Born 1953 in Taiwan, Anya Phillips moved to New York City, where she formed a fake band with Cortez and Duncan Smith in 1977. She had a dominatrix act at CBGB with Terry Sellers. Phillips worked with Cortez to shoot his film Grutzi Elvis in Munich.
In March 1978, Phillips first encountered James Chance and the Contortions, at a Colab benefit for X Motion Picture magazine. Phillips persuaded Maas to open a club, envisioning it as an elegant place called the Molotov Cocktail Lounge. She was to manage the club, but her involvement ended after a dispute with Maas. Instead she went on to manage the Contortions and, for a brief period, Lydia Lunch.
For the Contortions’ debut album Buy, Phillips photographed Sellers wearing an outfit designed by Phillips for the album’s cover artwork. Not knowing how to sew, she designed dresses by tying together strips of cloth. Singer Debbie Harry wore some of Phillips’ creations.
She was also involved in New York City’s late 70s underground film scene, appearing in Amos Poe’s The Foreigner in 1978.
She makes a rare vocal appearance in the recording of the June 1980, James Chance and the Contortions concert in Rotterdam, Holland to introduce the band and as backing vocals on “I Danced with a Zombie” and “Melt Yourself Down”.
Phillips died of cancer in June 1981 in Valhalla, New York, at the age of 26.
Take a look at these fabulous photos to see portrait of Anya Phillips during her brief life.