Posts Tagged ‘Alexis Arquette

12
Sep
12

Jayne County Turns the Vipor Room Out and Over!

All Photos by Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

I know that the topic of Jayne County has come up before, but for the life me I can’t put my finger on it. Jayne County, formerly, Wayne County was a staple of the early New York Punk Rock and Gay scenes. Jayne was Rock’s first transsexual. Jayne co-mingled with those in the Factory, Andy Warhol.  Jackie Curtis, Lou Reed,  Patti Smith and David Bowie. A new friend of mine Cassandra Church, an actress, producer and musical preformer, gave me a heads up on Jayne’s performance. I had met Cassandra at a Red Carpet event. I over heard her speak of a project called “Out In The Open”. I suggested she watch Wig Stock, a fun and lively Documentary with Alexis Arquette  and Jayne County. The doc is about a Gay New York festival hosted by Lady Bunny . The event was created for a host of talented Gay performers from all around the country who come to preform in New York. Our brief encounter snowballed into a lot more than I would have expected. I do like helping and informing folks though. Giving is part of my nature. Thus Cassandra was good enough to invite to see Casper and The Bad Spirits, which happen to include Jayne County and The Electric Chairs as the headliner and a bunch of other cool bands for that Saturday night.

I arrived early to the Viper Room. My second time in less than 3 weeks. I had covered the KISS Monster press conference and book release event less than three weeks earlier. I wanted to give a shout out to my girl, Dayle Gloria, whom I almost never see anymore. Dayle and I go back to the early Scream days. So it’s nice to refresh every once in a while. Did I mention I got there early. In fact outside of the KISS event I don’t think I’ve ever arrived at the Viper Room any earlier than 10pm. I was on the list. So I trotted up stairs negotiating through the typical low light of the club. I stood toward the middle of the upstairs floor for a minute and then Cassandra approached me. She made me feel welcome and filled me in on the details.  A band started playing un-announced while I was messing with my camera. Later I would find out it was Casper and the Bad Spirits. I started shooting as the band Rocked it! Casper leads a high energy Rock ensemble with a crunchy sound that proved to be intimate and visceral. For the last song Cassnadra joined Casper for one hell of a screamer! Cassanndra belted out PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me like a tormented female Iggy Pop. It was a body slam of a performance!

By this time I had settled for quantity with a 24 oz. of PBR. Then Cassandra hooked a brother up with one more 24 oz. PBR. I was flying high on loser friendly beers! This got me ready for Christian Martucci’s band.  A bad ass looking Rock-a-Billy dude with a DA, Christian Martucci, spilled on the stage in unrestrained hell-bent for leather Punk inspired Rock. They were a manic lot! Moving around the tiny stage delivering searing licks and pounding drums as the crowd started to thicken. There were more folks with cameras too. Christian Martucci sizzled till the end.

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Lady Sanatra came next in a night the club booked 4 bands. That’s a lot of bands in an evening. There was more drama now as the curtain was closed for an un-observed set up. Lady Sinatra opened with “Graves”. It was a hot ball buster and the room was getting tight and hot too. “Oh, Devil” was more of a mid-tempo Rocker that had the feel of Golden Earring‘s “Radar Love“. They were high energy but more threatening and menacing than the two previous bands. Like the moment Joseph Holiday wrapped the mic cord around guitarist Steve Friedlander neck to give the appearance of being strangled. Lady Sinatra is very much a garage Punk ensemble. They burned through the set of short and tough songs. Lady Sinatra lad in heavy with “Gold Lung”. A power Rocker that had the fans panting and breathless. They close to a tight house house of energized fans.

The club was packed tight and hotter than a firecracker with everyone ready to get a dose of New York OG Punk Rock. Henry Peck, formerly of Vinyl Fetish, The Veil and The Fetish Club of the eighties had dropped by to say high during Lady Sinatra. I looked back a little later to see him visiting with Glen Meadmore. Glen was one of LA’s hottest musical artist in the Gay community during the eighties. He opened for Chris and Cosey among many other notables and was in the LA Weekly all the time. I know because I was at his show and photographed him while I was a contributing photographer for the LA Weekly. I was eye-popping happy to see he was part of the night’s proceedings. He’s been doing Country music for some time now. I love his song ” Never Trust A Hustler” is one of my all time favorite tunes. So it was great to see him and wish him well. I made time to say hi to Anthony Ausgang too. He was fresh from We Got Power!: We Survived the Pit! at Track 16 Gallery. By this time Dayle was in and focusing on making things work. I’d have to wait to later to say my hellos. I cruised down stair to the lounge to relax and I ran into Bert and Iris. I haven’t seen them in a month or two. It nice to have a face to face refresher and brief catch up.

Once again, I was upstairs near the stage with the black curtains drawn. Henry and Glen occupied their spots near the left side of the stage, while Bert and Iris behind me. There was tension in the air and waiting till you heard Jayne start talking to the audienc through the curtain. Then there was this silence for a few beats. Then the curtains were drawn back for all to see and Jayne launched into her set. Now in her sixties Jayne is a mover and a shaker. Jayne gave us “Puddy In Your Hands”. Jayne is full of anecdotal stories. Referencing tales from New York street life, Max’s Kansas City, Lou Reed and Bowie. Delighting all in hearing range. It was all very entertaining! During “Cry Of Angels” I felt a thrust from behind. I was a bit annoyed. It was an urgent pressing from Ginger Coyote and Lina Lecaro in tow squeezing near the steps for an on stage performance. It was nice to see Lina. Ginger were all sorts of ready. Jayne, a contributor to Punk Globe, motioned to Ginger from the stage and then spoke briefly to her indicating it was a song out before their duet. Jayne jumped into “Cream In My Dreams”. I should mention that the sound Jayne and the Electric Chairs or Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys is what would be considered proto/seminal Punk. More bluesy, in a Rolling Stones way, but grittier, more jagged and definitely confrontational! Bands that come to mind would be Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Dead Boys , The Dictators or David Bowie. David Bowie in particular is an important reference. David Bowie’s management firm financed a film called Wayne at the Trucks. Wayne or Jayne has admitted that “Queenage Baby” was the inspiration for Rebel Rebel. But let me suggest that it supplied David Bowie with an ample supply of inspiration: birthing such songs, now classics, as Suffragette City, Jean Genie, Diamond Dogs and Rebel Rebel.

Soon, Ginger got her chance to duet with Jayne. Jayne is a contributor to Punk Globe, a publication and website Ginger puts out. The song they shared was “You Look Cool Baby (But You’re Bad In Bed)”. That duet was a tornado of blond on blond ferocity! Everyone was jumping and dancing as the girls were knee-deep and full throttle in to it. The Real kicker came when Jayne launched into “Rock and Roll Resurrection”. I thought it should be called Rock N’ Roll Erection. But that’s why I’m a writer and Jayne is a performing artist. As the number continued Jayne cranked up the drama by lamenting the loss of such luminaries as Buddy Holly, John Lennon and Joey Ramon. She said that Sid Vicious bombed at Max’s Kansas City. Jayne said Sid bombed three-times to every corner of the room. I remember reading how Sid had bombed in New York so many years ago. Leaving in question the possibility of him having a music career. Then there’s the re-write of history regarding Sid. No one remembers Sid bombed Max’s. Because of the ensuing tragedy of Nancy Spungen‘s death followed by the absolutely horrid circumstances of Sid untimely death, which made him a martyr. Eventually, Sid assumed the role as a Rock N’ Roll icon. As the song unwound, Jayne requested 2 shots of tequila from the fans. The fans delivered! Jayne lamented that Lou Reed might hear of it. I guess they attend the same AA meetings. There was an element of memorial to the song but Jayne moved it on to tribute. In fact, you could say, it was a weird Holy Ghosty Hoot-n-nanny Hoedown salute! Jayne was laying it out with praise Jesus’ and a Hallelujahs. These were accompanied within the same breath the fucks and shits. At this point it confirmed to me he was from the south. Jayne’s tribute was a mind bending juxtaposition of sacred and profane, mixing in a strong dose of cognitive dissonance: a brain twister and a mental meltdown. Everyone in the room was loving it, including myself! He called out to all the ex-patriots from New York City. Those who frequented Max’s Kansas City to come forward and join him up on the stage. It was glorious as they all struggled through he crowd and mounted the stage to sing along with Jayne. All survivors and all so radiant in the stage spot lights. All beaming! It was a moving moment as they gathered together on stage. Jayne by my account is one of the most emotive performers I’ve ever witnessed. The song Fuck Off! closed out her show. The song is still a bit bracing for most folks now. But you can imagine how well it must have been received back in 1977 when it was first offered. The fans were eating it up! After several opportunities offered to us by Jayne to Fuck Off! she, encouraged everyone in the room to sing-a-long. It wasn’t long till everyone was involved. So the end of the evening was a contagious performance by Jayne and the Electric Chairs having everyone at the Viper Room sending salutations out to the world with a hardy Fuck off!

17
Aug
12

Chysta Bell: Something In The Way She Moved Brought On A Heat Wave!!!

David Lynch is a prominent figure in the film industry and looms largely in my own sensibilities since the advent of Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet gave me open cause to recant scenes like I would song lyrics, while verbalizing the vivisectioned bodies of dirty little secrets. You know the ones, the ones you’re Mother would have slapped you for when you were a child, a bad child of mischief! She would have endlessly pelted you about your face for such secrets. My first date with the woman who would become my first serious girlfriend revolved around us slapping one another in the face the way Isabella Rossellini had been slapped in the bedroom scene of Blue Velvet. Mind you, it wasn’t in the privacy of my home or an event designed for such play, but at 7969 Santa Monica in the early evening just before Alexis Arquette‘s Aquarium night club was to debut to hordes of anxious local clubers. By the time this visceral mating exchange had ended between myself and Gabriella at 7969. On our way to Aquarium at Oscar’s she thought it was a good idea to propose marriage to me. I accepted. It was a night of hot, hot heat. She finished off her proposal by putting out a lit cigarette on the tender underside of my left forearm and stated, “Don’t cheat on me or I’ll fucking kill you!” Awe, the benefits of a drunken escapade and a good script to lead you through the chaos of budding young love. David Lynch holds a special place in my heart that few have ever trespassed and less likely occupied for offering the inspiration that led to those moments.

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Years later, I would find myself noodling about my Facebook Fan Page extolling my next exploit, which would be shooting The Neville Brothers at the Hollywood Bowl for the LA Beat. After I posted the news a good friend ask me if I would be going to The Bootleg Theater on Thursday. My thoughts were no, but my instincts wanted to know why and yes. So I queried him of this intrigue. He shot back that Chrysta Bell would be performing there and David Lynch would likely be making an appearance. The next comment from Jonas was keep it on the downlow. It didn’t take long for me to suppress the story on my Fan Page to a lower status with a less noisy reference for people to peer on. The following day I shot The Neville Brothers. Bob Lee of LA Beat was good enough to arrange the photo pass and provided me with a seat. I ran into Vince Wilburn Jr. nephew of the late Miles Davis with his lovely fiance Ingrid. He suggested that I should come over for a visit at the intermission. It was a cool night and Vince made it cooler by bringing me back stage to meet everybody and hang out.

On Thursday I was primed and pumped for some witchy twisty ways at The Bootleg Theater. The Bootleg Theater claims to be in Silverlake but the truth be known, it might, barely, maybe be considered to be in Echo Park. It’s kind of like someone claiming to be an original Punk Rocker but has a look ripped form a magazine: a Pop approximation like “Jimbo” rather than Johnny Rotten. I can’t tell if The Fold know what they’re doing by their base and ignorant actions, but I know for sure David and crew do by their smart adaptations to The Bootleg’s environment! For all the secrecy it was apparent when I arrived it wasn’t too much of a secret. The line was 50 to 60 feet long. There were folks who had more urgency than myself, who were eagerly passing me on my way to the end of the line. By the time they were letting people in the line had doubled. I had been texting with Jonas who was on the inside with Director Tammi Sutton and Tim Polecat of the Polecats. Once in the room I felt like the place had changed. It was similar to the previous times I had been there, yet different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The main room or the room I was ushered into had no stage but a bar. Bars are important to bar but then so are stages for music venues. I soaked it in searching for Jonas. I notice Tim first, then Tammi and then Jonas came into view. I struck up a conversation with Tim since Jonas was chatting up a lady. Tammi chimed in on the layout of the place. I eventually had to rest in the restroom. That’s when I discovered the original room with the stage. A new aspect to the room were the table and chairs. I nested in my chair thinking the show would be in that room. Within the next 20 minutes people filtered in a bit befuddled by the layout. People were gathering behind me in what was an approximation of a line. Jonas, Tim and Tammi scooted from the other area to the room I was occupying. A little timed passed and Jonas who was on his feet came to me and said there another room behind me and us. There was indeed! Soon the door was opened with people crowding through a small short hallway into a more theatrical space with a nicely lit low stage. It was a big room too, easily holding everyone attending. We were some of the first in and we positioned close to where the action was going to happen.

The action started soon. First we saw David coming up from an underground stair case behind the stage. He then easily stepped on to the low stage. He was sharply dress with just the right amount of artist dishevelment: collar loose and open with french cuffs without cuff links, black suit and white shirt. David, was the David we’ve all come to know and love with his quirky studies speech and that particular twinkle in his eyes. That twinkle was a combination of Santa and twisted boyish mischief, akin to Alfred E. Neuman, but wholly owned by David. He properly attended to the mic stating with warm praise and charming mid-century double entendres the enthusiasm he held and wanted to conveyed to us all for his muse and chanteuse, Chrysta Bell. His remarks at times were enveloped by silent anticipation and other time with boyish titers and giggles from the fans. The crowd was primed and poised while hanging on every work till David pronounced the coming of Chrysta Bell. Chrysta Bell took the stage in a lady like fashion. The band follow her as David stepped back in a gentlemanly fashion so as let Chrysta Bell shine on her own. She owned the space and proceeded to fill the in role and the room so effectively provided for her.

This was a music performance, yet, dare I say, far, far more than a musical performance you generally get by an avarage Rock band. Chrysta holds your attention as if you were viewing Bambi, as an innocent doe, but she simmered, she’s a pressure cooker broadcasting sexual mysteries, primal urges with sophisticated twists jarring a boy’s imagination with the ideas of tumult, toys and tools. All that simmering with an introduction and homage to David from Chrysta. Every detail had been attended to as only a movie Director could arranged it. The lighting and the wardrobe felt like a David Lynch set. Reading everyone for an epic voyage. The fact we were ushered through 3 chambers in a procession to Chrysta’s show wasn’t lost on me for building tension and release. Drama surrounded this event from the master’s hand. This was very rare for any contemporary musical event. “Real Love” from This Train, started the set that ratched to song “This Train”, which automatically leads me to think of David’s interest in TM as a  means of healing and inner clarity he seeds through the David Lynch Foundation. Chrysta Bell’s vocal were clear bell-like tones that were rich with depth and carefully executed to a point of perfection. The annunciation closer to operatic vocals sans all the classic history attached to them. She reached for the untouched notes to caress those sound wave-like a mink stole would feel caressed close to the cheek. She reminds me, style wise, of early Cheateau Twins, less etherial and laced with her own earthy richness. Her costuming was wondrous. I’m sure David, being from the film industry, through a magical stylist or designer he’d worked with in the past in her direction. By “Be Bop A Lula”, a Rock classic, ushered in the removal of her high waist corset like fashioned dress was at this point cast aside for something darker. I mean darker as in more of a Dominatrix type of naughtiness. She was dressed down to black panties and bra with sheer black stockings supported by panty clips to hold them up. To make matters worse or better she had these spiked open toed stilettos slithering and dominating the floor. By this time half the room had chubbies. That nice scarf became an instrument of restraint, binding or a noose. No eyes were averted and anticipation of what would happen next keep the fans solidified in her direction. I’ve mention the clothes. I’ve mentioned her vocal treatment and control but I don’t want to leave folks guessing about her body and how she moves it. I was fascinated that she started out as the Holy Mother or the Goddess nurturer/healer then pivoted into balletic body language with posture and striking possess. She surprise me with tantric position of ecstasy and enthralled all with her command of her body as language. All of this progressed into the song “Angel Star” and “Swing With Me”. I have to give kudos to her wardrobe person. The choices made for her had lasted though more than half of the set providing so many moods, from pure to very provocative. She quietly removed herself for a wardrobe change for the finale. As if this was a theatrical performance she returned dressed in a body conscious brown and white evening dress with a classic silhouette of screen siren of mid-century singer. Everyone there was made aware of her womanliness. She was pleased and humbled by the applause and praise alloted her by the audience. She voiced her gratitude in a careflly measured way that was endearing. She finished her set with a perfect Pop song, as she put it, referring to David’s The “Truth is” off of This Train. The place was a pressure cooker for over an hour and she kept it hot, hot, hotter by building in her performance this mighty climax. She was sweet and gracious as she and the band exited the stage leaving us wanting more, more, more!




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