Sid's Kids

I don't know who's been peeing in God's Rice Krispies lately, but too many people I know have been dying. Seems like every time I turn around, someone cool has keeled over here in P-town, usually way before their time: a pal's stepdaughter, a friend of a friend, or someone else I'm connected to tangentially, all in their 20s or 30s. I mean, I'm glad to be alive 'n' shit, but this death thing sucks. The finality of it is nearly impossible to wrap your head around.

For me, the Grim Reaper's winning streak kicked off with the untimely demise of Sid Copeland, the owner of Jugheads, from a heart attack on April 22. Apparently, Sid was lifting weights when his ticker tuckered out, which is probably the best argument I've ever heard against exercise in my entire life. People tell me the guy had some medical history, but all the same, I plan to keep my fat ass away from the gym from now on! Sid was only 33 when he passed, and, unlike many club owners, was almost universally loved by the denizens of PHX nightlife. has even erected a site in Sid's honor at, soliciting donations on behalf of Sid's widow, Tonya, and their three kids. You can read more about the punk community's reaction to Sid's death by checking out New Times music writer Brendan Joel Kelley's recent obit for the bar owner ("Hard to Say Goodbye," May 4).

What the PHX's bi-Nelly Furtado and I appreciate about the Sidster is that he was the first to grant a home to our fave cavalcade of slutty freakdom, known to one and all as Sadisco. For us, Sid's a cross between King Moonracer, the winged lion who was the ruler of the Island of Misfit Toys in the Rankin-Bass TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Gomez Addams of The Addams Family fame, with the Sadiscoites as his adopted brood of Cousin Itts, Pugsleys, Wednesdays, Things, Lurches, and Uncle Festers.

Jugheads became Sadisco's Spahn Ranch, where Sid's other kids act out their blood-spattered, garbage-strewn Mansonesque fantasies to an industrial dance beat. Over time, this Sadistic Disco's macabre mayhem has proven a guaranteed draw, whether it's held at .anti_space, The Sets, Mardi Gras, or back at its home base of Jugheads, where we stopped by on a recent Saturday night for "Sadisco 54.3: Radio Sidney," a takeoff of Studio 54 with glitter, roller girls and boys, and the occasional disco tune spliced into the noise/EBM soundtrack.

Yes, we've covered Sadisco once already this year, but it seemed appropriate to attend this whacked-out tribute to the man who first allowed Toby Heidebrink (Dr. Squalor), Donnie Burbank (currently "Dr. Fever"), and all of their demented minions to take over his club and turn it into a raunch-filled bughouse for the evening. This first-ever Sid-disco features huge trays of (alas) fake coke; sweaty, half-naked roller-ing around the bar by those wearing old-school roller skates; giveaways of vintage disco LPs and Sadisco underwear, which may or may not have been used previously to judge by whiffing them; gore-covered walls repeating Sadisco's name; and a long, psychedelic documentary of the Manson family murders with Vincent Bugliosi, Susan Atkins, and Squeaky Fromme, being screened on the bar's TV sets. Despite the legality of the faux booger sugar on display, everyone at least acts like they're on something, judging by how touchy-feely they are. Unlike at other Sadisco events, a portion of the door is going to the Copeland family, and there are donation jugs set up all around. At midnight, in the place of the usual naked, ad hoc striptease, there's a moment of silence, to mark Sid's passing to that big ol' waterin' hole in the sky.

As soon as the Jettster and I arrive, we make for the bar, and re-baptize that bitch in Sid's honor by doing a couple of rounds of Jäger bombers. Serving us is gentle giant Chuck D, the general manager of the joint, and one of Sid's best buds when the cat was with the living. He introduces us to Sid's widow Tonya, a beautiful blonde in a tight, black-vinyl outfit. We all pile outside to escape the thump of the industrial music, and Tonya explains that all of the benefits in Sid's honor have helped her keep Jugheads going.

"We're just like you," she tells us. "We're not rich. We're working, trying to pay our bills. I own another business as well, Tonya's Tots on Scottsdale Road, which is a Buffalo Exchange for baby stuff. So I'm running a store, I'm running a bar, and I have three children. It's hard, but Jugheads is Sid. To get rid of it would be beyond me."

"So how did Sadisco hook up with Jugheads to start?" I inquire.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons