Living in the creative world of downtown New York City during the 1990s, the name THEO was synonymous with being super cool. It seemed that Theo’s name was everywhere! Theo’s band the Lunachicks, a young all-girl lineup, was making waves, touring with bands like the Ramones, Rancid, the Go-gos and No Doubt. Their raw and very powerful music, as well as their outrageous stage looks and presence, kept them on the radar of a very male-dominated punk/emo music world. And Theo, the tall and beautiful blonde lead singer, stood front and center. Not only in the Lunachicks band, but also as a model/actress during the decade, appearing in campaigns, glossy magazine editorials and film projects. We first met the very young Theo in the early 90s, from our mutual friend Guy at a Kalinka fashion show. We were immediately taken aback by her very natural and stunning beauty. Theo seemed shy in person, unlike her very strong “FUCK YOU!” Lunachicks stage persona. Over the years our friendship blossomed, bumping into each other at the coolest New York City nightclubs, as well as her modeling in front of our lens. And the world can now read about the Lunachicks electric, rock ‘n’ roll antics in their new book, Fallopian Rhapsody. BUY THIS BOOK!!! Photography Alexander Thompson. Stylist Maria Ayala. https://www.lunachicks.com/https://www.hachettebooks.com/titles/the-lunachicks/fallopian-rhapsody/9780306874482/
FALLOPIAN RHAPSODY: THE STORY OF THE LUNACHICKS. Hachette Books. 2021.
PONYBOY: Theo! We are MAD for Fallopian Rhapsody, the story of the Lunachicks. Tell us how the book came about. Did the Lunachicks always have the idea to do a book?
THEO KOGAN: I am so happy you love it!!! I had been working with our co-writer Jeanne Fury on my own memoir. And then I had my kid and that came to a screeching halt for a while. Once I came up for air, I thought why not start again with a band memoir? So I asked Gina and Syd, then Jeanne. And we were all super excited to do it. So we did. Jeanne was the one for us! She had written in a magazine some years ago about how she discovered us in a record store as a teen. We were like, Jeanne Fury really gets us.
PONYBOY: Tell us about the creative process of the book. How did it all piece together?
THEO KOGAN: A lot of interviews with Jeanne, both with us together and separately. And a lot of her having to transcribe that. Then all of us also writing our own parts and chapters, with Jeanne figuring out the placement and structure of everything. She also interviewed the past members via email or on the phone. We couldn’t have done it without her! We finished it up and filed it a year ago in 2020 during the pandemic in its full force.
PONYBOY: Many readers (including us) were unaware of the struggles the Lunachicks had to overcome, primarily the sexism in a white male-dominated industry, that most of the time bordered on a jock/frat boy mentality. It seems the strength and sanity that pulled you through so many tough years as a band came from the unity, the female bonding, the family you created together as a band. Is this correct?
THEO KOGAN: For sure. Our friendships were the glue, the support and the co-dependency that kept us playing and touring and fighting for/claiming our space.
Polaroid of Theo Kogan, shoot for Theo & the Skyscrapers band. Photographed in New York City in 2003. Photo: Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: Out of the 6 albums that the Lunachicks released, which would you say was your personal favorite?
THEO KOGAN: Luxury Problem. Though I have some faves songs from each album, that was the one when I feel like we had really become who we were supposed to be as a band.
PONYBOY: While on tour, which band/musician did you bond with the most? And is there a band that you’d say was icy or stand-offish?
THEO KOGAN: NO COMMENT.
PONYBOY: The Go-Go’s are a favorite of ours, especially their earlier stuff as they were pioneers in the early LA punk scene. What was it like touring with them? Can you tell us any funny stories? How was Belinda? Do tell!
THEO KOGAN: They were so much fun to tour with. And we went to a strip club one night with a couple of them in Phoenix. They were so cool! Berlin was also on that tour. We did not get tight with Belinda. Unfortunately, she kept to herself.
PONYBOY: It was interesting to read about Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s (from Sonic Youth) early involvement in getting the band signed to a label and producing the first Lunachicks record. In the book, Kim compares it to “babysitting”. Ha! It did not end well. Have you ever run into her in person since those early days?
THEO KOGAN: We saw Kim at the Rock for Choice show in LA around 1994 or 95? L7, who started Rock For Choice, asked us to come and play. Pearl Jam played that show as well and I remember Iggy Pop was there hanging out too. Let’s just say Kim didn’t seem happy to see us again. She was there to MC the show.
PONYBOY: We met you through our mutual friend, New York rock ’n’ roll legend Miss Guy, from Toilet Boys fame. How did you meet Guy?
THEO KOGAN: I first met Guy in LA through some mutual friends from New York, who happened to live next door to him. He was so sweet and gorgeous. I was immediately taken aback by his beauty.
PONYBOY: Guy is best friends with Debbie Harry from Blondie. Is that how you met Debbie?
THEO KOGAN: Yes. I met her at Squeezebox I’m pretty sure.
PONYBOY: You were a go-go dancer in the early 90s at New York nightclubs like Webster Hall and Don Hill’s. Was that your introduction to working at clubs?
THEO KOGAN: Yes. Guy and Jojo Americo had a party called SHE at Webster Hall, which became the start of my go-go dancing career. The party was a different theme each week so there was lots of costume planning which I LOVED.
PONYBOY: We also remember seeing you regularly at Lust for Life, the Wednesday night party that Steven Lewis did with Lyle Derek, where the Donnas played their first show in NYC. Did you work at that party, too? It was supposedly the predecessor for the uber-cool and successful Spa party on Wednesday nights.
Polaroid of Theo Kogan at the Limelight in New York City. 2005. Photo: Alexander Thompson.
THEO KOGAN: Yes I was a promoter of that party. It was so fun there! I remember Nina Hagen played and she grabbed me by the arm backstage and looked in my eyes and said ” COURAGE”. I have never forgotten that. That may have been our only exchange but it was unforgettable.
PONYBOY: Probably your longest nightclub endeavor or job was at the “Rated X-Panty Party” with Micheal T, from the Motherfucker party. It had a very long run, which is somewhat uncommon in nightlife. Tell us what it was like doing that party every Saturday night.
THEO KOGAN: Rated X was so much fun. It was a new feather in my cap – being a party promotor, DJ and co-manager with Michael T. We had 5 or 6 different locations throughout those years. My faves were Opaline and of course Don Hills. Don used to hook me up with red bulls and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot every week. I miss Don and that club a lot. And we had the sweetest MC, Peppermint GummyBear who has gone on to be the first trans woman to sing and act on Broadway. So thrilled for her.
PONYBOY: At some point, you tired of the club life. Was this a natural progression, as you were getting older?
THEO KOGAN: Well I was getting tired. And then I found out I was pregnant on the morning of the last new years eve party. So that was my call to curtain shall we say because I literally could not physically stay awake past 10 pm when I was pregnant. The body don’t play!
PONYBOY: The makeup you wore while performing was both beautiful and atrocious at the same time, a hard fete to pull off! Ha! You have long since transitioned into working as a professional makeup artist. Tell us about working as a makeup artist and being represented by the very prestigious Judy Casey agency in New York. Who have you done makeup for?
THEO KOGAN: I didn’t have Judy until the last two-plus years. I was gunning it on my own with a lot of help from friends and fans in the beginning. It was truly amazing how helpful and supportive the makeup community was and is for me. James Vincent, Katie Pellegrino, Courtney Covino, and so many others helped me out so much when I was first starting out. I am forever grateful. They gave me products, brushes, pointers and lessons. And I have this circle of friends that I can call on when I am doing a big project. Or when I feel stumped or need pointers on products or whatever. Jen Lombardo is also one of them too. Our amazing friend from “the clubs” Thomas Onorato has a PR agency called OW! He books all the Maybelline Pro teams for New York Fashion Week. I’ve been working with him and Maybelline on the shows and other events since 2010! Whoop!
I’ve done makeup for Lewis Black, Asia Kate Dillon, Jenni Garth, Michelle Gomez, Bridget Everett, Danny Elfman, Betsy Brandt and Ice-T to name a bunch. Judy Casey is so cool and such a badass woman. She is one of the first makeup agents and she is so New York. She has artists that have been with her agency for over half of their lives so I knew it was a good place to be!
PONYBOY: You had your own lipgloss line, Armour Beauty. It seemed to be making strides and then you discontinued it. Tell us about this endeavor.
THEO KOGAN: It was both amazing and really hard. It was like having many babies at once. I loved the product so much but after almost 10 years I had to let it go. It was hard to break up with. It was at the very beginning of the natural beauty wave and then it wasn’t quite natural enough once the world caught up with it. Very “me” of me; I have had an ”ahead of my time’ thing my whole life and I am not trying to be cocky. It’s not easy being a trailblazer. LOL!
PONYBOY: You were a Wilhelmina agency model in the 1990s. We remember the hype of you being photographed by Richard Avedon for CK. They obviously modeled that campaign after his In the American West book, which was very raw B&W portraiture of real ranch workers and drifters, etc. However, you were photographed in a New York City high-end photography studio with fashion’s best hair and makeup teams. We know you hated the outcome of that photo. Did it make it into your modeling portfolio? Have you ever posted it on social media or put it on your website? It was Dick Avedon, still to this day the most famous and prolific photographer ever.
THEO KOGAN: Avedon was the most incredible human. I was freaking out that he was one of the most iconic photographers who had shot both Tina Turner and Marilyn Monroe!!! It was such an incredible experience. I loved working with him though that photo was one of my ugliest out in the world. LOL! I think I have reposted it from other people posting it and It was probably in my book for a minute at the time. He sent me his In the American West book signed after the shoots. RIP DICK AVEDON.
Polaroid of Theo Kogan. Photographed in New York City at the Motherfucker party in 2005. Photo: Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: Name some of the other big fashion photographers that you were photographed by in the day. It seemed like you were photographed by all the biggies. You were the first fully sleeved tattooed fashion model. Amazing!
THEO KOGAN: Steven Meisel. Both Mario Testino and Ellen von Unwerth (I’m in a few of each of their books). Michael Lavine of course. And so many others!
PONYBOY: Looking back, what one shoot would you say was your least favorite of them all?
THEO KOGAN: I always thought I would get sent home from shoots but it never happened. My least favorite was with a big photographer that I can’t remember the name of. My agent at Wilhelmina convinced me to go on that shoot. The photographer was such a dick. He only wanted random tattoo photos for a “personal project”. He planned to collage the images together and was a total turd about it. It was like, “let me take this part of the animal parts (me) and put it together how I like it”. I wish I could remember his name. I wanted to punch him in the face.
PONYBOY: Andre Leon Talley, the infamous editor from Vogue magazine, basically ripped your body to shreds on a national fashion TV show, as he critiqued the House of Field by David Dalrymple show that you walked the runway for. We obviously know how you must have felt, as we were horrified and angry. Looking back on that moment, that would not fly these days. Thank God! Do you have anything that you would like to say about that moment or to Andre Leon Talley?
THEO KOGAN: Once I was over being horrified and mortified and deeply upset I was actually proud that he didn’t know what my gender was! And it was also funny that a gay man could get so perturbed about not understanding what gender a person was. I actually can look back at it and laugh, thankfully.
PONYBOY: You also did some acting. Can you tell us your fondest memory or favorite project?
THEO KOGAN: I loved a lot of the projects I did with Ned Ambler. But the most exciting project was being in a Scorcese film, even with one line. Albeit maybe his least favorite movie of his fans, I was in a scene with Nicolas Cage and John Goodman (mind blown). I was a huge Scorsese fan, even with how horrible he is to women in his films. I’ve watched Goodfellas more times than I can count. I had my call back for the audition for Scorcese himself and I had to improvise a little and I knew I nailed it. Acting is hard for me, saying someone else’s lines is NOT easy. That call back was an affirming moment as an ‘actor”.
PONYBOY: How did you meet your husband Sean Pierce, guitar player from the Toilet Boys?
THEO KOGAN: When Sean came to town, Miss Guy told me I had to meet him. And separately Kembra Pfahler had told me that I had to meet him as well. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and was sort of having fun being alone and “playing the field”. So I was like, sure, I’ll meet this dude from Delaware. They were both right, obviously. Guy arranged that Sean would meet us at Coney Island High one night when Howie Pyro was DJing. It was a Monday night or something and the place was pretty empty and we slow danced to “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead.
Polaroid of Theo Kogan, Photographed in New York City at Plaid nightclub in 2003. Photo: Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: You and Sean worked on music projects together. We fondly remember the solo THEO project, where we saw you perform on stage with Viva and Jaiko as your backup dancers at Spa nightclub. And then there was Theo & the Skyscrapers. What was it like working together?
THEO KOGAN: It was really awesome working together. I was so fragile and raw after the decided pause of the Lunachicks. I had to work with someone that I both loved and trusted. The same goes for Viva and Jaiko, as they are and were beloved friends. Being in a band with Sean and other dudes was a brand new thing for me. Having always been in a band with women it was a VERY different experience. Especially touring with all guys, it was funny. The rest of them, aside from Sean, were like 10 or so years younger than me. So it was sort of like having a gaggle of little brothers.
PONYBOY: Your lovely daughter Lucy is now 10 years old. We remember meeting her years back as a toddler. Such a cutie, she is! Tell us what it’s like being a Brooklyn mom.
THEO KOGAN: I lucked out in the kid department. Lucy is amazing. Becoming a mom was a whole new adventure. It was amazing and also very hard. I kind of went into my shell for a while and had a bit of an identity crisis – like seriously, who the fuck am I? A rockstar? A mom? A makeup artist? A businesswoman? A punk? Just myself? Which one is it? I didn’t know and so I went inward. I don’t really fit in as a mom here or anywhere, I thought. However, I found some very cool moms, thankfully and all my various selves integrated eventually.
PONYBOY: Lucy is a very outgoing, beautiful girl and loves hamming it up for the camera. She has an interest in fashion and modeling. Will you encourage her to model, if a modeling agency has an interest in signing her when she is a teenager? Will you be that mom that accompanies her to every shoot?
THEO KOGAN: I would rather have her do it when she is an adult. I am grateful my parents made me wait. It’s a tough business and hard on women and their self-image. She has already expressed interest but we are waiting. Also, I have too much going on to be running around to shoots and castings with her…and then there is school.
PONYBOY: You’ve always had your own quirky sense of style (off-stage as well!). We read how you created your own costumes for shows, but tell us who are some of the designers that you wear or dream of wearing.
THEO KOGAN: Fave designers! Oh! Vivienne Westwood of course. David Dalrymple, Zaldy, Rei Kawakubo, and I love Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. There are so many more but this is a good chunk for ya.
PONYBOY: You recently were interviewed by Vogue.com, which was a great article. How did that come about?
THEO KOGAN: I know the writer Corey Seymour via his wife Biba Milioto. Biba grew up here and had seen Lunachicks over the years. When I met her she worked at a website years ago that agreed to sell my brand Armour Beauty lip gloss and we became friends. I DJ’d their wedding which was 10 years ago when I was 6 months pregnant and I wore a dress by Gary Graham, another designer I love. We have obviously stayed friends. I told Biba about the book and she said send one over and maybe Corey can do something for Vogue. He loved the book so VOILA!
PONYBOY: You are not shy from being political on your social media platforms, posting/commenting on women’s rights, #MeToo, pro-choice, Black Lives Matter, gay and trans rights, etc. Have you or the Lunachicks had any opportunities as of late to participate in any projects in support of any of these movements?
THEO KOGAN: We used to play as many Rock For choice shows as we were asked to do. We have never shied from speaking out and will never stop. We have been planning to do some more things to support various organizations in the near future. Stay tuned!
PONYBOY: We think the Lunachicks’ story would be a fantastic Netflix biopic, series, or documentary. Has there been any interest from anyone?
THEO KOGAN: There has! It’s very exciting! We would LOVE to have a scripted show and/or film. There is a doc being made as well by Ilya Chaiken. We don’t have a release date for that yet but we will of course keep everyone posted.
Polaroid of Theo Kogan. Photographed in New York City in 2004. Photo: Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: The Lunachicks are booked to play the Punk Rock Bowling & Musical Festival in Las Vegas with Devo, NOFX, Circle Jerks, and many more incredible bands in September. You also have some NYC dates booked, rescheduled from pandemic cancellations. Are there any expectations or thoughts you can share on the band hitting the stage together after so many years? How have the rehearsals been going?
THEO KOGAN: Rehearsals have been getting better and better and we have so much fun just cracking each other up. It’s gone from horror to fear to overwhelm and now to excitement, thinking about getting back on stage. Sure it will be different but it’s kinda like riding a bike too – muscle memory is real. Except for this time when we fall on stage we may need help getting up. LOL!
PONYBOY: Lastly, tell us the one message that you want to say to all the young cool girls out there, who might be struggling in life with identity/body issues?
THEO KOGAN: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF # 1 !!!! Trust your gut. If it – meaning anything – feels wrong, don’t do it. Find help if you need it and don’t be ashamed!