Pasadena public radio station KPCC 89.3 FM, long home to some of the best music programs on the local dial, will switch to an all-talk-and-call-in format effective March 11. As of January 1, KPCC entered a 15-year lease with Southern California Public Radio, which, it turns out, is actually a subsidiary of Minnesota Public Radio, the group that made the decision to ax the entire music lineup. While the format change has been in the works for some months, it still comes as a nasty shock.
The station had broadcast music so far out of the mainstream as to be positively exotic. From the wild late-night R&B of Rhapsody in Black to the sweet low-rider romance fave The Sancho Show, KPCC often seemed a lush oasis in the sterile and formulaic broadcast desert. Many of the suddenly defunct shows offered material that could be heard nowhere else, such as veteran airwave personality Chuck Cecil’s The Swingin’ Years, which often featured rare archival musician interviews, and The Ellen Bloom–John “Juke” Logan Friday Night Blues Revues’ numerous live, in-studio performances by everyone from Floyd Dixon to Lucinda Williams.
KPCC general manager Cindy Young was upbeat: “We’ll be building what we consider to be the premier news-and-information station in the area, and we’re building a very strong news department.” But whether it’s hard-hitting and informative broadcasting or just more of the inconsequential drone and moan that typifies chat radio, another all-talk station is hardly what Los Angeles needs.
“I have enjoyed many of those music programs,” Young said, “and I know the listeners have. I frankly think many of them will turn up on other stations.” Yeah, sure. Of course they will. —Jonny Whiteside
SMELLS LIKE TEEN FANTASY
Shawna Kenney, L.A. author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix, will not be appearing on The Jerry Springer Show.
“The show would only work if my boyfriend came out and ripped the book in half onstage. I don’t want [him] to do that,” said Kenney during a break from her reading Saturday at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz. “The book is literary.”
But is it memoir . . . or fiction? Kenney, who admits she took no notes while working as a dominatrix, says her Retro Systems–published debut is the true story of how she worked her way through American University, ages 19 (that’s the teenage part, we guess) through 25, humiliating a portfolio of sex slaves, including a Nobel Prize winner. (When asked why her Washington, D.C., clientele included no politicians, Kenney said she didn’t mention a White House lawyer and a U.S. senator in her slave stable to protect their privacy.)
Double-billed with writers from a collection of sex stories called Viscera, Kenney, now 30, was wedged between a lesbian double-suicide saga and a commentary on the liberating effects of using a Barbie doll as a dildo. As the small crowd swilled complimentary keg beer, Coca-Cola, Twizzlers and Goldfish crackers, Kenney told of responding to an ad titled “Get Paid for Being a Bitch” after suffering through jobs as a waitress, nanny, receptionist, swimming teacher and exotic dancer (“The worst was my boss who stared at my chest while he yelled at me,” Kenney’s PR release stated). Suddenly, Kenney had found the right professional fit, making $1,000 a week for paddling, cock and ball torture, general abuse and her “specialty,” golden showers, her book says.
But the highlight of the reading by Kenney, who looks like a nice Irish girl, had to be her impersonation of her dungeon mistress, a shrewd, no-nonsense sex worker dubbed “Miranda.” When Kenney couldn’t fit into the knee-high boots that most clients favored, Miranda gave her black platform shoes and some advice: “You’re the dominatrix, so you’re in charge. If they ask for boots, tell them to shut the fuck up, and you’ll wear whatever you want.”
Unfortunately, Kenney was unable to put us in touch with Miranda, whom she described as too drug-addicted and incoherent to interview. We did reach “Cindy Chase,” the Washington, D.C., suburban resident who Kenney said had replaced her at Miranda’s. Chase said Kenney’s account of the dungeon was accurate, but added that Miranda was unavailable, not because of drugs, but because she had sold the business in January and become a born-again Christian.
“You’ll never be able to talk to [Miranda], ever,” said Chase, who also declined to give us her work number so we could verify how clients book her services.
No matter, a middle-aged woman in the audience at La Luz said Kenney’s book had moved her.
“A woman has that fantasy [of domination] all her life,” said the audience member, whose date insisted that she not give her name. —Lee Condon
ST. PADDY’S DAY HIJINKS
With St. Patrick’s Day almost upon us, wacky Hibernian behavior seems to be breaking out all over. Take Long Island, New York, where Irish natives irked at Frank McCourt’s portrayal of their hometown Limerick planned a March 11 book burning of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Angela’s Ashes. Organizer and pub owner David Crowe last week cooled the protest down to a flame-free event, but he allows that, passions being high, a book or two might be torched.
“Many people are upset because of his misrepresentations of Limerick, his misrepresentations of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, of the Jesuits and his misrepresentations of his mother,” Crowe says of McCourt. The bar owner denies suffering from what the Irish call “begrudging,” or resentment of another’s success, but critics see something akin to envy in the protest.
Ah, well — fuck the begrudgers, as playwright Brendan Behan said. Let’s go to the other side of the Atlantic, where two of Ireland’s greatest contemporary musicians are at each other’s throats. Musician-slash-priestess Sinéad O’Connor called the cops last November on former Pogues front man Shane McGowan, saying she watched him snort up $800 worth of heroin purchased with money she had loaned him. McGowan, who has been called “Ireland’s greatest living poet” — take that, Seamus Heaney — says he’s not addicted to heroin, only alcohol, “and that’s not against the law.” Alrighty, then, Shane.
Ever since, McGowan has been taking shots at O’Connor on Irish television and in the newspapers, and was quoted as saying that “she’s lost her marbles.” O’Connor, who was ordained as a priest in the Latin Tridentine Church offshoot of Catholicism, is saying daily Mass for her erstwhile friend.
Here in L.A., it looks like the only St. Patrick’s Day drama will be provided by crowds of all ethnicities puking green beer outside crowded local bars — a ritual not observed in Ireland, by the way. The Glendale-based Irish Center of Southern California, however, expects an overflow crowd at a March 11 dinner featuring music from Celtic rockers the Fenians, but there’s a twist — the setting is the Los Angeles Police Academy, a standout venue in these days of the Rampart scandal. We only wish St. Patrick himself would show up and drive a few snakes out of the troubled department. —Bobbi Murray