Before Peoria-native Jon Ginoli was even out of his twenties he had done seemingly everything there was to do in music. Having moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend the University of Illinois, he had written for a series of music magazines and fanzines,
been both a radio and club dj, worked in a campus record store, and brought some of the most legendary indie rock bands of the day to town as a concert promoter.
He also played in a band of his own, The Outnumbered, a mainstay of the local music scene in the mid-1980s that released three albums and toured widely, and was remembered by one writer who knew them well as “perhaps the world’s only all-male feminist band, performing anti-misogynist, anti-capitalist, anti-war rants at the height of the Reagan era.”
He is best known, however, for his next band, the path-breaking gay rock band Pansy Division, which he founded in 1991 after moving to San Francisco. Eighteen years later Pansy Division is still around, still recording new material and performing live when most veterans of the earliest days of the gay rock scene have long since disappeared. In March Jon’s memoir, Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division – “The Inside Story of the First Openly Gay Pop-Punk Band” – was published by Cleis Press. Also, a documentary about the band, Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, has been screened at several gay film festivals this past year and has just been released on DVD by Alternative Tentacles Records. And, to top it all off, Pansy Division has just released a new CD, That’s So Gay, also on Alternative Tentacles.
I recently caught up with Jon on his book tour for Deflowered and we sat down one evening to talk about, what else, life in Pansy Division. (More on whether it’s a “pop-punk” or “rock” band or both, among other things, after the jump.)