August 28, 1957|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Genres||Punk rock, folk|
|Catholic Discipline, Nervous Gender, Castration Squad|
Phranc began her performing career in the late 1970s and early 1980s punk scene in Los Angeles. She had a bleached blonde crewcut and wore male attire, creating an androgynous persona for her first band, Nervous Gender, which formed in 1978. The writer V/D wrote of her for the punk fanzine Slash, "On stage, Phranc looks like a 14-year-old runaway from a boys' reform school." The band was influential in the development of what later came to be known as 'electropunk'. In 1980 she left Nervous Gender to join the punk band Catholic Discipline, in which Craig Lee (Bags) and Claude Bessy, journalist for Slash punk fanzine, were the lead singers. She was also in Castration Squad, a feminist, all-girl punk band that was involved in the punk movement.
In the 1980s Phranc pursued a solo career. She performs in Paul Morrissey's film Madame Wang's (1981) as Phranque. She began playing an acoustic guitar and released Folksinger on Rhino Records in 1985. She opened for music acts such as The Smiths, Hüsker Dü, Violent Femmes, and Billy Bragg. She styled herself the "All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger" and with a wry sense of humour released the LP I Enjoy Being a Girl in 1989 on Island Records, appearing on the cover with her trademark 'flat top' hair style. Describing a live performance, Adam Block wrote "Phranc's unnerving androgyny (expressed with easy confidence) and her fervent opinions (couched in sly, laconic wit) make her a fascinating performer." Her third full-length recording, released in 1991, was Positively Phranc.
Phranc was an important influence on the Queercore movement, being acknowledged as such by Team Dresch in their song for her, "Uncle Phranc." In the 1990s many queercore bands and musicians involved in queercore music began collaborating with her. She appeared as a guest on the Team Dresch LP/CD Captain My Captain and, as well, members of Team Dresch, Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, Patty Schemel of Hole and others have played with Phranc on her EP Goofyfoot and other songs. Phranc performs and is interviewed in the queercore documentary She's Real, Worse Than Queer by Lucy Thane, and she has appeared frequently at queercore events such as Olympia's Homo-a-go-go festival. In the 1990s Phranc performed "Hot August Phranc", performing as Neil Diamond. On her full-length CD of 1998, Milkman, she is joined by Steve MacDonald of Redd Kross, who plays bass. Her most recent releases, including Milkman, appear on her own independent record label, Phancy Records.
The 2001 documentary film "Lifetime Guarantee", directed by Lisa Udelson, chronicled Phranc's side job as a Tupperware demonstrator and manager. The documentary showed that despite Phranc's high sales and high-profile, her enthusiastic and sincere approach to the job, and her engaging manner and popularity among the sales force, Phranc was disappointed to find that the Tupperware corporation itself did not celebrate or even acknowledge her genuine achievements in sales and marketing for the company. Phranc was still selling Tupperware in 2008, but as of 2013 her online store was closed.
She still performs occasionally, but spends more time working on creative visual art projects, including the Cardboard Cobbler sculptures. In December 2007 she had a solo art show at Cue Art Foundation in New York City curated by Ann Magnuson; the New York Times review compared her work to Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol. Phranc had her first major West Coast solo show, at Craig Krull Gallery, June 18 to July 23, 2011, an exhibition made of beach themed cardboard and craft paper works. She continues to work in her Santa Monica studio and is represented by Krull.
Phranc was absent from her blog and Facebook from late 2011 to Spring 2014. Phranc announced in April 2014 that she had been prevented from participating in online activities due to an injury.
Phranc lives in Santa Monica, California with her partner and children.