Friday, June 26, 2009

Grim Reaper Of Love

On Thursday, June 25, 2009 a triple-header of iconic deaths occurred which no Dead Pool enthusiasts in a million years would have predicted: Sky Saxon of the Seeds (Sixties), Farrah Fawcett-Majors (Seventies) and Michael Jackson (Eighties).

I immediately recalled that remark Charles Bukowski made of celebrity deaths: it’s not the celebrities’ deaths that hurt us but the death of that period of our lives that these celebrities inhabited. The Sixties was the decade of my childhood when my parents were happy. The Seventies was the decade of teenage discovery and approaching adulthood and the Eighties was the decade of Ronald Reagan-era snobbery and lower caste poverty, culminating in homelessness. Guess whose death affected me the least?

The eulogies heaped on Michael Jackson read more like an old Universal Pictures horror film synopsis than praise. Just like Frankenstein, The Wolfman and The Invisible Man, Michael Jackson was a lost soul gone astray who disintegrated into perversion, decadence and insanity. Val Lewton must be jealous as hell.

Farrah Fawcett-Majors was never a terribly sexy woman to me. Her hair style was goofy and she had a vapid look about her that seemed dead and stupid. Her hook-up with Ryan O’Neal reminded me of Barbara Payton shacking up with Tom Neal: another cheap blonde knocking boots with a surly, heavily-medicated actor.

Although Sky Saxon hadn’t produced anything in years I still listen to The Seeds with their tough as nails punk sound counterbalanced with the most delicate electric piano in history. His sneering vocals on “Pushin’ Too Hard”, “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” and “Tripmaker” are the stuff of legend and dare I say it, he was a superior punk singer to the much-lamented Lux Interior. The happy memories of going to the beach in the daytime or the Fairfax Avenue headshops in the nighttime to 93 KHJ or KFWB 98 blasting out The Seeds and other garage-punk thugs warms my heart. The other two celebrities can evaporate in the garbage can of culture but Sky Saxon’s sneer will remain eternal.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bummer In The Summer

Well, summer's here and you know what that means: The 2009 West Hollywood LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) Pride Festival fell on the weekend of June 13 and 14, 2009. This was the third time I attended the festival and most likely the last. There were some pretty radical changes from the last two times we attended, and all for the worst. The three passageways were narrowed down to only one, which created an unbearable congestion of people taking forever just to get to the festival area. Where there were two exits before was now reduced to just one so you had to leave exactly the way you came in, stuck in gay gridlock.

The gay guards at the gate made everyone open up their purse or handbag, and when the big Latino guard saw the leather vested teddy bear in Rebecca’s purse, he squealed, “Have a good time, you leetle queenie bear!”

Once we hit the main campground we realized we were no longer in Kansas, Dorothy: our favorite vendors weren’t around this year, the public service booths like Cedars-Sinai weren’t giving tons of free swag like they do every year, and the Erotic City attraction with the bondage booths had a long line winding around the grounds, so getting in wasn’t the queer cakewalk it was last year.

Saddened, we trudged over to the bandstand where we saw some great shows in the past, but the funny drag queen who usually hosts the show wasn’t on stage. Instead some boring meat puppet from E! Channel was gabbing like a broken record at 78 rpm. He brought Andrew Christian on stage, who whined about getting kicked off some terrible TV contest show before he introduced a boring boy fashion show on stage. The lawn in front of the bandstand was gone, paved over by concrete so everyone was forced to stand and not lie down anymore. Yuck! The only thing that held our attention was an insane plant man creature on stilts who stalked (ouch!) around the grounds. He was awesome!

After a few more dead minutes of watching the world decompose before our eyes, we strolled down Melrose Avenue quietly, and then Rebecca said, “I’m surprised we went this year. You told me last year that you were done with Gay Pride.”
“I did?”
“Yeah, you said that it wasn’t going to get any better than it did last year.”
“Oh, wow, I totally forgot…Oh well, maybe next year we’ll go to Long Beach Gay Pride and we haven’t been to Palm Springs Gay Pride, either.”

The horror continues!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Guest of Cindy Sherman" (2008)

In the Nineties there was a cable access show in New York called "Gallery Beat" hosted by two nutty guys, Walter Robinson and Paul H-O who would sit around and criticize art show openings the way Siskel and Ebert reviewed movies. The reviewing of gallery openings is genius if you ask me because they're usually more thrilling than the crap art exhibited. In between reviews they would roll video of Paul H-O "interviewing" humorless stuffed shirt artists like Julian Schnabel and the interviews took on a sort of Howard Stern-show style dimension/dementia. The results were often very funny, never anticipating the surprising turn they would take.

Never at a loss for words or guts, H-O approached highly reclusive artist Cindy Sherman at an opening and asked her if she would like to be interviewed for "Gallery Beat". Without skipping a beat, she smiled and said, "Sure!" People's jaws dropped; Sherman had denied interviews with The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Art Forum but agreed to do "Gallery Beat". Paul H-O then interviewed her several times in her studio and got the scoop the art press had never been able to get. Perhaps Sherman agreed to do the interviews because of the show's lack of reverence towards the clay idols of the Manhattan art world, perhaps she had a crush on Mr. H-O (Hasegawa-Overacker), flirting and giggling all through the interview like a high school cheerleader.

Paul H-O is dorky but likable and has no airs about himself and comes off as a very funny guy, but his eventually becoming Cindy Sherman's boyfriend shocked their friends. Nobody saw it coming but it culminated in him moving in with her and their having a relationship for the next few years. The film "Guest of Cindy Sherman" touches on several topics at once: 1) a documentary on Cindy Sherman, 2) the "boys club" of artists in the Eighties and what a tough circuit it was for women to participate in, and most importantly: 3) the pain of being a less than somebody dating a big time celebrity.

For all the intensity and darkness that Sherman’s art presents she comes off as a highly charming woman with a refreshing modesty about her work. We see brilliant examples of her art where she plays battered wives, plastic surgery casualties, prim spinsters, and other disturbing images of tortured women. As her romance with H-O develops she becomes increasingly rich and famous, buying a house in the Hamptons, getting free credit from Prada and partying with movie stars. No big sin, of course, artists have to eat, too, but her art work became increasingly less acidic. An example presented is her Circus Series where she’s done up like clowns, the art fairly benign and looking compromised.

H-O eventually got bored with his TV show folding and having nothing to do so he took up surfing as a regular activity to the point of neglecting poor Cindy. The couple sought therapy from the same analyst with H-O complaining that the shrink preferred analyzing Cindy more than him. Who wouldn’t? Imagine those weird sessions.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, according to H-O was when he was at a high hat celebrity party and Cindy was seated at the front table and he was seated thirty tables back with his place card inscribed “Guest of Cindy Sherman”. They broke up shortly after. Elton John’s life partner relates a similar tale happening to him, but Elton actually got up and did something about it.

When “Guest of Cindy Sherman” was being made Sherman supported the film but at some point changed her mind and now refuses to talk about it. It’s too bad because the film actually made me understand and appreciate her artwork for the first time, and I can’t imagine people hating her after this film was made. Maybe she’s bitter about her failed relationship with H-O, but I don’t know if I blame her. He’s been working this film like crazy all over the festival film circuit with no DVD release in sight. So if you see this movie listed on the Sundance Channel catch it while you can. I think it’s pretty brilliant stuff!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rock & Roll Confidential, Part 1

Rainbow Bar & Grill (9015 W. Sunset Blvd) = Ah, the Rainbow Bar & Grill…the decline of rock civilization unfolding before your eyes…mp3 killed the video star, but I digress…
The “legendary” pizza everyone raves about will take about an hour plus before you even get to see it on your table. And it’s not all that, really. If you want to eat right away, I would suggest (believe it or not) the Greek salad which is surprisingly goods, seasoned well and absolutely delicious.
Celebrities spotted at the Rainbow: Lemmy of Motorhead who probably gets his mail delivered there, the Osbourne Family (pre-TV show fame), Kevin Dubrow of Quiet Riot RIP, and a heavy-metal Cecil B. DeMille cast of thousands.

Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Avenue) = Everyone has to hit the Bowl at least once in their lives. Last time I visited the Bowl was for the Motley Crue/Aerosmith show. First thing we did was park at Hollywood & Highland and hit the Bowl shuttle on Orange Drive. I was the only guy on the shuttle besides the surly bus driver; every metal tramp, stripper and strumpet was riding the hooker shuttle, whoo! Cheap blondes in buckskin bikinis were craning their necks scoping me out while my girl was laser-beaming stink eye at them. Let the rock ‘n roll begin, and begin it did. Since my girl made clothes for Mick mars (Motley Crue) we got in through the VIP entrance behind the Bowl. The reason I mention it is because it was fun watching Leif Garrett try to talk hi way in for free after the guest list staff didn’t see his famous name on the list (“Dude, don’t you remember me from Behind The Music?”)
As we walked in I noticed Slash walking by us, his bodyguards were three steps behind him and running to keep up. Some bodyguards. I hope he puts a stop payment on their pay checks.
We got a great box in the orchestra pit (seats four). The sound was decent (ah, the review begins), visibility is good no matter where you’re seated with lots of video screens in case you’re not a squinter. Motley Crue were great; wish they did “Too Fast For Love” and “Afraid”, but they did “Dr. Feelgood” so I went home happy.
As soon as Motley Crue were done and Aerosmith opened with “Toys In The Attic” (my favorite R.E.M. song) it was our cue to leave. If I want to hear Aerosmith there’s always KLOS and trailer parks.
The bimbo shuttle wasn’t happening so we walked down Highland, everyone incredulous we would bail on Steven Tyler’s mega-lips, even the rent-a-cops schitting a brick (“how could you?”)
The most outraged of all was MTV has-been Jesse Camp and his entourage walking up as we were walking down the road. “Dude are they done already?”
No, but we were. Who wants to hear the same old song and dance?

Whiskey A Go-Go (8901 W. Sunset Blvd) = The Wiggy A Goo-Goo, those were the days, and they were funny ha-ha days, too.
You’d be on stage rockin’ and shakin’ yr. ass and there’d be video monitors all over the place and while you’re singin’ up there you’re staring at yourself performing and it’s a lot like boppin’ in front of the bedroom mirror when you’re a kid only a lot of poor people paid to get in so your ego is magnified times 100 and once two girls fought over me at the bar upstairs and I ended up going home alone because it wasn’t really about me after all, was it?
The Whiskey is a funny place because The Doors played there and now a tribute band called Wild Child plays there and once Van Halen played there and now a tribute band called Atomic Punks play there and I played there a lot and how soon will my tribute band be playing there?

The Coach & Horses (7617 W. Sunset Blvd)
= I was in a very-Bad-MOOD before I went to the Coach & Horses because my former band sent me a pseudo-litigious e-mail about some mySpace crap I had no involvement in. By the end of the night at the C&H I was grinning like a little chimp flinging Number 2’s at the zoo.
The door man (Paul? Too drunk to remember) was the nicest I’ve met in years. The bar is dark as hell with a jukebox that made my jaw drop. As soon as I heard “Hold Tight” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich I knew I was home.
The drinks were stiffer than Walt Disney’s corpse: My first 2 scotch & sodas were rabbit punches but the third was the haymaker. I almost lit my nose instead of the cigarette I jammed into my gob. The bartenders here rule like a wrench. Dammit, I was so larried up I could have sung a Johnny Mathis aria at Miceli’s.
The night ended with a cab ride home from a cabbie named Hamlet, I schitt you not. Coach and Horses is chill to kill.

The Roxy Theatre (9009 W. Sunset Blvd) = When I played The Roxy Theatre the sound was very crisp and clean on stage, great monitors finally I could hear my Lizabeth Scott On White Crosses Croon and screeching saxophone over the din of feedback guitars, kick-ass monster mix, etc.
The sound man was Don Henley-style cocky and rude but the end result was brilliant, angel’s flight to the ears cheers mate, but buy yourself some manners, Don Henley clone.
The lighting guy was excellent. Never met him before in my life but he knew all the dramatic moments I our songs instinctively and lit us at all the right moments to chilling effect.
The dressing rooms are pretty small but big enough to make out in. I road tested that option myself.
If everything about the Roxy seems small it’s because the club got its start as a dilapidated striptease club bought by Lou Adler, John Phillips and some silent partners. The first show they put on there after they gussied it up was an unknown rock musical from England called “The Rocky Horror Show”. Not a bad start, eh?
In short, the Roxy isn’t the greatest club to see a show at but it’s one of the best for performing in. You will love it.

Frankie & Johnnie’s New York Pizza (8947 W. Sunset Blvd) = If the Rainbow is for rock royalty (haha) then this joint is for the dispossessed rockers, the street skanks and the merely curious. They’ve got beer and wine, if you want it harder (hey girls) go to Turner’s and flask it, baby. F&J’s isn’t like the ‘Bow but at least you get your pizza in less than an hour. And individual slices thin and thick crust can be had in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Yes, the pizza’s just OK but I like it.
The Italian sandwiches are big and happy and affordable. Their dessert selection’s not bad, either. Apple cheesecake and tiramisu are some of the specialties there. I love the Sunset Strip.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Plug" Rhymes With "Bug"

All right all you hepcats, drop your cocks and grab your socks, drop your clits and pick up sticks, the new issue of "Punk Globe" is out featuring an ultra-bitchen photo of Rebecca Seven on the cover shot by yours truly! It's for a great article on my Rebecca written by the awesome Rebecca G. Wilson of Juxtapoz Magazine fame.

Here's the link if you want to read it:

The article discusses at great length the mind-boggling genius who thrilled millions playing guitar in Frightwig, went on to become clothes designer to stars like Raquel Welch, Motley Crue, Julie Newmar, Keanu Reeves, Kiss, and billions more! Her paintings have exhibited across the country, melting young impressionable eyeballs from coast to coast!!! Even the guys in Voivod bow to her magnificent greatness!

I don't really plug too many things I do but just as long as I'm at it check out the Flipside Magazine sitting by Kurt Cobain. Who's on the cover but, cough cough, yours truly? I get around, beetchess.