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PLEASE NOTE SOME OF THESE ARTICLES WERE HEAVILY RE-WRITTEN FROM MY ORIGINAL NOTES IN 1994 & 2002.
Rather than just review bands, I'll tell you about the places I went these last few days instead.
This is opposed to the scattered schedule they have been keeping since the club first started up last November 14, a schedule that has been further curtailed by the occasionally harassing police. I told Clare I was on the list for Romeo Void on Thursday, and she wants to go for some reason, even after I told her it was in Pasadena.
Clare Glidden and her partner Jack Marquette own the Brave Dog, a rectangular brick storefront standing next to the Atomic Cafe on First Street. It's a great place to see some of the best 'east side' bands, The Smog Marines, The Plugz, The Brat, Nervous Gender, Fibonaccis, and the New Marines are favorites, as well as the unusual experimental performance pieces that are often booked between bands.
Perhaps now there is a large enough crowd to support this small, comfortable, art/punk music space, there seem to be new people and new bands and parties everywhere now.
The Veil at Cathay De Grande in the center of Hollywood is one of those great new parties, with dark energy and a mixed but mostly gothic clientele, it continues to grow in popularity on Sunday nights. The music is adventuresome and played loud through a decent sound system, the crowd is a mingling mix of downtown art types with plenty of Hollywood's wildest hair-damaged goth rockers thrown in. The bands play downstairs. It's a small space down there, dark, the drinks are strong, and overall it's the perfect cap for the weekend. But where have all of the Souxsie clones come from all of a sudden?
Stevox Edwards, Devo Dan and I were there because we wanted to dance to the remix of Lene Lovich's 'New Toy' - and because I was on the guest list. Which is not as easy as you might think, the Odyssey is one of the toughest places in town to get in free. The bouncers at the door don't care if you get pissed off or not, they don't care who you are - they're cold as stone and there's a long line of paying customers out front on the key nights.
The guys at the door always look at you suspiciously when you tell them you're on the list. But, ultimately, they have to kiss my ass just like everyone else in town. (Typesetter's note: Yeah, right!)
Tuesday night I ventured out to Club 88 (on Pico Blvd. in West LA), a former strip club that began booking bands last year to modest success. The club is one large room with a stage at the far end and a full bar off to the side. Mostly a lot of heavy metal type acts there this night, and bands just starting out with small followings, but owner Wayne reminds me he was the first to book The Go-Go's and Van Halen. Club 88 looks like a stripped-down strip club, but that's perfect for rock and roll and Club 88 really supports the local bands.
was away to The Starwood in Hollywood where Middle Class was
playing with Agent Orange and The Weirdos. The Starwood
hosts three top hardcore bands every Tuesday, they have been for months
Weirdos will be back at the Starwood on May 5th and Fear returns
on the 12th.
On my way home that night, I checked out the Improvisation
(on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood). This location used to be a popular
sixties folk/blues joint called 'The Ash Grove' before it burned down
in 1973, now it's dying again as a second rate comedy club, turning
in desperation to booking local bands on most nights. The drinks are
way too expensive for most real club-goers, so it attracts a wanna-be
crowd. Should have skipped it, the Improv needs to improve.
On my way home that night, I checked out the Improvisation (on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood). This location used to be a popular sixties folk/blues joint called 'The Ash Grove' before it burned down in 1973, now it's dying again as a second rate comedy club, turning in desperation to booking local bands on most nights. The drinks are way too expensive for most real club-goers, so it attracts a wanna-be crowd. Should have skipped it, the Improv needs to improve.
While I was there, I discovered that there have been a rash of instrument thefts backstage at Club 88 and the Improv, so bands beware. It seems groups are finding their instruments missing between sets or stolen while they are busy tearing down. I watched a musician's veneer crumble Tuesday night backstage at the Improv - when he learned his guitar was gone, he reacted like a seven year old. Culprits are driving down the alleys behind these clubs, grabbing instruments sitting near the exit waiting to be loaded out, and taking off.
On Wednesday night, Susan Grant, Lois Goldthreat and I cruised the Valley searching for any vestige of entertainment. Or life. We started partying in the haunted house on Radford and somehow ending up at Filthy McNasty's in North Hollywood where Lois and I danced to "Sexual Healing" (the only decent song they played) while we made fun of the other twelve people that were there that night to see the club's namesake and his surprisingly decent, scantily-clad, all-girl band.
illustration by Shawn Kerri
After dropping off the ladies, I took off for Oki-Dogs on Santa Monica Boulevard at Vista in West Hollywood. I work about 2 blocks away so I eat there a lot at lunch.
There was a large mob there for a Wednesday night, it looked like a weekend. Lots of leather and torn jeans. I swear, I think I'm addicted to the Oki Steak sandwich, that and the ton of fresh cut, greasy, limp fries they give you on the side. It's the only thing that will do at two thirty in the morning after an evening of less-than-satisfying nightclubbing and too much drinking.
Thursday night Clare from the Brave Dog and I travelled out to Pasadena to see Romeo Void and sat through a performer flipping pancakes from a hot plate into the audience, singing a few uninspired songs, and smashing a guitar onstage. If this sounds like fun to you, then by all means see Tonio K in concert.
The large audience at Perkin's Palace was geared up to see him, even I was looking forward to this performance. I like the satirical single ("Trouble") that KROQ has been playing.
We both lost interest in Tonio K's tedious and sloppy presentation almost immediately. Judging from the eager response to his ritualistic smashing of the guitar on of all things, a vacumm cleaner, there must be quite a few teens who find this vapid, obscured sexual expression exciting. Oh well, this was the K-Rock crowd after all. They would have turned out for host Dusty Street alone, right?
Romeo Void again hiding the lead singer
This was hardly the type of warmup the superb Romeo Void deserved. The Pasadena audience didn't know how to react to this San Francisco avante garde band. So most of them just left.
The audience was audibly shocked at the appearance of lead singer Debra Iyall, because of her large size and she seemed to have sensed it. I don't think this Valley audience was interested in a girl singer that isn't thin and gorgeous, regardless of the quality of the music.
The energy was a little low, but the music was all there, and those of us that stayed for the whole show enjoyed it. There are superlative musicians in this band, strong material with soaring, soulful vocals and that sax player really wails. Romeo Void wowed them earlier in the week at the Whisky in Hollywood, so the future looks good for the band - with or without Pasadena.
Friday night started with a trip down Sunset to Tower Records where I ran into some friends buying 45s for their club's jukebox. They found lots of cool stuff and so did Eye.
Remember a while back Eye told you about the outlandish behavior of the Plasmatic's trashy lead singer Wendy O Williams at a Sunset Boulevard record store signing (Tower)? Evidently, you can take the girl off the boulevard but you can't take the boulevard off the girl. Wendy O is suing the Milwaukee police department for cuts she received when they threw her to the ground after one of her shows.
The police claim that she was "simulating masturbation with a sledgehammer in front of an audience", (specifically against the law in Milwaukee, evidently). Wendy reportedly slapped a police officer that, she says, molested her.
At any rate, she had to be brought down with the full might of Milwaulkee's finest, in front of all her fans. Wendy O Williams ended up with 12 stitches that night, millions in publicity, and these photos for her scapbook.
New Wave Cher
It's just a few blocks from Tower to Flipper's, Cher and Jane Fonda's roller boogie disco palace, which started booking bands a few months ago and hasn't had very much success. I've heard the bands are too-often mediocre, the sound is bad and attendance has been sparse. So I figured I should check it out.
Turns out the punk shows at Flippers have drawn some bigger crowds recently, but it has ruined the super-expensive 'state of the art' hardwood floors for roller skating. Pogo-ing and slam dancing in steel toe combat boots with chains will do that, so there is no turning back for the club now.
Not that anyone has really shown up there to skate in over a year anyway. Could it be... the end of the roller-disco era?!? Say it isn't so!
No, say it is!
Unfortunately, the rest of Friday night is a blur, which leads me to Saturday morning as I am writing this for my Monday morning deadline, headphones on, with Ultravox's "Vienna" blaring, until 'Lost in Space' comes on at noon on channel 5. (I never miss it.)
And now it's Thursday night and you're reading this in a club. The beat goes on!
Ironic. FEAR is known for their anti-gay remarks and taunts to the audience. Below is a bit of rock and roll memorabilia for you - a full-page ad taken out by FEAR - in Data-Boy, December 19, 1979. There were others. (Probably why they are so homophobic.) None of this, of course, negates FEAR's considerable contribution to the music scene in LA, perhaps it enhances it.
Oh, the pain!
It is my sad duty to inform you that Judy Zee is no longer with us. Naw, she didn't die or anything, but she is leaving this magazine for greener pastures. She will no longer be here to typeset the column, correct my copy, add subtle nuances or generally brighten and broaden otherwise dull days.
I only started writing this column to introduce Judy to an unprepared audience, a readership that traditionally doesn't support rock and roll. We both found that that isn't the case with many of our readers, and it is due largely to Judy's excellent articles on psychedlis and the club scene that have inspired those readers to make themselves known. Judy was definitely the core and inspiration for this shit, so this is the last of this column, to be replaced by something different, with promised input by Judy Zee, but definitely not the same column. Thanks.
now, some final (for now) words
"The bullet missed his heart by about one inch."
I've been thinking... what choice have we but destruction? And how much worse can it get? Despite the Reagan Administration, some of us still believe in civil rights (???). Right??? we're going down.
If 'not so,' then in what ways will we be rallying against this impending oppression?
"To be insulted by these fascists is so degrading. And it's no game," says Bowie (the last song in the 'Scary Monsters' L.P.) Freedom of choice is being taken from us bit by bit. All I can ask is that we may become aware of what's being perpetrated upon us. Four more years. God, we've got to get together now that this society is falling apart at the seems.
The New Age we are building in our lifetime composed within our own circle of friends must be real, and must be true, to withstand the upcoming assault from the government above us. So, hold your lovers with compassion! Also support to a crying friend. Put group effort into accomplishing tasks; ignore external rules; but remain safe.
One great hope I've always had for the gay community (worldwide) is that I feel there is a caring for one's fellow (wo-)man. That you want to work together; live together, in a better world, consider: how much of this society you've already pridefully constructed, and how much has yet to be done, consider: what to do next.
God bless you peoploe, and - love one another. Love all others. Learn non-discrimination. Live without prejudices, get to know yourself better. Need to. Solidarity will be needed soon, more than ever.
Editor's Note :
Wendy O. Williams committed suicide in 1998.
Data-Boy's typesetter's name in 1981 was Stephanie and she liked to include her comments when she typeset the articles. She contributed a regular column to Data-boy magazine in 1981/82 called Steph's Stories.
GETTING RAVE REVIEWS! Michael Ely and Jim 'Spider' Taylor have resurfaced a new CD - "The Perfume of Creosote: Desert Exotica Part One" by Smoke & Mirrors. Click to order!
They have a NEW CD in 2005 - Smoke & Mirrors: Dieties.
"JUST TO LET YOU KNOW I AM ALIVE AND LIVING IN LA, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, WORKING TO HELP THE POOR AND HOMELESS. EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE HARSH DAYS, I STILL HAVE GOOD MEMORIES OF THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT I REMEMBER..."
- Karen Stapleton, NERVOUS GENDER
3 surviving members of Nervous Gender - Edward Stapleton, Michael
Ochoa and Joe Zinnato - are currently reviewing all of the Nervous
Gender material, (studio, live, rehearsal recordings and performance
videos) and intend on releasing a series of archival documents and
a NG retrospective. www.nervousgender.com
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