Interview: Theo Kogan

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

The Lunachicks. Motherhood. Feminism and Beauty.

The Lunachicks in their mid 90's glory

Theo Kogan has been someone many women have looked up to for a few decades now (even though she doesn’t look a day past 25). Fronting the NYC based punk band The Lunachicks, she inspired a generation of lost punk girls find a voice. Writing songs about everything from Abortion to her cat, she was the first introduction to feminism for many of us women who grew up in the confusing 1990s. The Lunachicks used their platform to defy the beauty standards that the media was always trying to force on women. Although they were drop dead gorgeous (Theo has modeled in the past), they would wear wild stage costumes and extreme clown/drag makeup. It made sense that Theo owned a successful makeup brand, Armour Beauty, and currently still works as a professional makeup artist. She is now a mother to a beautiful daughter whom is blessed to have such a badass mom. She has always been an incredible role model and I look forward to everything she brings to us in the future.

It must really empower you to hear the songs you wrote many years ago still can resonate with girls today. Listening to the song “Bitterness Barbie” I can still relate to it just as I did when I was 13! You are gorgeous but your songs were easy for me, an awkward teenage black sheep, to relate to. I remember wondering how someone so pretty felt the same way I did. Can we discuss how being a woman in the music industry affected your self-esteem? What was that like in the 1990s?

Theo: It wasn’t and still isn’t easy. The thing is we started for fun and just ended up there and then it became a wonderful uphill battle. My self esteem was fucked by pop culture so the music business was just solidifying that. All of the world’s sexist brutality me create the fearless character inside me that went on stage.

The Lunachicks had an incredible look. You had makeup like drag queens and your costumes were always more fun than sexy. There was a real authentic feel to what you were saying and doing and that look helped give that feeling. Discuss how the look came about, what influenced it, and how you feel about it when you look back.

Theo: I loved every minute of dressing up starting when I was very young. As a band it just kept moving and mostly we did it as self entertainment / self pleasure / lets see how fucked up we can look and get away with it. It was so fun. I was made an honorary drag queen by Jackie Beat at one of the last Wigstock’s. I felt like I had really made it.

The song, Fallopian Rhapsody, is a rock ballad that discusses being pro-choice. I remember it being one of the first things that made me think about abortion and how I felt about it. I am pro-choice as well, but did you ever receive backlash for having a song about such a controversial topic?

Theo: We never did receive any backlash that I know of. Though there wasn’t internet then. I think you could probably tell by listening to any of our music or taking a look at us and figure out where we stood on the subject of women’s rights and abortion rights.. As our rights as women continue to be attacked continue to I stand by that song . There are driverless cars and talking refrigerators but we still have to fight for our own bodily rights. It’s insanity. Having an abortion is not fun and it’s certainly not something to be taken lightly yet it is a right we need for so many reasons. The world is insane. When those days in the 90’s with Bush don’t seem so bad compared to now, you know we are in big trouble.

You had a lot of fun songs and you had a lot of political songs. What ones are your favorite and why? Are there any that you wouldn’t sing or relate to present day?

Theo: One of my faves is “Down At The Pub: because its just so silly and fun. It’s more difficult to think about singing “Jan Brady” nowadays being a grown ass woman but I can still relate to all of them even if some may make me cringe a little. Haha! I also love Mmmm Donuts because I love hearing Gina and Squid and dancing around.

You are a mother to a daughter now and life is much different for young girls than it was when we were growing up. Social Media has made things very different for women, as well as the internet, and the sexualization in the media. How do you plan on dealing with everything? What is your current view on the way the media is sexualizing young women?

Theo: All I can do as a parent is my best. Already my kid is doing very different activities than I did as a child. She is in Roller Derby classes which teaches her confidence, strength, working as a team and friendship. This ain’t like Ballet, baby! I am teaching her to be strong, kind and know her self worth. I know things are going to get real when she hits her teens so I am giving her the foundation to help her become a human who will love herself and accept herself and others. The media has always sexualized young women. At least now people are actually getting in big fat trouble for harassment and rape instead of getting away with it re: Harvey Weinstein. Social Media is fucked up for all ages in terms of making people feel like shit so hopefully I can give her the tools to brush that off.

Feminism has a different meaning to everyone. Explain how you define it and what you will be teaching your own daughter about it.

Theo: Being a feminist is simply being a woman alive in this world today , I think. To me it’s believing in and standing up for not only women but all of the most vulnerable of our world today. LGBTQ ,non binary friends, people of color, the elderly, those in poverty, single parents and on and on. I already have taught her to stand up for herself and others. I tell her if we see someone bothering our friends we stand up for them. She knows not to take shit and not to let anyone touch her and she also knows kindness. I can’t tell you how many times I have jumped between fights between men I didn’t even know to stop them from hurting each other.

You had an awesome cosmetic company called Armour Beauty. How did that start? What challenges did you face in the beginning?

Theo: I closed shop in 2017. It was an amazing experience to run a small business. I really didn’t know much about anything but my love for cosmetics and having a good head on my shoulders when I started it. I started with a small business loan - really a line of credit which I paid off in the first 6 months of business. There were countless challenges. Not knowing about testing your components( bottles) with your formula was a big one. Because this is all actually chemistry and plastics, oils and butters don’t always play together nicely. That was a big one.

Theo: You have also modeled and had some acting roles in movies. What did you like about these jobs and what did you not like?

Theo: I mean I was in a Scorcese movie, Bringing Out the Dead. A small role but holy shit I was beyond thrilled! I had a small scene with Nicolas Cage and John Goodman playing a prostitute, naturally. Also in Jane Campion’s movie In The Cut I had a small scene with Jennifer Jason Leigh, me playing a stripper, naturally . Both of these experiences were amazing. My biggest bummer was having a role in Zoolander and then getting mostly cut out however I still get residuals! I also loved being in the film Tadpole Director Gary Winnick RIP, where I played a singer/barfly and got to do a full cast table read for that with John Ritter, Sigourney Weaver and Bebe Neuworth was pretty mind blowing. i mean the amount of Three’s Company I watched as a kid. Holy shit. John Ritter was super friendly and complimented my read.

Who was the woman in your life who inspired you the most?

Theo: My Great Aunt Goldie.

Any women in music currently that you are a big fan of?

Theo: M.I.A, Janelle Monae, Karin Dreijer of Fever Ray, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones.

What would you say is your biggest career accomplishment?

Theo: Remaining friends with my band mates and seeing a lot of the world.

What advice would you give to women entering the music industry that you wish you would have known?

Theo: Learn the business or hire someone who knows it to help you who won’t fuck you over. haha impossible. But seriously It’s a world of sharks.Make sure you have tough skin and be confidence and self worth. Don’t let the assholes get you down. Keep moving.

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