Playing the New York punk circuit, the Plasmatics became notorious for their extreme stage shows, which, early on, started with Williams firing blanks from a sawed-off shotgun and taking a chainsaw to a human dummy filled with stage blood, sending a spray of fake gore throughout the club and anticipating the fake carnage of GWAR by nearly a decade. The music, however, was another story: mostly sub-literate punk rock loaded with lots of quasi-sci-fi totalitarianism and consumer nightmares of unknown proportions that on record didn't work without the stage pyrotechnics, something Swenson and the Plasmatics understood completely as the stage shows quickly became more elaborate: cars were blown up, guitars were sawed in half (oddly, the dummy disappeared), equipment was set on fire -- it was a Beavis and Butt-Head wet dream come to life, although none of this translated into good record sales.
While Williams became something of a demi-celebrity in punk circles, especially after she was busted (and brutalized by police) in Milwaukee for "public indecency," the Plasmatics were all show and no substance. Jean Beauvoir, apparently on a quest for legitimacy, quit the band, and the focus became Wendy O. rather than the bunch of unknowns backing her up. After 1982's Coup D'Etat, Williams went solo, worked with Lemmy from Motorhead, and roped in Kiss's Gene Simmons to produce her album W.O.W. She made another solo LP, 1986's Kommander of Kaos, and that same year appeared in the movie Reform School Girls; after a 1989 Plasmatics reunion outing, Maggots: The Record, she made a few more acting appearances before essentially dropping from sight altogether during the early 1990s. On April 8, 1998, it was announced that Williams had committed suicide; she was 48.