Stray Cat Strut

Psychobillies may be old school, but they ain't all old. Kreme checks out the Desperados at Fat Cats.

"I work in a hardware store in Bisbee, so I'm always dressed like this," says Casper of his tee shirt, jeans and Harley boots. "People give me a hard time 'cause I'm the only rockabilly in Bisbee. They always ask me what the hell I'm doing. I tell 'em, 'I'm livin'. This is who I am.'"

"So how did you first get into the rockabilly scene?"

"When I was in sixth grade, I went with my parents to a concert up in Denver. I saw bands like the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, and I just fell in love with it. The cars came next, the clothing, the hair. It was kind of a snowball effect. My favorite films are From Here to Eternity and Champion with Kirk Douglas."

"Mine's Streetcar Named Desire," says Padia (the Brando look-alike), 22. "Brando's the man! I was raised with all this stuff. My dad's an old cat from way back. I grew up listening to Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, the Johnny Burnette Trio. I'll be into this scene 'til the day I die."

"So where's your car?"

"It's still under construction, so it's not out here. A 1950 Chevy, two-door fastback. It's gonna be a flat, plum purple. I named her my Luscious Laurice."

"Can't wait to see it, mon. So what do you do for a living?"

"I'm an exterminator," says Padia, proudly. "I'm killing ants, roaches, scorpions, all that."

"How 'bout lizards? I've got a nest of them suckas outside my door."

"Actually, lizards are immune to the poison," says Padia. "And if you think about it, they help because they eat insects. Field mice are the hardest to kill. For the snakes, we've got this stuff called Snake-Away, which has these pheromones that attracts the snake to the poison."

"Ever think of putting a little of that behind your ears before you hit the clubs?"

"Naaah, man, because you never know how it's going to mix with the grease," he jokes.

There's plenty of activity in the lot now as people come outside to take a break between the acts. A couple of the guys are pulling each other in a toy car that Padia had done up like a custom for his little kid.

A fella dubbed Elvis (you knew there had to be one) is putting pinstripes on an old-school Triumph motorcycle. And a dude named Rockabilly Rick is peeling out in front of the club in a hot-rod bucket, a pretty bobbysoxer by his side, leaving a trail of smoke and burnt rubber behind him.

I strike up a confab with a striking brunette in a low-cut pink-and-black halter top, black dress and black Mary Janes. Sitting on her gray Vespa and smoking a ciggie, she looks like she stepped right out of some classic black-and-white film like The Blue Dahlia or Farewell, My Lovely. Her name's Keri Trojan, 22, and yes, she's taken a lot of shit for the last name.

"Actually, it's my husband's name, and it's much worse for him," she tells me. "He's 19 and in the Navy right now. So that means he's 'Seaman Trojan.'"

"Ouch! Well, at least with a man like that, a gal will always have protection," I josh. "Sorry. If it's any consolation, folks call me 'Kreme.'"

Keri explains that she was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and is undergoing chemo for it. Says she went in for stomach pains on March 25, and that's when she found out.

"One out of 10,000 people get it. I'm just the lucky one. I should win the lotto," she says, laughing. "I rode in from Glendale on my Vespa for this. I love all the rockabilly and classic stuff. My favorite film is Breakfast at Tiffany's. I'm a big Audrey Hepburn fan. I'm so into her, my 3-year-old daughter thinks it's mommy whenever she sees a picture of Audrey Hepburn somewhere."

Everyone starts to head back to see the Rhythm Dragons, which is the last band up. Turtle and I take up the rear. He's 22, lives in Gilbert, and is a security guard who pinstripes on the side. His dad raised him on the oldies, and now he sticks with his fellow rockabillies because they appreciate the same things.

"Growing up, I had a hard time finding out where I fit in," he confesses. "But then one day, I fell in with a bunch of greasers, and it all just clicked."

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