Quintessential Album Series :: Peepshow :: Siouxsie And The Banshees
A Little History:
Peepshow, released in 1988, is the ninth studio album by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and their first as a quintet. With the arrival of multi-instrumentalist Martin McCarrick, Peepshow was one of their most musically complex albums.
The album was both a critical and a commercial success, peaking at #68 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Siouxsie Sioux explained the song Peek-a-Boo, in an MTV interview, to be about “the way that women are portrayed in our Fascist media.” She stated that Peek-a-Boo is a reaction against the conformist images that the media puts on women and equates it to The Stepford Wives film.
The lyrics near the end of Peek-a-Boo that start: “Golly jeepers, where’d you get those peepers?” are based on the 1938 standard Jeepers Creepers. Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer, who wrote Jeepers Creepers, received songwriting credit for Peek-a-Boo as a result.
What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?
Everything changed for me in 1988. A year out of high school, I had shed my skin, so to speak, as the shy, bookish, insecure girl, and begun to become someone very different. I was in college, a theater and literature major, working full-time at a record store to pay my way. I was still as hardworking as I was in high school, I suppose, but the biggest difference was what happened after hours.
The year before’s Summer had introduced me to Hollywood club life, courtesy of some of friends from high school who were also trying to recreate themselves. We took on the city at night and became an evolution revolution of who we used to be. Some of our paths veered away from each other in the process, as did some of our fashion and music associations. This was the year of my fascination with deathrock and goth and industrial music, and Siouxsie became part of my regular listening pleasure.
Though I would dive into her entire catalog, it was this album that really hits on the memories of that year. I shut my eyes and can see myself dancing to Peek-a-Boo and The Killing Jar, can recall lips I kissed while listening to The Last Beat of My Heart, things I got up to in backseats and back stairs with Scarecrow playing in the background, and where I was driving to while blasting Burn-Up and Turn to Stone.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
“Dust to rust,
ashes on gashes;
hand around the killing jar.”
Some nights the spinning started before we hit the dance floor. Shared bottles and candy colored pills and lines of white, we would ready ourselves on the inside, as well as with sprays of Studio One hairspray and blood red lipstick. We all looked so pretty with hands clasped around the killing jars.
“How in the world can I wish for this?
Never to be torn apart.
Close to you ’till the last beat of my heart.”
There was a boy (how many stories start with “there was a boy”) who stole my heart away that year. He was beautiful, oh heavens he was beautiful, but it was a deeper pull than that, a stronger connection than anything surface could ever provide. We didn’t last, we really couldn’t last, but he held on to my heart for much, much longer than I ever admitted to anyone.
“She’s jeering at the shadows,
sneering behind a smile.
Lunge and thrust to pout and pucker,
into the face of the beguiled.”
At school I spent hours no a stage, at work I behind a counter (or shelving music), and at night I would take to a different stage – the dance floor. Some nights I disappeared into the music on the dance floor, hardly noticing anyone around me, other nights it was the place to seduce, to connect, to meet, to make sparks collide. Most of the time, though, it was all an well-rehearsed act as I tried to become someone else.
“All fire and brimstone,
he likes to watch the buildings burn.”
We climbed to the highest of heights we could find, as high as our insides felt, watching the sun come up and waiting for the trains to come beneath us and make the world shake.
His kisses made the world shake. He made the world feel on fire.
“Listen to his body moan,
make a wish and send us home.”
I used to think he taught me a million secrets about pleasure, but looking back I think we taught each other. He brought out a freedom in me, a fearlessness, a little bit of danger, too. I brought strength to him, bottomless love, and a touch that could break him apart.