XPRESS COVER STORY: Angie the Barbarian

The Ottawa XPress– January 5, 2006


Photo Credit / Tony Foushe: Angie Ratt

The devil’s in the detailing at Angie’s Ratt Restorations.

It’s easy to mistake Hull for hell sometimes. And where a fresh deer carcass dangles from a tree in the barren landscape that is the front yard of Ratt Restorations, XPress has indeed found the devil’s workshop sitting eerily at the bottom of a dead-end street across the river.

Tucked away inside with a cigarette in one hand and slugging back her beer with the other, is the farthest thing from a dead-end kind of woman. Meet DIY darling, Angie the Barbarian, frantically slaving away among her relics and tools and turning bad furniture into nasty furniture. She brings all you rockers, goths and dirty pigs only the finest in retro-rockabilly, hot rod-inspired décor.

“This shit you’re not gonna buy on any ol’ Tuesday,” Angie cajoles.

As if there’s a better time to buy what you really wanted for Christmas. Yeah, how about a ’70s-era retro coffee table painted black with flames, complete with Ratt Restorations’ signature Pure Hell lettering copped from a custom-made Californian hot rod motorcycle she fell in love with in a bike mag.

Her li’l shop o’ horrors is packed full of demonic accessories like mutilated doll heads, sacrilegious paraphernalia, a priest’s robe, a Quebec police car door, a Certificate of Slavery from GWAR and everything else you could ever need to stage that Rob Zombie cover band.

“There’s a part of me that lives in a post-apocalyptic sort of Mad Max universe where I’m just this fucking barbarian eunuch that marches through the fucking sand dunes and the fucking snow,” she tells XPress with a voice rowdier than the Reverend Beatman & The Unbelievers she bought from Birdman‘s Jon Westhaver when he delivered on Angie’s CD request for “a guy screaming about hell.”

We’ve got a live one here, folks – a psychotic blend of raw, abandoned primitive energy, savage garage punk style, and crazed psychobilly madness.

It’s the maniacal music, and all the death and stench of incense, grease and burning logs in the wood stove, worn-in Persian rugs and a lived-in couch that distinguish Angie’s workshop-garage from your usual hip and perky workshop-boutiques in downtown Ottawa.


Formerly known as H.D. Garage, this Hull shop was once a full-on classic car and motorcycle restoration garage, owned and operated independently by Angie’s dad, Barry Brown. He attracted many fans to this place, including Wayne Rostad, Jay Leno (in his Doritos days) and a lot of Gatineau police officers.

Brown was considered the town nutter.

“My dad always had Frank Zappa blasting all fucking night and shit,” Angie remembers.

“I had my weekly fucking music lesson, he’d be a little bit snapped and go, ‘I’m going to explain the imagery of this fucking Chieftains song to you right now! Picture a train! Going full speed!’ And I’m like ‘yes yes,’ but I was, like, into My Little Ponies then… If only I could turn back time and appreciate it now.”

Angie’s taken over the garage in the tradition of her dad’s independent, “take no shit” spirit, keeping things legit and working by her own watch. The result is furniture that’s brought back to life with a rusty true love. (It’s fitting that True Love is the title of her first CD from her band Muffler Cruncher, which she describes as a “fucking rock duo on crack.”)

Inspired by motorcycle culture, booze and rock and roll, she restores the devil’s rejects – stuff people throw out. Take for instance the forgotten telephone tables she reupholstered in a pink alligator leatherette blazer she stuffed down her pants at the Salvation Army.

These “tuff tables,” along with “lewd lighting,” the “badass Inebriation Station” liquor cabinet, “charming chairs” like the “Get Yo’ Ass Outta the Kitchen” series, and “diabolical dressers” make up the Pure Hell line.

For the Discerning Goth line, there’s mirror-top tables and the “Devil’s Plaything” piece that has real vertebrae handles and drawers, “perfect for the BDS community for putting implements in,” she says.

Angie creates furniture for people who are going to use it and appreciate it, like rockers.

“Rock and rollers don’t have a lot of money – that’s a fact. But I want to sort of help their mythology, know what I’m saying? If they could have that in their living room to put their beers on, that’d be great… some Pierre Berton book, ya know?”


Angie’s entrepreneurial, DIY spirit is as loud as her outfits and outrageous as the burps between guzzles of brew. This means she’s got a full inventory ready to roll. She also does custom. “If you have a vision for a piece, a saying you guys share together or a funny inside joke,” she says, she can do it up. She’s quite moved about personalizing the pieces. She likes to get to know her customers.

Her first major sale was to a big stripper in Vanier who was looking for something original for her boyfriend, who is in a heavy-metal cover band here in Ottawa. “Picture Pamela Anderson – all in pink, big hat – fuck, she was awesome! I could have put her in my museum! She’s like, ‘I’ll take that and that,’ pointing. She loads the huge fucking table into a fucking cab with the big-ass rocking chair. She was so fun – FUN – man! That’s the kind of chick that I like to hang out with sometimes, someone with a frikken spirit on her.”

A lot of her business so far has come directly from the Internet and by word of mouth. Her wares sell for between $75 and $400, but she’s a bio-exorcist at heart. “Like Beetlejuice up on a hilltop squeezing his balls,” she says, “I want to be that kind of saleswoman with my shit, know what I mean? All fucking yeehooooo! let’s make a deal, zany and shit!!”

She’s all about keeping it real in sales and with people. “That is the fucking man of my dreams, right there,” Angie screams, pointing to a picture of herself with Oderus Urungus, lead singer of GWAR. “He does what he feels and he speaks from the heart. And he likes to spew blood, which is also good.”

Angie digs blood, too. She describes skinning the blood-soaked deer (the one on the cover) as a “weird spiritual fucking moment” that was comically intensified by Stompin’ Tom’s “Mule Skinner Blues” coming on the stereo just at the time she was staring into the sad, sad eyeballs remaining, and then ripping Bambi’s face right off.

“I want people to feel fucking happy and have fun and be at peace with shit like gross-out death, and embrace it like something almost beautiful.”

Not afraid of the dark, the devil, death or success, there is one thing that scares the shit out of Angie: ending up watching plasma screen TV in Barrhaven.

“You know, big TV, pastel-coloured walls and the two little Bichon Frise dogs – fuck that. That’s a nightmare to me, man, oh God.”

Visit Ratt Restorations at www.rattrestorations.com and arrange a tour, view furniture online or order Angie’s zines (I Hate Latte Drinkers, Fuckin’ Loons, or She Was Debbie Gibson… I Was Martina, featured in Broken Pencil magazine). If you have a commercial retail space or are a retro bar and wish to feature a Ratt Restorations piece, or if you’re Big Jesus Truck and need an opener, e-mail Angie at philodoxa@yahoo.com.

– Sylvie Hill