Thursday, February 5, 2009
Bikini Clad and Blowing Up.
1987 was a year of transition for me. I was only eleven years old, entering junior high school in a new town, a hundred miles away from my hometown. My home town was a tiny, corn-producing, fly speck on the map of mid-western, central Ohio.With a meager population of seven thousand people, my ancestors had helped to settle this town and I was born there.
It was all I had ever known.
That summer, my mother packed us into her brand new, "professional" sedan, ("bye bye station wagon"), drove us two hours to our new, three bedroom, ranch style home in a planned neighborhood subdivision, 20 miles outside of the city of Cincinnati. Our rolling 52 acre farm, complete with woods, barns, and a creek, was replaced with Legoland-like blocks of chem-lawn greenery, aluminum sided, brick fronted kit built homes, bike trails, swimming pools and major assholes.
My siblings and I were in complete culture shock. Our friends were replaced with children of our age who were sent to us on arranged, tense, missions that our parents had set up to help the "new kids" adjust to the jungles of suburbia. They didn't like us, but they liked being grounded less, so they were nice to us out of fear of their parents hearing that they were mean to the new kids.
It really fucking sucked. Suburbia breeds wankers. Hence, you will never find the adult me living anywhere near areas with established neighborhood associations whose main mission in life are to squelch any sense of style, or person that would naturally object the inherent nature of a neighborhood association. Seriously, fuck a bunch of people who are going to piss their pants over what color I choose for the plastic shingles that adorn my plastic house.
After a summer of adjusting to our new surroundings, one in which I spent mostly bed ridden, due to a fall in a shower and the impending broken tail bone. Good times. We started school. Boy.....Wankers in your subdivision are bad enough, but when you take all of those wankers and join them with the hundreds of other wankers from the other subdivisions, an astronomical amount of wankerness happens.
In 1987, Landen,(TM) Ohio taught me about materialism, racism, false superiority complexes, smoke and mirrors, close mindedness, fear, and three-way calling saboteurs. It was a pretty educational year and I could not wait to get out of that cesspool of minivans and chemically treated grass.
Luckily, 1988 had a surprise in store for me.
My siblings and I started to balance the motion of the ocean and adjust to the mores of the suburban tribe that we were now a part of. Or, at least we tried. I have to say I had an easier time than they did bending myself into aberrant shapes, changing my personality and ideas, so I could swim instead of sink into the muck with the rest of the social rejects. Good lord, you didn't want to find yourself in the cast-away, run off of suburban, junior high school, social barbarism...... You might as well just move.
As I tried my best to "fit in", by way of ill advised cheerleading stints, home perms, perfume and excessive makeup; my brother had started trying his best to "not fit in". He started smoking ciggarettes with a new brand of miscreants, some of which the sacred Landen of milk and honey, had never seen before. A group of kids who had sideways hair, rode skateboards, and wore t-shirts with names I had never seen before. What is a Sex Pistol and can it kill a person? What does Fugazi mean? Are all of the Kennedys Dead? I think I like those Bikini Girls With Machine Guns..... I think I want to be one..........
These people purposefully flung themselves into the "muck of loserdom and outcasts" and relished in their status as "social reject"..... They celebrated it.
They were amazing.
Needless to say, I was inspired. I was done trying to fit in with a group of people, whom I knew at the ripe age of 11, I had nothing in common with, and I really didn't even like. I began to feel a thrill that I had not felt since the last time I ran through a cow pasture after a thunderstorm.
And so it began. And I never looked back.
Lux Interior died yesterday.
The first time I ever laid eyes on Lux and Poison Ivy was during a sixth grade babysitting shift. We didn't have cable at home, and being farm transplants, we had never had cable, so we really didn't know what we were missing. When I would babysit, it was like living in this separate world, one where 10 pm bedtimes, were replaced with HBO and USA late night. It was wonderful.
I don't recall what channel I was watching when I witnessed for the very first time, a man in leopard bikini panties, but I remember the bruise I had after my jaw hit the floor.
That incident would be about 15 months before I would purchase my first Cramps record, or try to duplicate Poison Ivy's makeup on my own face, (I think it took that long for my 11 year old brain to process what I had just witnessed). I remember going in my room, tearing the plastic covering off of Psychedelic Jungle, and falling onto my bed in a cloud of bliss as the sound of Goo Goo Muck started bouncing off of my powder pink walls.
I began to feel that familiar tingle of inspiration deep down and I could almost smell the saturated grass of the summer thunderstorm....It was the tingle and excitement of freedom, and Lux Interior was totally giving it to me.......... and it was awesome. It was sexy, it was dirty, it was scary and it was a fucking thrill.
This would mark the beginning of a life long love affair with The Cramps.
I would see them perform a handful of times, each time different, yet they definitely had a formula. The substance of their art was coarse sexuality and nitty gritty Rock and Roll. Though they were labeled as "Psychobilly", I would argue that there wasn't a damn thing "billy" about them...... They were Rock and Roll incarnate and they made predecessors like the Stones and the Beatles look like little "Nancy Boys" who needed to go back and hide under their mother's skirts.
They were great.
Watching them live was amazing. It's always invigorating to watch a sinewy sex machine, nakedly hump the stage as he crooned to his disciples, whilst his dominatrix wife wailed on the geetar.
Needless to say, I am sad today.
But I am so happy to have lived in a world that once held the creative force and genius that was Lux Interior.... and I am ever so thankful that Lux Interior (and others like him) happened to me, ear fucking me with musical inspiration, freedom, possibility, and raunch.... My life would have been a hell of lot more boring without him.
RIP Lux..... I will miss you.