Walking into Dr. Leroy Perry's International Sportscience Institute's '80s-opulent octagonal waiting room is like entering a time warp. Hanging above the emerald green carpet is a framed photograph of Elizabeth Taylor, circa 1986, dwarfed by puffy sleeves and shoulder pads, autographed with cursive adoration for Perry's multifaceted chiropractic prowess. Delving deeper into his institute's various treatment rooms and facilities lends the impression, at least on the surface, that the 21st century hasn't quite made it to the institute's Culver City–adjacent offices.
But, oh how deceiving looks can be.
Perry is a maverick frontiersman on the forefront of spinal health.
Hailing from umpteen generations of Portuguese pirates, Perry has a warrior's soul, a bulldog's jaw line and a heart of gold. His nemesis: gravity and its unrelenting tendency to compress. His healing arsenal is eclectic and vast, filled with patented inventions, machines, devices and exercises all designed to stretch, straighten and nudge the spine back into alignment. He sends his patients home with over-the-door traction devices and exercise regimens, which is precisely what differentiates Perry from the rest of the spine crackers out there — he heals his patients by teaching them to heal themselves.
The institute's indoor swimming pool, heated to a balmy billion degrees, is a kicky mix of Olympic athletes, octogenarians, movie stars and me — the pouty yogi with the broken wing — dangling by a Velcro-ed chin strap, bobbing up and down, decompressing my cranky spine while composing lyrics to my band's latest song, “Supersexy Traction.” We all float together — weighed down with foam waist bands, weights and straps — working out our kinks, increasing our ranges of motion, stretching our spines, treading time under the tutelage of Perry and the (oddly attractive) physical therapists who guide us through two-minute sets, encouraging us with smiles, chitchat, optimism, promises of post-traction ultrasounds and, my favorite, Interferentials — a quartet of undulating suction cups sending electrical currents through my traps and triceps, straight into my nervous system — ahhhhh …
Discs grooving inch by fraction
Gonna get some action
Straps under my chin
Velcro ties me in
Bobbin' in the pool
So supersexy cool
Kinda makes you want to slip a disc or bulge a vertebra or something, right?