Vintage Sleaze

It's a well-documented fact that most licentiously leaning punk and rock icons from the past 30 years owe a serious debt to Alice Cooper. The Motor City-born sleaze hero basically pioneered aggressive gender-bending, grotesque-for-the-sake-of-it showmanship and blood-drenched sexuality in the rock N roll arena. In addition to the most obvious Cooper torch-bearers—your Trent Reznors, Marilyn Mansons and [shudder] Slipnkots—let it be argued that the past decade of pop princesses would do well to acknowledge Cooper as a cultural precursor as well. His use of multilevel stages, choreography, props and costuming elevated stadium rock shows to provocative performance art for the masses, something Madonna and her ducklings have neatly appropriated (well, with less nooses and more Kabbalah).

Alice Cooper, whose name allegedly came from a Ouija board (awesomest!), started out on Frank Zappa's record label, then went on to gift Warner Bros. with mega-hit anthem after mega-hit anthem. All this despite, or perhaps largely because of, the fact that every square parent in America was scared of him in much the same way that most “responsible” Britons peed their pants about the Sex Pistols a decade later. It's unfortunate most young folks today are probably only familiar with Alice Cooper from two relatively tame instances—his cheeky turn in Wayne's World, in which he pontificates on the history of Milwaukee, and the most essential song of adolescent rebellion ever, “School's Out.” Truth be told, while most of us were pre-zygotic, Alice Cooper was the baddest and the ballsiest in a way that no one seems able to achieve anymore. Facing alcoholism, he literally battled with bottles of booze onstage, then entered an offstage sanitarium for treatment—pretty far removed from the scads of performers now who get cleaned up under cover of “exhaustion” only after teary and misspelled mea culpas on their blogs.

Alice Cooper at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700; Tues., Doors open 6:30 p.m. Show starts 8 p.m. $40-50. All ages.

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