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Eddie almost considered toning down completely when the Gin Blossoms, who were about as far from glam as a bowling shoe, suddenly became huge. "I had to watch my cousin, Jesse Valenzuela, make it big and be jealous of that. That's the only time I started to doubt what we were doing. I freaked out on the change. Maybe people just don't want this anymore, y'know? But then I turned around, and every single band started sounding like the Gin Blossoms. I thought, 'I'm not going to ride that claim to fame. I'm going to do what I want to do,' and we decided to stay like that."
To the horror of many, he might add. Boston's, the site of the band's first gig, could hardly have been less receptive if it ran the band out of town on a rail.
"People just want a reason to hate us," Eddie giggles. "Boston's hated us, which is weird because they were one of the prime glam-rock clubs when they were called Zeros. They just greeted us with closed arms. And [Mason Jar owner] Franco just hated us. He used to call us the Fuckin' Hippie Gyppies and chase us out of his club. Now he really likes us."
At that first Jar show, Tim remembers, "We had somebody at the door asking, 'Who are you here to see?' and they'd say, 'I dunno, I just heard there was a glam band playing tonight.'" The band managed to pull some 200 people.
And of course, no Psycho Gypsy show would be complete without one or two hecklers in that head count. "Which is a good thing 'cause we just tear those people apart," snickers Tim. "When we play a show, very rarely is somebody playing pool or watching TV at the bar. It doesn't matter if people are liking or hating us. As long as it's one of the two. That night, there were these two guys that our drum tech brought in from the Ligori Lounge. They didn't even know what they were going in to see and started screaming 'Fag!', pointing at Eddie and screaming, 'It's Boy George.' About the second or third song, one of them yelled 'poseur,' and Eddie looked at him and said, 'Suck my poseur fucking dick.'"
"And after that they were my best friends," laughs Eddie with a goofy grin. "'You guys sound like W.A.S.P.'"
"That's the misinterpretation people get when they first see us, that we'll sound like Poison and we're going to get up and play 27 ballads," says Tim. "But most of our music is really aggressive."
The band got aggressive with its business dealings in 1996, and it signaled a big change in the Gypsy's fortunes. "When we had other people doing our bookings, we were the opening band on Tuesday night. Once we took over, we were headlining on the weekends," states Mykel, who was the previous drummer's tech before joining. "We headlined our first show at the Electric Ballroom on the main stage, just because we convinced the club owner that we were the shit."
Gone are the days when you could see Psycho Gypsy playing a sports bar like Rally Cat, where the PA is one grade above something Fisher-Price might manufacture and the stage is just a section of undisturbed floor so minuscule that Tim got his lanky hair caught in the tuning pegs of Eddie's guitar.
The band does everything bigger than life and even employs its own clothing designer named Adelle. "She's the coolest chick in the whole wide world," Eddie says. "Whatever our fantasy is, we draw it up and she reproduces it to the tee. She's Vietnamese and hardly speaks any English." Drummer Mykel, however, gets his costumes at Smoking Lingerie, a porno shop on Rural and Miller. "It's like a belt and a codpiece," Tim assesses. "There's just enough material and studs on it so that he wouldn't get arrested."
Although Mykel freely exposes himself, the band limits the number of shows it does so that its well-earned draw won't dwindle. With better salesmanship, Psycho Gypsy soon found itself opening for national headliners. Some, like Pretty Boy Floyd, would become friends. Others like Slaughter would become sworn enemies. Mark Slaughter was said to have called the Electric Ballroom personally to make sure that Psycho Gypsy never opened for the band again. This antagonism helped make it the best show Psycho Gypsy ever played, in its estimation.
"Slaughter was really mean to us. When we went on, they saw us setting up our smoke machine and they told us we couldn't use half the house lights or play our intro tape. Slaughter believes when you're the opening band, you're just that, and the headlining band should look noticeably bigger," snickers Eddie.
Tim starts getting a little snippy here, not unlike his sometimes arrogant onstage alter ego. "I don't really care what Slaughter believes. What Psycho Gypsy believes is that we're not going to downsize our show for anybody. Those people came here to see a show, and that's exactly what they got. Slaughter's management tried to sabotage our show, but our light man can be a real cock. He used twice as many lights and twice as much smoke and blasted that intro tape really loud. Before that, we were setting up our equipment the same time as Slaughter and Mark Slaughter turns around, hands Eddie his little bag and said, 'Hold this.' And Eddie told him, 'I'm not your fuckin' roadie,' and dropped the bag on the stage."