||This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (August 2011)|
|Genres||Dark cabaret, psychobilly, new wave, art rock|
|Labels||iMusic, Anti-Social Records|
|Associated acts||Betty X, Satan in High Heels|
|Members||Betty X, Hate Xaylor|
|Past members||Betty X
Rob "Spike" MacKusick
Paul "Pablo Diablo" MacKusick
C. Barry Semple
Salon Betty is the raucous and sleazy dark cabaret art rock project formed by singer, songwriter and performance artist Betty X during years of 1994 to 1997. Betty cites the idea as being born in Prague while she was living there during the winter of 1992, from a dream that she had about a lurid and crazy Czech hair salon — a den of decadence and art, ala John Waters and David Lynch. The music is typically described as new wave or punk, but has been coined as "gothabilly," "death lounge" and "deathabilly" by the band's frontwoman Betty X.
Jamie Hook, a reviewer for the The Stranger, described the music as "Neu-Wavo Ranchero" and referred to the fans as "Bettephiles." Salon Betty shows had a large cult following, where the fans would dress as Betty or other colorful characters from her songs, such as "Courtney Hate", and bring food, such as whipped cream, sausages and jello, to throw during cues in songs. The shows were three quarter in the round and interactive. Live shows were often compared to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Rocky Horror Picture Show meets GWAR by reviewers and critics.
After meeting with collaborator Hate Xaylor in 1995, Betty started to experiment with darker themes, vocalizations, industrialized noises and tribal drumming. The side-project turned into a full-time pursuit. There were many musicians that rotated through the band during its time; Rob "Spike" MacKusick (Faith and Disease), Paul "Pablo Diablo" MacKusick, Brian Castillo "aka pFrenz-C" (Jarboe of the Swans, In Gowan Ring), Erica "Raven Leigh" Butler, Ricky Ricardo (Faith and Disease), C. Barry Semple (Faith and Disease, The Swains) and Ty Pamfilof (Machina Candeo, Otto Pilate), among others.
Betty X is noted in the underground Seattle art/music scene for her guerrilla art and outrageous on-stage antics since her Salon Betty days. She often mimicked and mocked the audience into full participation. She invited impromptu performance art riots including whipped cream, large sausages, blood, tampons. Topics included sexual liberation and feminist commentary of women's roles in society- from desperate, crazed housewives that kill their own, like Susan Smith, to ones that runaway "Arizona" and leave it all behind them in a daze of amnesia, to critical "Generation of Victimazation", referring to America's unhealthy addiction to soaps, reality TV shows and Jerry Springer. "Bettephile" was written for and about the crazed fans that followed the band on tour. Salon Betty shows were theatrical often "tongue-in-cheek" with dark humor. Typical shows included several changes of props and costumes throughout the set and encouraging fans, otherwise known as Bettephiles, to participate in antics, sing along, throw objects and have fun during key parts of the songs.
When Salon Betty disbanded in 1997, Betty X went on to pursue a self-titled solo project. It was reportedly one of the first bands to do a live show broadcast via the internet.
Released in 2010, The Best of Salon Betty album is a collection of the best tracks from Salon Betty (1994–1996). It includes two rare demo tracks of Last Cigarette and Party on Venus recorded in analog at Vagrant Studios, in Seattle with the original line-up (1994).
- The Big Hair Sex Circus, 1996 (iMusic)
- Arizona, 1997 (self-released EP)
- Live! From Venus, 1997 (self-released EP)
- It Came from Planet X, 1997 (self-released EP)
- The Best of Salon Betty, 2010 (Anti-Social Records LP)