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Kembra Pfahler (born August 4, 1961 in Hermosa Beach, California, United States)[1] is an American filmmaker associated with the Cinema of Transgression, a performance artist, rock musician, and film actress.

Kembra Pfahler
Kembra Pfahler.jpg
Kembra Pfahler (center) with her band at the "It's Not Only Rock'n'Roll Baby" exhibition, Bozar, Brussels, 19 June 2008
Background information
Born (1961-08-04) August 4, 1961 (age 57)
Hermosa Beach, California, United States
GenresGlam rock, punk rock, shock rock
Occupation(s)Singer, filmmaker

She is mostly known as the lead singer of the glam, punk, shock rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black,[2] and for the often nude and sexual nature of her art exhibits.


Early lifeEdit

Pfahler is the daughter of surfer Freddy Pfahler, who had appeared in the 1958 surf film Slippery When Wet, directed by Bruce Brown.[3] She grew up in Southern California.


She appeared as a child actress in TV commercials for Kodak film. Later on, as a teenager, she moved to the East Coast of the United States and became involved in the 1980s East Village scene associated with ABC No Rio, when she began acting in low-budget horror, fetish and sadomasochistic films.[2]

She describes herself as an Availabilist,[4][5] using what is closest at hand ("available") as both the inspiration for her work and the medium of her expression.


During the 1980s, Pfahler worked as a Calvin Klein model, during a heroin chic campaign.[5]


In 1990, Pfahler and Samoa Moriki, her husband at the time, founded the band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black on the Lower East Side. The band was named in homage to actress Karen Black. They released three albums: Anti-Naturalists (1995); A National Healthcare (1996); and Black Date (1998).

Pfahler and Samoa shot many horror films and used visual and performance art for their performances. VHOKB's live performance of The Wall of Vagina appears on Disinformation DVD - The Complete Series. VHOKB also appear on the a;bum Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna.

Pfahler sang backup on the song "Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat and Crucify" on the album Brutality and Bloodshed for All of GG Allin And The Murder Junkies.[6]

In 2013, she covered the traditional "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" for the sea shanty compilation Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys.[7]

Performance artEdit

Pfahler, while in Europe, discovered and took inspiration from the Viennese Actionism movement, specifically Rudolf Schwarzkogler.[5] Her performances have included the cracking of paint-filled eggs on her vulva.[2] In 1984, she performed in XS: The Opera Opus when it was presented at the Pyramid Club. She created solo performances in the 1980s at ABC No Rio.

In January 2007, Pfahler, with Julie Atlas Muz, curated a mixed-media art exhibition titled Womanizer at Deitch Projects. The show included works by E.V. Day, Breyer P-Orridge, Vaginal Davis, and burlesque performer Bambi the Mermaid.[8] Her contribution was an installation with a bed set that contained a skeleton and dolls painted in multiple colors, surrounded by walls plastered with red paste, as well as a video that shows her ripping the dolls out of a birthing canal.[9]

As part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial and with support from the Art Production Fund, Pfahler and VHOKB gave a performance in the Park Avenue Armory's Drill Hall on 14 March 2008.[10]

In a performance piece shown in Richard Kern’s Sewing Circle (1992), Pfhaler had her vagina sewn shut by artist Lisa Resurreccion while only wearing a “Young Republicans” t-shirt.[5][11]

Personal lifeEdit

Kembra was at one time married to band co-founder Samoa Moriki.[2] Her brother is Adam Pfahler, the drummer of Jawbreaker.


  1. ^ "Kembra Pfahler : Whitney programme". Archived from the original on 21 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  2. ^ a b c d Georgina Cardenas (July 11, 1996). "Rocky Horror Stage Show". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  3. ^ Engle, John. Surfing in the Movies: A Critical History, McFarland, 2015, ISBN 978-0786495214
  4. ^ Kembra Pfahler interview by Brienne Walsh, Bomb, 6 November 2015
  5. ^ a b c d Meltzer, R. Disinformation: The Interviews, New York: Disinformation Ltd, 2002, ISBN 0-9713942-1-0pp.68-80
  6. ^ GG Allin and the Murder Junkies: After Hours DVD, Volume 2
  7. ^ "Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  8. ^ Womanizer at the Deitch Projects Archived November 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Robinson, Andrew C. "Post-Gender Pandrogyny"Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine. Gay City News, 18 January 2007
  10. ^ "2008 Whitney Biennial". Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Kembra Pfahler: You Will Lose Friends for Your Art", Huffington Post, 11 November 2015

External linksEdit