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
Across the street we hit the Roxy’s side entrance, and some young girls recognize him and begin yelling out to him, “Mickey! Mickey!” We make a beeline through the packed club, up the stairs and into the backstage area. Unlike at the previous gig, there is no raucous party in the dressing room this time. Avalon has a new stage show, including dancers and several costume changes, so the area has been intentionally cleared. Avalon is now wired and antsy, pacing back and forth and announcing to no one in particular: “Let’s go; I want to do this right now.”
I head downstairs and find a vantage point toward the back of the club. A contingent of professional surfers from the RVCA clothing team, which sponsors Avalon and recently took him to Japan for a performance, are there, making the scene and drinking everything in sight. Some members of Avalon’s old tagging crew, CBS (Can’t Be Stopped), are there as well, one tall gent explaining, “He’s an old friend and we take care of one another. And he’s an entertainer, so he might say or do something someone doesn’t like. We like to be around in case people get the wrong idea.” A well-dressed Russian next to him nods in silent agreement.
Minutes later, the houselights dim and Avalon’s theme music starts — a mix of Tony Basil’s “Mickey” and Roxy Music’s “Avalon.” The curtain slowly rises to reveal a bed with pink satin sheets, fluffy pillows and teddy bears. There are two fashion-model-like girls frolicking on the bed in nightgowns. Suddenly Avalon appears, creeping through a large stage window, wearing a mask and shining a flashlight on them. The girls act scared and scatter, as a song starts up with a sample of a man’s voice announcing, “We are going to have open sexual intercourse on every street corner of America.” A loud cheer erupts, and Avalon launches into his song “Waiting to Die,” soon joined onstage by the two scantily clad girls, who now dance beside him like a sexed-up version of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers. The audience is singing along with him.
“Mickey Avalon — the kosher salami. For 20 you get Chachi but 40 gets you Fonzie. A motherfuckin’ hustler kamikaze, I used to bus tables but now I sell my body. It’s like a jungle, sometimes it makes me wonder, that God must be one sick motherfucker.”
Between songs the young girls down front begin to chant his name, “Mi-ckey! Mi-ckey!,” like he’s a bona fide David Cassidy–style pop star. A few songs in, someone points out Santino, from last season’s reality hit Project Runway, pumping his fist and singing along. In front of me is a group of kids who can’t be much more than 10 or 11, and they are singing along as well. “Ty was a stripper, died on the shitter with a smile on her face and her hand on her liver, but I ain’t mad, I forgive her, I just get a little sad every time I fuck her sister.” A 30-ish woman I assume to be a mother eventually turns to the kids and says, “He’s the Antichrist.” The kids smile and keep singing. At one point between songs, Avalon tells the crowd, “You could all be home watching Pearl Jam on Saturday Night Live, but you’re here with me and I love you all.” During the next song, he walks along the front of the stage and kisses all the girls.
When he eventually does an encore, Avalon brings his longtime friend Armin, a.k.a. rapper Andre Legacy, and Simon Rex up onstage. The two of them are dressed like Jesus Christ, while Avalon is now wearing a short tutu. As the crowd screams and cheers for Avalon, it suddenly occurs to me that maybe this isn’t merely some hedonistic freak show but a celebration. Perhaps what these kids are responding to, even rejoicing in, is Avalon’s unfaltering bravado. This is someone who had to pull the plug on his drug-addicted father, discovered his little sister dead and jerked off creeps for drug money. Yet, there he is, up onstage, feeling sexy and confident and laughing about it all — and there’s something inspiring, even heroic, about that. Hate him or love him, Mickey Avalon is what all stars really are — reflective light.
After the show, Avalon stands on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by fawning young girls, like some tattered hustler prince. The owner of the club looks on and tells me, “We love him. He’s on his way now.” A photographer’s flashbulb begins to illuminate the street, while an exhausted, but obviously happy, Avalon poses under the marquee with his name proclaiming the show sold out. Minutes later, as I’m driving home through Hollywood, I recall what the tattooist Mark Mahoney said when I asked his thoughts on Avalon’s strange and sometimes tragic life. He just shook his head and, in a near whisper, said, “It’s just an unbelievable dope opera.”
“What to do when your luck is through, whether you come from the slums or live in Malibu. See him running down the avenue, Mickey Avalon with an attitude.”