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 Gould The Moseleys are sex on a spit. Theyare greasy, fatty, love juice dripping onto sputtering flames. They will look into your eyes and quote romantic sayings from the John Hughes masterpiece Sixteen Candles and the current issue of Cosmo. They will look into your eyes and buy you a Scorpion—for lovers only—and then they will buy you another. They will look into your eyes and tell you one of them has an itch: the rock & roll itch. They attribute it to the weather; it's been so hot and moist lately.
The Moseleys work in their uncle's emery-board factory, which sets them to making all manner of lewd double-entendres about buffing. They are from Bakersfield and love raisins, for which they probably also have all manner of lewd double-entendres. They are a many-entendred beast. They have girl hair like Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, except Bon Jovi's and Sambora's hair is expensive and arguably attractive, while the Moseleys' looks like your grandma's circa 1960. They are losers. Man, are they losers. How loser-y are they? A lot! Yet every time I see them, my heart flaps around in my chest like a frightened bat.
This is not so much a story about the Moseleys—though it's that, too—as it is a story about why girls want them, them and all the fire-breathing rock stars like them who are bad and wrong in every way. Even the term "rock star," in the world of those of us who would love them, manages to be both an epithet and a longing sigh. Gwen Stefani says it . . . well, if not best, then at least most kittenishly: Why do the good girls always want the bad boys? It's a sad story—and a cautionary one. Be warned.
I have managed to miss the Moseleys'shows several times; I unerringly arrive just as they are packing their gear. Finally, on Earth Day, in the parking lot of the Hub in Fullerton, they are there, onstage.
There is Bunny Moseley, wielding his guitar like a three-foot penis and entreating us all to "drink the chalice." There is Grady, with dimples chiseled into his cheeks, railing (in a Kathleen Turner-cum-Madonna semi-British accent) against the Man forcing us to use his internal-combustion engine and yowling instead for an engine powered by rock & roll! Just add three quarts of the Truth!
All right! All right!
And there is Rex—shy, quiet Rex—the bona fide Paul McCartney of the band, back when McCartney was really, really cute and hadn't yet become so unbelievably pretentious. Rex refuses to take off his wedding band, causing a major loss of sexy points since nice girls refuse to like married men, and Grady and Bunny harangue him about it to no effect. There is also a drummer of some kind—Palmsley, I believe?—his bob held back in cute li'l barrettes. And then there is Harvey, on maracas. Harvey is squirrelly like a retarded puppy. I am not in love with Harvey.
At the beginning of their set, I have a terrible cold and cannot breathe through my nose. By the end of their set, my sinuses are clear. The Moseleys cured my cold.
Next time, at Costa Mesa's Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace, I arrive in plenty of time, early enough to catch a painful sound check. The drums are fucking earsplitting. My photographer leaves quickly even though he has earplugs.
The show begins. Bunny asks fretfully, "What . . . key is that in?" Palmsley breaks a drumstick and hits someone in the audience with it. The Moseleys just might be the worst band in the whole world, but as they pound through one metal anthem after another, Harvey warns the women in the audience, "Don't listen too close; you might wake up pregnant!"
I know better than to love theMoseleys as I do. I am, after all, not stupid. But the weight of history is against me. When Pamela Des Barres pioneered the art of slutting after rock bands in the 1960s and '70s, she was lighting the way for a million girls to shut up and put out. When Heather Locklear wore white leather to marry Tommy Lee—and after that, the enviably coifed Richie Sambora—she was acting out the fantasy of every hessian high-school girl. And ladies? Don't you want to grow up to be like Pamela Anderson? Even my own mother was not immune: in 1965, she spent a week showing tiny, charming Levon Helm the finer sights of Norman, Oklahoma, when he was touring with Bob Dylan and the Band. And she has carried a very small torch for him for almost 40 years.
A few weeks later, Rex, Grady and Bunny pick me up by cab. In a blatant and successful attempt to garner some press, they are taking me to dinner at one of Sunset Beach's many pirate-themed restaurants. They are at the top of their game, wearing matching T-shirts and handing me something they've written and torn from a spiral notebook:
Oh, yeah, we're gonna get some! You got a rock & roll itch somewhere down there, and we're gonna scratch it. We're no dogs in the manger so don't ersatz us with no copycat acts who tryin' to bark up our tree! Only one band gonna heal that burning sensation, that fungus you went to see some mere mortal doctor for. . . . When you knew all along that the remedy was right there in your face. Straight on down the line you [the people] have been a carrier of the rock virus. Oh, yeah, we're gonna be a rock & roll bitch for you! We'll suck you dry! You ain't gonna need no soap when the sires of rock vengence [sic] lather you up and hose you down. You're gonna shoot your mouth off when we show you what those hole [sic] are for. . . .