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Kirsten Malone, 1974–2004

When people called Kirsten Malone "crazy," they meant it as a compliment. She had a broad smile, a huge laugh, and a Laverne-inspired cursive-capital K tattooed on her chest. Always fashionably late, she would run around town in fake-fur hats, psychedelic dresses, and holey stockings. As a founding member of the Faux — a synth-noise foursome that squealed its way through Boston’s DIY scene, playing rented churches, colleges, and houses — the 29-year-old Boston University alum was known as "Lady K," a nutty, impassioned, fur-sporting keyboardist whose grrlish vocals and mechanized squeals tempered lead singer Jo Coelho’s wounded-raccoon squalls. In her previous band, the Statue Factor, she’d bungee-cord herself into the keyboard stand before shows.

Off stage, Malone was also, as long-time friend Joy Schloss puts it, "a kooky lady." She collected things obsessively — vinyl records, vintage clothes, hats, purses, even televisions — and juggled sundry art projects. She loved kitsch and wore T-shirts proclaiming things like NURSES CALL THE SHOTS and BECAUSE I’M THE MOMMY, THAT’S WHY. She liked boxed wine and exotic vegetables. She played the electric violin and wanted to make the keyboard-guitar cool again. She was always planning a journey, always set on moving to New York, always going somewhere to do something. As a conceptual artist, the Copley Society–scholarship recipient designed an online "Love Resume," a parodic dating-history summary that enumerated her romantic relationships (one of which was with Faux bandmate Coelho) so candidly that one ex-boyfriend threatened legal action. "That’s the kind of person she is — she’s just an art-school girl in every sense," says Schloss. "Fashionable, crazy, loud, selfless, and creative." She adds, "She knew everyone. Anywhere you’d go, she knew everyone."

Malone’s popularity — after all, she had 243 Friendsters — was never more apparent than last week. Two Saturdays ago, around 9 a.m., Malone was bicycling in Allston — en route to work on another art project, this one a photographic study of female body language during flirtation — when she was struck by a car. She wasn’t wearing a helmet, suffered severe head injuries, and fell into a coma. When word got out that Malone was hurt, countless people showed up to visit her. "Lines of people were there," says Coelho, who visited every day. "The nurses said, ‘We’ve never had a patient with this many visitors.’" Then, late on Tuesday night, Malone passed away.

As a fixture of Boston’s young-punk underground, Malone was loved not only by her friends and collaborators, but by young female musicians who saw her as a big-sister figure. And so this past Saturday morning, while a memorial service honored her in her home state of Connecticut, about 50 or so friends, acquaintances, and fans gathered at the spot where she was hit — near the intersection of Franklin and Lincoln Streets — to write notes and leave flowers. One note read, "I hope you knew that when we called you crazy it was a goddamned compliment."

"She was like nobility in the underground world of avant-rock," says Marc Pinansky, lead singer for Runner & the Thermodynamics, who played with Malone in the Statue Factor. "Everybody wants answers in these sort of situations. It almost seems like science to me: she was so creative and talented and burned so bright — that energy can’t last long in this world. It must somehow be countered. If everybody was like that, we’d all be superheroes."

"When I first dated her, I thought I was a pretty lame person because I couldn’t keep up with her," says Coelho, who dated Malone for two and a half years. "After we broke up, I realized that almost no one could keep up with her. Essentially, she was living the life of 20 people."

The Faux had been about to embark on a national tour, but now the tour is cancelled, the band dissolved. "The band couldn’t have existed without her," says Coelho. "So basically, that’s why we’re not doing this any more. We just can’t.’"

"Everyone else was two-dimensional, she was three-dimensional," says John Kelley, a long-time friend who’d been recruited to play guitar on the Faux’s upcoming tour. "She had guts and assertiveness."

And Malone was certainly gutsy. Kat Irannejad, Malone’s best friend for more than a decade, likes to tell one story about her pal — the consummate Kirsten Malone story. "We were in Chicago on New Year’s Eve of Y2K to see Trans Am," recalls Irannejad. "After midnight, she discovered the club’s main power switch was in the ladies’ bathroom. Since there was all this hysteria about power failures, we were like, ‘Kirsten, please don’t.’ And she just laughed, gave me a devilish twink, and disappeared. The next thing you know, all the lights are off. It was mass hysteria, people just laughing and freaking out because it’s Y2K. She got away with it, and it was hilarious." But then Malone wanted to do it again. "We were like, ‘Kirsten, don’t push your luck.’ She’s like, ‘Okay, well, I’m just going to go, ah, powder my nose.’... This time, the staff goes hauling ass to the bathroom and literally carries her out." The whole group got booted, but Malone couldn’t understand why her friends didn’t see the humor in the gag. "She was like, ‘What, you guys? It’s funny! It’s punk rock!’"

Ferris Wheels Bicycle Shop, located at 64 South Street, in Jamaica Plain, will be offering a 50 percent discount on bicycle helmets in memory of Kirsten Malone through Sunday, June 27. Call (617) 522-7082. On Friday, June 25, "Dynasty" featuring the Squids and DJs Andrew Gaspar and Comfortable Matt will be at the Milky Way, 403 Centre Street, in Jamaica Plain. Cover is $5; proceeds got to a Kirsten Malone memorial fund for young women studying at MassArt.

Issue Date: June 25 - July 1, 2004
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