By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jack GouldIt was the heckler. We thought at first that his continuous, singsongy "Fuck off!"s were yelled in affection: having just covered the KROQ Weenie Roast and Luau™, where everyband yelled, "Fuck you!" and exhorted the madding crowds to raise their middle fingers high, we thought this was just the new "in" thing. Dissociation and anger, you know: Marilyn Manson, Columbine High School, etc. To properly date ourself, fuck tha police. We don't need no water; let the motherfucker burn.
The occasion was the Vaudeville Circus, which was orchestrated by the same John Howard who wowed us a few months back with his version of Harold & Maude performed in the timeless kabuki tradition. The place was the backroom of Elan in Long Beach, which was packed like a cattle car with glittery modular sofas and grape-cluster chandeliers of '70s green, red and blue. We had high expectations and local celebs like Johnny Jones and Miss Toluca Lake (the first law of drag, Mario, is never announce you're in drag). Plus, there was Mistress M the Bondage Clown.
But the heckling started during Thu Winners—popular LBC fuckwads who play metal polka and thrived this night on the feedback. The cute-nippled, pouty singer (very Rod Stewart-y/bisexual in eyeliner and white on white, but probably not good boyfriend material, we decided after much thought) was loving the feedback—he would probably make out with the feedback and marryit if it were possible. And feedback's hostile, you know, when audiences are stuck in chairs very close to the amps. So we figured the heckler was their friend and knew the drill and was supposedto shout, "Fuck off!" and, "Boooring!" and, "So?"—like Primus fans are supposed to shout, "Primus sucks!" (We don't believe he heckled during the Joel Grey-ish rendition of "Big Black Bogey Finger Monster" that kicked off the show, complete with a hooked cane and a dancing monster that eats dreams and has ears of blue construction paper. Who could heckle that? It was damn near perfect.) Others thought he was drunk, but we're going to go with the ever-popular "crazy."
The acts kept coming. There was "comic" Abby Schachter, whose Chicago roots showed when she asked the audience to shout out a period in history (more on periods later) and then promptly did nothing with the suggestion, which was "1780s," but instead launched into a Hitler-imitation/supermodel-body-image rant. She had clearly been hoping someone would shout out, "World War II," but it's not a very popular era, and she ditched her premise so fast nobody but us even realized she was trying to do improv. Maybe a better audience-participation request would have been "Name a dictator," or "Okay, guys, can someone give me a world war? We're looking for a world war. . . ." We liked her better once she started singing evocatively about scooping her brains out of her head so her lover could more easily see her dreams. This was when the heckler started participating, "Warrant! I love Warrant!" But she had already lost her stride—we'll assume it was because of the heckler's "Fuck you"s—and what perhaps could have been amiable discourse on the admittedly clichťd but ever-popular supermodel-bashing turned instead into a shrill little exercise comparing skinny girls to skinless chicken breasts with no orgasms. Eating disorders? Schachter might as well have been preaching to Jan Crouch; we were all already converted. All that was missing was Schachter flogging dead horse Calista Flockhart. Nobody has beaten her up for a day or two, and we need our fix!
And then there was King Kukulele. He sang odes to the speed of light and was generally smart and great and funny and probably real good boyfriend material, not that we're looking because we're bored with the whole "man" thing, and he sang "An Ode to Peter, Who Was Deceased" because he had named the heckler "Peter" (in a cockney accent) and managed not to be mean-spirited about it. It was all terribly wonderful. Then came a poet whose greatest contribution to the evening was something mediocre about tampons, and yet we liked him. In fact, everyone seemed to have something to say about menstruation, which was cool with us: the most fun conversation we've had in a while was talkin' about high school Kotex faux pas with Sandow "Mandow" Birk's girlfriend, Lorena, while Birk golfed with Fletcher from Pennywise. We think more people should talk about the menses: they're fun!
The Boners' Suzy Williams has had love made to her in print by no less a personage than LA Weekly's Johnny Angel. And she deserves it—not least for her refusal to extend her set, knowing that another act was yet to grace the stage. Despite her partner's glowering and the audience's pleas after the blue-wigged beauty sang Jethro Tull-like prog sonatas with Billie Holliday phrasing and a nightingale's voice about young lovers trying to find a place to be alone while capitalists keep trying to tempt them with hot dogs and slot machines, refusing to leave them alone like Sam-I-Am in Green Eggs and Ham, Williams would not sing more. (She made way for the highly anticipated Rex, the Man Eating Chicken, and oh, we felt so used!) But it was during this time that we finally ejected the heckler (it wasn't us personally, though we tried; he just kind of ignored us, and we were struck for the first time everwith penis envy). Different social groups have different mores for dealing with disruptive outsiders. LBC artsy types are pretty tolerant, perhaps not wanting to ruin the disrupter's high, or perhaps assuming it's part of the performance. After a while, they might repeatedly ask the perpetrator to hush, but they don't get much more alpha than that. It's very P.C.—and very ineffective. Finally—at the very end of the show—a large, muscled woman told him to shut the fuck up, and when he didn't, she got Howard and another guy and gently 86'd him, all while he said, "I'll sue you. I'll sue you," every time someone touched him.