Victor D. Infante is a byline longtime OC Weekly readers will recognize. Starting from our early days through his move to Worcester, Massachusetts, the ferret-owning Libertarian poet contributed articles on a variety of topics, including poetry, Libertarianism and ferret ownership.
If Infante is not the only writer to have exchanged wedding vows in the Weekly newsroom, he was definitely the first to do so. But it was with heavy heart he wrote lately about the final days of a good friend and former Orange County punk.
As the author wrote on his Infante's Inferno Live Journal, Vern Wilson, who was better known in OC as Steve Skitz (and in the Bay Area as Steve Scitz and Stephan Wilson), died at 7:15 a.m. Aug. 24 in San Francisco. He was 42.
Steve had stomach pains last month when he entered the hospital, where he'd go on to suffer a heart attack, get diagnosed with liver and pancreatic failure, be forced into a coma, brought out of the coma to say goodbye to loved ones and then ultimately be taken off life support.
All in about as long as it took to read that last paragraph.
When Infante first started writing about his friend last month, he identified Steve as "a fairly central figure in my Rocky Horror and punk rock days, and we would frequently hang out at Benny the Bum's Diner in Laguna to drink coffee and talk. I enjoyed his company immensely."
Infante and Steve were part of the Midnight Insanity scene, the originators of audience participation Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings in Orange County and later Long Beach. Steve "merited a cameo" in Infante's first Weekly piece on the Frank N. Funsters, as the poet-journalist journals.
"Inside, a tall, gangly punk held court amid a harem of Goth girls," I wrote, but really, as I reflect, I was underselling it. A lot of the details of that night are a blur. It was late, I was out of my element and adrenaline was coursing through my system. A lot of the details are fuzzy, and some I may well be misremembering.
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I'm not conflating my memory of Steve, though. Regulars of Rocky Horror at the Balboa called him "The Lobby Lord," because he quite literally was holding court, sitting in a chair in the lobby, surrounded by burly punks and gorgeous goth girls. When I stepped in the door, he was the absolute first thing I was able to focus on, he was so striking. Tall, yes, and wearing a steel-studded black leather jacket. Dyed black hair, and piercing, predatory eyes that seemed to focus on me immediately, if only for a second. Although really, I can't imagine why he would. I was a 16-year-old geek there for the first time, and aside from the fact I knew some of the regulars, I was of no interest to anyone, let alone him. I've often considered that it might all have been a sort of illusion, that there was something in his presence that made you think he was noticing you, when really, he was just watching the room. But there was a moment there, and I remember this clearly, I looked at him and felt like prey.
This man -- and really, he was only a few years older than me -- radiated presence, radiated punk rock and sex, danger with a flashing neon sign. He scared the hell out of me. And I idolized him on sight. Why wouldn't I? In one thunderclap second, I had a very clear picture of everything I wasn't, and the thought of being that made my mouth dry.
Infante goes on to do much more time-warping (like here and here). Check them out, remember the glory days and feel free to share your Steve Skitz/Steve Scitz/Stephan Wilson/Vern Wilson remembrances on Victor's page, here or both.
Also visit Stephan Wilson's MySpace page.