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The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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    Trigger Warning: This story touches on topics of rape and rape culture.

    Trigger Warning: This story touches on topics of rape and rape culture.


    The Mentors might be free to write ‘rape rock.’ But the Bay Area is free to shut them down.

    By Sarah Carpenter

    They call it “rape-rock.”

    If you’re not offended yet, maybe their “Anti-Antifa Tour” will do it.

    Or how about their utterly offensive tour poster: the three members in black executioner hoods with a naked woman bent over in front of them, a gun to her head, guitars strung across their backs, all in army green duotone.

    Well, if you’re offended, The Mentors don’t care. “We’ve had that kind of reaction since the very beginning,” says Steve Broy, a.k.a. Dr. Heathen Scum. “There’s no expectation that everyone’s gonna like our group.” Although they are annoyed that their shows keep getting cancelled, they aren’t interested in making people like them. They were born in the ’70s like the evil twin of second-wave feminism.

    Except they are not a twin, because they are not a political movement. They are just a “dumb band” as Broy says. Although he aligns himself with the left-wing political agenda (he voted for Hillary, hates Trump) he doesn’t understand why they spend so much time attacking his band. “My preference would be that they [leftists] would focus on other things, other than rock bands, which I think is kind of a silly thing to get all upset about.”

    They are a reminder of a dark American past that newer generations are rejecting.

    Their tour was scheduled to come to Winters Tavern in Pacifica on Sept. 3 and then to Stork Club in Oakland on Sept. 5. On Aug. 5, IndyBay added an event to their calendar: “Warning: Oakland’s Stork Club to Host The Mentors’ Anti-Antifa Rape Rock Tour.” The post encouraged readers to “contact the Stork Club and demand that the venue not host a band this hateful, fascist, and vile. If the Stork Club refuses to deny The Mentors a platform, then an in-person demonstration of opposition would be in order.”

    Both Bay Area shows have been cancelled by the venues. Neither Winters Tavern nor Stork Club responded for comment, but the owner of Winters Tavern, CJ Valenti, posted many comments on Facebook under his Facebook name “Sea Jay Winterstavern.” On Aug. 28 he posted a status update about “Antifa assmonkeys” wanting to interview him about why he cancelled The Mentors show.

    He later commented on that post: “Shock Rock is nothing new but they really got under the skin by calling the current tour ANTI ANTIFA, classic comedy.” He commented further, claiming that antifa “know nothing about what they stand for,” and that he had to cancel because “they would have all showed up on Labor Day Weekend and the actual hardcore locals would beat the ever loving shit out of them with the local media and law enforcement on site.”

    ‘Fuck that. Not a fan of their bull shit rape rock. Might have been funny in the ’80s, but they are old and washed up.’

    — Corinne Robinson, Winters Tavern

    Although the Stork Club show was also cancelled, Broy says they found a replacement. But he didn’t want to say where. “I learned my lesson. Advertising our shows causes problems,” he says.

    The Mentors are misunderstood in some ways — their black hoods are often mistaken for Ku Klux Klan hoods. “[Our band] has nothing to do with racism or the Klan,” Broy says. “As you probably noticed, the KKK would normally wear white hoods.” The Mentors’ hoods are black, and are meant to be executioner hoods. It’s a vestige from their past, a “silly idea” as Broy calls it, that they have kept around since the beginning, just like their blatant misogyny.

    They are the clearest-cut picture of rape culture, and they started just as that term was being coined. “Rape culture” as a term was first used in the New York Radical Feminists’ “Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women” in 1974 and in the 1975 documentary film “Rape Culture.”

    At that time, feminist groups were raising consciousness about the pervasiveness of rape-supportive culture in American society. The movement strove to achieve a revolutionary transformation of society in order to eliminate rape.

    ‘When I realized that the guitar player, Eric Carlson a.k.a. Sickie Wifebeater, was really a woman-beating racist methamphetamine addict drunk, I had to depart.’

    —Zippy, touring studio musician

    Currently, a feminist community center in Oregon called “In Other Words” has organized a Facebook event called “Shut Down The Mentors,” to protest the band’s tour stop in Portland at Rock Hard PDX.

    Broy says he wouldn’t defend the violence toward women in their lyrics, but “killing of people is a widespread topic in literary endeavors.” He thinks there needs to be room to explore those topics. He cites The Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler,” and says no one cares when they sing about rape.

    Other artists with huge platforms have also had controversial lyrics, as in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” about a drunk girl who is saying no but Thicke sings “I know you want it.” Or even George Michael’s “Father Figure,” in which the lyrics seem to be about sexualizing a child, and then he sings “but sometimes love can be mistaken for a crime.”

    The fact that rape culture is present in popular American music doesn’t qualify as a justification of propagating rape culture, but it begs the question of whether anyone’s band needs justification.

    The Mentors are part of a shock rock culture of bands trying to one-up each other, being gross and silly and shocking for themselves and each other. They aren’t parading down the street raping and pillaging, forcing everyone to listen to their music, and yet people are so hurt by their existence that they refused to allow the band to perform in their towns.

    ‘If I’m collateral damage in something that’s going to get rid of Trump, hey, I’m all for it.’

    — Steve Broy a.k.a. Dr. Heathen Scum

    “It kind of was bad timing because then, of course, we have this horrible situation in Charlottesville,” Broy says. Right-wing rallies in both San Francisco and Berkeley were scheduled for Aug. 26 and 27 (respectively). After a similar rally in Charlottesville turned deadly on Aug. 12, permits for the Bay Area rallies were reviewed and later revoked. This, along with moments like Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at UC Berkeley getting cancelled, has led to right-wing criticism of the left for stifling freedom of speech.

    Broy never claimed his freedom of speech was being violated, but fans have posted on social media comments to that effect, like “it’s so sad that people don’t understand ‘freedom.’”

    Although the band has had protesters since their origin, Broy says that “in the last couple years, particularly in the West Coast, there’s been a kind of uptick [in the pushback we’ve had].” They’ve played in the Bay Area”probably a hundred times” over the years, and this is the first time to his memory that a show has actually been cancelled.

    Valenti posted in the same thread about The Mentors: “They got the media right in the balls, as they always have but, with this presidency and all the bullshit, it’s just out of control.”

    Unlike white supremacists, The Mentors are booking privately owned venues, not public spaces.

    Winters Tavern’s general manager, Corinne Robinson, was less willing to defend the band. She responded to Valenti’s post: “Fuck that. Not a fan of their bull shit rape rock. Might have been funny in the ’80s, but they are old and washed up.”

    The Mentors see themselves as a silly group, and one reporter described being in their tour van as being “like hanging out with beavis and butthead.” But humor can become outdated very quickly as generations evolve their worldview. Joking about rape is part of rape supportive culture, which is enough for feminists to be up in arms about without considering that some members may not be joking.

    Broy says that some of the lyrics are about incidents that actually occurred between other members of the band and their “old ladies.” One studio musician known as Zippy toured with the band three years ago and quit due to their antics. “When I realized that the guitar player, Eric Carlson a.k.a. Sickie Wifebeater, was really a woman-beating racist methamphetamine addict drunk, I had to depart,” he said. “Kind of unfortunate [due] to how nice and a good guy the other original member [Steve Broy a.k.a. Dr. Heathen Scum] is.”

    The story of The Mentors is parallel to the story of our nation. They are a reminder of a dark American past that newer generations are largely rejecting. But unlike white supremacists, The Mentors are booking privately owned venues, not public spaces. Broy understands how people see The Mentors, though, and says, “If I’m collateral damage in something that’s gonna get rid of Trump, hey, I’m all for it.”


    Sarah Carpenter is Editor-in-Chief at the Laney Tower. Email her at SarahisaCarpenter(at)gmail.com

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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