Mickey Avalon on Death, Sex, and Addiction
You don't know Yeshe Perl, but you know his alter ego, Mickey Avalon. He is the last of the MySpace stars, dripping with heartache and sexuality. His autobiographical lyrics of bisexual street hustling and narcotics seem written for, and inspired by, Hollywood's young-money, drug-addled Paris Hilton-wanna-bes and pinner punks.
Mickey Avalon has come far in a sense; far from his teen years of dealing drugs, of dabbling in heroin and prostitution, of having his first demos packaged in lurid newspaper advertisements for local dominatrices and escorts.
Avalon's 2006 self-titled glam-rap record provided a raw look at Hollywood's overindulgent underbelly. Songs like "My Dick" wound up in comedy films, but the record was smeared with tragedy. "I think turning hardship into art goes with being theatrical, like being comical about what I've been through: sex, death, and addiction," Avalon says. "I think if you can turn hardships into money, then you win."
Mickey Avalon is scheduled to perform Friday, September 23.
The grandchild of Auschwitz survivors, Avalon says "hardships" were never hard to come by. He sold weed at the age of 14 under the supervision of his mom, and his father was a heroin addict. His father eventually cleaned up but was hit by a car leaving an AA meeting. At 19, Avalon had to make the decision to take his father off life support. Not long thereafter, he lost his sister to heroin, as well.
Avalon developed his own heroin habit and turned to gay prostitution to support it, though he says the worst he did was give hand jobs or rob his johns once he got in their cars. Sick of the streets, he even tried converting to Orthodox Judaism.
"It was to stay out of what my dad fell into. It wasn't for me in the long run — but I learned a lot, like how it's important to live a life worth dying for."
But Avalon feels he has a lot to be grateful for, whether it's because people like his music, he's alive (current drugs of choice: weed and sake), or that beautiful and scantily clad women flock to his heavily tattooed Iggy Pop aura. He has the words "Thank You" tattooed across his stomach, and female fans have turned up at his shows sporting the same tattoo.
"Back then, I wasn't in the best part of my life, so if someone was going to hang out with me, it was because they actually liked me," Avalon admits shyly about this ink. "I kinda treat my body like a scrapbook — I have my grandfather's Holocaust number, my daughter's name, an eagle for America."
Over the past couple of years, Avalon has recorded new material and worked on collaborations with such artists as Ke$ha, Katy Perry, and Kid Rock. In 2010, he parted ways with Interscope Records and will release his new album, On the Ave, on Suburban Noize records in early 2012.
"I'm putting out a new song and video every couple weeks," Avalon says. "And I'm excited for the artwork because it's an homage to a band I like a lot, The Rolling Stones."
"Rock Bottom," the first single from the record, has enough swagger to be a strip-club hit. "I'ma get high 'til I hit rock bottom," Avalon raps over a slinky, Black Keys-esque riff.
"I'm influenced by a lot of music. I like R&B from the '50s and '60s; I think what's called rhythm and blues nowadays has rhythm, but not much blues," says Avalon. "I also like hip-hop, country, and one of my favorites is Lucinda Williams."
When asked if his new album will be as dirty as his last, Avalon laughs. "I try to just do what comes naturally and what my fans seem to like. I haven't found Jesus or anything."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.