Big Cheese

Valley export Mark Davis plots to kill his lounge-pimp alter ego, Richard Cheese

Bev, who admits she gets offended whenever TV Guide puts "very exposed women" on the cover and even had to turn off PBS' Masterpiece Theatre the other night when the mystery delved into what she considered unnecessarily sexually oriented "titillation," stresses her son didn't get that potty mouth at home.

"We rarely used curse words around the house," she says. "We may have said 'damn.'"

"I always tried to use appropriate words for sexual functions," Sol (who's been coached by his son not to talk too much today) interjects. "For example, some people don't like to use the word 'urinate.' That wasn't my philosophy. I say, if it's a valid word, you use it."

Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine
Positive Images/Steve Reed
Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine
Davis obliges a fan: “Are they interested in Richard 
Cheese? Or are they interested in the creative person 
who created Richard Cheese?”
Steve Reed
Davis obliges a fan: “Are they interested in Richard Cheese? Or are they interested in the creative person who created Richard Cheese?”

Details

To listen to Richard Cheese's music, click here.

Bev says it's "the culture today" that Mark reflects in his act, which concerns her much more than a few swear words.

"The music that's being written today is an expression of young people's unhappiness and frustration," she says. "So that's why Mark's act is the way it is. The moral state of people in this country is not good, and Mark's music is just pointing that out."

That's not to say Bev and Sol haven't tried to get into the fun of a Richard Cheese show.

"The first time we went to see his show, Mark told us, 'You will hear a lot of profanity,'" Bev says. "'But when you hear the word "f-ing," just substitute "very."' So at the end of the show, Sol goes up to him and Mark asks how did he like it? And Sol says," she pauses for a moment, summoning up the nerve, "'It was fucking great!'"

"Just to get into the spirit of it," Sol adds, chuckling. "It's not my usual language."


"You'd think you'd want that! is a phrase Mark Davis finds himself repeating more and more these days. Seems every time his success as Richard Cheese allows him to check off another item on his lifelong-dream To Do list, reality rears its ugly head.

Like the time he was pulling down a weekly Sunday night gig at Sunset Station and found himself pursued by a glamorous Las Vegas showgirl. For a few weeks, Davis felt like he was truly living the life of a genuine Rat Packer -- until the showgirl's jealous boyfriend started showing up in the audience, too, convinced Richard Cheese was singing the Lords of Acid song "Pussy" to his woman alone.

"You'd think you'd want a showgirl chasing after you," Davis exclaims. "But apparently, you don't!"

Or the time Davis got a call to play the Playboy Mansion, for a private party celebrating the launch of the cable channel Spike TV.

"That is the call that all men are waiting for," he says. "And I was so excited. I called my band and said, 'Guys, I told you something good was gonna come from all this, and here it is: We're playing the Playboy Mansion!'"

Again, the reality sucked. "We get there and do our show -- not one naked girl. Not one breast. No sex, no drugs. It was mostly dudes. And it was so disappointing. Although I would certainly go back again, because it couldn't possibly be that chaste two times in a row!"

Then there were the TV gigs. MTV! "We had just gotten our first CD out, and MTV called and said, 'Do you want to be on this new show, Say What Karaoke?' Turned out they taped 30 shows in six days, and it was a grind. And the audience for that show was 7-year-old kids that liked karaoke and [host] Joey McIntyre. So we didn't get anything out of that."

The job did lead to a spot as temporary house band for NBC's Last Call With Carson Daly when the show road-tripped to Las Vegas. "Again, the most thankless, nonstop work," Davis says. "They don't pay for anything except your hotel room, and on top of that, they're late with their payments. Working on TV is just not what it's cracked up to be."

Davis says he would give TV one last shot -- if he was offered Max Weinberg's job as bandleader on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the best show on TV, he feels. But his chances of getting that gig are, shall we say, slim.

"I ran into the head of NBC after Last Call -- I knew him from when I was writing NBC promos," Davis says. "And I said, 'Hey, why don't you have us be the new house band on Conan after Max Weinberg is done.' And he said, 'You know, you'd probably have to lose some weight.' Just like that! I mean, man, they're brutal over there!"

All in all, Davis says he's had his fill of being a rock star.

"It's not all sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll -- at all," he says. "The truth is, every one of those great things that's happened to me has had so many negative things behind it. It's really been a big pain in the ass, across the board."


Mark Davis wants to kill Richard Cheese. He also wants to write a book, make a movie, and maybe move to the tiny Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, where he's heard there's an opening to run the military radio station on the Army base currently used for missile testing.

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