I first met David, I think it was 1980, when a friend of mine and my then-girlfriend Leslie Wimmer invited us to a mysterious “party.” Leslie quickly figured out that it was nothing more than an Amway party. As it turned out, this was no Middle American Amway party. When we entered the Parsons home, we found what could only be described as a punk rock family. Husband, wife, and three kids trying to raise money for their magazine, Mouth of the Rat.
In 1980, Mouth of the Rat was pretty unique. Besides articles by the whole family and striking layout by Dave, the Mouth of the Rat told the tale of growing up in god-forsaken Boca Raton, Florida and being into punk rock.
Dave and his wife, Fish or Sam as she was alternately called, became fixtures on the local music scene. Things were not always good between them and for a while Dave lived out of the back of our store, Open Books and Records, while producing Mouth of the Rat.
Dave loved The Clash and made frequent visits to New York to see them. He finally stayed and somehow opened up a record store called Ratcage Records. Ratcage became a focal point for the New York City punk scene. Ratcage released a number of records including the first two Beastie Boys records.
Financial and personal problems got the best of him and he bolted from New York to New Orleans in 1986.
I had moved to New York in 1985 and would sporadically receive news of his exploits. He had been performing mime and doing a Charlie Chaplin impersonation on the streets of New Orleans when an Italian film crew (that was doing a documentary on American street performers) filmed him and then asked him to come to Italy to “be” Charlie at their film premier.
When the Italian gig was over, Dave decided to tour Europe by train and, refused entry to France, ended up in Switzerland where they adore Charlie Chaplin. He became quite famous there, even doing Charlie for the Chaplin family’s Charlie Chaplin Festivals.
Then one day in November of 2001 as I was sitting in my store, See Hear Fanzines Magazines & Books, in walks this “woman” with a ukulele who says, “Hi Ted, what you been up to?” It’s Dave! But no, she says she is now Day-Z. So I pulled out my uke, which I had recently started to play, and as they say, the rest is history.
Me and my housemate who also had just picked up the ukulele, jammed with Day-Z and we ended up sitting in with her at her December 1, 2001 CBGB show. We also recorded with her that week. Our band, Sonic Uke was born.
In the next two years we performed with her whenever she came to town. She kept changing her name. Day-Z, DAZE, and then finally she had it legally changed to Donna Lee Parsons. That’s not all she changed. In the summer of 2003 she went to Thailand and had a sex change after the Beastie Boys paid her royalties on the records she put out so long ago.
She came back to New York a new woman but the surgery weakened her and her cancer that had been in remission came back with a vengeance. Donna died in a Swiss hospital on September 23, 2003.
Donna stirred shit up wherever she went. She was quite the catalyst. She will be missed.
–Ted R. Gottfried