Some people have even theorized that Dringenberg was a hanger-on whose unhealthy and obsessive crush was a source of discomfort and disgust to her, but Hadley shakes her head about that, too. “We were really, really good friends. It makes it hard when you’re that close. I always got the feeling that there was a strong … maybe obsession? But I don’t know that it was unhealthy.” She says that she’d love to be in touch with Dringenberg, but has lost touch with him over the years.
Hadley has only recently returned to Salt Lake City, after spending close to 20 years away. She hitchhiked to Seattle to see her favorite band at the time, Skinny Puppy, and spent a few months there, before traveling to Houston to provide emotional support to her mother during her parents’ divorce. She spent some time living and working as a mime in New Orleans, with “bright yellow hair and long black fingernails” and lived in Texas’ liberal enclave, Austin, but eventually went back to Houston to open a body-piercing shop, even though she didn’t like the city very much. “It doesn’t have a very accepting environment of anything out of the norm,” she says.
She might still be in Houston if it wasn’t for The Ritz reunion in 2010. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, The Ritz Club was the preeminent dance club for Salt Lake City’s gothic, industrial and new wave scenesters. When a reunion weekend was planned, Hadley’s friend, industrial DJ Aaron Shea, decided that it would be no true reunion without her. He took up a collection to bring her back home for the weekend and her old friends gave generously.
Hadley says she didn’t expect to feel any emotions about the visit, but “it was the strangest thing. Getting ready to land, I looked out the window and I saw the mountains and I burst into tears. It felt like, ‘Wow, I’m home.’” That weekend made up her mind, she says. “The way the air felt and seeing everybody, I thought, ‘I’ve got to come home.’ I decided within a couple of days of being here that I was coming back.”
She hopes to get back into body piercing and is happy to find herself with a lifestyle that makes her happy, living life the way she wants to 20 years down the road. “I think it’s great that dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings are ‘normal,’” Hadley says, laughing. She has no regrets about her return. “I’m home and I can’t ever leave again! There’s so much more that goes on here,” she says. “The Dark Arts Festival and the bands that come here.”
Then there’s the snow. She loves the snow. “I was sad when it all melted this morning,” she says ruefully, but then she brightens up immediately and is the picture of the joyful woman who inspired an artist and changed the face of Death. All that’s missing is the spiral on her cheek.