Shane Young and his fellow long-haired metalhead friends stand outside the Slayer autograph session at Hot Topic, and chat with Rita Haney, longtime girlfriend of the late Pantera guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott. "Show her," Young's friends with patchy facial hair say, gathering around him in a group of denim jackets with Slayer badges.
"Alright," Young coyly agrees shaking his stringy reddish mane as he sits on the floor of this cheesy mall at Hollywood and Highland. He unlaces his black boot, and reveals a mangled foot, missing a big toe, his other toes twisted like tree branches. "A 3 foot tigershark bit my toes off," Young tells Haney, who from behind her sunglasses looks impressed. She grabs his hand, leads him to the Slayer table, where three kings of American metal (sans injured bassist/vocalist Tom Araya) have been signing autographs for ravenous fans of all ages.
"Put it on the table," Haney says, and Young obliges, thumping his 4 toed foot in front of Slayer. "Sign it, guys," she orders, and the legendary 3/4ths of Slayer, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, and drummer Dave Lombardo, scrawl upside down crosses and pentagrams all over his twisted sweet potato of a foot.
Welcome to Hot Topic, Slayer style, where a shark bitten foot gets you a front of the line pass, and a pentagram cures all that ails ya'.
Slayer's tenth studio album, World Painted Blood, invaded the streets last Tuesday, with a machine gun assault of double bass kicks, unceasing guitar chugging, and macabre stories of Russian baby killers, war, and Hell, Hell, Hell. Almost 3 decades after their inception in Huntington Park, California, Slayer still rocks with the runaway freight train intensity of their frenzied albums in the 1980's.
Here at Hot Topic, the dispensary of patent leather Hello Kitty corsets, chain wallets, and Atreyu shirts ubiquitous to malls everywhere, Slayer looks really happy. A line of long-haired kids--and a few kids of kids, who could barely speak, let alone belt out, the lyrics to "Reign in Blood"-- and some probably unemployed old-school fans (it was 3:30 in the afternoon, long after any lunch break) stretched past the body piercing display case, past the posters and out into the tourist hell of Hollywood and Highland Center.
Kerry, Lombardo, and Hanneman would dish out a hearty "fuck you" to every skinny-kneed Latino rocker who brought a guitar for him to sign, then would follow it up with a hearty handshake and a smile. "Fuckin' Slayer!" the kids would yell back as their CD's, LP's, and at least two babies were John Hancocked by the trio. For many, an autograph from the speed metal icons is like staking a flag in the moon, it's a monument that says, "Slayer was here."
When Young hobbles out of Hot Topic's portal of an entrance, his friends gather close to hear of his exploits.
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"Dudes," Young froths, "Rita said she'd pay for all this to be tattooed on my foot. I even gave her my phone number!"
But his compadre--a fellow with a beard that looks like blackened cotton swabs--is not messing around with phone calls: "We are going straight to the tattoo place," he decrees. "Right. Now."
Just another Slayer flag staked on another foot.