By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
Shirley MacLaine. Oh, man. I can spend a whole day thinking about Shirley's Irma and never bore myself. I wonder if any of those so-called escort services in the city have a MacLaine circa '62. I wonder. And if they did, huh . . . I gotta pocket full of rent, pal.
The battered LTD and a shiny Mercedes four-door were the only cars on the lot, and the fat moon and neon sign set a heavenly glow on the secluded industrial park which houses Lipstick Attractions. (Why is it that in-call/out-call escort services are almost always situated near airports in unsightly industrial spaces and always look like giant, oversize brown paper bags?)
At the double doors, I rang, waited, and was greeted--not by the usual late-night whorehouse Pamela Anderson Lee/pimple-faced tweaker milieu, but by a rosy redhead of 26 with nature-filled knockers, perfected pout and sexomic aura clad in short leather and sheer lace.
"Hello, darlin'," she offered. "My name's Theda."
"Cheers, baby, Bill Blake," I said, shaking her fine-boned hand, feeling butterfly wings in my chest.
"Come in, honey, let me show you around. And relax. Remember, we are all here to have fun." She turned into the foyer and I followed, my eyes dropping just enough to watch the glory that was her heart-shaped derriere bounce along behind her.
Oh, Irma, must I fall in love with a prostitute? Must my hard-on always be attached to my heart?
Inside, the gallery did not have the dreaded adult-shop ambiance as expected. In fact, it was a diametric opposite to the exterior: It was like a Moroccan opium den, with Oriental rugs, velvet wallpaper, leopard-print chaise lounges and candles burned on shoulder-high Mexican wrought-iron holders. The soft, piped-in music was closer to a Pakistani drone than a tuneless MTV rave. The odor of myrrh brought me back to Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic church and Father O'Leary. A television flickered triple-X porn. A harem of a half-dozen awash in porn-star shine laid about. And lurking in the shadows was the ubiquitous security in the form of a beefy ex-football hero, who looked at me like I had just crawled out from under a rock.
Maybe I did.
A man can get mighty lonely out in the desert all boxed up in a trailer park where most of the women have already given their best to callous and undeserving men who have long since abandoned them. And when those women slouch past my front window mired in agony, all wrinkled and broken from years of booze and crystal meth, my heart does flip-flops for the poor things. That is usually when I start in with the beer and, lately, Irma la Douce.
Theda was well-aware of the spell she cast on me. She did her job well, with full confidence in the knowledge that her schtupping ability is her weapon, her way to shamelessly relieve men of their cash. She seemed well-acquainted with the oppression put upon the sex industry by a society with more hang-ups than a phone-sales operator. This woman was too smart to have overcome the odds by accident.
Butterflies flutter against my chest, inside my chest.
Theda led me by the hand to a small, mirrored, dimly lighted room in the back after I forked over the required $150 "private dancer" fee to an obscenely over-aerobicized tart with pointy taut implants who was doubling as a receptionist. The room had a bed, a small refrigerator and another television running a constant loop of smut. I found beer in the refrigerator. Theda asked for a tip, saying it is how she raises her kid. I had the last hundred of the rent, my last money on Earth, and I handed it over. She smiled, turned and started the gyration, the routine. Her magic worked like no chemical you can ingest. She made me feel like a boy.
I asked her if she had ever seen the movie Irma la Douce. "No," she said, looking back and down on me as I sat on the bed.
"Ever heard of Shirley MacLaine?"
"Never heard of her either, baby," she answered.
Her eyes held the secrets as her ribbons and bows fell to the floor--half angel, half whore. Her polished and well-navigated fingertips found my skin in goose-bumped glory. The ensuing tryst soared ever hellbound and heavenward.
The physical and mental decline of the aging metal-hero is hard to watch: The gut expands then drops southward as all-important hairlines bid hasty retreats north; the already dubious grasp on fashion unbelievably becomes worse, whilst a gnarly relevance-eating disease eats them alive; their interviews are reduced to inconsequential gibberish befitting that of Spinal's Derrick Smalls; and worse, they plod forth, hanging on for yet one more platter, claiming with gusto: "This is the best yet!"
Typifying Hagar the Horrible's inconsequential tenure as Halen's vox-with-the-replaceable-head and its lack of historical merit, this abomination is aptly titled VH III, befitting both its leap of hindsight and delusional expectation. Roth-era VH I and II shot the Halen wad long ago, rendering all ensuing VH albums mere pee-pee discharge, each a dribbly reworking of the aforementioned two.
Hagar the Horrible's vain macho-jive only solidified VH's permanent residency in the land of submediocrity. And now watch as witless wonder and ex-Extreme warbler Gary Cherone's poetic pretensions and vapid vocal pyrotechnics take bros Halen and accompanying fat bass guy to even lower ebbs.
Plenty of hairy-palmed noodling goes unrequited in the songs on VH III, which are really just Cherone's hammy Hagaresque screeches placed over the top of silly rock jams (and any idiot knows jam is for toast and the stuff found between one's toes). Nary a ditty chimes in under five minutes, save for two musical "interludes," and none has the staying power to remain head-logged longer than the song's elapsed time. And prolonging the monotony is the snooze-fest imagery littering self-indulgent lyrics like this homophobic couplet: "But what I do know I know feels only natural/I'm just a hound-toothed heterosexual."
Even an Eddie Van Halen-crooned number--his first on record--makes an unwanted appearance here, which could have the myth-buying masses frantically returning to the resale bins for those obsolete Hagar the Horrible Halen turds they traded in not too long ago.
Greatest Hits Live
Well, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then is it a duck?
Uh, no. Well, yes. That is, if ya discount doe-eyed duck-voxed Steve Perry, white-trash heartthrob of yesteryear and current reunion-tour specialist who, along with the other millionaire zeroes who make up the reunited feces-faced Journey, is takin' his refuse and reselling it, only this time "live," and packaged in fourth-grade ding-ding-and-spam-sandwich-combo vomit cover art complete with the shameless stadium shot on the back with almighty purple smoke and heavenly lights with thousands of adoring fans, many of whom look just like my neighbors.
Journey fans were not my friends in school. Of course, I never had any friends in school 'cause the Ramones never sold more than 10 records anyway, and besides, my face was a mass of festering thingies which gave way to bigger purple horrors which had my pillow case stuck to my face on countless mornings, and nobody gives a flying fuckall about somebody who looks like that.
The jocks, cheerleaders, teachers, parents, computer dorks and Juniors driving BMWs all adored Journey, and I despised them all. Journey was the soundtrack to a long, slow, failed suicide where suburbia was prison and everybody became his old man and nobody understood the value and necessity of a well-timed FUCK YOU that could ruin your teen life.
Journey was deceit and romanticism at its most dangerous, where reality was masked by a wistful longing for the unattainable, where heart-tugging and chutzpah-marketing translated into vast financial holdings. And Journey got away with murder.
Journey symbolized the wretched suburbia of the '80s by placing wrong songs at the wrong time in the right place. The members had nothing and made bank by unloading it as something. And now they're fat, 50 and back. Joy.
Contact Bill Blake at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org