Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Schwab/Starpix.
The NYC premiere of Frank was a funky affair, sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger and Dark Horse wine, that took place at the Sunshine Theater on the Lower East Side. Everyone was offered hand-held masks shaped like the face of the eponymous Frank, a musician who wears a giant fake head at all times. He's got it rigged so he can sing from inside and he gets nourishment from a tube that he feeds up under the head. And, he even showers wearing the head covered in a big plastic bag. Strangely enough, one of the most handsome men on the planet plays Frank, which means the wicked white teeth of Michael Fassbender (among his other assets) are hidden from view for almost the entire movie.
Fassbender and his costars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson were good sports about the bright lights and endless riot of questions from reporters. Of course, there were plenty of musicians in attendance, too. Jack White almost smiled as he was photographed with Carla Azar, who performs with the band Autolux and also appears in the movie as one of Frank's bandmates. Marky Ramone posed with a Frank mask, much to everyone's delight.
For some of us, the stars of the night were legendary riot grrrls Kathleen Hanna and Kathi Wilcox. The two were one half of Bikini Kill and later reunited for The Julie Ruin, which is currently on a summer hiatus. You can see more of them in The Punk Singer, a documentary about Hanna, which is streaming on Netflix, so you have no excuse.
Although neither of them has pulled a full Frank, Hanna noted that "Kathi used to perform, for like the first year or two, for a long time, backward."
"I used to play with my back to the audience," Wilcox said. They both agreed that Frank's head would be too hot to wear, and that it would probably sound bad.
"It would be like a reverb chamber, right?" said Wilcox.
"I think it would be like mufflecore," said Hanna.
An audience in masks is an entirely other matter, however. During her time in Le Tigre, Hanna tossed around the idea of getting half of the audience to wear Tootsie masks, with the other half in Mrs. Doubtfire faces. "Those were movies that super pissed me off," she explained. "Tootsie has a theme where it's like women are getting all the jobs, which is so true, you know what I mean? Women get everything just handed to them. And, then the Mrs. Doubtfire thing is, once again, a woman is lying about her kids being abused to keep the father away."
Although that plan never came to fruition, there was one time when Le Tigre's French fans surprised the performers. "They had made tiger masks, just like the Frank ones, and they were all holding them up. It was really cute," Hanna said.
Hanna inadvertently caused a stir online recently, when she tweeted at Miley Cyrus. The controversial "Wrecking Ball" singer went on Instagram to share two photos of Hanna during her Bikini Kill days, including the famous pic of Hanna wearing a bikini top with the word "SLUT" written across her stomach.
Hanna tweeted at the pop star, "Hey @MileyCyrus so sweet you posted pics of me...have an idea for an album that only you are daring enough to make." This led to all sorts of speculation and outrage and excitement.
Last year's infamous Miley-VMAs incident happened around the time Hanna was doing press for The Punk Singer, so everyone wanted her to weigh in on whether Miley is bad for feminism. Hanna's inclusive vibe meant that she wasn't so quick to judge the young pop singer. "The whole twerking thing was happening, and I didn't even see the VMAs, and everybody was asking me about it. I was like, 'Well, twerking is actually a stripper move, it's been around forever,'" Hanna said. "I was like, 'I really don't know what to say about, I haven't seen it, I'm totally out of it.'"
She was just sort of thinking aloud with pals one day in the car when she came up with the idea for an album perfect for Cyrus. "'What if she did a record like this? Like, what if she did a record like this?' We just came up with this crazy idea. And, then when she put my picture up, my bandmate Kenny [Mellman] sent it to me. I was like, 'This is kind of fate. I should write to her.' But, I didn't know anybody was going to actually read it."