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Out to Change Minds

Mixing rap and other genres, a radical duo plays blasphemous songs that upend gender stereotypes and preach acceptance.

May 26, 2002|NATALIE NICHOLS

"Because they have these crazy tunes, there's a tendency for people to reduce them to that, there's much more to it. Their songs follow them through all of their emotions and moods, so it's definitely very human and broader."

Being exposed to DiFranco's audience has been particularly valuable to B&A, as their opportunities to be heard are limited. Regarding radio airplay, Animal says wryly, "I think our whole CD is banned."

The duo frequently employs humor in its lyrics and stage banter to help compensate for the pain of being viewed as different. Although, truthfully, they're pretty well-adjusted.

Animal says Bitch taught her to be less apprehensive about what other people will think of her. "I used to be so tense, because I got harassed a lot in Chicago," Animal says. Down in the South, where people thought she was a man, "I'd get yelled at for going in the wrong restroom."

But eventually she took to heart Bitch's philosophy of gaining respect simply by assuming people will give it. "I look just as freaky as I always have," Animal says. "But I don't feel like I get harassed as much."

Indeed, that I'm-OK-you're-OK attitude is a major part of Bitch and Animal's appeal. As angry as they can get about the injustices they address, they never let their frustration get in the way of the fun or the message. Which helps keep people's attention, even while putting across some pretty outrageous-to-the-mainstream ideas.

"We're people," Bitch says simply. "Love and heartbreak, it's all the same no matter who the players are."

"Yeah," agrees Animal with a mischievous snicker. "It doesn't matter if you're not a lesbian; you can still like us."

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Natalie Nichols is a frequent contributor to Calendar.

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