“Stigmata” Ministry The Land of Rape and Honey 1988
While home for the holiday break between the fall and spring semesters, I saw two shows, both at the Phantasy Theater. The first was Nine Inch Nails on the Pretty Hate Machine Promo Tour a few days before New Year’s Eve. The second was Ministry on the Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste Tour on January 5, 1990. What I remember about the show is somewhat spotty, but here’s what I’ve got: KMFDM opened for them. A huge chain-link fence went up between the performers and the pit before Ministry took the stage that the band climbed on. There was a stocky guy dressed in black with a GIANT wooden rosary around his neck. In my memory, the cross was something like six-inches tall and the rosary “beads” were nearly ping-pong ball sized. It was practically a weapon. I attended the show with Jen and Nancy and my coworkers from Digital Daze.
Jen (not to be confused with “college friend Jen” from Columbus) was a small, Italian catholic spitfire. My parents’ house (where they still live) is on the county line, so I attended one school, and my next-door neighbors were in a different public school district. Turned out Jen grew up and lived around the corner from my house, but in that other school district. We soon realized Jen knew my next-door neighbors, my godparents and their kids, and other acquaintances outside of the punk scene. Jen is also the person who introduced me to Pam.
Jen and Nancy and Pam were all friends from high school. I met Jen when I started working at the Warehouse Club, and she got Pam a job there in late 1988. The four of us ran with a motley bunch from work, hanging out, getting into things we most certainly shouldn’t have been. After Pam moved, Jen and Nancy were whom I went to the bars and shows with regularly.
At the Ministry show, Jen and I were down in the pit, and at one point I was standing behind Jen when her head snapped back and she reeled into me. I pulled her out of the pit and back to where our group was standing at the back of the theater. Jen’s mouth was bleeding from where she’d been cut from getting hit.
This show was also where I picked up the Ministry sticker that I put on the back of my black leather biker jacket. The sticker had the band’s name in thick, dark gold lettering with the skull x-ray image from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste album cover.
There are songs I like just as much as “Stigmata” off of The Land of Rape and Honey – the title track, “You Know What You Are”, and “I Prefer” all spring immediately to mind, and The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste is a stronger album overall – but “Stigmata” was the one that put them on the industrial-metal map. It was played in every alternative club and guaranteed to fill the dance floor with its aggro drums and primal screams. The video was a staple on MTV’s early morning two-hour alternative program, and even earned a spot on the initial two-volume Never Mind the Mainstream… The Best of MTV’s 120 Minutes CD compilation celebrating that show. Like all of Ministry’s post-synthpop music, “Stigmata” is one of those songs that stir something in me even to this day.