Henry Rollins: Why I Would Sell Pizza to Nazis

Henry Rollins: Why I Would Sell Pizza to Nazis
Photo by Heidi May

[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]

I read an article posted on Reuters written by Luciana Lopez, which quoted a recent conversation Mike Huckabee had with pastors that was put together by the Family Research Council. Playing to his audience, Huckabee said, “We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”

I hope not. I am completely against the idea of someone not being permitted to be who they want to be. But I think we are moving slowly — too slow for my liking — toward a better understanding of the multilayered, highly dynamic complexities of our species, and that will make things better.

Huckabee and others so inclined, like Mike Pence, are standing up for religious freedom and those who are getting pushed back by stupid, Hillary-worshipping, lockstep liberal bullies. This is how it was explained to me in an unsigned email recently. I am so glad to have been straightened out on all this.

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Count me as just a lazy capitalist with a severe lack of conviction, but if I had a retail outlet on a public sidewalk, say, selling pizza, and you walked in wearing a Nazi uniform and ordered 20 pizzas for your white power picnic — I am selling you those pizzas. I am there to make money and serve the public, not tell you that your worldview is severely fucked up. While I am not running to get #nazisgethungrytoo tattooed on my forehead, when my “open” sign is on, that’s exactly what it means.

Those who don’t want to do business with the LGBT crowd have already done so, over and over, unknowingly or otherwise. So as far as walking that line, they’ve already blown it. They might even have LGBT employees (liberal operatives) who have infiltrated the castle and are working for minimum wage on the inside, undercover.

It’s not that gay people are necessarily sneaky by nature. But often they have to use stealth to do what they need to do. Kinda like how you lied your ass off to the landlord when you rented your first apartment.

I wish guys like Huckabee and Scott Walker wouldn’t egg on this pathetic bullshit. It’s a losing battle and they look more ridiculous and stone-age every day. It’s probably hard enough to be gay in America without influential people whipping up more idiocy.

This kind of societal pressure produces the occasional diamond, which leads me to this brief anecdote.

In 1995, I believe, I was working on new songs with my bandmates at a rehearsal studio in New York City called Context. Some days, when things were really humming, you could walk down the hallway and hear an incredible mix of bands. Iggy sometimes practiced there, Denis Leary; it was very cool.

One day I got there early and was lurking in the front lounge when a tall man walked up to me, asked if I was Henry, and then said, “I’m RuPaul.” It took me a few seconds to recognize him without all his gear on, but the cheekbones and eyes gave him away.

We got to talking. We’re around the same age. I reminded him that we were both on the cover of the same fanzine about 10 years before. Soon after, the band arrived and I introduced them.

Later, at practice, we all remarked how cool it was that RuPaul had a band and was at the same practice place and what a great guy he was. I would run into him at Context now and then, and we always had a great time hanging out. He became one of my favorite people. You can tell that he is truly a good person.

We collaborated on a cover of “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc., which never came out but was a blast to do. Years later, I was a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, which was one of the more fascinating experiences of my life. I was tasked with judging the performances of men dressed as women, who were going for it so hard. A line from “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” by James Brown applies perfectly here: “Come on with your come-on!” I spent hours with these drag queens and really respected all the work they put into what they do.

Months ago, I did his RuPaul Drives show. He picked me up and took me to all the places I had to run errands to as we talked in the car on camera. As an added bonus, he bought me lunch. Score!

Weeks ago, RuPaul’s producer (one of them, he has so many things working) reached out and asked if I wanted to be on his podcast. I didn’t know he had one but of course I said yes. Another great hangout with Ru-Paul. He is as smart as he is empathetic and deep.

RuPaul is a cultural hero. He has changed the way countless people all over the world think of drag queens and LGBT people. There is no way to talk about this evolution and leave him out of the conversation. He has done more good than he’ll probably ever admit to, and likely a lot more than he’ll ever know.

In this way, he is very much like Madonna, who cleared the way and gave countless people the courage to be themselves. There are, of course, some stark differences. RuPaul dresses like a woman and has taken a ton of flak for it. Madonna is a woman and has taken much more. However, things are different because of them, and you have to admire their guts.

Also, RuPaul is punk rock to the maximum. A tall, African-American cross-dresser, who has never backed down from who he is. Sometimes your heroes come in high heels!

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, Henry Rollins @henryrollins and like us on Facebook at LAWeeklyMusic.

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