Bad Habits

Page 4 of 6

Jason was the first person admitted into the emergency room at Thunderbird Hospital on New Year's Day 2006.

"That was a great show," Kenyatta says. "Fabulous first show."

Then there was the time NunZilla played during a hockey game intermission at Castle Megasports, right out on the ice, and kept sliding all over the place in front of a bunch of baffled kids. And the show in Las Vegas, when Jason wore his priest's shirt through a casino, carrying three beers and two shrimp cocktails, much to the chagrin of casino security, who followed him and tried (unsuccessfully) to grab him for questioning. "I totally dodged them and ducked behind some slot machines," Jason recalls.

And of course, there are always the blow-up Godzillas.

"The best is when you can kick the dinosaur and hit the guy right up front in the crotch," Tana says. "Like the power kick! After one show, this one guy came up and was like, 'I couldn't believe it, I was just standing there and then I got kicked in the crotch with this dinosaur! I love you guys!' He was so happy it happened to him."

"You can get a lot of momentum with those things, if you're standing close enough," Kenyatta adds.

And that's what NunZilla thrives on — the insane aesthetic of the live show. "Visuals, it's all about the visuals," Kenyatta says. "Give 'em something to watch."

It's about flexibility, too, or maybe just the willingness to be bizarre. "We're like a spaghetti Western," Jason says. "We could do anything in this band. Somebody could play a banjo. I might just tap a cymbal for our next big hit."

"We are weird," Tana says. "We are so weird. We're just a weird bunch of people."

So who are these weird people, anyway? And what are their ties to the Catholic church besides being a punk-rock parody of its clergy?

Well, as deviant and demented as some might deem the band members' music and image, the members of NunZilla lead surprisingly normal lives.

Kenyatta is 32, divorced with no children, has a college degree in computer information systems, and has worked for DeVry University for 13 years, doing everything from career services and counseling to teaching and marketing. She recently bought her first house.

Taryn is 30, single with no kids (but she has a boyfriend), and works for a nonprofit agency that provides supportive services for homeless youth. She also works as a tattoo artist at a friend's private studio.

Tana is 37, married with two children (an 18-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter), and works in the human resources department of a local staffing firm, handling payroll, benefits, and administration.

Jason is 32, married with a 4-year-old son, and works as operations manager at AM political talk radio station KFNX 1100 (ironically, a conservative station that airs programs like The O'Reilly Factor and The Dr. Laura Show). He was also recently a coach at the YMCA for a soccer team of 6-year-olds.

Those are the pedestrian stats. The most interesting aspect of the band members' "real" lives, as they pertain to NunZilla, is their religious backgrounds and current beliefs. Jason's background with Catholicism is particularly interesting, as he seems to have crossed paths with every corrupt clergyman in Phoenix.

Jason was raised Catholic, and he says when he was a boy, he was baptized in Mesa by Father Dale Fushek, former Vicar General for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, who resigned in 2004 amidst a slew of sexual abuse charges. "Yeah, the main molester guy," Jason recalls. "The blond guy. Honest goddamn truth."

Later, Jason started training to be an altar boy, and spent a couple of hours a day in a creepy monastery. "The monastery is like this dark fucking dungeon, with circular seats and dark wooden walls, and you'd hear shit behind them and we'd be freaking the fuck out," he says. "We were there a couple hours a day and we'd have the whole suit on and stuff, and then we'd put back on our Catholic gear and go out to the playground and shit. It was really fucking weird."

One day, Jason's priest suddenly disappeared without explanation. Jason found out later that he'd been sent to the Vatican, but by that time, his mom had pulled him out of altar-boy training, uneasy about the priest's mysterious disappearance.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea