What can we say that has not been said? Not much but let’s say it anyway because we are celebrating Lux Interior’s entrance onto our planet.
Like any deity past or present, the myth and the mystery that surrounds them grows day by day. This is certainly true in the case of the lord and saviour that is Lux Interior.
Four years have passed since Lux ascended to some other astral plane but like many others, a trifling little thing like death cannot take him away from us and his legend only gets stronger. Concerts in his memory, anniversary parties and even art shows are just a few things that keep his fiery comet swirling in our orbit.
You didn’t need to touch the sweat soaked PVC hem of the man for him to impact on your life. Many of those who burn the flame in the Church of Interior never met him or even experienced the madness of a Cramps show. Lux was someone people gravitated to for a whole host of different reasons, some of which you just can’t put your finger on.
He was a strange and multi faceted creature, someone you wanted to be, someone you thought you were deep down inside and he helped show you how to bring that inner being out like some bizarre crazed guru, preaching the word from stages across the globe.
One very important message from the scriptures of Interior is to love life, live with a flaming passion. This is an important point to remember when so much emphasis seems to be placed on death these days.
This message should be an eye opener, an awakening for those tramping about in their sombre Goth outfits and sleeping in graveyards. The time for the grave will come soon enough but in the meantime there’s that volcanic lava of life to enjoy. Cast off your dull garments and shine, go forth and get burnt.
If you did meet him you would have experienced one or more of the facets that made up the holy radial glow that surrounded him. Perhaps a mischievous child, a slightly grumpy adolescent, an outlandish showman, a protective partner, someone with a penchant for theatrics or just a soft spoken, caring and generous man who seemed to get the biggest kick out of life. Of course there are many sides to all of us that others may never see and I am sure that was the case with Lux but we can only report on what we have witnessed.
I once very foolishly quizzed Tav Falco, who is heading full throttle into the Lux Lives birthday celebrations, as to why Lux had picked up a Joey Heatherton 45 to put on the turntable. “He was an artist, always bristling with surprises” came the reply.
Tav lets us know a hint of what’s in store “Panther Burns will offer up a solemn incantation for LUX – our mentor, muse, inspiration, and protector – the Eternal Interior. He speaks to us from the beyond…”
Vanessa Burgundy gives us a little insight into one of the great things she has been involved in for the celebrations for Lux’s life:
“Halloween hasn’t been the same in Los Angeles since that sweaty, sex-driven night that the Cramps played the haunted Hollywood Athletic Club. Lux took the stage like an electric goblin and Ivy…Ivy just stone cold cruel.
It’s been 9 years. Nine long years…and the natives are restless. In homage to Lux and the Cramps…I created a journey through time and music…a psychedelic jungle if you will.
Two major events, kicking off October 12th at the world famous Dragonfly in Hollywood, CA with “Dames, Booze, Chains, Boots: Cramps Burlesque” starring Cramps video starlet, Kitten de Ville and a bevy of the most entertaining and beautiful wolf bait that Los Angeles has to offer.
Immediately following on October 13th at the Burgundy Room Gallery, “Aloha from Hell”, an artists’ tribute to the Cramps. This show features L.A. based punk rock sparkle painter Natalia Fabia and L.A. graffiti artist and painter Axis among 20 others with their interpretations of Cramps inspired original art. I couldn’t have been more inspired to perform in and curate these shows, as the Cramps have influenced almost every aspect of my life. We miss you, Lux. You were one Mean Machine.”
Another cool thing going down on Halloween, apart from my Vegas Zombie wedding, is ‘VOODOO IDOLS: Wild Wild World of the CRAMPS fan tribute exhibit, Thursday, 31 October 2013 at 17:00 in PDT. If you are hanging in L.A. then this surely should be an essential viewing before you start trick or treating. Check the ultra cool poster for the show.
Craig Higgins wrote some words directed towards Poison Ivy asking her to return to the spotlight. With the news that Ivy is working to get material reissued and also issue some previously unreleased tracks, it is fitting that we share his words with you here:
Dear Poison Ivy: Please Come Back, We Miss You
Somewhere around 1990 or ’91, and I don’t remember which I went to see the Cramps play a show at Tipitina’s Uptown in New Orleans. This was before the ownership began to open other locations around the city but after the glorious 70’s heyday which of course I was then too young to partake in.
Twenty-plus years ago, Tipitina’s was one of my regular stops when I would catch the streetcar up St. Charles Ave. or, later, when I drove this ’78 monkey-shit brown colored Chrysler LeBaron which was my first car. During that glitter-and-war paint period of my misspent youth, any and all music, which caught my ear, was fair game, and this was a show I was looking forward to.
It was the tour the Cramps did for their-then new record, ‘Stay Sick’, which was the first full-length recording they’d done in about three or four years. As I understand it, they apparently had some legal problems with their previous label, which kept them out of the studio for a while. Now though, they had this shining new offering, a new bass player in the raven-haired, chewing gum-smacking Candy Del Mar and a fair amount of publicity even from heretofore unresponsive sources like MTV (this of course was back when that meant something).
I loved the cover: the guitarist Poison Ivy, her bareback offset by a wall-to-wall tiger skin print room, holding maracas in her outstretched hands. She had this amazing, striking shock of red, curly hair and the sneer of all those bad girls like Tura Satana from the trash cinema of 30 or 40 years previous.
Her husband Lux Interior was the singer, and he too was something out the crypts of the darker side of American culture: hair jet-black, a long doe-eyed face like a hound dog who’d somehow gone werewolf. These two had paid their dues for years and gone through numerous other players, and now their ship had come in.
Hell of a show, actually. On the new record, the band had sounded much more polished than other stuff of theirs I’d heard, which made me in my naïve youthful misconception of things concerned that they would not be the live act I’d heard on previous recordings of shows (a friend of mine had let me borrow a cassette copy of their infamous late-70s performance at a California mental hospital, still to my mind the gold standard of what a live recording should be). Boy, was I wrong.
Lux came out to the opening strains of the first number head-to-toe in black vinyl, save for the stylish women’s pumps he strutted around on with the awkwardness that only men who don’t live as women can achieve. He didn’t look effeminate, though. I don’t really know how else to describe it other than to say that only Lux Interior could walk around in a get-up like that and not come off as anything other than the manliest of people I’ve ever seen.
Poison Ivy for her part was going through her ‘harem girl’ phase and her famous ‘do, mixed with that outfit and an orange Gretsch Country Gentleman wide-body guitar still is to my mind one of the most iconic images in the history of rock-n-roll.
The whole thing would’ve been a joke if they hadn’t been able to back it up on stage, but to paraphrase what the immortal New York Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan once said about his bandmate Johnny Thunders, the Cramps could back it up. The band was tight, the new material rocked, and the audience was committed, as it should be for a great show.
naked save for some red panties
and matching coloured pumps
For the last number, Lux was naked save for some red panties and matching coloured pumps (he’d done a costume change at some point in the show). He strutted bow-legged up to the microphone, his whole body radiating sweat and energy, and he grunted: “Let’s tear this damn place up!” This of course was the title of an older Cramps number, and the crowd roared its approval.
Poison Ivy and the band continued the bump-and-grind downstairs while the front man climbed up to the top of one of the monolith PA speakers that stood on either side of the Tipitina’s stage.
I walked out afterwards with my friends thinking I’d seen one of the best shows I’d seen in a long time and now, more than 20 years later, I’m glad I went. It would be the only time I ever saw the Cramps play. It wasn’t like I got turned off to their later recordings or got bored with punk rock. It’s just that for whatever reason I never got around to seeing them again.
When you’re young and down with rock-n-roll, you think the world is going to continue to spin on its axis with the same inevitable trajectory for all eternity. You think that you and your heroes will never age, never tarnish or fall beneath the weight of time. And for a long time, maybe even more than a decade, you are right.
Then, the day comes that you find out you are suddenly wrong.
That’s the day one of your old heroes passes on, and then another.
And, for me one of those days was the day I heard that Lux Interior had died.
This was a few years ago, in 2009. Out of the blue the Cramps lead singer, who was certainly no longer a young man but just as certainly not that old, died of a freak heart ailment. One of the great all-time punk rock frontmen, and he was gone not with a flash or anything dangerous or dramatic at all.
All of a sudden, there would be no more Cramps shows. There would be no more chances to look through the paper or the culture rag in New Orleans or Austin, where I was living at the time, and say, ‘Gee, the Cramps are in town in two weeks. Maybe I should go see them.’ No more tear this damn place up. It makes you a little appreciative for the stuff you saw, and the times you were there. Once they go, you can’t get them to come back, and no one can replace them.
heroes will never age, never tarnish
or fall beneath the weight of time
But, life goes on. And, I’m one of those funny people who, while not exactly looking for silver linings or poetic justice or any of that syrupy crap, can’t help but notice that with every story there is the part we don’t get to see. There’s the story behind the story, the story within the story. I’ve never met either Poison Ivy or Lux Interior, although like so many fans I admired them and their kooky 50s horror-meets-50s rockabilly and punk rock pocket universe from afar. But, without knowing the full inside story that’s probably not any of my business anyway, I get the impression that these two were truly and deeply in love.
Unlike other punk rock couples who split up or were on-and-off in that hectic period you never heard anything about marital troubles in the music press. There was never a hint of an affair, or an ugly alcohol-fueled scene of drama in a nightclub after a bad show. I mean, maybe Lux and Ivy had these problems and did a better job of hiding them than most, but somehow I don’t get the feeling that was the case. They were from a relationship standpoint the Johnny and June Carter Cash of the black leather set.
Most of us can only wish to have had such a beautiful story to live in, no matter how tragically it ended. Lux Interior and Poison Ivy forever put the lie to the idea that just because you sang about zombies and human flies you couldn’t have a true and committed experience with another person. Their story, their love, is probably the greatest gift they ever left us.
And, life goes on. Even zombies and vampires understand this. I mean, when you think about it, who loves life more than the zombie? If you go on living, even after you are dead, then what does that say about your lust for the stuff? Lux Interior has left us only his shadow and his story and his music and memories, but Poison Ivy Rorschach is still with us. As I understand it, she’s become a virtual hermit these days, no longer playing and out of the limelight. I can totally understand that.
When I was a kid I watched my father deal with the death of my mother by kind of imploding in his own grief. He never really got over what happened to her, and I think that some people never do get over this kind of loss. After watching my dad suffer like this, I wished that such a terrible thing would never happen again to anyone, and I still feel that way.
So, I’m hoping that Poison Ivy will someday return to the stage. There will never be another Cramps show advertised in the newspaper to miss, and I would never ask her to consider such a thing as trying to find another man to fill Lux Interior’s colossal women’s shoes. If Gene Simmons of KISS wants to prop other players on stage wearing Ace and Peter’s war paint that’s his reputation to run down if he so chooses. He apparently doesn’t have the class of a Poison Ivy.
will someday return to the stage
But, wouldn’t it be great if she had like a rockabilly instrumental band or something? Wouldn’t it be cool to see Poison Ivy put together something like an all-girl sci-fi-and-monster mash-themed outfit, do a record, and get out the glitter and the black leather and remind everyone of how it’s done? Let’s give the credit here where it’s due: for all intents and purposes, Poison Ivy Rorschach is the cornerstone artist of psychobilly guitar.
Other players may have experimented with the style, but it was this woman who first put all the pieces together, coming up with an approach to the instrument that is equal parts 50s rock and 60s trash and psychedelia. Listen to ‘Stay Sick’ or ‘Bad Music for Bad People’ or any of the rest and you hear a genuine statement on the guitar from a unique artist who, having something to say and no existing language with which to say it, basically invented her own. And, she looked amazing while speaking it.
players all across the planet who
directly or indirectly owe their
look, snarl and sense of style to
Poison Ivy and Lux Interior
There are countless bands and players all across the planet who directly or indirectly owe their look, snarl, and sense of style to Poison Ivy and Lux Interior and their Passing Show, and while the Cramps are gone with the turn of the page of the last half decade one half of that duo still remains.
I never met Lux Interior, but somehow he just doesn’t seem like the type to have wanted for his other half to forever wear the long black veil just because nowadays he’s partying on the other side of that veil. I would never be so presumptuous as to ask her personally, but I really wish Poison Ivy would walk with the zombie again. And this time, if she comes back I fully intend to be in the front row and not miss the opportunity to be there.
Nadim Mahl-Bahl shares Lux’s birthday and also shares this fabulous picture of Ivy with us:
We raise a large glass in honour of Lux coming into this world and into our lives. Long live Lux Interior.
Another post Cramped Halloween treat for all the ladies and germs out there comes in the form of a real life non digital book. Just like the ones we had way back when.
Co-editor: Kizmiaz Records & Super Loto Editions
Cramped ! is an illustrated anthology of the many bootleg recordings of the American band “The Cramps” who made their indelible mark on the history of rock and roll over a period of four decades since their inception at the end of the 1970’s.
The book reads like a fan book, on one hand proposing an exhaustive list of pirate recordings of the band (including albums, singles, flexes, picture discs, box sets and even postcards), but also involving the participation of illustrators and comic book authors who have been inspired by the bands output over the years.
The book itself comes in the form of a 45 vinyl and is accompanied by an album comprising covers of some “Cramps” classics by four bands equally inspired by this legendary group. The collection also includes a “Cramps” family tree, detailing the thirty or so musicians who have passed through their ranks.
Cramped! then is not only by the fans for the fans but also essential item for all lovers of authentic rock and roll.
With the contribution of Winshluss (cover), Moolinex, Imius, Syd Dolby, Nicolas Moog & Matthias Lehmann, Pakito Bolino, Mattt Konture, Oudin Ojjo & Janus Ojjo, Vincent Wagnair, Bingo, Laure Del Pino & Olivier Josso, Romain Marsault (family tree).
Music by Birds Are Alive, Brat Farrar, King Automatic, Magnetix.
Released 01 November 2013
PRE ORDER http://kizmiazrecords.bandcamp.com
Includes immediate download of 4-track album in your choice of high-quality MP3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
Title photo: Copyright Carl Byron Batson
All pictures and photographs are copyright to the illustrator/ photographer and are not to be used or reproduced without his or her express prior permission.
Photographer, published poet, former party animal, body builder, grave robber
to the stars and renowned chainsaw juggler, Carl can often be spotted on his
Harley Davidson pretending to be in Terminator 2. He is also frequently seen in
the press pits of old London town, camera in hand, avoiding being hit by bottles
of wee and crippling his opposition with secret Kung Fu moves.