The most ’90s woman of all time, Kathleen Hanna, did Our Hit Parade on Wednesday. She told the story of her relationship with the most ’90s song of all time, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and ended with a triumphant performance of that song combined with the most ’90s-woman song of all time, “Rebel Girl.”
It was the apotheosis of the whole idea of this blog, and of all discussions of ’90s womanhood. The naked lady in the photo is even Bridget, coiner of the term ’90s Woman.
Here are some of the revelations of this ten-minute set:
* The van breaks down. Doing what any self-respecting ’90s feminist artist does, she strips until she raises enough to continue the tour.
* She’s opening for a wallet-chained hardcore band called Mutton Chops. She overcomes her horror of them by teaching the guys about feminism.
* She spray-paints “Fake Abortion Clinic, Everyone!” on a fake abortion clinic.
* Naming the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is not a feather in her cap; it is a hangover that never ends.
* Favorite stripping set: Janet Jackson, starting with “Control.”
Everything about her performance on Wednesday at Joe’s Pub and her surprise debut of The Julie Ruin (with an amazing group of musicians) on Saturday night at the Knitting Factory was victorious. She survived the ’90s, and is stronger for how much the decade knocked her around. (In that era, as the new Sara Marcus book explains: “Behind her back, they turned her passion into a punchline.”)
But this OHP performance contextualizes everything, and “recasts the narrative,” to speak ’90s. The moral is a total inspiration: What was exciting to her was not having named the most famous song of an era. What was exciting to her was raising $1,000 and getting back on the road.
What’s exciting now is that here she is in 2010, at the top of her game, able to spin her ’90s adventures into great stories, free of bitterness or nostalgia. And at both shows, she was surrounded by adoring fans who couldn’t believe their good luck. No Mutton Chops as far as the eye could see.