After stints recording background vocals with Bob Seger (notably, on “Katmandu”) and playing live with Teegarden & Van Winkle in the early 1970s, Rockee Re Marx (aka Rockee Berlin) started Flirt in 1976 at the urging of her then husband, Skid – who was also a member of The Seatbelts.
Flirt developed out of several different experiences the couple had in the Detroit music scene in the mid-1970s including the bands Medusa and The Kurbstone Beauteaze. The later act was known for sexually suggestive and theatrical shows in the vein of The Tubes. A former bandmate in The Kurbstone Beauteaze, De De Troit, went on to form the punk band U.X.A. in California in the late 1970s.
Given the economics of the time as a musician in Detroit, Berlin says she was concerned when Marx wanted to make Flirt an original band because a good cover band at that time was lucrative. She says she was also a member of the musicians union that made sure the bars paid each band a minimum. She says as the scene started to change from cover bands to original bands, many without union representation, got screwed over by bar owners.
Berlin wrote most of the lyrics and, at times, give them a very female centered point of view. For example, “De-Generator” takes aim at the “boys will be boys” attitudes when it comes to how young men treat women.
Flirt often played at the Second Chance opening for Ann Arbor bands such as Destroy All Monsters, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, and The Cult Heroes as well as at Bookie’s, The Red Carpet, the West Side Six (aka Silver Bird Saloon) other area venues. Marx has always worked to open other venues to local bands before Bookie’s got going in earnest, such as the Red Grape.
Flirt attracted the ears of east coast listeners and played numerous times at Max’s Kansas City in New York City. Because the band often played in New York, they caught the ear of DEVO and opened for the group at the Masonic Temple when they came through Detroit in 1979. Flirt also received interest from record producer Jimmy Ienner – producer/manager for notable 1970s bands including The Raspberries, Grand Funk Railroad, and Three Dog Night. But, a deal failed to materialize. The band was also played by the BCC’s John Peel on his show in 1980.
Flirt self-released a 7-inch single in 1978 and a 10-inch EP in 1980.
Flirt ended in 1982 but did try a restart under the name Western Block a few years later. But, by the mid-1980s, the partnership between the couple was over musically and personally.
The band did a reunion show in 2004 at Kalamazoo’s Club Soda. Skid continues to play bass in various bands around Detroit including The Seatbelts.