By Peter Fletcher
I was reminiscing with my buddy, Bruce Duff, after watching Celebrity Skin at the Detour festival in downtown LA. We were talking about the LA underground music scene back in the late 80s and early 90s (and lamenting the lack of one nowadays) and how there was a camaraderie between the local bands. I may sound like an old coot, but it's true.
Every week there was a cool bill that was spread around between acts such as: Celebrity Skin, Tex and the Horse Heads, Groovy Red Necks, the Ringling Sisters, the Antja Mimes, Dread Zeppelin, Dumpster, Junk Yard, the Hangmen, Osgood Slaughter and Tragic Mulatto (both from San Francisco but embraced down here), Plastic Cadillac, the Nymphs, Liquid Jesus, the Cadillac Tramps, Motorcycle Boy, L7, Haunted Garage, Christie McCool, Duchess De Sade, Hole, Karmagedon, Fag, Green Jell-O, Rommel's Goggles, New Improved God, LAPD, Jane's Addiction, (the one that got away), Seizure Salad, (One of my faves and was only together for about ten minutes), and my unit, Pigmy Love Circus, from downtown LA. These bands didn't attract droves of hot girls in mini-dresses, and we didn't make any money, but we could knock any hair band that played the strip on their collective asses.
There were venues 'o' plenty to dismantle and relieve of all beer on the premises. Along with the more mainstream rooms like The Whiskey, the Palace, the Roxy and Gazzarri's, there was Madam Wong's and Madam Wong's West, Club 88, Lectisternium, the Coconut Teaser, the Music Machine, the Gaslight, Al's Bar, Ground Zero, the Shamrock, Raji's, the Florentine Gardens, Red Light District and the Club Lingerie.
White Trash A-Go-Go and Zombie Zoo were housed in a place called Osco's and embodied the freak-show atmosphere that only Los Angeles could offer. Janice De Soto and Dayle Gloria were co-conspirators in the legendary 'Scream' club downtown at 9th street and Grand Avenue that was a multilevel maze of an acid trip. The first time I went there with my friend and fellow Pigmy, Shepherd Stevenson, the headliner was four guys playing a ferocious style of funk and rap while sporting nothing but socks on their wieners. They were called the Red Hot Chile something or others and in my Lysergic state, I thought they were the most incredible troupe I had ever encountered… I also seem to recall a large tattoo-faced bouncer type who wanted to kick my (back then) puny little ass. Along with White Trash A-Go-Go, De Soto went to open God Save the Queen, Bar Deluxe and my all time favorite: English Acid.
Many times the other bands on the bill were the only audience those bands had, but no one minded because we were there to force fun, and if somebody didn't like our sound, then they were perfectly entitled to go fuck themselves hard. I vividly remember swapping the pit and stage with the gals from L7, singing “Three Little Pigs” several times with Green Jell-O and Dukey Flyswatter from Haunted Garage joining us on stage just to sing on the choruses and just dress up the joint with his winning smile and fetching personality.
Some of those groups are still around in one form or another and some of those friends are dead and gone. None of those venues exist except for maybe the painted sign on the front of Club Lingerie and the funky carcass of what was the Coconut Teaser. It sounds a little sad, but on the other hand, Celebrity Skin sounded better than they ever have!