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Gretschen Hofner



Last Updated: 22/06/2010

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City: London
Country: UK
Signup Date: 25/08/2006

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Friday, December 12, 2008 

Current mood:  sad
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities
Bettie (Betty) Page has died.

We will never forget her.

This is one of the better obituaries, although I still don't think it really captures why she was so special and significant.

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Bettie Page, Queen of Pinups, Dies at 85

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Bettie Page, a legendary pinup girl whose photographs in the nude, in bondage and in naughty-but-nice poses appeared in men's magazines and private stashes across America in the 1950s and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious '60s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85.

Her death was reported by her agent, Mark Roesler, on Ms. Page's Web site, bettiepage.com.

Ms. Page, whose popularity underwent a cult-like revival in the last 20 years, had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released Dec. 2 when she suffered a heart attack, said Mr. Roesler, of CMG Worldwide. She was transferred in a coma to Kindred Hospital, where she died.

In her trademark raven bangs, spike heels and killer curves, Ms. Page was the most famous pinup girl of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million locker doors and garage walls. She was also a major influence in the fashion industry and a target of Senator Estes Kefauver's anti-pornography investigators.

But in 1957, at the height of her fame, she disappeared, and for three decades her private life — two failed marriages, a fight against poverty and mental illness, resurrection as a born-again Christian, years of seclusion in Southern California — was a mystery to all but a few close friends.

Then in the late 1980s and early '90s, she was rediscovered and a Bettie Page renaissance began. David Stevens, creator of the comic-book and later movie character the Rocketeer, immortalized her as the Rocketeer's girlfriend. Fashion designers revived her look. Uma Thurman, in bangs, reincarnated Bettie in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," and Demi Moore, Madonna and others appeared in Page-like photos.

There were Bettie Page playing cards, lunch boxes, action figures, T-shirts and beach towels. Her saucy images went up in nightclubs. Bettie Page fan clubs sprang up. Look-alike contests, featuring leather-and-lace and kitten-with-a-whip Betties, were organized. Hundreds of Web sites appeared, including her own, which had 588 million hits in five years, CMG Worldwide said in 2006.

Biographies were published, including her authorized version, "Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend," (General Publishing Group) which appeared in 1996. It was written by Karen Essex and James L. Swanson.

A movie, "The Notorious Bettie Page," starring Gretchen Mol as Bettie and directed by Mary Harron for Picturehouse and HBO Films, was released in 2006, adapted from "The Real Bettie Page," by Richard Foster. Bettie May Page was born in Jackson, Tenn., the eldest girl of Roy and Edna Page's six children. The father, an auto mechanic, molested all three of his daughters, Ms. Page said years later, and was divorced by his wife when Bettie was 10. She and some of her siblings were placed for a time in an orphanage. She attended high school in Nashville, and was almost a straight-A student, graduating second in her class.

She graduated from Peabody College, a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but a teaching career was brief. "I couldn't control my students, especially the boys," she said. She tried secretarial work, married Billy Neal in 1943 and moved to San Francisco, where she modeled fur coats for a few years. She divorced Mr. Neal in 1947, moved to New York and enrolled in acting classes.

She had a few stage and television appearances, but it was a chance meeting that changed her life. On the beach at Coney Island in 1950, she met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer and photographer, who assembled her first pinup portfolio. By 1951, the brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, who ran a mail-order business in cheesecake, were promoting the Bettie Page image with spike heels and whips, while Bunny Yeager's pictures featured her in jungle shots, with and without leopards skins.

Her pictures were ogled in Wink, Eyeful, Titter, Beauty Parade and other magazines, and in leather-fetish 8- and 16-millimeter films. Her first name was often misspelled. Her big break was the Playboy centerfold in January 1955, when she winked in a Santa Claus cap as she put a bulb on a Christmas tree. Money and offers rolled in, but as she recalled years later, she was becoming depressed.

In 1955, she received a summons from a Senate committee headed by Senator Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat, that was investigating pornography. She was never compelled to testify, but the uproar and other pressures drove her to quit modeling two years later. She moved to Florida. Subsequent marriages to Armond Walterson and Harry Lear ended in divorce, and there were no children. She moved to California in 1978.

For years Ms. Page lived on Social Security benefits. After a nervous breakdown, she was arrested for an attack on a landlady, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a California mental institution. She emerged years later as a born-again Christian, immersing herself in Bible studies and serving as an adviser to the Billy Graham Crusade.

In recent years, she had lived in Southern California on the proceeds of her revival. Occasionally, she gave interviews in her gentle Southern drawl, but largely stayed out of the public eye — and steadfastly refused to be photographed.

"I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times," she told The Los Angeles Times in 2006. "I want to be remembered as a woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form."
Currently listening:
Betty Page Is Back
By Gretschen Hofner
Sunday, December 07, 2008 

Current mood:  nostalgic
Category: Music
This was a video directed by Simon Henwood, who also painted the Maria Callous album cover. I thought we had lost this, but thinking about poor Betty Page (she is in a coma in hospital) prompted me to sift through some old tapes and I found the original video.
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There's a few jumps on it, so I haven't posted it yet. But, here, for curiosity's sake are a few stills from the video.
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Naturally the lovely Betty Page featured prominently in the video. Our friend from Amsterdam, Nico, who runs Cult Video, was incredibly kind. He posted his master copies of Betty Page dancing, and gave us permission to use it.
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This is drummer Geoff Harvey playing the bongos.
The idea behind the video was probably profoundly misguided in terms of it ever being played on any commercial music TV outlets. Basically, shots of the band playing live at Euston Rails club were mixed with shots of the band playing in the Earl's Court S&M dungeon of Lindi St. Clair (aka Miss Whiplash).
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That's Lindi on the cover of the very first Gretschen Hofner single
And to give the video some kind of narrative, there is a scene in which I (Paul) went to get a tattoo of Betty Page done at Dennis Cockell's establishment.
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Dennis was famous for doing the Stray Cats' tattoos!
On reflection, I'm not sure whether showing a bloody arm with an emerging tattoo was the most commercially wise decision the band ever made. But hell, better to go down in flames than...
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Dennis at work on my arm!
Below are some other stills....
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Justine and Paul live!
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The mysterious Gus Hofner
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Justine down in the dungeon.
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Huggy live!
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Paul live!
Saturday, December 06, 2008 

Current mood:  sad
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities
Very sad news! Betty is a modern goddess!

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From AP news...

LOS ANGELES — Bettie Page, a 1950s pinup known for her raven-haired bangs and saucy come-hither looks, was hospitalized in intensive care after suffering a heart attack, her agent said Friday.

"She's critically ill," Mark Roesler of CMG Worldwide told The Associated Press.

He said the 85-year-old had been hospitalized for the last three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released when she had the heart attack Tuesday. Page was transferred to another hospital in Los Angeles and remained in intensive care Friday.

A family friend, Todd Mueller, said Page was in a coma. When asked to confirm, Roesler said, "I would not deny that," but he would not comment further on her condition.

Page, a secretary turned model, is credited with helping set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious 1960s. She attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure that were tacked up on walls across the country.

Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.

Page later spent decades away from the public eye, and during that time battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.

After resurfacing in the 1990s, she occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.

Mueller credits his business dealings with Page for bringing her out of seclusion. He said he first met her in 1989 when he offered her "a bunch of money" to show up at autograph signings.

"I probably sold 3,000 of her autographs, usually for $200 to $300," he said. "Eleanor Roosevelt, we got $40-$50. ... Bettie Page outsells them all."
Currently listening:
Strictly Hardcore: The Best of Goldblade
By Goldblade
Release date: 2007-05-24
Sunday, June 03, 2007 

Current mood:  drained
Category: Music
(more pics to come later)



Gretschen Hofner has always been an unstable compound, fraught with fractiousness, and a perennial 'bass player problem'.

It was probably always fated that the bass player issue would forever dog the band. All counted the band went though 13 bass players, if you count ones that stayed for one gig or helped out in the studio occasionally. That's probably too many for a band that lasted just eight years. It's an average of more than one per year.

Some bass players are remembered fondly, others less so. Some were good, others were variously delusional, sociopathic, or just not very good.

In a sign of the traumas to come, the original bass player, 'Laurie', decided after a few rehearsals in the summer of 1990 that he preferred to play electric violin.
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Laurie (left) resolutely playing violin and not bass

It was hard to argue with a man who made a living from playing violin at medieval banquets wearing tights.

Gretschen Hofner's first dates featured a bass player, John King, on loan from My Life Story. John was a great player, but he had just come out of mental hospital, and for some reason he always turned up to gigs dressed in a penguin outfit. Figure that one out, Einstein!


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Geoff and Paul at Dingwalls 1990 after first gig

Gretschen Hofner Mark 1

Feb 91 to Mar 92



Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Gus Hofner: vocals, guitar

Geoff Harvey: drums

Gnat Wallace: bass
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Live at the George Robey, Finsbury Park - "sorta the like Dante's first circle of hell"

The first proper Gretschen Hofner line-up took shape in February 1991, when Gnat Wallace joined. Gnat was a fine player and is to this day a superb human being. But after just a couple of gigs, he had his expensive Rickenbacker bass guitar stolen, and for some reason decided to replace it with a double-bass.
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Gnat and Geoff before the Rickenbacker was stolen and the rhythm section were on speaking terms

This proved counter productive in terms of live sound.
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Nat slappin' that big, bad ol' shiney bass fiddle live at Camden Underworld in 1991

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Paul in the only ever documented moment of him wearing some kind of hat
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Gnat and Geoff at the same gig in 1991, which was in Stoke Newington's New Pegasus

Relationships within the rhythm section took a turn for the worse. During a tour of Ireland, Gnat hurled a pint glass full of beer across a crowded room at the drummer, Geoff Harvey.

"I say, Gnat, someone just threw a pint glass at me," remarked Geoff, a little later.

"Yeah, I know mate. It was me," replied Gnat.

It was a few months later that Gnat was sacked live on stage at the Bass Clef in Shoreditch to be replaced by a 'hot new kid from the audience', called Paul Pember (aka Huggy aka Russ Buxom)



Gretschen Hofner Mark 2

Mar 92 to Apr 94

Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Gus Hofner: vocals, guitar

Geoff Harvey: drums

Huggy: bass

Justine Armatage: electric violin, piano, vocals

Also joining the band at this time was Justine who was also known as 'Consumptive Orphan' after nearly dying from something nasty she contracted while touring with Christian Death.

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Huggy, Justine and Paul

To many people this was the classic Gretschen Hofner line-up, and the first time the band really sounded any good. Certainly, this was the best live line-up. Huggy added some real rock 'n' roll spirit, and Justine added great musical technique.

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Happy days! We got to play with Elvis' original drummer, DJ Fontana!

However, this was a particularly volatile combination, and apart from Gus, virtually all the band members were involved in arguments, blood feuds, and ever changing factions variously ganged up on other ones, at the first sign of weakness.

Sometimes it became too painful to watch Lord of The Flies, when it appeared on television.

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Sexual tensions between band members Paul and Gus were scarcely suppressed


There was a spate various band members falling down stairs, and this ultimately triggered the departure of Huggy in March 94, just a few weeks before the recording sessions for the album that was to become Maria Callous started. At the time it was to be called Leopardskin Pink.
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"As these lyrics hastily written on the back of a band flyer reveal, problems with stairs were a major pre-occupation with Gretschen Hofner during this era. These were the genesis of what became a rarely performed number "Desire and Hell, Downstairs I Fell"
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Above the flyer itself betrays no obvious problem with the band coping with staircases

There was the brief and calamitous appearance of "King Casual" as a bass player for one gig. The less said about this the better.

In the end the record featured various bass players, including Andy Boakes

Gretschen Hofner Mark 3

Sep 94 to Oct 95

Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Gus Hofner: vocals, guitar

Geoff Harvey: drums

Biggza: bass

Justine Armatage: electric violin, piano, vocals

Biggza was recruited from the Eight Track Cartridge Family, who were friends of Gretschen Hofner. Biggza had a great looking Gretsch semi-acoustic bass, and a natty dress sense. He played on the track Tiger Bay, during a session produced by Phil Vinall. But it seemed that he ran out of steam, after a while. He was a bit like one of those energiser bunnies in the battery adverts, but alas the one with the crap batteries, slowly grinding to a halt.

A palpable aura of instability was not helped when he accidentally set fire to his flat.

"I could've been killed. I could've been killed. But I was never in any danger" was his cryptic response.
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Biggza! "He could've been killed! But was he ever in any danger?"

Gretschen Hofner fans may recognise that phrase as the chorus to the popular live favourite, Bloody Mary. That's where it comes from, folks!

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Gretschen Hofner live at the Stoke Newington 1995 Summer Festival. Paul's 'Wife Beater' t-shirt and Justine's malignent princess outfit were probably stylistic errors

Gretschen Hofner Mark 4

Oct 95 to Jan 97<

Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Geoff Harvey: drums

Kieron Hunter: bass, vocals

Justine Armatage: electric violin, piano, vocals

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Poppy Records Promo Shot

This line-up saw the band return to a four piece. Gus Hofner, the man who never wanted to be in the band in the first place, sensed weakness and finally made his bid for freedom. How do you replace, the irreplaceable? Uh, it's kind of difficult.
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The 'mysterious Gus Hofner'

On the other hand replacing the bass player had become all too routine for Gretschen Hofner. It wasn't that difficult any more.

Enter, polymath, Kieron. This was a man whose abilities included playing a reasonable bass, repairing guitars, creating his own recording studio, and master carpentry. He wasn't scared to talk about them, either.



This line-up toured a lot, endlessly promoting re-released records



Alas there was a sense that as with his predecessor, Kieron was regressing. There was also a major fault line developing between Kieron and Justine. When you've got 'Lady MacBeth' in your band, there's only ever going to be one loser.



Kieron was terminated on a cold New Years Day in 1997 as he approached bearing belated Christmas gifts.



Gretschen Hofner Mark 5

Jan 97 to June 97



Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Geoff Harvey: drums

Justine Armatage: electric violin, piano, vocals

Martin Burden (Jan 97 to Mar 97): bass Paulie (Mar 97 to Aug 97): bass
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Paul: :The White Suited Years"

Martin Burden (aka Budgie) was the cheeriest bass player Gretschen Hofner ever had. He was also somewhat flighty, and defected from the band after just a couple of months. But what can you expect from a man named for a small domestic bird?
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Budgie was always late for rehearsals!

Paulie was the most miserable bass player Gretschen Hofner ever had. Being in Gretschen Hofner was clearly not doing him much good. He later entered the soft and dried fruit import business.
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Justine live somewhere up north, during Mark 5 era

Budgie and Paulie were terrific bass players, but in some kind of revenge karma for all the bass player carnage that preceded them, they both quit. In this era Gretschen Hofner was a band, which no right-thinking bass player would touch, which exlained why Budgie rejoined.
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Budgie! A new breed of bass-playing flightless bird!

Gretschen Hofner Mark 6

Jan 98 to Aug 98



Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Justine Armatage: electric violin, piano, vocals

Martin Burden: bass

Andy Willis drums



This line-up marked the departure of co-founder Geoff Harvey, whose lounge lizard persona and drum style had diverged from the increasingly severe krautrock and Eric Satie directions, which Paul and Justine were charting for the band. When the end came, it was not without some short-lived animosity.

Budgie returned to the nest, and Andy Willis was proof that sometimes putting adverts in the Melody Maker can actually work. Although Gretschen Hofner was out of a record deal, this period was one of the best musically.
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One of the last Gretschen Hofner gigs. The band were barely speaking to each other at this point.

After playing two final gigs at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Justine fell on her own sword, and checked out. By the time she left, she had developed a hatred for electric guitar, which was always going to be problematic, when the band's founder is a guitarist.

Gretschen Hofner Mark 7

Sep 98 to Dec 98



Paul Hofner: vocals, guitar

Martin Burden: bass

Andy Willis drums



The only three piece line-up for Gretschen Hofner changed direction again towards 'space pop.' And then, when that didn't take off, it was over.



Rest In Peace GH (1990 to 1998). Never to return!!
Sunday, April 22, 2007 

Category: Music
An Incomplete Gretschen Hofner Discography

1990

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Blue Angel 12in vinyl 7in vinyl singles
Fine Tune Records

Tracks (12in): Blue Angel / The Devil Made Me Do It / The Great New Mexico McDonalds Massacre / The True Story of Gretschen Hofner

1991

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Ten Torrid Tales Ten Track Demo for promotional purposes

Tracks: Ten First Takes / Get The Picture? / Acupuncture Amphitheatre / Tenderheart / Electric Chair / Blind Date / Double D Deluxe / Abney Park / Delilah / Walt Disney Tears

1992

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Betty Page Is Back 12in vinyl and CD singles
Blue Eyed Dog Records

Tracks (CD single): Betty Page Is Back / Born To Be Bad / White Trash / Box Of Tricks

1993

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Savage Soundtracks for Swinging Lovers
Blue Eyed Dog Records

This was released as a companion 10in vinyl single with PURR Magazine. Four bands are featured: Gallon Drunk, Gretschen Hofner, Barry Adamson and Jake Vegas

Gretschen Hofner track was 'A Judy Garland Life'

1994

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Crow In Heels CD single
Humbug Records

Tracks: Crow In Heels / Man With A Smoking Gun / Pussycat / Aventurine In Church Street

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Tiger Bay CD single (release abandoned)
Humbug Records

Tracks: Tiger Bay / Revenge Is A Dish Best Tasted Cold / Saturnine / Moodswing Staircase

1995

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Zero To Nowhere 7in vinyl single (US only)
Secular Recordings

Tracks: Zero To Nowhere / Acts of God

1996

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Welcome To My Judy Garland Life CD and 7in vinyl singles
Poppy Records

Tracks (CD single): A Judy Garland Life / Revenge Is A Dish Best Tasted Cold / Saturnine

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Betty Page Is Back CD and 7in vinyl singles
Poppy Records

Tracks (CD single): Betty Page Is Back / Melissa / St. James Infirmary

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Maria Callous CD Album
Poppy Records

Tracks: Acupuncture Amphitheatre / A Judy Garland Life / Betty Page Is Back / Crow In Heels / ?Mystery? / Zero To Nowhere / Klassy With A Kapital K (Pts 1 and 2) / Acts Of God / Moodswing Staircase / Tiger Bay Rhapsody / Leopardskin Pink

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Time For A Black Jesus? 7in vinyl single
Poppy Records

Tracks: Time For A Black Jesus / She Is The Big She

1997

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Crow In Heels CD single
Poppy Records

Tracks: Crow In Heels / Mixed Drinks Mantra / Stereogram / Silver Thief In A Long Black Veil

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Volume 16 - Copulation Explosion

This was a double CD compilation issued by Volume Magazine with tracks from artists including Beck, The Cure, Baader Meinhoff, Edward Ball, The Afghan Whigs, The Pop Group, Space, and Dubstar.

Gretschen Hofner track was 'St. Pauli'

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A Tribute To Betty Page
Cult Music

This was a CD album compilation album dedicated to Betty Page. Gretschen Hofner contributed two versions of Betty Page Is Back.

1998

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Live At The ICA
UnreleasedAlbum

Tracks: Ampidextrene 1 / Mania / Cheap Calls / Nice Is A Four Letter Word / Jonny Pumpkin / Mysterious / Ampidextrene 2 / Betty Page Is Back / Gallery / Hose Monster / She 'n' Me / ?Mystery?

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Headtones
Unreleased Album

Tracks: Headtones / Brothers / Castanets / All Flesh Is Grass / Bloody Mary / Good Cop Bad Cop / Hypnosister / Retro Guru In A Sheepskin Coat / She 'n' Me / St. Pauli / Theme From 'A Slice of Killer Nun' / Sugar Bomb / That Man Can Score / Twins / Gallery / Wash Dry Kill / Headtones (Redux)