Poison Ivy
By: Lynn Peril | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Popular

The unholy trinity of rock‘n’roll, horror movies, and Orange Sunshine acid helped the young woman born Kristy Wallace in a “godforsaken East Jesusburg” (Sacramento) morph into the guitar-slinging goddess known as POISON IVY RORSCHACH (born 1953). She was already picking along with scratchy surf and rockabilly 45s on the fabled day in 1972 when soulmate Lux Interior picked her up while she was hitchhiking. The pair quickly became inseparable, moving first to Cleveland, then to New York City, where The Cramps debuted in 1976. Ivy came up with the name: “I wanted something that implied a gang, something warped, a problem,” she told a journalist. Standing tall in gold lamé, leopardskin, or a kitty-cat costume, Ivy was a stony-faced counterpoint to wild-man Interior. Her rudimentary guitar style perfectly channeled the deranged spirit of the obscure singles she and Interior loved. “People say our songs are simple,” she told Spin in 1990, “but they fall flat when they try to do it.”

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PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–63) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Manny Farber, Scott Wannberg, Kurt Cobain, Rihanna.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Blank (1944–53) Generation and the Original Generation X (1954–63).

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Lynn Peril is the author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. She lives in Oakland, California.