By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
When Avalon leaves the sound check on Saturday afternoon, several girls are already gathered outside the club, dressed in vintage aerobics outfits inspired by his “Jane Fonda.” They spot Avalon as he starts to walk home and yell out that they love him, which he likes. He makes no bones about wanting success. A true child of Hollywood, fame is really the only currency he has known. Sell enough records and maybe he won’t have to go back to delivering pizzas and sleeping on people’s couches, might even be able to send his daughter to college when she grows up.
Hours before the show, Avalon is in his West Hollywood apartment, standing in front of a mirror doing his makeup and hair while listening to the sad music of Elmore James. He admits that he rarely, if ever, listens to hip-hop, favoring old rhythm & blues and country music. He’s a huge fan of female country singers like Gillian Welsh and Lucinda Williams, and his favorite concert of the past year was Dolly Parton’s. It all goes back to his father the record collector. It was the one love he never abandoned and was somehow able to pass down to his son.
“My dad would buy records before paying child support,” Avalon says with a laugh. The snub was perhaps lightened when Avalon inherited his dad’s prized collection, which he has managed to hold on to over the years.
Avalon emerges from the bathroom in tight jeans, glittering red lipstick and powder-blue eye shadow. There is an Ace bandage coated with fake blood wrapped across his midsection, and he puts on a silvery Ziggy Stardust–style leather jacket with red, lightning-bolt lapels. The phrase “Thank You” is tattooed across his stomach in bold letters.
“I got that at a time I was having sex with a lot of beautiful girls and I was really grateful,” he explains with a smile. He also has the phrase “I’m sorry” tattooed on the palm of his hand and the word “Please” etched onto the inside of his bottom lip.
Steve Lindsey, a record producer who worked with the likes of Leonard Cohen and Elton John before forming his own publishing company, recently signed Avalon to a publishing deal. So far, Lindsey’s stable of writers has penned such hits as “In Da Club” for 50 Cent, “The Real Slim Shady” for Eminem and “Breakaway” for Kelly Clarkson. He later tells me he rarely signs artists, but made an exception with Avalon. While he likes the songs, it was the live show that really hooked him.
“It’s David Bowie,” Lindsey says. “I think Mickey Avalon’s going to bring that kind of entertainment back to rock & roll.”
When I ask if he thinks Middle America is ready for Avalon’s decidedly ambisexual imagery, he laughs. “Will Middle America be totally aghast? Well, I hope so, or how are we going to make any money? He has the skateboard kids and the young Hollywood crowd out here, but in Middle America I think he’ll get the sexually confused kids, like what happened with Alice Cooper and Bowie.”
Standing in his apartment, Avalon checks his reflection one last time, then twists open a bottle of expensive tequila and takes a pull. He slips on a trench coat and announces he is ready.
The sidewalk in front of the Roxy is swarming with kids. The club was selected for historical significance, having hosted such luminaries as Lou Reed, David Bowie and Prince, but also because it is an all-ages venue, allowing for Avalon’s growing legion of teenage fans. We park up the street and navigate across Sunset to the Shamrock Social Club, a tattoo parlor run by renowned tattoo artist Mark Mahoney. Mahoney is a tall, impeccably dressed Bostonian with slicked-back hair and piercing eyes. He was a friend of Avalon’s dad and, over the years, developed into one of Avalon’s many surrogate father figures throughout the city.
“I lost most of my family unit, so I’ll adopt anyone if they work out for me,” Avalon explains. Mahoney seems truly glad to see Avalon walk through the door, and even happier when he notes that his pupils are a normal size. Avalon tells him he’s staying off the dope, and Mahoney smiles, saying, “Hey, that’s fucking great.”
He is obviously happy for Avalon’s success but says he has no interest in seeing the show, explaining, “My wife and the guys from the shop go see him and come back and tell me stories about what it’s like. I know it’s all about debauchery and he plays up the effeminate-hustler thing. I don’t think it would shock me if he wasn’t like one of my kids.”