Anya Phillips

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Anya Phillips (?, 1955 – June 19, 1981) was the manager and girlfriend of New York-based musician James Chance (aka James White).[1] She was also the co-founder of legendary New York nightclub the Mudd Club along with Steve Maas and Diego Cortez. Phillips had an influence on the fashion, sound and look of the New York-based no wave scene of the late 1970s.


Phillips was born in China, where her father was a general in Chiang Kai-shek's army. When Phillips was a child, her mother moved to Taiwan to escape the communist party, married a military attaché of the American embassy Wade Phillips, and gave birth to Kris Phillips, later known as Fei Xiang . Phillips grew up in Taiwan and on various military bases.[2]

Phillips moved to New York City, where she formed a fake band with Cortez and Duncan Smith in 1977. She had a dominatrix act at CBGB with Terry Sellers.[3] Phillips worked with Cortez to shoot his film Grutzi Elvis in Munich.[4] In March 1978 Phillips first encountered James Chance and the Contortions, at a Colab benefit for X Motion Picture magazine.[5] Phillips persuaded Maas to open a club, envisioning it as an elegant place called the Molotov Cocktail Lounge. She was to manage the club, but her involvement ended after a dispute with Maas.[6] Instead she went on to manage the Contortions and, for a brief period, Lydia Lunch.[7] For the Contortions' debut album Buy, she photographed Sellers wearing an outfit designed by Phillips for the album's cover artwork.[8] Not knowing how to sew, she designed dresses by tying together strips of cloth. Singer Debbie Harry wore some of Phillips' creations.[9]

She was also involved in New York City's late 70s underground film scene, appearing in Amos Poe's The Foreigner in 1978.[10]

She makes a rare vocal appearance in the recording of the June 1980, James Chance and the Contortions concert in Rotterdam, Holland (tape released on ROIR in 1990), to introduce the band and as backing vocals on "I Danced with a Zombie" and "Melt Yourself Down".

Phillips died of cancer in June 1981 in Valhalla, New York, at the age of either 26 or 27.[11]


  1. ^ Moore and Coley
  2. ^ Reynolds pp. 136–137
  3. ^ Moore and Coley, p. 62–69
  4. ^ Moore and Coley, p. 74
  5. ^ Moore and Coley, p. 62–69
  6. ^ Moore and Coley, p. 74
  7. ^ Reynolds p. 136
  8. ^ Reynolds p. 139
  9. ^ Reynolds p. 137
  10. ^ The Foreigner (Poe, 1978), imdb page.
  11. ^ McNeil and McCain


  • McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (1997). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Moore, Thurston; Coley, Byron (2008). No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. New York: Abrams Image.
  • Reynolds, Simon (2009). Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews. London: Faber and Faber Limited. ISBN 978-0-571-23549-0.