Thursday, July 24, 2008

While The City Sleeps

Sometimes you have to put your money where your big mouth is. Rebecca and I were making cool fetish clothes while guzzling black coffee, listening to the Bad Brains, Minor Threat and slopping on so much barge cement that the fumes would drive stylists out of our workroom/apartment in a horrified frenzy. Corporate America was equally horrified by my looks and wouldn't hire me on a dare - until the blessed Northridge earthquake - so I became Rebecca's sexy dude assistant.

Our money making line was fetish-related outfits made of leather or vinyl. We made bustiers, spiked corsets, chokers, hot pants, bracelets, cat o' nine tails, harnesses, even thongs. We sold to Japan, New York City (Patricia Field of "Sex and The City" fame), Georgia, Texas, the great Midwest, Canada, even the movies: our chokers were used in "Batman Forever", worn by Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazur. Several boutiques on Melrose carried our clothes and accessories. We were way out there!

One store that carried our clothes was called the Tasty Store, run by Phil Rubin, a hipster Phil Silvers who looked and talked like Sgt. Bilko himself. One day he called Rebecca, and said-
"Becky, you guys make the kinkiest clothes for my store. Tonight The Chateau is having a big Fetish Fest and we got a table to sell our stuff there. Let's go and make lots of money!"
We couldn't just go in flannel and sell kinky clothes - we had to dress for the occasion. Rebecca wore a cool pink vinyl outfit and I wore Black vinyl pants, a purple vest and a fishnet top, with a leather top hat and burglar mask. I looked wicked.

A name like the Chateau recalls images of an old castle somewhere, but in fact it was a run-down warehouse in the middle of the industrial section in the Valley. Yeah, no drawbridge or moat. We walked into a tired looking office wrapped up in formica and cheap carpeting and looked into the small offices, ahem, "dungeons" as we walked by. I saw old men that looked like Tim Conway licking the boots of some goth-damaged dominatrix.

We set up our table in the loading dock, er, "torture playground" in the back of the building. laying out our cartoony-looking fetish goods, we sat back as S&M fans male and female examined our sinister stock.
Some beer-gut slave would stroke a bracelet and then ask Rebecca if he could have a "session" with her. Before he could finish his question she would blurt out a hasty "No". Session = some slave pays a master to kick him while he licks her boots. I told Rebecca to take the money. They would nervously glance at me as I quietly seethed in my leather top hat and burglar mask.
"Doesn't he say anything?" they would meekly inquire.
"No", answered Phil, "He's too evil to speak!"
The slave would quickly slunk away.

Some chipper old timer with the most dapper looks came up to our table with a cheap pet store choker on. He wore bifocals and a well-trimmed mustache. He wore the ugliest t-shirt of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark with the inscription "Yes, Mistress" scrawled in cheap crayon over it. In cultured tones, he said, "Hello! You look like musicians. You know, I'm a songwriter, I write my very own songs and plan on making a record called 'Yes, Mistress'. My t-shirt will be the album cover".
Oh my god.
"Would you like to hear one of my compositions?"
"Sure, why not?" asked Rebecca. I couldn't answer, remember, because I was too evil to speak.
"I call this one 'How Much Is That Slave In The Window?'" he very proudly announced.
"How much is that slave in the window?
The most submissive slave in the cage,
He loves his dear mistress - a black widow,
He craves every drop of her rage".

He sang this tune in the highest voice, like a small choir boy castrati with the most syrupy tone I've ever heard. The only punishment experienced at the Chateau was trying not to laugh at him.
"Wow, that's really cool!" said Rebecca, as she lifted up the fifth of bourbon we had smuggled in.
"Oh, my!" he twittered. "Would you like to hear another one?"
"No thanks", said Phil coldly,"The contest is about to begin".

Indeed it was. There was a Master and Slave contest and it looked like a dog discipline class. The fattest women I've ever seen squeezed into the tightest leather thongs, cellulite stretching over, under, sideways, down pulling leashes attached to necks or muzzles or even tiny male peepees, the men as slaves with heads shaved and flabby on all fours like dogs. The contest had the doms making their slaves heel, beg, roll over and other tricks Fido takes for granted. We really had to grab our smuggled bottle and hit the sauce during this event!

By the end of the night we made a small chunk of change, no bonanza because S&M creeps are notoriously cheap, but we ate like real people for a week. Then the Northridge Earthquake hit and I got hired by the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority and made office money, no boots and gloves from Monday through Friday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anna May Wong: Daughter of the Dragon

Turner Classic Movies recently screened their Asian film festival, and sandwiched in between annoying Charlie Chan and even more annoying Jackie Chan they showed a magnetic but obscure actress named Anna May Wong. Like Louise Brooks and Lizabeth Scott she fell short of major stardom in spite of the fact that she illuminates a film the minute you see her. She holds her own effortlessly next to Marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express", no small feat. She was sexually radiant in a silent film called "Piccadilly" playing a sinister Jazz Age showgirl. Many of her films, good and bad, were screened during the fest. Because of her ethnicity she was cast for the most part as unscrupulous Dragon Ladies, a sheer waste of her talent as most of these pictures were absolute B-movie trash. One of them hit a nerve, though, and it was called "Daughter of the Dragon".

Filmed in 1931, the film begins with Anna May Wong playing showgirl Princess Ling Moy knocking 'em dead in London's West End. Backstage after her show she's promised a meeting with her long lost father, who turns out to be the infamous Fu Manchu(!). She's taken to his hidden lair where he tells her she's the heir to his evil empire. Fu Manchu tells Ling Moy, "I wish I had another son to exact my revenge."
Ling Moy, desperate for her father's approval, vows, "I will be your son!"
There's an overall melancholic need for approval as Ling Moy desires to be accepted by her father, and later by Ronald Petrie, the blandly blonde English gentleman she lusts for.
"Will I ever have golden hair and eyes of blue?" she yearns for his love as much as she does her father's.
"Strange - I find you oddly attractive", is Petrie's left-handed compliment. Just to make sure she can successfully seduce him she relegates his fiancee Joan Marshall, equally blonde and bland, to her evil Chinese torture dungeon.
Of course Scotland Yard, led by Chinese detective Ah Kee shows up on time and heroically saves our two British white bread lovers and kills Ling Moy, but not before she fatally shoots Ah Kee. The film ends with the heroic Chinaman and the dastardly Dragon Lady dead in each other's arms, like a lover's clutch. The message: Chinese women belong with Chinese men, and not with good, upstanding Englishmen.

While I was watching this movie I couldn't help thinking how incredibly dull the good, vanilla-white English were in character and physical appearance, and how the movie only came alive when the exotic and gorgeous Ling showed up on screen. I also asked myself what the significance of showing Chinese torturing the imperialistic British was in this film, and all I could think of was some bizarre payback for the real-life abuse the Chinese suffered building railroads in America just fifty years before the release of this movie. It felt like some form of cinematic revenge.

The great irony about Wong was that although she was always cast as a Chinese woman she was born in Los Angeles, California and never dated Asian men, but American men. In spite of all that she had to play the exotic Pekingese just to make it in the movies. Even in real life she yearned to fit in somehow, just like in "Daughter of the Dragon", and that's why this silly B-movie is bigger than its intentions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Andy's Rockin' Internet Pals

If people want to spend their time watching the tired Foo Fighters play Who covers on television, that's their prerogative. Me, I'd rather check out new bands on the Garage Punk Hideout, a website that's the punk version of mySpace, a global smörgåsbord of grease and filth and full of rockin' good music. Here's my three most rockinest pals from that site:

The Raws: From Istanbul, Turkey(!) these guys play some of the most vicious punk rock I've heard in years with a guitar sound that'll rip your ears off and feed them to the dogs! They wear bug glasses, burglar masks and play in their panties. They also seem to think I'm a girl, but that's another story! One of the band members is called B-Man and they have a raunchy song about him called "BMen". Who knew Turkey was such a punk hotbed?

Les BOF!: It only gets weirder, folks! It's common knowledge that the French and the British hate each other like cats and dogs, so imagine a band from Scotland who play snotty garage blues fronted by a French dandy who looks like he belongs in a Jacques Brel musical:) Les BOF! call themselves "UK Premier French Garage Rockers" and they walk the walk = they play a killer tune called "J'ai Perdu Mon Mojo" ("I've Lost My Mojo"). Every song in their repertoire is sung in French, like Jacques Dutronc, their hero. Alors, marveilleux!

The Torpedo Monkeys: Saving the best (and weirdest) for last, The Torpedo Monkeys from parts unknown play greeaaasy garage punk squawk in cool rockabilly/glam clothes with "Planet of the Apes" masks. These sleazy chimps will give you chills when they tear through "Hanky Panky" and other mind-melting tunes. They also have a badass collection of pawnshop gear to rock yr. panties off! Charlton Heston must be spinning in his grave.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Goddamn Subversive Kids!

Let’s be honest, people are peculiar about getting married. Forget about the baseball game proposals, is there anything scarier than some douche in a chick flick asking his girl, “Honey I think we should grow old together”.
Holy shit, is there anything scarier than a bickering old couple? That’s romantic? You really want to picture yourself fifty years from now, spaced out and smelly, arguing with some old cunt you’ve been stitched to for fifty years?
The worst part to getting married, ironically enough, is the engagement. Before we got married, people were so dramatically opposed to our wedding we actually had to be sneaky about it.

The Engagement:
Rebecca’s parents essentially hated any guy that dated her, and she had an ex-boyfriend that threatened to call Immigration on her and have her deported. I, on the other hand, did not have my father’s blessing. When I leaked, no oozed out the information to my older brother I was getting married, I added, “By the way, before you meet her, I ought to let you know, she’s black”.
My older brother passed on the news to my father, who bristled, “She’s black? What??? It won’t last! Typical Hollywood marriage, it will fall apart”.
On the other hand, her family was less than thrilled to hear Rebecca was marrying a Jew.
When she oozed out the information to her Hollywood scenester friends she was getting married her phone rang off the hook. Late at night. From her ex-boyfriends. She let the answering machine take the calls, and we’d listen to their whiny voices, “Heyyyy, Rebecca”, “Rebecca, I saw this foxy girl the other day, she was hawtttttt, when she turned around it was yooouuuuu”…we lay in bed and laughed like devils at these dorks.
Rebecca played in a band for something like 5 minutes with a girl I used to date, and she said, “Ugh, Andy Seven, he’s totally in love with me, what a freak!”
“Really? We’re getting married in a few months”.
“Oh! Well!” she flustered, “Uh, harrumph, he’s very special, you know. He has a private side to him, that you know, uh, nobody else knows about that makes him so special”.
Yeah, bullshit.
The rest of Rebecca’s friends were Echo Park gays that thought I knew nothing about homosexuality and would be shocked by their behavior. I don’t know where they got that impression but they kept camping it up like a drag queen’s convention every time they’d see me.
“Girl, my ovary is killing me!”
“Honey, my titty rings are so on fire!!!”
Even that idiot Eric Erlandson from flop group Hole weighed in by saying, “Andy Seven??? What’s Rebecca doing with Andy Seven??”
“Why? What’s wrong with Andy Seven?”
“Don’t you know???” Articulate bastard, isn’t he? That must explain why Drew Barrymore dumped him in less than four months. He must know his women!

The Welding, uh Wedding: We got married at L.A. County Superior Court, leaving religion out of the marriage process. With two witnesses present, it was a long, slow process because we got married on Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12). Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday we decided Honest Abe’s Birthday would be the next best thing (Friday). Everybody had the same idea, so we sat on the waiting room floor with 100 other couples. Some of them wore bridal dresses with cute little mija flower girls standing by.
What slowed everything down was a gay couple (who protested the gay marriage ban) at the front door of the office and held up proceedings for everybody.
When we finally made our vows Rebecca laughed through the whole thing with tears in her eyes. I guess she was happy.
Just so we wouldn’t leave anybody out of our wedding ceremony we had a wedding party the next night in Culver City (Palms, actually). All of our friends were there, and Flipside Magazine took pictures for publication in their next issue. The next day Courtney Love phoned Rebecca, “Are you really married to Andy? How ‘good’ is he?”
I never did like Hole.
Fifteen years later we’re still married, lasting longer than most marriages and with the enmity of our families. It’s ironic to think that the most subversive thing I ever did in my life was get married. One thing's for certain: if we grow old together we’ll never look it, because when you’re happy you always feel young.