November 27, 2012
In the early 1980s, girl groups rocked New York’s East Village, giving a
beat-happy new wave kick that was both artsy and gritty. The bands had
names like Shazork, Das Fürlines, Frieda and French Twist – they were
glam, they were sassy, had spectacular costumes, and big hair (or wigs).
One of these memorable though not as well known all-girl bands was
called Pulsallama, and they took a clever swing into paranormal satire in
1982 with a little college radio treasure called “The Devil Lives In My
It documents a suburban housewife’s worst nightmare when her
husband starts making barking noises. In a post-1950s throwback to
seventeeth century New England Puritanism, there can only be one
explanation for this behaviour – Beelzebub himself must possess the
poor man! What’s a girl to do but call on the witch next door to cure him?
In correspondence to me, Staceyjoy "Timbalina" Elkin reveals the origins
of the song: "'The Devil Lives in My Husbands Body' was inspired by a
True Confessions pulp magazine someone had given Dany for her
birthday. The story was in there, she read it aloud to us during a
rehearsal, we laughed so hard, it became a song. Things were relatively
cause and effect in those days, without much historical or intellectual
Yet interestingly there are several historical linkages to this storyline. For
one, especially before and during the Reformation, common folk still
used cunning men and women who used magic to cure ills and resolve
problems, even if the churches preached against such actions. In the
song, the suburban housewife does just that, asking the witch next door
to lend a helping hand.
The twist at the end of the song in which a medical doctor diagnoses that
the husband has Tourette syndrome also plays on history. When people
were afflicted by mental illness before such things could be diagnosed
medically, problems ranging from epilepsy to dementia could be
construed as demonic possession. At times, an unpopular neighbour
might be accused of cursing the ill person, and a witch trial would be
conducted. What could not be explained was determined to be of
supernatural origin, and illnesses indicated some form of malicious
conjuring was being used to harm the ailing individual.
So keep this history in mind as you get a rare chance to enjoy this East
Village underground classic!
Pulsallama were Jean Caffeine, Kimberly “Princess” Davis, Staceyjoy
“Timbalina” Elkin, Dany Johnson, Diana Lillig, Ann Eleanor Magnuson,
Lori “Bubbles” Montana, Miss April Palmieri, Charlotte Slivka, Min
“Bonefinder” Thometz, Ande Whyland and Wendy Wild. “The Devil Lives
In My Husband’s Body” was released both as a 7” and 12" single
released on Y Records in 1982. They also made a music video which is
featured on YouTube:
Lyrics: "The Devil Lives In My Husband’s Body"
Donald? Donald honey, what are you doing down there in the basement?
That’s what I said to my husband Donald when he came home from work
last night he said, “Honey, I gotta fix something downstairs.” Well as I
was pulling out the casserole, I heard this weird barking noise coming
from the basement and you know, we don't have a dog.
The devil lives in my husband’s body.
No one can help up but the witch next door.
The devil lives in my husband’s body.
Our friends can’t come over anymore.
So this went on for two weeks every night he’d go down to the basement
and I’d hear this barking. So finally I called up Hilda, the next door
neighbour. Well, everybody in town thinks she's a witch. But just
because she has 17 cats doesn't make her a witch... does it?
So Hilda agreed to come over for the barbeque we have on Saturday
afternoons and we were having a drink, the kids were on the swing set
and Donald was making hot dogs and hamburgers. All of a sudden I
looked over at him and his face began to twitch and then he started
barking and then swearing, like uncontrollably.
So I was totally freaking out, Donald was hysterical. Hilda said he was
possessed by the devil and needed an exorcism right away. I sent him to
the psychiatric hospital. Two weeks later the doctor called me up and
said I’m sorry but your husband has Tourette Syndrome, an incurable
psychiatric disorder. He’s going to be barking like that for the rest of his
Oh!...our insurance doesn't cover it.
References: Girls of the 80s:
East Village Sound Gallery
(no longer online). Special
thanks to Dr. Dana Wessell-
class on the Witch Hunts in
Early Modern Europe for first
tuning me in to the historical
More songs by Pulsallama.
Pulsallama member Jean
This revised article originally
appeared on Sue Demeter-
St.Clair and Matthew
Didier's Paranormal Blog on 5 September 2007 and has been
reprinted on the Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada
by Christopher Laursen
What are the roots of the 1980s hidden gem,
“The Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body” by
Pulsallama? Band member Staceyjoy Elkin
reveals that pulp fiction and not early modern
witch trials served as the inspiration.
article | imaginative works
Supernatural Songcraft: Pulsallama’s
"The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body"
Pulsallama's glamourous joy circa 1982.
Photo courtesy of Staceyjoy "Timbalina" Elkin; used by permission
Pulsallama's "The Devil Lives in My Husband's Body."
Video by Paul Dougherty
STUDIES & EXPERIENCES
OF THE EXTRAORDINARY
© 2012-2014 Extraordinarium Digital Press & Journal.
All rights reserved.
Press is distributing
Horror Bound’s ebook
for the acclaimed
dark fiction anthology
FEAR OF THE DARK
featuring 300 pages worth
of eerie tales by emerging
and established writers.
starting at only
$4.99 USD / £3.58 / €4.38
CLICK HERE to read the
author biographies, and
to buy your copy.
Extraordinarium Digital Press publishes
non-fiction on studies & experiences of the
extraordinary; speculative fiction; and
OUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
WHAT IS EXTRAORDINARIUM?
Extraordinarium is a Digital Press & Journal
in which we journey through the extraordinary,
the fantastical and the supernatural. It is
curated and edited by Christopher Laursen.
The extraordinary consists of moments,
events, and things that unexpectedly catch us
off guard - changing how we see the our lives.
It defies order, challenges rules, and invites us
rethink everything! Read more about the
extraordinary in our About section.
Our online Journal, Studies and Experiences
of the Extraordinary (SEE), features indepth
articles, interviews, and first-hand experiences
on many facets of the extraordinary.
The Digital Press publishes non-fiction on
studies & experiences of the extraordinary;
speculative fiction; and imaginative works.
Subscribe to our e-mail list for updates.
EXTRAORDINARIUM’S CHRISTOPHER LAURSEN
& PAUL CROPPER DELVE INTO THE BALDOON
MYSTERY IN FORTEAN TIMES
(FT 315, JUNE 2014).