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The Curse

The Curse - Shoeshine Boy / The Killer Bees - 7

Shoeshine Boy / The Killer Bees - 7"
Hi-Fi - 1978

Michael Panontin
Ostensibly Canada's first female punk band (with challenges to that throne by the B-Girls and the Dishrags), Toronto's Curse were there right from the get-go, slotted to open for the Tools on a cancelled May 27, 1977 gig at the SEED Auditorium on McCaul, later backing up the Viletones at the infamous Crash 'n' Burn club in June, and then taking the stage at CBGB a month later on an all-Canadian bill ("Outrageous punk bands from Toronto, Canada!") that included the Viletones, the Diodes and Teenage Head. And singer Mickey Skin's spoken-word rant occupied the b-side of the frighteningly rare punk artifact, the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication's 'Raw' / 'War' split seven-inch with the Diodes.

The Curse took the punk credo to its extreme, with Skin sporting a fake lobotomy scar on her forehead, pulling hot dogs out of her pants and then squashing them on stage. At Shoeshine Boy's record release party, they served a Purple Jesus punch that could only be drunk by sucking it out of tampons floating in the punchbowl. This was the Curse's only release as a band and it caused considerable outrage in a Toronto still cringing from the horrific rape and murder of 12-year-old shoeshine boy Emanuel Jaques along that city's seedy Yonge Street strip. 'Shoeshine Boy', despite its ripping guitar chords and perfunctory snarls, trod on touchy territory with its topical lyrics ("Emanuel with the curly hair / Why don't you climb on up these old stairs?...They'll beat you / Mistreat you"), and especially with the singularly chilling chorus of "wrapped in a plastic baaaag". What's more, copies of Shoeshine Boy were then mailed to the jailed killers, further stoking the public's anger. Though the b-side is a bit of a toss-off, with its faux metal riffs and cutesy vocals, the record did manage a second pressing the following year with a new cover and the offending 'Shoeshine Boy' obligingly slotted to the b-side.

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