Cretos, Gogog and I walked up and down the Sunset Strip, catching stares from the patrons at the chic restaurants. Their casual lunch faces twisted into looks of disgust as they saw a bunch of tattooed, haggard rockers in black strolling by their boutique dining experience. Muffled voices were followed by slight points and turning heads. I lit a cigarette and we stared twice as hard back, arguing over who had the right clothes for the “cool kids club”. Afterall, they were a bunch of Los Angeles yuppies with overpriced haircuts and $200 ripped jeans, sporting designer sunglasses and complaining about their agents getting a cut of the money (*true story). Welcome to Hollyweird.
We bummed around a few Halloween stores, ending up in one that used to be the infamous Sunset Tower Records during the 20th Century. Now the building remains vacant until seasonal stores need the space, and then move on once they’re done. Very Southern California.
We decided to keep roaming and I took the guys around to the Viper Room, were their morbid curiosity peaked, trying to find the spot where River Phoenix died. That might sound horrible to some people, but I was more than eager to show them as, well, I’m one of those morbid types.
“What’s up the street?” Cretos asked in a gargled voice, pointing with a newly acquired, zombie lawn gnome from the last store.
“You’ve got the Whiskey, the Roxy and the Rainbow Room, along with Hustler Hollywood,” I replied, already thinking about the XXX espresso shake at Hustler. Whenever someone from L.A. mentions the Rainbow, we immediately mention the obligatory, “Lemmy lives above the Rainbow and you can meet him there for drinks if you play it right.”
“What? No shit?” Cretos almost screamed.
Clearly I had his attention.
The three of us stood on the sidewalk, discussing whether or not we should walk the couple of blocks up to see if Lemmy was there, or just turn around and go back to the RV. After a few minutes of going back and forth, we decided it was already getting late and we needed to be by the gear for load-in.
“Besides,” we all agreed. “Lemmy’s been sick anyway, he’s probably resting or maybe not even in L.A. at all.”
Growing up in Southern California, you have no idea just how different it is not only from the rest of the country, but even from the rest of the state as well. At least my friends and I didn’t, or if we did, we were too busy getting into trouble and trying to numb our brains to think about it. We grew up going to Hollywood on a weekly basis, driving past the prostitutes lit under the neon of the clubs and billboards. A town that promises anything you want with no repercussions, your dreams in your hand, as long as you sign on the dotted line and sell that soul. Don’t worry baby, you’re in good hands with us. We’ll take you up that rollercoaster of life and it will be all downhill, smooth sailing from here until you’re all used up and we can’t make that golden green off you. Shit, they’ll even suck the money out of your corpse, just look at Tupac.
So if you finally move away from the Mecca of SoCal and live life with a different view, you can infiltrate the city in a new way. You know how to maneuver your way around a conversation better than a regular outsider, because you understand the other person’s mindset, sometimes better. It’s a skill that came in handy when we needed to move the trailer and find someplace the park the behemoth on the Strip on a Friday night.
For those who didn’t grow up in LaLa land or have never been to the House of Blues on Sunset, it’s an amazing venue to see a show. The sound is impeccable, the food is great and if you don’t mind rubbing some elbows, the view is excellent. Plus, it’s Hollywood, so EVERYONE plays there. Playing there, however, is another story entirely.
The club is on the edge of Sunset, right on the side of a massively steep hill and the side street ends for 2-way traffic abruptly after the club. We had pulled in early since we were carrying the GWAR guys and parked downhill from the venue. Thirty minutes later, we were told the cub didn’t have any available parking for us and we were on our own. They advised us to ask the hotel next door if we could use their free space.
The first one was a bust, but I straightened my hair, ditched my vest with Hitler committing suicide on the back, and walked into the next one. I haggled my way with the valet boss into letting us park in the taxi zone on Sunset, for $30 less than they normally charge as long as we were gone by 1:30am. Insert your best Jew joke, here.
Another problem with the venue is their insurance won’t allow their load crew to take anything if it’s outside the property line for liability reasons. The next 20 minutes were spent by the band, Jesse and I stacking cases and riding them up the street and slowly down the hill, all hands on deck. With only a few minor falls and multiple strings of cursing, we got the equipment to the main hall where I departed from the band so they could set up the stage and I could set up the merchandise next to Iron Reagan.
This is Carle, Iron Reagan’s merch girl, she’s rad and can probably kick your ass.
A few minutes into my merch routine, Missy Knowlton, my good friend, fellow artist and life enthusiast came walking down with her usual warm smile, carrying an iced coffee for each of us. This is why she’s also known as, Momma Bear. We caught up over the coffee and laughs while I finished my duties before I dragged her with me through the labyrinth of backstage to where dinner was waiting.
Since she didn’t have a badge, or even her guest list pass yet, I grabbed a plate with two forks and piled it high with mashed potatoes, salad and grilled veggies. Nicole, GWAR’s merch woman & married to Brent . . .saw what was going on, smiled and gave me the pass. I escorted Missy to the front patio where we inhaled the fresh food and talked with some of the GWAR and Iron Reagan guys. We left the patio through the front and ran into another group of wild and familiar faces that we’ve (“we” being Hulg, Missy and myself) known for over a decade. Spirits were high and you could feel the energy in the air, or maybe it was all the electricity from the Strip.
Missy & Joe the most loyal kooks you’ll ever meet.
The Orcs’ set went off without a hitch and the House of Blues’ sound was crispin’ like Glover. For my money, it’s been the best sound on tour so far.
And holy Jebus, was it packed.
As soon as their set started a decent size pit opened up and didn’t quit. As it goes in tinsel town, people show up fashionably late, and hour by hour hordes of drunk and crazed fans piled in, screaming, “Ggggwwwwaaarrrrr!!!” at the top of their lungs.
And of course, the Industry was in full force. Reps from Nuclear Blast and Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, showed up and word began spreading about a “buzz” around the Orcs. Gwar is the perfect band for the Orcs to open for. Not only do they share elaborate stage shows, but the styles of metal are similar as well with heavy death and classic influences. Ever night more and more people approach the merch booth, telling me they had never heard of the band before that night and can they please have a cd or t-shirt.
Of course the music industry isn’t the only one in LaLa land and soon enough a group of Vivid Entertainment girls, all primped and looking as “LA hot” as possible. And in this town and in this town, there’s a lot of competition. Even Jessie Lee, the seductive siren from Burning Angel entertainment and star of such classic, punk porn cinema as “Cum on my Tattoo 4” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fuck Alone,” was rocking out and later fed into GWAR’s Meat Grinder like a champ along with several of the other girls.
See? Would I lie to you? And yes, that is a shit-eating grin I’m wearing. Ok, maybe not the best saying when posing with a porn star.
Never one’s to let good publicity go bad, GWAR premiered their new cartoon before their set, then blasted into the full set, spraying copious amounts of blood and alien “jizmogoblin” (I’ll let you figure that one out) at the crowd. I’ll upload my crappy video of the cartoon soon.
It was a whirlwind of a night complete with fights, 4 fire engines out front (nobody knew why), pissed off cab drivers yelling at our RV for taking their spot (apparently one of them kept yelling “Fuck you, weirdo!” at Gogog which has now become the new insult on tour) and more familiar faces packing into the crowd.
After the show, our friend Joe Riot (who will forever be Stoner Joe in my book even if he stopped smoking 3 years ago) interviewed the Orcs for his radio show and we said our goodbyes to Echo, Lisa and the rest of our friends who had shown up. With the trailer packed, we passed under the neon lights of Hollyweird, slowing creeping through the Friday night traffic, on our way back up to Sacramento.
It was when we were unwinding in the back of the RV that I heard Cretos yell, “Fuck!!” at the top of his lungs. I jerked out of my sleepless daze and asked what happened, thinking there would be blood.
“Look at this!” he said passing me the laptop.
It took my eyes a few seconds to realize what I was staring at. Lemmy had posted a picture in front of the Rainbow Room, right at the time we decided not to go check it out. That night there was a free listening party of the new Motorhead album for anyone who wanted to check it out, complete with the man himself. The metal gods had given us the opportunity and we wasted it like the mortals we are. Moral of the story: now or never.