 1: A Punk Look at Human Rights' (Ark 21 Records, 1997)
* "Loose" on 'We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute' (Royalty Records, 1997)
* "Political Asshole" on 'The Last Great Thing You Did' (Lookout! Records, 1997)
* "Expiration Date" on 'Milkshake - A CD to Benefit the Harvey Milk Institute', (timmi-kat ReCoRDS, 1998)
* "Musclehead" on 'Forward 'Til Death: A Sampler Compilation' (Lookout! Records, 1999)
* "Hockey Hair" on 'Puck Rock, Vol. 2' (Sudden Death Records, 2000)
* "The Summer You Let Your Hair Grow Out (Live)" on 'Songs for Summer' (Oglio Records, 2000)
* "Used to Turn Me On (Demo)" on 'Lookout! Freakout' (Lookout Records!, 2000)
* "Luv Luv Luv" on 'Bi the People: A Compilation of Bisexual Artists & Friends' (Violent Yodel Records, 2003)
* "Luv Luv Luv" on 'Queer Stock Queer Soup' (Queer Stock, 2003)
* "I Can Make You A Man" on 'The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show' (Springman Records, 2004)
* "Musclehead" on 'Plea for Peace, Vol. 2' (Asian Man Records, 2007)

oundtrack Appearances

* "Deep Water" in "Angus", directed by Patrick Read Johnson (1995)
* "Queercore: A Punk-U-Mentary", directed by Scott Treleaven (1996)
* "Skin & Bone", directed by Everett Lewis (1996)
* "First Betrayal" in "Hellbent", directed by Paul Etheredge-Ouzts (2005)
* "Pansy Division: Life In A Gay Rock Band" (2008)


External links

* [ The Official Pansy Division Website]
* [ Pansy Division's page] on their label, Alternative Tentacles website.

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