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Back in the Day

MOTLEY CRUE Beheads DIY Mannequin Of PLASMATICS Vocalist Wendy O. Williams On Stage, New Year's Eve 1982

Posted by on March 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

In 1981, Mötley Crüe had barely been Mötley Crüe for a year while the Plasmatics were busy blowing up cars and television sets on stage with vocalist Wendy O. Williams. The band's take-no-prisoners/kill 'em all approach to music was intoxicating–as long as you appreciate your rock served up with chainsaws wielded by a mohawked warrior-woman wearing black duct tape on her breasts and spikes on her arms and waist. In fact, the band's affinity for smashing stuff caught the eye of LA radio station KROQ, which launched a contest for their listeners while the band was in town to perform a series of sold-out shows around Southern California. At least one lucky winner won a new tv set from KROQ, who then had the pleasure of having Williams smash up their old television on their front lawn. What I'm trying to convey here is this: everyone was taking notice of what the Plasmatics were doing, including Mötley Crüe.

A photo of Plasmatics vocalist and all around badass Wendy O. Williams smashing up an old television set for a contest sponsored by LA radio station KROQ on June 16th, 1981.

After reading the title of this post and clicking it immediately, you are probably wondering why the fuck would Crüe behead a mannequin made up to look like Wendy O. Williams during their sold-out New Year's Eve show at the Santa Monica Civic Center in 1982? Wendo O. was a highly respected member of the music community, loved by Lemmy Kilmister and others–to say nothing of the fact she took no shit from anyone. So let's try to figure this one out together, shall we?

With some financial help from manager Allan Coffman, the band's man-Friday Bill Larsen would spend over two-thousand dollars obtaining a chainsaw, various pyrotechnics, and a female mannequin which the band made up backstage to look like Wendy O. Williams. Later in the show, the faux Wendy O. was brought on stage while Nikki Sixx held the mannequin up by a chain embedded in its skull. Vince Neil then proceeded to fire up the chainsaw and severed the blood-splattered mannequin's neck from its head, which both Sixx and Neil victoriously held up to the audience. To some, it would be easy to mistake this for some sort of macho act to establish prowess in the heavy metal food chain, but you'd be wrong. This was merely Crüe's way of pushing the envelope (opened by the Plasmatics and Williams) when it comes to the long list of ways to shock the fuck out of your fans during live shows. Before I close the book on this, when Williams interviewed Tommy Lee and Vince Neil in 1984 on Night Flight's show Radio 1990, she never brought up the incident, choosing instead to corner Neil on his role in the death of Hanoi Rock's drummer Razzle (Nicholas Charles Dingley). Dingley was in the passenger seat of Neil's car and was killed instantly after Neil (who was drunk) crashed into another car on the way to the liquor store. During the entire interview, Lee and Neil appeared to be both star-struck and nervous AF seated in front of Williams, who was wearing a black leather bra and a pair of jeans. Anyway, while this bizarre mannequin incident would have been enough to put this show in the heavy metal record books in a chapter titled "Epic Shit That Happened In 1982," there's more.

In addition to the two-or-so grand spent on props for the show, Elvira (actress Cassandra Peterson) was paid $500 bucks to introduce the band and also hung out backstage with Crüe posing for a few fantastic photos in full "Mistress of the Dark" makeup. It's also alleged that Nikki Sixx accidentally set his outfit on fire after dousing his boots with isopropyl rubbing alcohol mix, a practice his pal Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) had stopped doing because he was sick of burning himself all the time. Another attraction on the bill that night was the "Miss Nude Heavy Metal" contest because, Mötley Crüe. Unfortunately, Miss Nude Heavy Metal was never crowned, as the contest was canceled after it was discovered most of the contestants were underage. Billboard would later report that the show was one of the top-grossing gigs for the week ending January 15, 1983, pulling in $45,366 topping established acts like KISS and Devo.

So here we are at the point in this story where you say "pictures, or it never happened." I got you covered, pals. In addition to a few cool artifacts, images and video of what went down that night follow. Some are NSFW.

An ad for the New Year's Eve show in 1982.


The setlist for the show on the back of a t-shirt.


Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, and Vince Neil hanging out with Elvira backstage at the NYE show.



Vince Neil on stage during the NYE show in 1982. Photo by Jack Lue.


A shot of Neil using a chainsaw to behead the Wendy O. Williams mannequin. Photo by Jack Lue.


No caption required. Photo by Jack Lue.

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Vince Neil and Tommy Lee getting grilled by Wendy O. Williams in 1984 on Radio 1990.

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