Hot N Horny

The sweet, slippery sexuality of the Red

Marco Aiello is kind of little and scrawny, and he's really disheveled—but not in a cool, expensive, I-just-spent-four-hours-getting-my-hair-to-look-like-I-just-got-fucked kind of way. Unless you were impaled by his huge brown eyes—thickly fringed with the kind of lashes Maybelline keeps promising but never delivers—you wouldn't really look twice.

That skinny little ill-clad body, though, houses a voice that alternates between a Jim Morrison yowl and a George Michael whisper, with a touch of Jay Buchanan evil and Johnny Jones angst. Or it could be Johnny Jones evil and Jay Buchanan angst. Either way, really.

But Aiello, singer and spokesman of the two-man band the Red, isn't evil at all from what I can tell, and he's only a little angsty. In fact, he's a really nice guy—thoughtful and smiley—and I would like to be his friend. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I heard some girls say at a recent Knitting Factory show that he looks like he would be really fun in bed in a giggling, rolling-under-the-covers, goofy, breathless . . . you know, fun way. Scrawny or not, he's got some raw-charisma mojo working when he's onstage, coupled with a disarming, clown-prince friendliness—as though the audience is sitting in his living room passing a joint (which he doesn't smoke) instead of sitting worshipfully silent and tragically hip in a room full of Industry types.

The stage show, with better-half Victor Langhaar (Teller to Aiello's Penn) on bass, is delightfully funny and chatty, but it doesn't skimp on excellent musicianship or quiet, lingering ballads. (The day I spoke to Aiello, Langhaar was working at his civil-engineer day job, but he probably wouldn't have been able to get many words in anyway. Aiello is the garrulous type.) When the duo play the Gypsy Lounge on Tuesday, be sure to request their steamingly soulful cover of Prince's "Little Red Corvette." Tell them you want to buy their album, and see how quickly you've made some new friends. But though they'll be your friends, they're also immaculately unavailable: Langhaar lives with his girlfriend, and Aiello says he doesn't date girls he meets at shows because he insists on keeping his personal life separate. "You have to go out and meet the girls after the show because you wanna sell a record," he says, laughing and being all-around charming. (He also has lovely manners.) "But is that love? When I'm onstage, that's not all I am. But it's all they see." Poor Marco! He's sex on a stick, but he's refusing the biggest rock star perk of all.

While their show is friendly and funny, the Red's album, Let's Not and Say We Did, is sex on celluloid, even when they don't mean it to be. It's their second album, released on Bella Records (they have a first album on their own label, which I sadly haven't been made privy to). "Go" is intended as a ridiculous compilation of bad pick-up lines (all actually overheard while the two were on tour). "I've seen guys say those lines a million times," Aiello divulges. "Maybe I changed a couple of words to make it rhyme, but those are all real." Even "I'm twice as big as you ever seen/I'll last as long as any machine" and "I've got to get my hands on your prize." And who could forget "I want to hear the music of your sweet moan." But instead of being ridiculous, the song, with Aiello's breathy vocals and Langhaar's got-all-the-time-in-the-world-baby rhythms, is a complete turn-on. Even "I Am a Man," which tells the story of a date/gang rape from the POV of a member of Sigma Chi, sounds like a love song and rings triumphant and proud by the end—if you don't listen too closely to the lyrics.

Aiello, 25, writes songs from all kinds of points of view. On their first album, he says, they were determinedly genderless. Anybody could sing any song to any lover of any persuasion, and the pronouns wouldn't hinder a thing. On their second album, there's a bit more confusion. Aiello sometimes writes songs from the female perspective, and on "War," it becomes one big mishmash of gender confusion and the kind of sexual ambiguity that could spawn a master's thesis—or the kind of rumors that beset everyone from Keanu Reeves to Christopher Cox. "Are you a boy or a man, come on and catch me if you can," Aiello growls before invoking both Vikings on Trojan horses and the ultragay-classic flick Top Gun. And if he's writing from a woman to a man, the lines "Do you feel my knife enter you slow" and "Will you hold my gun as I reload" don't quite seem to jell. (He says he's not gay, and he didn't realize Top Gun was a gay movie but that if a guy wanted to dedicate his songs to another guy, that would be fine.) But that's just being nitpicky because whether it's man-man, woman-man, or man-woman (or, hell, TV-TG), it's languid and thumping and hair-prickling and limb-relaxing and soon, your breath deepens and slows. Aiello and Langhaar are good. But you still aren't getting your hands on their prize.

The Red play at the Gypsy Lounge, 23600 Rockfield Blvd., Ste. 3A, Lake Forest, (949) 206-9990. Tues., 9 p.m. $5-$8. 21+.
 
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