May 16, 2014
When I was 18, I was right in the middle of the Chinn-Chapman world of a series of singles by The Sweet. Totally disposable pop for disposable times, that served disposable people, and that includes yours truly as well. I was totally focused on getting wasted, but at the very least, I wanted to pass out with a copy of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” on my lap, and idealistically at a little round cocktail table at Rodney English Disco on Sunset Bouvelard. It was a very difficult culture for me, because I wanted to go to Rodney’s because all the girls I have admired at Taft High School went there, and sadly, all the girls went for the older guys who hung out there as well. So I felt like a double-loser both in the school yard as well as this school yard, otherwise known as Rodney’s.
At the time, it was very difficult to hear the Chinn-Chapman bands The Sweet, Mud, and Suzi Quatro, because American radio basically ignored these records that came out of the U.K. In the early 70s. I was attracted to their bands, not by their photographs, but by their song titles. “Little Willy, ” “Wig-Wam Bam, ” “Tiger Feet, ” “Devil Gate Drive, ” The Sixteens, ” and so forth. On one level they were very silly, but on a deeper plane they fed my soul, that was very vacant at the time. My late teenage years wasn’t one of exploration, but just trying to conform to what was routine in the world that was the San Fernando Valley. Which meant to hang out with the glam girls, while they spent hours trying to find the right outfits to wear, as well as supplying me with liquor and vinyl on the portable turntable. The girls I knew didn’t really have impressive records in their collection. Mostly Queen albums, which I always felt were an imitation of something that is out there, but I didn’t know what at that point and time. The songs were nice, but just so plastic sounding to me. At least the Chinn-Chapman records knew they were plastic, and they sort of conveyed a world that is plastic, surface, and teenage. The beauty of Mud, Sweet, and Suzi Quatro was that they were teenage music, and me being at that age, they totally reflected on what was happening in my life.
Sadly, and on the other hand, I also had an interest in serial killers. No, no not Charles Manson. I couldn’t stand that stupid hippie culture stuff. I wanted the real thing. H.H. Holmes was my main man. Sometime around 1893, he built his own hotel during the World’s Fair that took place in Chicago. The unusual aspect of this hotel was made for one purpose, and that was to use the building as a killing factory. There were at least 100 rooms built without windows. Holmes would have women stay at his hotel and each room was a death trap of some sort. Usually he would suffocate or gas them, whenever his mood served his desire. After their deaths, he had a secret chute built-in all the rooms that led to the basement. Once there, the bodies were dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools.
Now what interested me was not him specifically, but the fact that he went out of his way to build this huge structure, to only serve his fantasy (well for him it was real) lifestyle. It is always bizarre to me that someone would make their perfect world, yet somehow evil would creep in, with respect to the big picture of it all. For some, having that structure of a building would be enough, but he didn’t build it for aesthetic reasons, but mostly to feed his sick passions.
Then there is someone like Liberace, who built his world, but more for an aesthetic pleasure than anything else. Perhaps designed to avoid the outside world, which was so different from Liberace’s sense of utopia. Whenever I go to Las Vegas, I always visited the Liberace museum, and I loved it, because I’m surrounded by a world that is artificial, and totally against nature. Through out my life I sought to build my own inner world, where everything else is totally outside that world.
When I got older, I left the serial killer fixation at the station ‘teenager’ and seriously started collecting records. As of now, when I check my collection, I truly see it as a self-portrait. But interestingly enough, I see nothing of the Rodney years in my collection. I sort of edited that out of my life, and now I enjoy my new identity as an adult, with a long memory.