Daddy and Her Demons: The Wild World of Metal Singer Turned Shock Rapper Dana Dentata | Revolver

Daddy and Her Demons: The Wild World of Metal Singer Turned Shock Rapper Dana Dentata

Meet confrontational artist following in Wendy O. Williams' footsteps
danadentata_credit_nahall_pouransari.jpg, Nahall Pouransari
photograph by Nahall Pouransari

"I don't know if I should say this," Dana Dentata starts without a pause, "but I think there should be more female serial killers. We're getting murdered every single fucking day for walking down the street. I wish more women would start murdering men, just to get some balance." In a lopsided world, where women find themselves at the mercy of men's desire and violence, the only way to tip the scales — to find that balance — says Dentata, is to get extreme. In her own, less homicidal way, she's doing just that.

As the former frontwoman of Canadian metal band Dentata (which took its name from a folk tale about a vagina with teeth), as well as a former stripper, Dentata finds herself on a similar trajectory as her hero — Plasmatics' firebrand Wendy O. Williams. Like Williams, Dentata incorporates shock-rock performance art into her live shows. Where Wendy once chainsawed a guitar in half, Dentata's been known to plaster herself in prosthetics and crack her puttied head in two — a performance she went all out for while supporting Marilyn Manson on Halloween in Las Vegas last year. And like Williams, Dentata, too, has gone from rock to rap. She's since impressed some of the most formidable names in hip-hop, from Kanye West, who asked her to give the closing performance at the 2018 PornHub Awards, to Ghostemane, who has invited her out on tour and posed with her in luxury fashion shoots. But above all, Williams and Dentata share a similar mission statement. Today, Dentata comes closest to reincarnating her hero's female-chauvinist moment, where toxic masculinity is combated with violent femininity, and virulent misogyny meets its mirror image in bloody castration. Although she may have found a spiritual foremother in Williams, Dentata exists as a singular visionary. She's been steadily accruing hype since 2019's EP Daddy Loves You, a buildup that's set to accelerate now that she's become the latest in just a handful of female solo artists to sign to metal and rock stronghold Roadrunner Records, the label home of Slipknot, Korn and Gojira. She's been given a platform, now Dentata's on a path to unfuck the world, by fucking it up — with bucketloads of period blood — first.

Dentata wasn't always this vulgar. As a Britney Spears–worshipping kid in the Canadian suburb of Etobicoke, her earliest performances were far less messy than the goo-gore style of Dentata today. She remembers rallying the girls in her class to perform the songs of Spice Girls and S-Club 7 on the school stage, urgently finding any opportunity to sing and dance — whether that was at her local bingo night or for a bunch of bemused kids at recess. Those pop-star aspirations soon began to dissipate, as the boredom of suburbia took its toll. In Dentata's early adolescence, she came into possession of a fake passport, equipping herself with it on the hour-long bus ride to Toronto each night, where she discovered the unstable salvation of drink and drugs. "I'm glad I got it out of my system early," she reflects.

After her mother died when she was at 14, Dentata grew distant from her brother, and fell into a group of stoner boys at school. At that age, scoring weed was far higher on the agenda than getting good grades, and she was berated by her classmates whose priorities were the other way around. "They could get 100 percent on their test, but I knew I was smarter than them all." After a smoking session, she'd often go back to an empty home. Her father worked excessively, a habit that Dentata herself picked up. "In therapy, I've learned that my work ethic has been a way to cope with my trauma — to just keep going, and never stop."

At the age of 15, she was scouted as a model, a career that attempted to aggressively constrict Dentata's body and spirit, but ultimately just drew out her inherent rebelliousness. She was a startlingly skinny kid, but her agents still told her not to eat, and to instead just "drink a lot of coffee." At 15, 35 inches was a number firmly implanted at the front of her mind — if her hips grew even half an inch more, she'd be refused work. "It's anti-woman," she says. "I was like, Fuck it, I'm getting a McDonald's."

She took refuge in the band Dentata, which she formed at the age of 18. And after playing the group's debut show, she found her first true maternal figures in two ultra-feminist lesbians who were in the crowd. "They were the first people to ever take me in," she says, "the first people to feed me, give me a home. They really mentored me, and I still consider them family to this day."

She continued performing in the group for the next four years. She'd write songs on guitar in her room, bring them to the band, and perform them onstage with "W.O.W" taped across her tits, in homage to her idol. "We would also have a giant coffin with a vagina on the front, or bring out a pig head on a stick. It really laid out the blueprint for my performance art, which is why I feel so comfortable doing it now, because I really put in the work then."

From the band, she went back into modelling, this time for American Apparel. While it allowed her to find her footing in L.A., the stint didn't last long. She found a very well-paying job as a stripper. She started out at the club — The Brass Rail in Toronto — as a waitress, and was soon promoted to the pole, where she learned how to harness her power and, crucially, manipulate men. "You're not allowed to cross certain boundaries, and I think that was so important for me. I learnt a lot of boundaries being a stripper, and that stuff was taken away from me as a kid."

At the end of 2017, Dentata came out of an "extremely abusive relationship" and has been "mostly celibate" since then. She moved back to L.A., began performing as the Dana Dentata we know her as today, and by her third or fourth show, girls began calling her "daddy." "I started to think about why," she says, "and I felt it's because I present my sexuality and my power in a very masculine way, so it's resonating as masculine energy, which I love."

She's since fully embraced her "daddy" persona, reclaiming it as a non-toxic archetype "in the way that, you know, some crayons are non-toxic." Now, you'll often find daddy Dentata with a "demon" — a rotation of men she impounds in prosthetics — who are made to endure a cosmetic discomfort similar to the ones imposed on her as a model. Objectifying men is both one of Dentata's joys, as well as a flaw. "I'm, like, extremely straight," she says. "I sort of wish I could be hypnotized out of it." Her heterosexuality is so hardcore, in fact, that the thought of having sex with women actively repulses her. "I think women are beautiful as pieces of art, but once I had to make out with a girl in a movie and they had to cut it from the movie because I couldn't do it. The whole time I was like, Eurgh! Eurgh!"

Men, for Dentata, are there to be curbed towards her will. Her signing to Roadrunner — which for the past 30 years has been "a stagnant bro-fest," she says — was deliberate. She's working to create a giant shift structurally, as well as intimately. That begins with ensuring her own safety first. "It's been really hard for me to go into the studio," she says, "because when I go to these sessions, everything I wanna sing about and talk about is my trauma. So it's kinda hard to go and sit with some dumbass 22-year-old boy who's like, 'Yaaaaahh,' and I'm wanting to talk about some profound levels of pain and misogyny." Dentata's yet to feel safe in the studio, "which is why my music and lyrics are the way they are because I'm trolling the producer."

Still, this is the closest to safety Dentata's ever been. This is the first time Dentata's able to create outside of survival mode, when every moment feels like clinging onto life with bloody claws. Dentata's found comfort, she's embracing stillness, and because of that, she's about to make the greatest art of her life. "I'm working on an album right now," she confirms. "I am so many things, and I wanna have all of those elements on this album. I wanna sing, I wanna scream, I wanna whisper. I wanna do everything."