Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Ausgang

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

07
Feb
12

Under The Big Black Sun: One More Night In The Soul Kitchen

I was upfront, leaning up against the stage looking out on dozens and dozens of glowing faces. The close ones were white and bright, full of smiles drifting to darker and darker silhouettes to the back of the club. All were focused toward the stage I was leaning on where I slowly slide up on it, while the members of X paused between songs for a breather. I thought it was the perfect time to fire up a cigarette. Soon I felt a nudge against my back. I turned to my right to look up at Exene gesturing with her fingers, pressed closely to her lips, as if she was taking a drag from a cigarette. I smiled and she smiled back as her hand passed my shoulder and drifted by my cheek, she took the Camel nail from my hand that was lifting up toward her mouth. She then stood up for a second taking 2 solid drags from my camel straight and passed it back to me. Once returned I took another puff off the now moist butt of my cigarette as the band slammed into another Punk Rock classic. In front of me all were being driven wild  by the music. The churning of young hot sweating bodies were tangled weaving to the fast beat laid out by DJ Bonebreak, searing guitar work of Billy Zoom and bleeding edge harmonies of both John Doe and Exene Cervenka slamming against the walls of the Bacchanal. It was the sound of Punk mixed with break-neck speed Rockabilly from the album Wild Gift that tossed the Bacchanal into unrestrained chaos. X selling out 3 night’s of this 500 plus venue in Claremont Mesa in San Diego. The only commercial radio station that played X was KROQ. Everything that brought people together that night was essentially generated by word of mouth from all the Punks, while slightly crossing over to the mainstream. We refered to the mainstream as the “Normals”. That night and the other passed by with blistering Punk Rock ferocity for this Southern California musical power house who was the spearhead for the young and budding army of colored haircuts and leather jackets. It was revelatory, celebratory and lifestyle affirming as we participated in making history, changing culture, while Rockin’ to one of the most intelligent bands to emerge in years. Their songs had content, commentary and substance embodied in skillful song craft. Exene and John Doe’s relationship was an archetype that Punk couple aspired to and emulated. Their relationship was tough, funny and loving and it was reflected in the band’s lyrics and that made X unique among most of the SoCal based Punk Bands. As the years passed X never reached the multi-million status that they were at one time expected to reach. X losing some of their base after signing with Warner Bros. where they were being pulled in a more Pop direction by the guru’s at the label. That was followed with Billy Zoom leaving the band and then the dream couple eventually separating and devouring.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

X still carried on like troopers with new band members and new releases. But for most, the magic was gone. Punk Rock found new heroes and new mythologies to attach themselves to. Exene and John created the acoustic country folkish duo The Knitters a year later. I saw The Knitters for the first time in Tijuana at a Luis Guerena, of Tijuana No, produced show. There was a who’s who of the San Diego Punk Glitterati in attendance. All were eager to be a part of this new setup. All evolved wanted bragging right for seeing one of the first performances of The Knitters. I loved the new thing while getting hammered on cheap Mexican beer. The show was raided by the Federales and was closed down: Punks scattering everywhere. Therefore, the show was a complete success from a Punk Rock perspective. As the years past The Kniters virtually dissolved and John Doe explored a solo career and Exene took up art. With all these changes and morphing, I and we, stilled hung on to our majestic memories of X in their heyday. One night I was giving Jane Weidlin a foot rub at an after party from Cover 13 celebrating Retail Slut’s 20th anniversary. Jane and I got on the subject of how we missed Billy Zoom. We were so glad he had rejoined the band. Jane had seen them recently and said they had torn it up. Billy hadn’t lost any of guitar prowess being an air-conditioned repair man. Jane’s slave name escapes me now, but she was a slave of Sabrina belladonna that night. Jane had been assigned to me for the foot message by Sabrina. It turned out to be a perfect pairing. We carried on for nearly an hour going down the nostalgia road pleased at the reunion of both X and the GoGo’s. It was  a splendid night to rehearse the past. The scene was so close-knit and meaningful for all of us, Jane, myself and everybody evolved. Those memories were so dear that it could only hit a deep emotional and resonating chord with us all who shared this unique past. Our reminiscing validated our choices then and affirmed our love for the music and the scene’s characters, of which, every one of us were very much characters, role-playing, living out our dreams in this vibrant scene. After all the years X was still a vital topic.

I eventually ran in to Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and I pressed him on the topic of Jim Morrison with what you could call a plan B strategy. I had read “No One Gets Out Of Here Alive” at the time of X’s rise in popularity. For me the book was a watershed read that helped me perfect and define my own Punk Rock persona. Of course there was plan B or the sub agenda I had for Ray. Plan B was to ask him about his producing X’s Los Angeles. X’s first album release. As I pressed Ray about Jim you could read the “sign” registering on his face that said, “They always ask about fuckin’ Jim!”. For me seeing that look was just as important as if he’d started telling me old Rock N’ Roll war stories. It was easy to switch gears and question him about one of our favorite band, X. As he reminisced about X his face lit up and he became open. His gestures and body language read way happier, as we talked music and X. A few years later we ran into one another again and picked up where we left off. X, is but one symptom of Ray’s obsession with music: new music, experimental music and how technology affects the communication of music and musical performances. I can see why Ray’s face lit up about X now that I understand his fascination with the new and the experimental expression of musical performances. That’s why X fit that groove perfectly for Ray at the time they worked together on “Los Angeles“. Clearly, X posed a defining moment in music, Punk and SoCal’s culture: I mean the low, the down and out, the disenfranchised subculture that bred rampantly during the late 70′s and the early 80′s in Southern California, The Punk Rock movement change California from only being seen as a sun drenched subtropical utopia. X was the hub, the nexus of this with a call and response declaration of the desperate, reaching for meaning and recognition during a dark time!

During Christmas, as is my tradition, I migrated down to North Park to hobnob with my people. Yes, the remaining Punk legacy of San Diego’s Punk Rock culture. It’s the deepest roots I have and it represents the longest and most meaningful relationships of my life. Of course I hit The Casbah, the echo of previous heroic days, to be imbued by the “sweet” stale smell of smokey air, mobs of old scenesters mixing with new hipsters for Christmas Eve’s Exile on Kentner. Tim Maze was gracious and said hi. We both exchanged Christmas greeting and goodwill for a yearly reunion we often attend. After, Exile On Kentner I relocated at Kevin’s, cuddling up for a welcome sleep after my drive to San Diego. Christmas morning, joyfully waking to Robyn, Kevin, Stevie and Hammer for a Punk Rock beer soaked Christmas! After the gift giving, the laughs and a Prime Rib Christmas dinner I had one of my musings. We were relaxed, lounging in the afternoon winter’s sun in the front yard when I mentioned to Kev and Robyn that the Under The Big Black Sun concert at MOCA with X, The Dead Kennedys and The Advengers was coming up in January. The Universe must have turned on a switch because it was on! Robyn said buy your tickets now because we’ll be coming down. So the plan was set or so it appeared. I, after all, was a sluffer, waiting to buy the tickets after I joined MOCA again. But I was real busy and time passed very quickly in the leading up to the show. Oddly, about the time I was deciding to purchase the ticket I decided to check the MOCA website. I starred in shock as the graphic on the web page read Sold Out! I was unaware that it would go public and I thought I had more time. Damn, damn and damn! Funny enough I received a text the next day from Robyn asking if I was ready and had I bought my ticket. I looked at the text feeling guilt ridden at my slacker ways and hesitated to respond. I broke the bad news to Robyn. Robyn being who she was, was magnanimous and supportive. This was about 10 days out. So I seethed and simmered in my juices for most of that time looking for a way to hook it up. Just about the time I was about to start pulling strings and asking for favors I got another text. This was Robyn letting me know that her and Kevin was dropping out. I was bummed for them and there was a part of me that felt I had let them down. It was a big weekend for me because I was planning on celebrating the Chinese New Year. Ilona Sampovaara, a wonderful lowbrow artist I had met had a showing as well. I was feeling a time crunch, torn loyalties, with great distances to breach and people to meet. Robyn made everything simple and brilliant. But Robyn is always able to pull out the bright side of a negative situation. She was good enough to let use the tickets. I was tremendously grateful. Robyn knows how to take oranges and make orange juice out of them. I thought a good course for the evening would be to bring Ilona along. Ilona has some remarkable art that demonstrates a witty sence of humor, has an observant eye, a sense of irony and clever commentary built into her paintings of dogs, cats and skewed youthful innocence. I thought the MOCA event would be perfect for her and give her a little more adventure to her visit here in Los Angeles from Mexico.

Saturday arrived with different degrees of drama at different times that would bunch up and then release, then linger like a dangling noose of anticipated till early evening. Ilona and I met. Then came our brief catch up session before we moved to rest Under The Big Black Sun at MOCA. We arrived, for me, in an uncharacteristic early manner to soak in MOCA’s vibe and art. I was surprised to see it was outdoors and in MOCA’s courtyard. We were early and the crowd was thin. We chatted for a while and the Avengers hit the stage after a long and momentum introduction. I hadn’t seen them before and was curious, but honestly I had low expectations. They were hard, they were tight and they were Punk Rock. The Avengers did a harder version of the Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black”. They had good stage presence. Brad Kent played searing guitar and had a great look. Their pedigree stems from, Penelope Houston, who was at the Winter Land performance opening up of the Sex Pistols. Brad Kent was part of early Punk bands that spawned groups like D.O.A. and the Subhumans. Of course, I left Ilona behind to get close to photograph the Avengers. At one point I ran into Kim Buresh an entertainment lawyer and friend. It was nice to see her. I started recording a video with my camera and the song happened to be “Fuck You”. What a laugh! I turned to Kim and said, “Of all the songs I would choose to video it would be the song “Fuck You!” We both laughed at the idea and after the song ended I drifted back to Ilona. It wasn’t long before the band closed and the audience began to swirl towards the bar and thicken for the Dead Kennedys performance. Shana Nys Drambrot appeared out of the darkness to say hi. We talked about the bands and her tweeting to her Twitter followers to let them know what was going down at MOCA. She had a press pass from either LA Canvas or the Weekly. She was “Stage Pit” ready! While I’m talking LA Weekly I should note that Falling James was occuping the front stage pit for most of the evening. But in a matter of minutes made 2 passes by us that had me think he was cruising Shana and myself like the boys do at La Jolla and Santa Monica at Circus Books. Then much to my surprise Gary Baseman popped out from nowhere, all Punked up with leather jacket and wildly arrayed pink spiky braids with some stylin’ red bondage pants. Then it got all crazy as I popped off a few shots only to further wind up the action even more as Anthony Ausgang jumped in when I was shooting Jeffrey Deitch and Gary. At that moment the “Lowbrow” scene was blowing up way bigger than the Punk Rock scene we were all here to catch and honor. It was 10 minutes of friendly, nutty horse-play with these “Lowbrow Boys”. Before you knew it, Gary was piggy back riding Anthony, then jumping around and making dramatic posses and fierce faced goofiness. It’s moments like this that take me back to my reading of early 20th Century artist. Gary and Anthony’s horse-play reminded me how wondrous and vibrant the art scene must have been then just as much as it now with mischief and shenanigans I had just witnessed. For examples of such play can be seen when Dalí tied a beget to his head with a scarf for the whole evening for one of his openings. The Dadaists and Theatre Of Hate performances stirring up the crowd to the point of fighting or the rows between Malevich and Tatlin in Russia. What a great moment as it all went spinning out of control! Boys being boys: It was for me the best opening act for X I could have imagined.

Next came the Dead Kennedys sans Jello Biafra. I’ve seen Jello with No Means No in Dallas at the Orbit Room in the 90′s. Sadly, I’ve never seen Jello and the band he spearheaded all those revolutionary ideas with some of the most stunning, the proactive art work to almost get pass the censors. I tend to be a purest. I know Jello did wrong and the band deserved better. But his presence is so huge and his delivery so spot on it’s hard for me to get past and it’s pretty much a deal breaker. But the band hit the stage to deliver a competent version of the Kennedys. They hit all the highs with Kill the Poor, Holiday in Cambodia , Nazi Punks Fuck Off,  California Über Alles and many more. I have to confess I was drawn in by the infectious California Über Alles, because it’s a classic and it’s the way I feel about California right now. I did sing along with a great deal of glee and nostalgia! Towards the end they tightened it up even more where the singer honed in on Jello’s sound. So it was a pleasing end. We all, Shana, Ilona and myself chatted for a bit more before X took the stage and Shana took off for a close up of the X’s performance.

By the time X hit the stage MOCA had hit it’s sold out state. Going in for photos was difficult. Members of the crowd were having their own private family reunion and they weren’t very accommodating or desiring to share their space with me. So I was pushed or shoved as I passed by with my camera. X opened with the “The Phone Is Off The Hook But Your Not”. The crowd was devoted and surprisingly stayed, but packed, with only few taking the opportunity to pogo or shake it on this night. Billy Zoom’s playing was as brilliant and effortless looking as always. DJ kept hammering the beat. John and Exene were wailing in harmony with those break neck turns and spins that come along with their songs. Los Angeles, Johnny Hit and Run Paulene, Nausea, We’re Desperate and the list goes on. Unlike previous performances there were less antics and play between John and Exene. No teasing Exene in-between songs, like John did at Hootenanny or intimate chit-chat with the crowd like at Lobsterfest. Mostly, straight ahead Rockin. DJ got the drum solo of his career during The Hungary Wolf. It was much like the performance I had gotten to see at the Greek for when Under The Big Black Sun had first been released. Sharp, to the point and professional. I’m thinking their in full on concert mode because they’re touring with Pearl Jam in South America and Europe, which is a stunning mix of styles, but very similar ethos. X is finally making the money they so richly deserve. It was a great show and appropriately they ended their set with The Doors’ Soul Kitchen. A great cover of a classic I love. It’s quite a tribute to their art and staying power, to what was once a fresh and raw wet behind the ears struggling Punk band. Now X is being the driving force and focus of a tribute to an era with MOCA’s Under The Big Black Sun. It’s such a statement of devotion, when fans still come out to see such a great band play on a night like this and can only be seen as a strong statement for their future too. It’s like a friendship when it starts new, so young, played with such zeal and enthusiasm, then as the years go by it matures into something comfortable, pleasant and enduring. When Exene took a drag off my cigarette so many years ago I had no idea the legacy it would lead to, nor did I know that X would remain a focus of a generation that so pleasingly defined the enduring culture of Southern California’s Punk scene. We all share a remarkable legacy Under The Big Black Sun!




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8 other subscribers


%d bloggers like this: