Saturday, 6 February 2016

Stacia

It was a great shame to hear of the passing of Lemmy last month. In truth, it’s a wonder to me how he lasted as long as he did. Such is the stuff of legend. Of all the tributes that mentioned the brilliance of his alma mater & first true love Hawkwind, I didn’t hear anyone mention probably the most interesting character of the band: Stacia!


Stacia was an interpretive dance artist, over 6 feet tall (some say 6’2”), on stage often covered in the obscure grease paint of exotic symbols, moving like a gyrating psychedelic skin canvas on a space mission. That is, when she was dressed at all. Her bacchanalia was legendary enough to match that of the band members, who held her in high regard by all accounts.

The exact circumstances of her arrival in Hawkwind are unclear, but it is agreed that after she started dancing for the band in 1971 she became a central part of their live performances, and their artwork. Stacia was pictured in the iconic ‘Space Ritual’ fold out sleeve designed by Barney Bubble. Starting in 1971, she carried on through to 1975, so this included the Space Ritual years I mentioned in my blog of Aug 2015. Liner notes to the album In Search of Space (1971) indicate that poet and lyricist Robert Calvert recruited her for live shows, but Stacia herself stated in Melody Maker that she attended a show and, inspired by the music, got on stage and performed an impromptu dance to the band's music. Interestingly, she received no formal dance training after being kicked out of ballet class for being too tall. It was all just natural stoned groove.

Barney Bubble's Rendition of Stacia

Nik Turner (saxophonist and flautist for the band) fills in a bit more detail in Mojo Magazine in a 2012 interview; "I met Stacia for the first time at the Isle of Wight... She said, "Can I dance with you?" and I said, "Yeah, but you must take off all your clothes and paint your body." She took all her clothes off but unfortunately I didn't have any body paint. That was like her audition." In the 2007 BBC Four documentary (clip above), Lemmy said that she was working as a bookbinder before she joined the band, and others that she was a petrol pump attendant in Cornwall.

Jason Schafer, in his Dangerous Minds article entitled Stacia, Hawkwind’s Buxom cosmic Dancer Discusses Her Wild Sex Life in Vintage Interviews says:

I was checking out a Hawkwind fan site the other day when I came across a couple of interviews with the busty performer, both from 1974. The first one to catch my eye was from Penthouse and was entitled “Long, tall Stacia – the six foot lady with the two-way sex life.” The other, simply titled “Stacia, the girl in the band” came from the August 3rd edition of Record Mirror. Stacia comes off as a total badass in both, as I would imagine that you’d have to be to hang with the likes of Lemmy Kilmister all day long.


Actually very little is known publicly about Stacia beyond those two 1974 interviews and a smidgen derived from a 2010 Sunday Times retrospective entitled Time and place: Stacia Blake. Most of them go on about her bisexual propensities, onstage nudity, and prolific drinking habits as though they were the utmost in wanton debauchery. Things that nowadays, unless you live under Puritan Rock, are actually quite tame. Funny it’s always the ones who have the strict religious upbringing that go on to break all the taboos. Stacia was from a religious Catholic background. "My sisters didn't mind the nude bit, but my parents weren't too keen until I gave it up. Then my mother really got into the band - my aunts have even turned up at gigs. We're a Catholic family y'know, although I'm not religious."

From the interviews, we do find out about her relationship with then boyfriend Arthur Kane from New York Dolls, her girlfriend Ingrid, some thoughts about fans and her take on Women’s Lib: Stacia was 21 at the time (“I’m still a kid”), and lived in Earls Court with two men, two other girls, and two budgerigars. Well, had to mention the budgerigars. It is the Bohemian Budgie after all.

I lived in a basement flat at No14A Steeles Road, in Hampstead, northwest London, between about 1971 and 1975. I had lived at various addresses in London after moving from Ireland, including a squat in Camden, but Steeles Road was the place I was in for longest. I lived there with Roy Dyke, who became my husband and was the drummer in the rock band Ashton, Gardner and Dyke. I had my daughter, Aysha, while we lived there. I can’t remember how much the rent was, or even if we paid any. It was two rooms, a bedroom at the back and a tiny little kitchen off the hall. You couldn’t swing a cat in it. Being a basement flat, it was very damp.
Time and place: Stacia Blake
Sunday Times, 2010

Someone likened her to Dracula's aunt. 

Hawkwind, being a "weird" band, pull some "weird" crowds, especially in America where Stacia is constantly hounded by both male and female groupies. One lunatic even tried to murder her during a gig and she wasn't dancing naked at the time!


"I was doing a mime of a robot who was given a pill and becomes human for a spell. I was freakin' out at the time, and I felt this choking sensation round my neck. People thought it was a guy hugging me at first which was cool, but a roadie saw that he was strangling me and he threw the bloke off the stage.

"He even had a go at me a second time," recalls Stacia, "and the hall bouncers beat him up and threw him out. I was really shaken, and I wasn't much good for the rest of the tour."

"When we made Silver Machine we attracted a Top 20 audience of filthy little boys who came along to stare at me." There is a hint of bitterness in her voice.

That was a couple of years ago. Since then the band have developed, and Stacia dances naked no more. She has nine different costumes to choose from, and the dirty little boys have disappeared from the audiences. Ironically the reaction was pretty "cool" when she first appeared in her birthday suit: "Most people weren't surprised, because I don't think Hawkwind could surprise anybody. They get into so many weird things."

From Stacia, the girl in the band
Record Mirror, 1974

I love the way Stacia turns a murderous double assault into an opportunity to design a clutch of psychedelic outfits to dance in. Irrepressible genius. It speaks volumes.


Stacia’s 1975 departure must've come as a bit of a hammer blow to Hawkwind and fans, coinciding as it did with the simultaneous loss of Lemmy (to Motorhead) and Robert Calvert. Whatever happened on the preceding Warrior on the Edge of Time tour to precipitate this is anyone’s guess, but I’m expecting grueling tours, groupies, drugs, ennui, and complete mental and physical burnout would come high on the list.

After leaving Hawkwind, Stacia returned to private life and married Roy Dyke. As former Hawkwind manager Doug Smith said in the October 2000 issue of Classic Rock magazine, "The last anybody heard, Stacia was married with children and living in Hamburg with her husband Roy Dyke, formerly of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke." The couple has a daughter, Aysha Dyke, who lives in Hamburg and is currently in the band Generations of Music.


Stacia is now living in Ireland and working as an accomplished artist. She has said about her work: "It is greatly influenced by my love of nature, in all its aspects. Landscapes, people, animals, sound and movement. All these things permeate my being. I allow them to become part of me. After a time of reflection, all these impressions culminate in the creation of inner landscapes which are then released to create the images you see in my work." I have included a montage of Stacia’s artwork below, and may yet blog some more of it.
Stacia, the Girl in the Band. Record Mirror, 1974
Long, Tall Stacia – the Six Foot Lady with the Two-Way Sex Life. Penthouse, 1974
Hawkwind’s Buxom Cosmic Dancer Discusses Her Wild Sex Life in Vintage Interviews. Dangerous Minds.

North Utsire

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