Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

August 4-10, 2005


BACK IN BLACK: "We realized when designing the new spot that a lot of what we sell is black," says Stefanie Windfelder. "We tried to give everyone a lot of eye candy."
Photo By: Michael T. Regan
Zipperhead Is Dead

God save Crash Bang Boom.

This is the last story about Zipperhead. It would seem so, now that the 407 South St. address Margarita Passion and Rick Millan (the owner of the building and the Z-head name) first occupied in 1980 to clothe spiky area youts has gone the way of Philly punk totems like Sadistic Exploits and No Milk. And the address has been leased by Millan to Manhattan-based dress-sellers whose name dare not be spoken.

We will remember the words of Courtney Love when she drug-drunkenly made a pit stop into the Zip, pissed at T-shirts that bore her deceased husband's death certificate: "Grrowlaaarrrrrrrryg. " We will think longingly of Rodney Anonymous' immortalization of Philly's home to Exploited T's and Doc Martens, in the biggest of Dead Milkmen's hits, "Punk Rock Girl":

"One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead/ I met a girl there/ And she almost knocked me dead."

And now Zipperhead's over. It was over when Millan sold it and got its near-seven-year proprietors, Rob and Stefanie Windfelder, a new location for punk rock clothing yards away at 528 S. Fourth St. It was over when I spied the Windfelders' pal Anonymous at the Pontiac as the couple celebrated the birth of their new store, Crash Bang Boom, with an all-ages, all-night party of bands and booze starring Rob's own mellow-harshing Live Not On Evil. Though it was a bit lame to see bands spraying plastic bottled water, and not glass jugs of Jack Daniel's, at the audience.

"People were just happy to know that we just didn't go away altogether," says Stefanie. "And they seem excited about the change."

Anonymous was there to hail the new Caesar and stab the old one. "I'm just here to support [Rob and Stef], have my two drinks and go home," says Anonymous. "We got to meet every one of our customers, old and new, one at a time all over again," says Rob, not only of the Pontiac show packed with buyers and buds, but of the new location's immediate draw.

Choices of appropriate crowd-spritzers aren't all that's changed for the Windfelders. After going through the initial heartache — they had only 60 days to find a spot and move merchandise — they had to deal with the secondary heartache: the bullshit.

"First we had to convince ourselves that we were not going away, and then we had to deal with everyone getting the story really wrong," Rob says. "Everywhere we looked, the story was that we were going out of business. So we had to convince everyone else that we were not going away."

They were also not going away from South Street. But they had to find a location on it, or just off it, the same size or bigger than 407, that they would have the freedom to spray-paint in fabulous Day-Glo lime green with tiger stripes. They had to make landlords understand that the good guys sometimes wear black and have a lot of kids with Mohawks on the pavement.

Soon, they found Philly Vintage's double address at 528 S. Fourth (the antique clothier has kept 530); one longer, bigger and wider than 407, with more nooks and crannies to store skull heads with bright pink wigs, pointy leopard-fur shoes and studded everything.

The new location is just far enough away from South Street's Duck buses and tourists. "We get to see all our customers, but with less, "Hey Jane, can you see me wearing this to the office?' which is nice," says Rob. "Zipperhead was 407 South and this is something different. It will not soon be forgotten." Fortunately for tourists, the ants — a legendary part of Z-head's front, literally and figuratively — will remain as Millan has written in the lease for 407 that new tenants must leave them.

"We have one lonely giant ant atop our Crash Bang Boom sign and he seems to be happy there," says Rob.

The most crucial part of making CBB — along with touchstones like the Elvis-in-Vegas bust, the charcoal-toned faux marble counters, and the silvery metallic bat — was its colors and how each stood next to the other and how they would affect the look of East Coast Ghost shirts, Lip Service tops, Cykxincorp gear and miles of hair dye, monochrome or bold.

"We realized when designing the new spot that a lot of what we sell is black," says Stefanie. So they went toward the obvious green skulls and pink and yellow wigs and other off-primary tones wherever they could. "We tried to give everyone a lot of eye candy," says Rob, who along with his missus, is the spikiest, most colorful part of the decor.

"The last thing we wanted to hear was, "This isn't as cool as the last place,' says Rob. "Now that all is said and done, it's great to sit back and look around and say, "Ahh this is home."

Crash Bang Boom, 528 S. Fourth St., 215-928-1123.

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