The first time I interviewed Pat Benatar, she was very wary of me and visibly uncomfortable. It didn’t take long to understand why: Rolling Stone’s Encyclopedia of Rock’n’Roll states unequivocally in its opening line, “Pat Benatar was the most successful female rocker of the 1980s.” What should be added is that she was probably the most exploited, as well. After the diminutive singer appeared on the covers of both her 1980 second album Crimes of Passion and Rolling Stone that year dressed in a leotard, Pat Benatar did for Danskin sales what Guns’n’Roses would later do for the tattoo industry.
Having grown up in the performance world of opera, live theater, and cabaret before embracing rock, it was no less a common practical uniform than was the waitress whites and apron she donned while struggling in New York City to make ends meet after a failed marriage. But while Benatar’s management, record label, and new media sensation MTV all co-dependently promoted her as a ballsy chick sexpot, the burgeoning women’s lib movement was pointing to Pat as a sexist stereotype that objectified women! All the while Benatar was breaking the band taboo of falling in love with her musical director/co-writer, guitarist Neil Giraldo. Hear how Pat Benatar risked it all for artistic integrity and true love on Crimes of Passion’s 35th anniversary this week. -Redbeard