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Best of Providence 2009

Dale Bozzio's life is so strange

Can an '80s pop icon find peace in New Hampshire in a house full of feral cats? Apparently not.
By BY ASHLEY RIGAZIO  |  April 22, 2009


With her bold style, high-pitched voice, multicolored mop-top, and MacGyver-like ability to make mesmerizing bras out of things like electronic parts, bubble wrap, and Plexiglas gardening equipment, Missing Persons frontwoman Dale Bozzio planted herself firmly in the spotlight in the 1980s.

Even as a teen in Medford, Bozzio (née Dale Consalvi) commanded attention. Her picture was posted on the bulletin board of her namesake father's furniture store, Dale's Barn, in the '70s, remembers Boston-based media consultant and Phoenix Special Projects Manager David Bieber. "The store owner told me that she was his daughter," says Bieber, "and she wanted to be a model."

Later on in that decade, the petite, brassy bombshell did find modeling work when she posed for Playboy (she was a bunny at the Boston Playboy Club in Park Square) and Hustler. Around that time, Frank Zappa discovered Consalvi in LA. He invited her to sing on his operatic Joe's Garage albums and in 1979 she married Zappa's drummer, Terry Bozzio. The couple then teamed up with Zappa guitarist Warren Cuccurullo to form the visually outlandish new-wave band Missing Persons, which went on to record a string of hits, including "Destination Unknown," "Walking in LA," and "Words."

Today, at age 54, Bozzio is facing up to a year in a Carroll County, New Hampshire, jail after being convicted on one of 13 animal-cruelty charges stemming from a case of severe neglect that left 14 felines dead.

Whatever happened to . . . ?
The peculiar, shocking story unfolded far from the LA new-wave scene. Around 2000, following a divorce from her second husband, Bozzio and her two sons moved to a farmhouse in the village of Chocorua, New Hampshire. There, according to her mother, 85-year-old Hazel Antonelli of Newton, Bozzio would leave the back window open so feral forest cats could come in and out of the house for food, water, and warmth. (Neither Bozzio nor her lawyer, Dennis O'Connor of North Conway, New Hampshire, returned calls seeking comment on this story.)

Antonelli describes her daughter as a kindhearted, lifelong animal lover who couldn't say no to a sick or hungry animal. "[Dale] found a cat in the snow, brought her in the house, fed her, and gave her the medicine that she needed," recalls her mother. "And she survived — a wonderful, beautiful cat and one of many, many, many. She tried to take care of them, and I think it just got maybe a little much for her. I don't know."

Bozzio certainly seemed to love animals. In January 2007, she showed up — with her dog — at the WFNX studios in Lynn for an interview on Julie Kramer's Leftover Lunch program [note: WFNX is a Phoenix Media/Communications Group property]. The live appearance was meant to promote Bozzio's upcoming show at the Middle East, but she spent most of the segment talking about her "many, many animals."

Speaking with a thick Boston accent, Bozzio's voice hardly resembled the girlish vocalizing that made her famous. When Kramer asked exactly how many cats she had roaming in and out of her New Hampshire home, Bozzio replied, "About 30 now."

"I live by the woods, so when I get up in the morning around 6:30, I'm like the cattle call," she said in the interview. "I'll go right out there with the feed, and cats come out from the woods. It's really, truly amazing how many wild cats there are in the world. People just let them go and don't think about it, and they multiply, like, worse than mice. . . . I really believe in saving animals."

Bozzio added that she was working toward a degree in animal science to better help her growing army of felines. She even performed on the NBC edition of the British reality show Hit Me Baby One More Time in 2005, in hopes of winning $10,000 for the Humane Society of the United States. (She lost to P.M. Dawn.)

"All cat donations are welcome. . . . If I had my way, I'd have everybody in every household leave some crunches out for the neighborhood cats," Bozzio told Kramer. "They keep away rodents, they keep away bugs, they're very in tune to an earthquake. They're protective animals, but they've been so abused and misunderstood.

"I'm drawing cats now," she interjected, laughing. "I've gone completely crazy."

VISIONS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY: Bozzio, a self-described animal lover, took in about 30 feral cats. At some point, as the police crime-scene photos above show, the presumed mission of mercy went horribly wrong.

All alone and feline blue
About a year and a half later, Bozzio re-located from Chocorua to Newman Drew Road in nearby West Ossipee, and leased a house that she also opened up to feral and neighborhood cats. Antonelli said only three or four cats were kept indoors as pets.

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  Topics: News Features , Animal Cruelty, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Animal Rights,  More more >
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