Even as Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten is out there embarrassing himself on TV, many of his female counterparts are still struggling to get their due. Celeste Bell, the daughter of X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Styrene, is looking to change that, with an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a documentary on her famous mom. The film, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche, was co-written by music writer Zoë Howe along with Bell, who says of the project: “This film will be a celebration of the life and work of my mother, an artist who deserves to be recognized as one of the greatest front women of all time; a little girl with a big voice whose words are more relevant than ever.”
Styrene, born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, had an extraordinary life. The daughter of a British legal secretary and a Somali aristocrat, she spent her early teenage years as a hippie hitchhiking between music festivals, and released a reggae track under her own name before forming X-Ray Spex after seeing a sparsely attended Sex Pistols gig on her 18th birthday. A neon-clad, biracial singer barely out of her teens with braces and a confrontational attitude, Styrene was a distinctive figure on the British punk scene, and faced racism and misogyny as a result. After the breakup of X-Ray Spex, Styrene became a Hare Krishna, releasing a handful of solo albums over the following decades while struggling privately with mental illness. She died of cancer in 2011, at the age of 53.
The campaign for Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché has currently raised just over £5,000 of its £70,000 goal, and has a month left to go. You can read more about it and donate here.