Smell the Love
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.
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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. . . .
The Moseley's [sic]
They are so lame.
Bunny says, "You gotta keep the motor running."
Someone says, "Dude, you said, 'Keep the motor running.'"
Bunny becomes insecure. "Is that cool?" he asks.
Bunny talks about his infection, about ointments and applying them liberally to the infected area and repeating as needed.
Grady talks about his rock & roll vendetta. "It hasn't given us a fair shake in life. It's made us the cold-tempered people that we are. But we're opening up. We're looking for justice."
"And our vendetta," Bunny adds, helpfully.
"But we're not angry," says Grady.
"We're just saying, 'hi,'" Bunny adds, helpfully.
BUILDING EXTERIOR, NEW YORK CITY,1993.
The grim faades of Alphabet City crumble before us. There, on Avenue B, is the Unconscious Collective—theater!—wherein actors perform a pseudoscientific, paranoid-conspiracy, serial comedy. The clean-cut young man starring as the professor is handsome in a scrawny, sandy way. But after the show, as he prepares to go home, he changes into his normal street clothes: blue tights; red, spandex bikini; in-line skates; cape and helmet; and a big, yellow A on his chest. He is Amazing Man, and I am smitten. My eyes dilate, my skin reddens, my breath shortens and I pant. Here, clearly, is my mate.
A couple of weeks later, Amazing Man tells me he can't see me anymore: he has to go away for a while, for a "rest." His parents are sending him for help. I cry. He tells me I am an amazing woman. When someone with a yellow A on his chest tells you you are an amazing woman, it means a lot more than when a random, middle-management schmo in a bar says the same thing. Much, much more.
Amazing Man was my first rock-star love, even though to my knowledge he'd never picked up so much as an oboe. And that is one of the many glittering facets of rock-starness: you do not have to be Def Leppard to be a rock star. You can be the most preposterous high school band ever to play a backyard kegger. You can be a bartender (especially a bartender) or a rodeo clown. Honorary rock stars are everywhere. For Christ's sake, you can be a bank teller, as long as when you go out at night, you walk with your legs far apart to accommodate your low-swinging man meat, and you look deep into the eyes of the nearest girl and tell her pretty lies. And she will fall for it every time. Girls are very stupid.
Back at the restaurant, Bunny and Grady are showing off. "I don't know who I'm cooking an omelet for in the morning," boasts Grady, the dimpled one, before discussing breathable fabrics for one's nether regions.
Rex, meanwhile, has been playing with my small son for an hour now, teaching him to jab, and Bunny sees me watching. "Maybe the wedding band's not so bad right now," he cackles. Rex speaks for the first and only time. He calls literature "the primal experience."
Grady is talking about the Man. "The Man? He's this guy. We've never seen him."
Bunny is talking about how this restaurant offers all-you-can-eat bread sticks. Grady tells the waitress he doesn't eat red meat. "It causes colon cancer," he informs her, helpfully.
They talk about their cornucopia of songs. There is "The Witch" and "Dungeon of Love." They've also got "a sexy little song called 'Jack the Ripper'" and one about how they just need Vitamin U.
"It's a multitude of cascading colors of songs. We're like a rainbow," somebody says.
The Moseleys love cocaine.
"We imagine it's beautiful!" Grady says.
"I haven't done it yet, but I would like to!" says Bunny. "We would like to do lines off chicks' asses!"
Rex plays with my son some more.
They are so lame, and it's all I can do not to rip off my skirt and let them do lines off my ass.
Like the popular e-mail that sortswomen into personality types by what she orders (beer: good; fruity, fancy drinks: high-maintenance; white zin- fandel: clueless, but thinks she's sophisticated), you can tell a lot about a girl by the rock star she covets.
Drummers, though the butt of all their fellow musicians' jokes (they are endlessly mocked as grunting cavemen), get wild chicks who look at them and can picture nothing but what that ceaseless, pounding rhythm would be like in the sack.
Bassists get cool, slightly standoffish girls who like them because they (bassists) are confident enough to let the singer get the attention while they (bassists) stand coolly still and smirk at the audience.
I don't know anyone who goes out with guitarists, though I'm sure there are a bunch.
Singers go out with women who think well enough of themselves to think they would look good in People Magazine. I don't know too many women who go out with singers: Could they ever love you as much as they love themselves?
There are women who have no set preference but fall recklessly in love with any and all of the above. I am one of these women. I can mock my girlfriends for being stupid enough to chase after rock stars. After all, I know better. But the flesh is weak.
Nobody goes out with maraca players.
After the first or seventeenth timea rock star has loved and dumped you without a word—and there you are thinking you're all crazy because you must have imagined that you and the rock star had a tendre going—you recognize the danger in these beautiful egomaniacs. You now know better than to get entangled with a rock star again. And you still know better, even as another rock star is looking deep into your eyes and you are surrendering for the second or eighteenth time.
How did you get this way? Back in 1977, you didn't need the actual Leif Garrett. It was enough to kiss his poster over the bed. But you didn't learn the lesson in this story of long-distance love through glossy facsimile: cherish rock stars from afar.
And after you have been loved and wordlessly dumped again—after showing up at gigs, happy and fluttery, while he was looking right through you—you'll start believing that you really are crazy and just made up the whole thing in your crazy, crazy head, which is obviously crazy. Even Pamela Anderson isn't as crazy as you because at least she wasn't imagining she was married to Tommy Lee.
Why do intelligent, attractive young women get suckered over and over by these no-good dirty dogs? It's a question we frequently whine among ourselves. There are as many answers as there are girls with cartoon hearts in thought bubbles over their heads. But there are a few general traits.
There is the fact that these boys are somewhat seedy, and so they must be sexually knowing. There is the sensi- tivity, hidden like a little boy's, that just needs mothering. There is the eye contact—lots and lots of eye contact. Like Irishmen, rock stars know the power of impaling you with a look. There is the power of the spotlight—any spotlight—which is why girls love their professors and their bartenders and their dentists, too. There is the hope that someday there will be reflected fame. And there is the tortured soul that needs only you for a balm.
You imagine you could be his Yoko. You imagine you could be his Vitamin U.
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