Her breasts encased in clear plastic bowls strung together with aquarium tubing, Dale Bozzio fondles the microphone suggestively. “Did it feel the way it should?” purrs the lead singer of Missing Persons. “Did it feel really good?” The crowd howls as Dale’s husband, Terry, beats out a pulsating rhythm on the drums, while the buxom Mrs. B. displays the charms that prompted Playboy to name her Boston’s “Bunny of the Year” in 1976.
Okay, Ozzie and Harriet they’re not. There’s no question that the Wendy O. Williams wardrobe and the prurient lyrics have contributed to Missing Persons’ success—one gold LP and seven popular videos to date. But the Bozzios have loftier aspirations than your average rock musicians. “It’s important for us to have a positive image,” says Terry, 32, “to be morally good people. I think our fans respect us because we’re married. We’re a different kind of band—not just ‘let’s get high and play some music’—which unfortunately is what a lot of rock ‘n’ roll is.” While Dale, 29, blithely says her goal is to become “rich and famous,” her husband of five years maintains that he wants to “uplift people.”
The Bozzios may see themselves as musicians with a mission, but there are those who would question whether off-color lyrics and sexually suggestive body language are morally uplifting. At times, in fact, the most “uplifting” thing about a Missing Persons’ concert has been the contraption Dale has devised to hold up her breasts. She has been known to wear a Plexiglas bra filled with water and live goldfish. Looking, as one reviewer put it, like “a cross between Barbarella and Judy Jetson,” Dale likes to fashion her peekaboo stage garb out of plastic of every description: records, packaging material and layers of translucent vinyl filled with crushed rocks. As far as husband Terry is concerned, the more outrageous her costume, the better. With his hair dyed fiery orange, Terry isn’t exactly Mr. Conservative. Dale’s frizzy locks have a platinum hue, highlighted by a fuchsia outcropping. “I like what it does to my skin tone,” she explains.
Yet beneath the makeup, outrageous costumes and multicolored manes, there lurks the soul of—yikes!—a pair of Yuppies. The Bozzios own a two-bedroom condo in the fashionable Westwood section of L.A., equipped with a whirlpool bath and decorated by Terry in Bauhaus chic. They tool around town in a black BMW with Dale handling the driving chores. And instead of the scent of marijuana, it’s the savory aroma of Dale’s pesto sauce or tortellini marinara that fills their home. “I’ll be in the kitchen,” says Dale, “making some outrageous new pasta. I’ll rush into the bedroom and wake Terry up saying, “Hey! Check out this sauce.’ ”
While Dale is the culinary genius of the family, Terry is the creative backbone of Missing Persons. He writes most of their new wave material, occasionally collaborating with Dale, an unpublished poet. Dougie Powell, Dale’s hairdresser and wardrobe assistant, reports that Dale likes to read philosophy while twirling her rigatoni and that Terry is a connoisseur of foreign films and novels.
The differences go beyond their choice of reading material. Where Terry is soft-spoken and retiring, Dale is gregarious, holding forth in a thick Boston accent. While touring with the five-member band, the Bozzios take separate hotel suites. “We have separate likes and dislikes,” says Dale matter-of-factly. Terry, for instance, loves room service and Dale can’t bear it. According to Dale, her husband limits his life on the road to three things besides performing: “He reads, he eats and he sleeps.” Dale either has the telephone glued to her ear or she’s “rushing around, trying not to be late.”
Like their rooming arrangement, the Bozzios have a strict division of labor. Dale is the group’s business manager; Terry is involved solely with the music. He co-produced their last album and designed their stage set. On the road Terry disappears to the arena and works on the sound system, pausing just before show time to ring his eyes with the black liner he purloins from his wife. Meanwhile, confesses Dale, “It takes me about two hours to get ready for a concert.” It’s not easy to squeeze into all that plastic.
The daughter of a carpenter and a furrier, Dale Consalvi grew up outside Boston. She dreamed of becoming an actress and was admitted to a drama program at Emerson College when she was 16. The very same day she discovered she had beaten out some 200 girls for a job at Boston’s Playboy Club. She took the job that led to what Dale recalls as “a very social time in my life.” Retiring her cotton tail after four years, Dale headed West to try acting. She had once met Frank Zappa in a Boston deli, so she looked him up when she got to L.A. Playing in Zappa’s band at the time was a San Francisco-born drummer named Terry Bozzio.
Bozzio had been playing drums from the time he’d first been able to hold sticks. “I guess I have music in my blood,” he says, referring to his father, a salesman who had been a prodigy on the accordion, and his mother, who had sung in a jazz band in high school. After graduating from the College of Marin, Terry worked as a jazz drummer in the Bay Area until he auditioned for Zappa’s band in 1975 and was hired on the spot.
To hear the Bozzios recount the tale, it was kismet at the recording studio the day they met. Says Terry: “Dale walks into the room, of course to everyone’s acknowledgment. My first reaction was, ‘Here’s the most beautiful woman in the world.’ ” Dale was equally smitten. “He was a rock star!” she exclaims. “I immediately ran up to my girlfriend and said, ‘I’ve seen the most beautiful boy—he’s real skinny and plays the drums.’ ” Her girlfriend temporarily dashed Dale’s hopes, saying that Terry was gay. Dale decided to find out for herself. “Do you like girls?” she asked the skinny drummer the next day. A romantic midnight dinner answered the question. “A month later,” relates Dale, “I moved into his house.”
Following Terry’s split with Zappa, he toured with a band called U.K. for a year. His long absences proved quite a strain. “When Terry was on the road all the time,” says Dale, “our relationship was like a wave—up and down.” The wave swept them to the altar in 1979, although as Dale describes it, it was no big thing. “Getting married,” she says, “was something we just did during some free time on the road.” The day after their wedding in Boston, Terry left for the U.K. tour and Dale for L.A.
A desire to be their own boss and spend more time together prompted Terry and Dale to form Missing Persons in 1980. Unable to interest a record label, they produced their own extended-play record called simply Missing Persons, which went on to become the largest-selling EP ever for a debuting band. Their first LP, Spring Session M, went gold, though their second, Rhyme and Reason, released last March, never captured the audience they anticipated.
Work is an important element in the Bozzios’ marriage. “I would not even want to speculate,” says Dale, “on where our relationship would be if we hadn’t formed our own band so we could be together.” Fresh from a three-month tour of the U.S., the Bozzios have returned to the recording studio to begin working on their third album, which they hope to release next spring. Espousing a Yuppie philosophy, Terry credits the band’s success to its “can-do attitude.” Echoing this Norman Vincent Peale approach, Dale says, “We’ve set standards and reached them. We’re living proof that you can achieve anything, if only you have faith in yourself.” And in the power of see-through plastic.