In its early days, punk was celebrated for its diversity and inclusive spirit. But it also experienced issues of gender inequality, dating back to its beginnings in the mid-1970s.
Yes, women fronted many of the most iconic punk bands in history and served as principal originators of the movement — see Patti Smith, Joan Jett and Exene Cervenka, to name a few. Still, by the early '90s, women in punk and rock had become so marginalized that it sparked the riot grrrl movement, a feminist hardcore punk culture that dissected and discussed women's issues.
Two decades later, Riot Grill tackles some of those same social issues at the intersection of punk rock and feminism, as well as LGBT rights.
“I grew up in the ‘90s riot grrrl punk scene,” says celebrity chef Nadia G, founder of Riot Grill, a first-of-its-kind, fully female-fronted festival combining punk music, edgy comedy and her patented "bitchin’" food, happening Aug. 7 at the Regent Theater in downtown L.A. “These women didn't just create incredible music; they're the feminist role models of my generation. Riot Grill continues the tradition of celebrating fierce ladies — from rock & roll to comedy to food — and I'm f'n proud to help set that stage.”
In a completely flooded festival market, Riot Grill cuts through the noise via its unique blend of music, food and comedy. For Nadia G, it was important that her event find its own lane.
“I wanted to take the best things life has to offer and slap them together for a magical night of mayhem,” she says. “Riot Grill is the first and only all-femme fest that melds an exquisite menu, sick stand-up and dirty rock & roll all under one roof.”
Nadia G has the right combination of brains and clout to pull this off. A literal culinary rock star, she currently hosts hit TV series Bitchin' Kitchen on the Cooking Channel and has penned two best-selling cookbooks. Her new riot grrrl act, The Menstruators, will perform at the festival. So launching Riot Grill was a natural move for her.
There’s an agenda at work with Riot Grill, too, one that hearkens back to the days of revolutionary punk. In addition to underlining gender-inequality issues by highlighting leading females in the fields of food, music and comedy, the festival is a proud advocate of LGBT rights, supporting the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest civil rights organization working to protect LGBT equality.
“We are living in revolutionary times,” says Nadia G. “From Amy Schumer to Empire's Cookie to Caitlyn Jenner, strong women are finally front and center in the [media landscape]. That's what Riot Grill is all about: celebrating kick-ass women with one fist in the air, while the other holds a bacon-chocolate cupcake.”
The musical lineup features three punk and riot grrrl artists: ‘80s punk pioneers Babes in Toyland, who inspired many riot grrrl acts but never directly associated with the movement; Mexican garage-punk trio Le Butcherettes; and L.A.-via-Philadelphia brat-punk duo Slutever. The food menu will feature a Bitchin’ Kitchen pop-up presented by Nadia G herself, and Emmy Award–winning stand-up comedian Sara Schaefer, formerly of MTV’s now-defunct Nikki & Sara Live, hosts the night.
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“At the most basic level, I just want everyone to come out and have a blast eating, laughing and rocking out. But it’s also a chance to inspire women, and men, to support gender equality and LGBT rights,” says Nadia G. “Having an all-female-fronted lineup is such a rare thing, and I hope it inspires more [women and men] to get loud and not be afraid to express themselves, from the kitchen to the stage and everywhere in between.”
The Riot Grill Festival takes place Friday, Aug. 7, at the Regent Theater.