"I took some time out to check out the NYC Village Halloween Parade...What I did find, however, was the sort of thing you hope to find at a Halloween parade: Something new, something fun, something different. Riding the back of a flatbed truck at the tail end of the parade was a musical sensation from Brooklyn that I'd never heard of or seen before but I sure was blown away by them. Their name? Witches in Bikinis.
OK, so a group of shapely and attractive young ladies dancing around in nothing but bikinis (be they witches or not) may seem to be an easy sell, but I honestly was taken aback by their sound (early 60s girl groups/Spector influence), their talent (they really could sing!) and by their professionalism, which was in full force as some very cold winds made the parade a chilly event, though they never once stopped dancing to bundle up. Their songs are fun to listen to, they all have horror themes to them (how can I not love a band that has a song called "Horror Flick Chicks"?), and, oh, I've already developed a bit of a crush on JoJo, the witch in the orange bikini. Hi Jojo!..."
Witches In Bikinis: Press
"Never have I been so well entertained. With nasty rifts that made me remember Rock of the 60's, The extravagant presence of the Witches themselves accompanied by very catchy and easily understood lyrics. That takes you back to the fun of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" without the transvestite & gore. Witches In Bikinis does not just entertain you, they bring you in captivating your eyes and imagination making you part of the show. I will not miss a show near me ever. And neither should you!"
Forget all of your Wizard of Oz, Wicked Witch of the West memories of green skin, shapeless black robes and wart-covered noses, these witches are hot. The seven female members of Witches in Bikinis, a Brooklyn-based performance group, strut their collective stuff in brightly colored wigs and bikinis that would make Glenda blush. Since 2005 the group has been singing tunes by William Rozar about Halloween and horror. But these ladies aren’t one-trick ponies: They dance, too. The eye candy may draw the crowds but the suggestive moves and lyrics don’t hurt: the group’s theme which boasts “I saw witches in bikinis/Wearing velvet capes/Roasting human weenies/And stuffing them in crepes.” Think of it as a test-run for Halloween (albeit a little early). It’s never too soon to start figuring out those costume ideas … And did we mention the bikinis?
Sept. 29. Kenny’s Castaways, 157 Bleecker St. (betw. Thompson & Sullivan Sts.), 212-979 9762; 10, $7.
Inside the Mad Musical Coven of Witches in Bikinis
Is That A Wand In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?
WWW.HARRISRADIO.COM | WWW.INDIESOUNDSNY.COM | FEBRUARY 2007
There I was, surfing venue websites to find some music to go see, and on Kenny's Castaways' site I came across a listing for Witches in Bikinis. Intrigued, a click later and I could tell this was a literal description of the act. Arriving at Kenny's, I found music critic and aficionado of all things related to female body flesh Pierre Jelenc in the crowd. Pierre secured front row seats for us, and so I had no trouble in getting intimately acquainted with the performance. It was a blast … really good fun and a great contrast from the usual singer/songwriters or indie rock bands that normally fill up my nightly schedule. Wanting to find out more, Indie Sounds caught up with Witches creator Bill Rozar, who revealed all.
Indie Sounds: So where did the idea for Witches In Bikinis come from?
Bill Rozar: Originally, the words "Witches In Bikinis" just popped into my head one day and I wrote it in my notebook. Something about it was very intriguing to me and I kept coming back to it. I started researching witches, the great witch hunts of the middle ages, began developing characters and stories, and then wrote the song Witches In Bikinis.
IS: When did the act get going?
Bill: It all began at Halloween in 2004, when my good friend Janelle Lannan and I started recording Witches In Bikinis and other Halloween-related songs I'd written, like Subway Spooks, Hold Me, My Little Ghostie, Cemetery Boogie, Horror Flick Chicks, and some others. Our first true gig, as a full "coven" of performers, was exactly one year later in October 2005 at Arlene's Grocery for the Mondo Porno Halloween Ball. But even before that, the very first public performance of Witches In Bikinis was for a fund-raising benefit that a friend of ours organized for her theater group in March 2005 at the Slipper Room. Janelle sang Witches In Bikinis with Joanna Walchuk (and a friend of hers) as bikini-clad witches. The crowd went wild and that got us thinking that maybe we were on to something.
IS: When did the recorded music get replaced by the band?
Bill: We did about 25 shows all around the city with pre-recorded music tracks and live vocals before adding the live band in September 2006. The first gig with the band was at R&R on Labor Day Monday for a goth party.
IS: Who makes up Witches in Bikinis - the band and the dancers? Have there been any lineup changes?
Bill: Currently there are ten performers: six witches (singer/dancers) and four musicians. The witches are: Janelle Lannan, Joanna Walchuk, Julie Betts, Emily Reiter, Carolyn Demisch and Karen Weatherwax. The four musicians are: Luis Schittone on bass, Arnold Aprea on drums, Jonathan Hall on guitar and myself on guitar and keyboards. There have been several others over the last year that have come and gone but we have a pretty stable lineup now.
IS: What kinda girl makes a good Bikini
Witch? What draws the girls to the act?
Bill: Well, they have to enjoy wearing a bikini on stage (which usually means they look great in a bikini), they must be an exceptional singer and/or dancer, and they have to love the music. I think the girls are drawn, firstly, by the name itself. It's very fun, sexy and campy. Secondly, the music. Everyone who's ever wanted to be part of it loves the songs.
IS: Who writes the music?
Bill: I write all the music and lyrics, but the recording and arranging is a collaborative effort. Janelle did all the different voices and characterizations on the first album, (which people find hard to believe), but for the second album and nowadays in general, the singing is divided pretty evenly between Janelle, Carolyn and Karen, with Joanna and Julie B. occasionally singing as well. My wife (Julie) does all the screams.
IS: Where do the ideas for the zany songs come from?
Bill: Every song is different. Ideas can come from anywhere: movies, relationships, conversations, phrases I misread or mishear, things I see just walking around the city, fantasies, dreams ... anything! The songs on the debut album were mostly composed on piano, whereas the songs on the next album were mostly written on guitar. I try to be creative with the process of creation itself and invent different methods to write new songs. I always carry a little notebook with me to capture ideas whenever they happen. I do a lot of writing on the subway.
IS: How does the song then get choreographed into the dance performance?
Bill: Sometimes the dancers will choreograph a piece but most of the choreography (and costume design) is done by a very talented friend of ours named Angela Harriell, who is an excellent dancer and has her own dance company called The Love Show.
IS: What venues in NYC have you been playing in? Which are your favorites?
Bill: We've played many places; our favorites that come to mind are: Kenny's Castaways, The Delancey, The Hook, Galapagos, Bowery Poetry Club, Don't Tell Mama, Mo Pitkin's, Southpaw, Pussycat Lounge and maybe a few others. We liked playing all these places, some better than others, but none of them were perfect. For instance, we love playing The Hook because of the big stage, the good sound and the large room, but it's hard to get Manhattanites and Brooklynites without cars to come out to Red Hook. The problem with most places is the stage; they're just not big enough for a show of our size. Usually we wind up clearing an area in the front of the stage for the dancers. The other problem is the dressing room. Rarely do clubs have a decent room for the girls to get ready. Once they had to get dressed on a stairwell near the stage that had a door at the bottom, which we could close for privacy. But we didn't notice that at the top of the stairs was a large window, eyelevel to the sidewalk outside, so that anybody walking by could have peered in and gotten quite an eyeful!
IS: Given the act consists of several pretty girls dancing around with not much on, are there ever crowd control issues?
Bill: So far nothing serious. Occasionally we'll get some moron shouting out for them to take off what little they have on, but that's rare. A couple of songs involve audience interaction, like, for instance, Party Like A Chimpanzee, where we invite three audience members onto the stage to dance around and do their best chimp impression. Once we had some guy come up who couldn't keep his hands off the girls. They put up with it partly because the guy was obviously gay and didn't seem too threatening. For another song, Zombie March, the girls actually go into the crowd and crawl around, under and over people. So far we haven't had any problems with that but they don't always do it, depending on the crowd. The worst, however, was one of the times we played on the Coney Island Boardwalk last summer. There were probably 1,000 people crowding close to the performers who were just on the boardwalk with no separation from the audience. It got a little rowdy and the girls felt somewhat vulnerable, but we had a bunch of friends with us close to the stage helping to keep the crowd at bay and, thankfully, nothing really happened.
IS: You've released a CD of the music. How does the music stand up without the performance act?
Bill: Great! We have fans from all over the U.S. and Europe who love the music but have never seen the show. So far, we have been concentrating on the live act and have not really promoted the CD at all, other than making it available online through CD Baby, iTunes, our website, and MySpace, but we get emails from people all over telling us how much they love the music, and not just adults, but kids too. One woman from Sacramento sent us pictures of her four-year-old boy dressed up and rocking out to Horror Flick Chicks. She told us that "it's really hard to find music that kids can get interested in that doesn't make you nauseated." I'm thrilled that our music also appeals to young children (and also that it is not causing people to vomit).
IS: What's next for the act?
Bill: We will be releasing our second album at the end of March, which we are very excited about. It is different from the first album in that it goes beyond Halloween and witch-related themes to explore surf, horror, and sci-fi rock 'n' roll. It has songs like Alien Surfer Babes, Jennifer of the Jungle, Calling King Kong, and O.O.B.E. (for Out Of Body Experience). We are already looking forward to the third album (most of the songs are written already), which will further broaden us musically and thematically. We are also working on our first music video, which will be part dramatization and part live performance of Video Vixen Vampire. We want to reach a bigger and wider audience, play different kinds of venues, do more benefits. Last Fall, we did a benefit for "Stray From the Heart" (an organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and finds homes for stray dogs). It was a great experience and we'd like to do more of that kind of thing, particularly for animal-related causes. Other than that, we plan to keep performing, create new songs and dances, and generally have a great time with it all.
Who exactly are the Witches in Bikinis?
A gaggle of gorgeous girlie ghouls in flimsy-wear?
A camp collection of wanna-be drag queen hags--only pretty?
A slightly-scary, always-entertaining, coven of crazy/cuckoo female vixens
Well, all of the above, actually.
Formed in March of 2005, (in Brooklyn of all places!) Witches has grown in stature and reputation and can be seen in full cabaret form at Don’t Tell Mama’s and other locales in the area.
Composer/lyricist William Rozar weaves a concoction of poppy/rocky tunes that pay homage to the Supremes, Frankie and Annette as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The result is a mostly entertaining sound that is sometimes even highly satiric.
Standout numbers include: the rousing ‘Video Vixen Vampire’ that opens the show; the haunting ballad ‘Hold Me, My Little Ghostie;’ the witty ‘Horror Flick Chicks’ and creepily delightful ‘Zombie March.’ The only real misfire musical moment is the redundant ‘Haunted Mansion.’
An audience participation song, ‘Party Like a Chimpanzee’ provides more fun (and prizes as well.)
The witches themselves have a ball onstage and that feeling envelops the audience. The two lead witches do most of the singing. Jules Hartley has a strong voice and presence while Carolyn Demisch tears up the cabaret floor with her powerhouse vocals and spooky/sexy strutting.
Three quarters into the show director Amir Levi appears in near-drag regalia as Popeye Khan, a descendent of Ghengis Kahn. This bit of info provided one of the biggest laughs of the evening and made one long for more cleverisms.
While I would love to see an eventual book tie these irreverent moments together, for now, Witches in Bikinis holds its own because the sexy and talented gals onstage are just so bloody entrancing, infectious and scare-a-licious!
Spring Break in Transylvania
I saw witches in bikinis
Flying through the air,
Drinking black martinis
And throwing back their hair…
I saw witches in bikinis
Wearing velvet capes,
Roasting human weenies
And stuffing them in crepes.
No, the above verses were not cut from an early draft of the Scottish play. They’re from the theme song (Remember when pop groups had theme songs?) of the adorably silly coven of campy cacklers, Witches in Bikinis.
Combining three beloved staples of 1960’s pop culture – the girl group, the beach party movie and the low-budget horror flick – Witches in Bikinis perform catchy and funny original songs by Bill Rozar, singing to his recorded music with arrangements heavy on the goofy rock/gothic sound.
They sing love songs (“Hold me, my little ghostie / We got some vampire kissing to do”), party songs (“They came to Earth / To ride the big waves / Pretty alien surfer babes) and songs about dealing with horny ectoplasm (“Spooks on the loose / Tried to goose / My caboose”). A clever number reminiscent of “Leader of the Pack” has a tearful witch asking Dr. Frankenstein to sew up her boyfriend who died in a drag racing accident. Also very funny is “Horror Flick Chick”, a tribute to the dumb moves made by brainless cinema babes who meet gruesome ends.
And yes, they do wear bikinis. Not all the time, but often enough to justify their name.
Handling lead vocals are the talented pair of Carolyn Demisch and Jules Hartley, both possessing an attractive pop voice and a keen skill for comic phrasing. Backing them up is a comic quintet of singers and dancers: Julie Betts, Christina Johnson, Emily Reiter, Carrie Thorson (who is darling in her one lead vocal) and Zoe Schieber. Director/choreographer Amir Levi creates cute and energetic routines (some choreography is by the dancers themselves) drawing on 60’s dance moves, cheerleader drills and even a bit of The Rockettes. He also appears for a guest spot as glam, power-rocker Popeye Kahn.
Clocking in at nearly 90 minutes, their current show at Don’t Tell Mama, the group’s cabaret debut, can use either a good bit of trimming or a lot more variety; perhaps even a dramatic through-line. The material and performances are a lot of fun, but they need to be structured into something more than just one song following another. And with seven performers filling the tiny cabaret stage, the show often looks cramped, with much of the choreography blocked by the singers.
But as a whole, the concept works and the talent is there. With some experience and tinkering, Witches in Bikinis could be casting their spell on audiences for quite some time.
Michael Dale's dry2olives.com
Now if you want to catch a show about as up-to-the-minute as cabaret can get, catch the "Witches in Bikinis" show at DON'T TELL MAMA.
The show features a coven 6 lovely witches who sing and dance their way through an hour of mostly original (and rock style) music that is enchanting and haunting. Lots
of fun - and probably the last place you would expect to find me. I happened to be there simply by chance - I happened to run into the very attractive cast the night before when the were getting ready to rehearse for their show after Seth Rudetsky's Chatterbox show at MAMA'S and got curious as to what the show was all about.
TO SAY THAT I HAD A GREAT TIME, WOULD BE A TERRIBLE UNDERSTATEMENT. I
WAS SO PLEASED TO BE INCLUDED IN "PARTY LIKE A CHIMPANZEE" THAT I
TOLD ALL MY FRIENDS TO CATCH THIS INCREDIBLBLY ORIGINAL SHOW!!!!!!! THE
MUSIC WAS GREAT, THE CAST TOTALLY LOVEABLE, NOT TO MENTION, TALENTED
-- RICK THE MUSTACHED CHIMP