This interview appears in ALARM #40. Subscribe here to get your copy!
“Henry Don’t Got Love”
Born and raised in Denver by Mexican and Spanish parents, Teresa Suaréz (known professionally as Teri Gender Bender) has, like many, a bicultural identity. Her garage-punk band Le Butcherettes — which began in Guadalajara, Mexico — is a product of that identity, particularly the differences in gender expectations that she has witnessed between the North American neighbors.
Though Suaréz has toned down her stage show from the days of using bloody aprons and severed pig heads (she’s vegetarian, actually) as anti-sexism symbols, it still brims with the fuck-you defiance of a bad-ass feminist rocker. She’s aware that her sex and gender have brought “superficial pros and moralistically damaging cons,” as she puts it, but she’ll use any means necessary to elbow her way into the rock-and-roll boys’ club.
“I am not bothered that my legs have somewhat helped me get shows in Mexico,” Suaréz says. “I would like to think that my hard work at music, composing, [and] being a better person has affected my career. Funny enough, I know more men who try harder at using their sex appeal than women. Ricky Martin, anyone?”
Suaréz’s parents originally fled Mexico after surviving a pair of kidnapping attempts. When her father later passed away in the States due to a heart attack, her family moved back to Mexico, where she formed Le Butcherettes as a reaction to the culture gap. The band has since relocated to Los Angeles and gone through lineup transformations, including the addition of Omar Rodriguez Lopez on bass, but it retains the impassioned attitudes that Suaréz, still only 23, formed in her youth.
“There are so many flaws ingrained in our culture,” Suaréz says. “I was unhappy with Mexican politics and old customs that would insult my intelligence…so getting a shocking response from the people at the venues was what I was subconsciously looking for, even though I was against it. Nowadays I just like to look people straight into their eyes — and get an honest response.”