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Dislocated Shoulders, Mexican Abductions And Hanging With Iggy Pop

22 September 2015 | 4:48 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"I jumped on this guy that was ten times my size, but I dislocated his shoulder!"

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There's always that ringleader at slumber parties who turns out all the lights, illuminates their face from beneath with a torch and makes up spontaneous, chilling ghost stories or, alternatively, initiates games of Truth Or Dare. Le Butcherettes frontvixen Teri Gender Bender (aka Teresa Suárez) was probably that kid; laughter is permanently on call and no topic is off limits. And Suárez absolutely realises she's "so lucky" to get to hang with Iggy Pop, who guests on the track La Uva from her band's latest long-player. "He's a great guy," she gushes of the Godfather Of Punk. "It's really comforting knowing that people that you admire and have done a lot of very important things are humble. For example, he's not even aware of how iconic and incredible he is." Pop's "fluent in Spanish", "used to live in Mexico" and the pair immediately hit it off. "He was one of those people that are not at all in their own egos or in their own heads, they're truly interested in other people's stories and different sides to their versions of life," Suárez praises.

"It's really comforting knowing that people that you admire and have done a lot of very important things are humble."

After Pop had "finished his vocal takes", he offered to take Suárez and "the producer" (Omar Rodríguez-López, if you don't mind) for a spin in his car to show them "the true Miami". (She describes herself as "one of those ignorant people" when it comes to cars so can't elaborate on what model it was, except that "it was the air in your hair kinda car".) "The radio was off and we were just conversing and he was giving us a little history of each neighbourhood of the areas that we were going through, and he showed us the Cuban neighbourhood, Haitian, Italian... He's a teacher at heart, he just wants people to take something good from where he lives and that was really nice."

If you're lucky enough to see Le Butcherettes in action, you'll notice Suárez's fondness for climbing. When asked whether she's every badly injured herself during a show, Suárez marvels, "Oh my god, I've had the grace from an angel, or who knows what, protecting me 'cause I've had a couple of scares where I fell from really high pillars. And the worst thing that probably happened was a just a little sprained ankle, but I was ok within two days. But, oh my, one time I let the beast get a hold of me and I jumped on this guy that was ten times my size, but I dislocated his shoulder! And it was horrific because the guy was so drunk that he was laughing about it; he was showing his friends and he was like, 'Look, The Wolf Woman' — he was calling me The Wolf Woman — 'Look what she did to me! Oh my god, guys! This is so radical!' But in Spanish. And so he was like, 'Don't worry, I'm gonna be ok,' and his friends helped pop it back in, and he said, 'I'm not mad, just buy me a beer and we'll call it even'. And, oh my lord — and I couldn't even buy him a beer 'cause I had to get back on stage and finish the show." So did Suárez ever see that hombre again? "Never again!"

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Suárez simply adores "her country", Mexico. "Even Dali once said, 'I can never go back to Mexico because it's the one place that's more surreal than my paintings'," she laughs. On the flip side, she points out, "It's a hard place to start a band... something that's not even in the political world, something artistic — it's hard to get your start there because they're so misogynist that they just think, 'Oh, you must be screwing around with someone to be where you're at.'" Although she despairs, "We're already 2015 and it's still going on," Suárez stresses "there's still hope". "For example Mexico is not so bad, because at least, you know, women can still go to school. But in other countries — the seriously Third World countries — to go to school is like [to] basically put your family on a death threat... it's still a pretty scary world."

"Even Dali once said, 'I can never go back to Mexico because it's the one place that's more surreal than my paintings'."

When Suárez moved from Guadalajara to Los Angeles, she "was going through a hard time" and arrived with no money and "had nowhere to stay". A stranger on the street offered her a place to stay for the night. "I had to trust him and take him at his word and he said, 'Well you can spend the night at the apartment. I'm not gonna be even in town 'cause I'm leaving, but here are the keys to the apartment. You can stay,'" she recalls. Suárez admits that taking him up on his offer was out of character, but "gut feelings" reassured her she'd be ok. "It was great!" she enthuses. "I slept and I woke up the next morning and I felt reenergised, and I started on my pursuit of my journey of just a whole different life there. My self-esteem felt better, I didn't feel completely alone and then I swallowed my pride and I asked the manager that was working with me at the time, 'You know what? I'm gonna be honest I have no place to stay. I just stayed at a stranger's house last night. Can I please stay at your place for two weeks while I get myself an Airbnb or some kind of weekly, live-in hotel room?' And she said 'yes'. My fear is always to get a 'no', but she even laughed it off, she was like, 'Oh, my god, honey! It's no big deal, you can stay here and you should've asked sooner. You know, why are you so full of pride? And it's just — it's a Mexican thing, you know? You wanna work for yourself. I'm a very hard worker and I don't like asking for favours, but sometimes you've just gotta do it!"

It's surprising that Suárez was able to "put [her] defences down" given that her mother survived a kidnapping attempt. "She was just walking on the street, on a main avenue too — a happening restaurant area in Mexico City — and a big white van just parked right in front of her, and other ongoing people. But they pulled her in; she was just there at the wrong place, wrong time. And they snatched her in, along with her boyfriend, and held her in at gunpoint. And it was daylight; in front of everyone, basically. They were there for two hours in a van; they had their faces covered with a piece of black, like a pillow case, where they couldn't see anything. And she just kept hearing the horrible things that they wanted to do to them, and they were kinda like arguing what to do with them, and then she couldn't take it anymore and slowly felt the handle of the door; slowly reached there and opened the van door and pushed herself out. And behind her she felt her boyfriend also following her lead, but they managed to shoot him, putting him into a three-month coma. But he didn't die — thank god he didn't die... And this is when she was very young, she was 24. But, yeah! Now she has that story to, you know, tell me and brothers to always be very careful and not be trusting of basically anyone.

"When I was in LA by myself I had to kind of jump over all those ingrained fears in me and accept that guy's invitation to spend the night, because I was like, 'Ok, I risk it with this stranger or something might happen to me if I sleep on the street.'"