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 Husband’s Body.” 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 input." 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. [chorus] 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? [chorus] 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. [chorus] 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 life. [chorus] Oh!...our insurance doesn't cover it. Oh! References: Girls of the 80s:  East Village Sound Gallery  (no longer online).  Special thanks to Dr. Dana Wessell- Lightfoot's undergraduate class on the Witch Hunts in Early Modern Europe for first tuning me in to the historical background. More songs by Pulsallama. Pulsallama member Jean Caffeine’s website. 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 (PSICAN) website.
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"
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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
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