The bachelorette party is one of the most pivotal moments in a bride's life, one final chance to enjoy total personal and sexual freedom prior to plunging into a lifetime of faithful matrimony — at least, that's the plan. Some bridal parties take the night as a license to get licentious, hiring naked butlers and swapping "adult" party favors; others indulge in luxurious spa treatments, or five-star dining.
And then there's Rachel Nakawatase, a metalhead bride-to-be from California who celebrated one of her last nights as a single woman at a San Diego avant-noise show earlier this month, raging to freak-metal stalwarts the Body and ascendant industrial artist Lingua Ignota, whose album All Bitches Die tackles misogyny and sexual abuse and is one of the heaviest, most harrowing feel-bad listens in recent memory. Party music, this is not. In lieu of the usual prenuptial gatherings, Nakawatase and her fiance, Ryan Betschart, have invited their friends to join them at multiple upcoming heavy-music shows in Los Angeles and San Diego in the lead-up to the wedding, a run they've dubbed the "Black Metal Bachelor-and-Bachelorette Tour." (And yes, they even made merch.) We caught up Nakawatase for the full low-down on the most cvlt bachelorette party of 2018.
I met my fiancé, Ryan, on a film set in Los Angeles in 2014. We had recently graduated at the time — he had completed his MFA in film/video at CalArts, and I finished the undergraduate theater program at UCLA. I immediately started working on film sets all over Los Angeles, and ended up doing the costumes for a film at CalArts, where he was doing sound. We started talking, and the rest was history. One unsuspecting weeknight, over dinner in our home, he asked me to marry him.
Ryan and I discovered our love of metal — especially black metal — together. We both knew about the genre and its historical baggage, but we didn't dive in deep until we became a couple. Thus, we decided to make our wedding invitations black metal–inspired. We actually had a hard time finding what we wanted, so we reached out to Christophe Szpajdel, the guy who designed the logo for Emperor. We'd met the artist while working the previous year's San Diego Underground Film festival, where we'd programmed a documentary on him The Lord of the Logos — and to our delight, he obliged.
For the bachelorette party, I wanted it to partially be a surprise. We had considered going for dinner and drinks, but at the last minute we decided to do something different. I had bought tickets to see the Body in San Diego, and when I saw that Lingua Ignota was opening for the whole tour, I got really excited. I really wanted my friends to see Lingua, in particular — her music is really heavy, but she also has this feminine vibe that captured my vision for a bachelorette party. You still get the girliness, but that heavy-music element, too. I got to thinking about how going to a show — or better yet, multiple shows! — for my bachelorette party could be such a unique, fun thing. My bridesmaids could see what me and my fiance are super into, and they could see Lingua Ignota!
Now, my friends and I all did band and orchestra together in high school, so we came from a music background, if not a heavy-metal background. So, even though the Body and Lingua were different from what they usually listened to, they'd be OK with it. I instructed my friends in San Diego and Los Angeles to buy tickets for the respective shows, and told them when and where to meet, but not much else. I always thought it'd be fun to design band merch — my fiance and I buy merch at every show we go to — so we made shirts for everyone. Each bridesmaid also received a pair of earplugs (pink, of course), and because this was a bachelorette party, and I couldn't resist these sparkly, fiber-optic hair-extension things.
My friends were with me in the pit for Lingua's set, and they absolutely loved it — especially the performance aspects, where she swings around on the work-lights and what not. A lot of my friends came up to me after the show and and were like, "Tonight, I discovered that I love metal. This is so great!" (Funnily enough, a lot of my friends told me afterwards that they'd found the show really soothing.)
I thought people at the show would find our shirts and hair extensions dumb, but the whole thing was really well-received. Everyone in the crowd was asking us for pictures with us! After the show, we even got a photo with Lingua, who loved our shirts.
Because our friends are split between San Diego and Los Angeles, my fiance and I decided to expand our respective bachelor(ette) parties into a multi-week "bachelor-bachelorette tour," culminating with the wedding on August 26th. We figured, hey, we could see all these bands back to back to back, so why not just go for it?
The first two stops had been the Body and Lingua Ignota shows, which were strictly for the girls. On August 15th, Ryan and his four groomsmen are all going to see Boris and Melvins at the Casbah in San Diego. Three days after that, on August 18th, the girls and the boys will join us at Brick by Brick (also in San Diego) for Deafheaven, Drab Majesty and Uniform. (Lingua told us she'll be attending the Deafheaven show, too, although she won't be performing.)
The last date on the tour is our wedding, to be held at the Moniker Warehouse in San Diego. We tried to channel that black-metal vibe into various aspects of the event, such as the floral arrangements, which incorporate ferns and Spanish moss (an air plant resembling silver hair, also known as "Pele's hair"). Ryan comes from British stock, and my family is from Hawaii — which, like Europe, has its own pagan heritage, so we wanted to draw upon both traditions. Additionally, we'll be taking part in a pagan hand-fasting ceremony.
Just like the bachelorette party, the wedding will have merch, too — everyone's getting an "I love black metal" tote bag (also designed by Szpajdel), with a heart graphic resembling the gnarled, thorns-and-roots look of black-metal band logos. I wanted to have even more metal in the playlist and whatnot — but in consideration of my parents, the dance music won't be quite so intense.