I've been quite infected by the celebrity bug this week-interviewing Wink Musselman's Quartet of Shame will do that to you (see Music feature). Luckily, it's a very inclusive, proletarian kind of celebrity bug, including many fabulous celebrities of the waitress persuasion (particularly if you happen to waitress at Memphis Soul Cafe). And the cooks and barkeeps at the Blue Cafe are fabulous celebrities, too. Heck, every barkeep everywhere is a fabulous celebrity (I mean you, Greg Antista and Ji Su at Linda's Doll Hut, Lou at Que Sera, and Hank at the Foothill). The incestuous circles of OC hepitude are just one big lovefest, really-like getting jumped into a gang. And don't we all want to be star fuckers? Yes. We want to hang out with people who possess either great beauty or great talent. We want to bask in reflected fame and shamelessly drop names. We want to be greeted effusively with air kisses near the cheek. We want to be invited to all the best holiday parties-the kind thrown by our kind of people or maybe those a little bit better than our kind of people. Personally, I would like a stalker or two of my very own-as long as, like Dr. Laura Schlessinger's throngs of adorers, they know their place. That's when you know you've arrived.
This job is particularly harrowing for people like me with a propensity for self-love and social climbing. Sometimes, you get backstage at concerts, and then there's just no living with you. The next thing you know, you're publishing Orange Coast Magazine. The trick is to strive to at least appear modest, like Long Beach's Cameron Diaz, who, according to every person I know, is not just ungodly beautiful, but also "sweet" and "down-to-earth." The hideous thing is it's probably true!
So there I was, backstage at the Galaxy Concert Theatre for the lovely and talented (not to mention congenial) BR5-49, and for those of you who've been wondering, their name was the phone number for some hillbilly (and we mean "hillbilly" only in the best sense of the word) on HeeHaw. And not only did I get to hang out with my personal friend BR5-49 lead singer Gary, but Big Sandy was there, too, just as he had been all three nights the last time the Nashville band blew through town. And not only was Big Sandy there, but he also invited me to his fabulous Christmas party! Actually, it was our new friend Chuckie, who's an honest-to-God federal bounty hunter (and the kind of forcefully marvelous swing dancer who can make a goosestepping skinhead look graceful), who invited me, but then Big Sandy seconded it; he was busy melting tequilaly into the couch. And I'm three-for-three, my friend; I even got the air kisses!
Here's what it is like to be backstage: the benefits are that you can smoke, and there's usually free beer instead of $5-plus-a-tip beers. Also, if your goal is to actually instead of figuratively fuck stars, then you need to be backstage so you can make your wishes known. If you are not an aspiring groupie, though, being backstage feels a little awkward: you have become a hanger-on, and there is a certain sense that you are imposing even if the band is really sweet (like my personal friends BR5-49). But then, there are worse things you could be: an audience member for Wally George's stupid-a-thon; a televangelist; an audience member for a televangelist; or the person who came up with those shameful "Bust a Nut" radio ads for Corn Nuts-are they really necessary? Or a mean old Newport Beach lady who thinks the media is "liberal," or any mean old lady. Or, heck, anyone old, like I'm thinking, oh, over 33? Yeah, I'm talking to you, Leanna Bennett! You wanna rumble? Bring it on!
Speaking of old people, we hopped down to the Irvine City Hall for a reception with new-again City Councilman Larry Agran, and the place was crawling with them: Leisure World was in the house! Younger, fabulous celebrities in the crowd included pinko Mike Kaspar; the OC Weekly's own Nathan Callahan and Mark Petracca; and the OC Metro's Christopher Mears, who was there with his wife, Peggy, who is some kind of cool politico chick. Mears, for those of you who don't pick up the Metro, is a Democrat, and they let him have an opinion column! Isn't that cute?
But after a while, our madcap Weekly friends started playing a zany game of switch the name tags, and after Christopher Mears became me, I got terribly confused, had an identity crisis, and had to leave, gibbering and drooling ever so slightly. Congratulations, Larry! And sorry about the time a few months ago when I overthrew the will of the readers and named myself "Orange County's Best Citizen" in our fabulous Best of OC issue.
On Friday, I went to the Galaxy to see grunge gods Mudhoney, about which I have this to say: fabulous celebrity/gallery owner Ron Breeden was there! As far as the band itself, they were fine, though I had a hard time listening to the music because I was hypnotized by the sight of their frail little arms holding those big guitars. I was petrified one of them would break under the weight. The real stars of the evening were the middle act, the trio Nebula: their Black Sabbath-y rock! is a perfect example of what's shaping up to be the next big revival craze. (I'm partial to Judas Priest because their singer, Rob Halford, was a big homo, and nobody knew it, and that just delights me no end!) I'm ready to jump on that bandwagon. Hessians are cool!
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Our personal friend Dave Alvin has just wrapped up six months of touring. We caught him at the Blue Cafe on Saturday, although he really didn't talk to us that much, so we felt like big poseurs calling him our "personal friend" all week long to anyone who'd listen. At any rate, the former Blaster attracted a huge crowd of dancing fools, including celebrity painter Sandow Birk (who spent the entire evening regaling us with graphic tales of his catheter-the poor man!) and a woman who did a triple-time bump and grind for a solid two hours at the front of the stage, even during the pretty ballads. I think someone was making her wishes known! Dave's brother Phil-who we hear is some kind of math genius and who looks oddly like a car salesman-joined him onstage for "Marie Marie" as did our favorite accordionist, Chris Gaffney of Chris Gaffney and the Cold Hard Facts fame. Were people sitting down, as they did for John Hammond last week? I should think not! The only time it is ever appropriate to sit at a concert is if it's outside on a Sunday afternoon, or you're too liquored to stand. I have spoken.
And since I'm speaking, I'd like to send a shout out to our new friend Bill, who came out for A Very Fauntleroy Hanukkah at the Foothill. Hi, Bill!
Sunday nights are a thing of beauty there now, since Smilin' Rick started booking Surf Lounge. The openers, The Black Widows, had some real nice Dick Dale grooves, and they wear black stockings on their heads. Could you ask for more? Well, you could: the Fauntleroys wear velvet knickers. The stupidity of their act is a wondrous and precious thing, and when Mike Meyer screams, "Oh, baby! I love you!" with all the psychotic rage of Jack Nicholson in The Shining and then threatens to chop off his true love's head, it grows your heart three sizes-just like The Grinch!
Note to Chris Hanlin: it is never appropriate to throw the Torah.