Episode 192: Jon Ginoli
I must have been 12 or so when I first saw the Pansy Division. The band was opening for Green Day at a benefit show in Oakland, a return to the Bay Area following the triumphant Dookie tour. I had no idea what to make of the band at the time — and my dad, who’d kindly agreed to chaperone, was, I believe amused. He may or may not have said, “don’t tell your mother about this.” But that was always the Pansy Division’s MO — in your face sexuality backed by songwriting that rarely took itself seriously. The band no doubt blew the minds of young teens all across the country as the opening act for the soon to be biggest rock band in the world, and it appeared to have a hell of a time doing it. This year marks the group’s quarter-century anniversary, a milestone it celebrated with Quite Contrary, its first album in seven years, which is both celebratory and reflective, featuring a cover shot in the same room that graced the band’s seminal 1996 album Wish I'd Taken Pictures, starring the same two cover models. Frontman Jon Ginoli already did a thorough job reflecting on the band and its influence in his wonderful 2009 memoir, Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division, but a twenty-fifth anniversary offers yet another opportunity to recognize how far he, his band and the world around them have come in the last few decades. We sat down at a cafe in Manhattan following a recent appearance in the city to discuss the band, its music and mission.