I’d Just As Soon Stay Sick: A Tribute To Lux Interior and The Cramps

Published on March 30th, 2009 in: He Had Good Taste, Issues, Music |

By Millie De Chirico

As a kid growing up on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA, our family had a real love/hate relationship with cable television. My parents would fluctuate between not being able to live without cable and deeming it a waste of money. Even worse: our family did not have cable when I was in middle school, which was the age where I began to really get into music, wanting to watch MTV and Night Flight constantly. It was a pretty soul shattering time, to say the least.

So on one fateful afternoon, my younger sister and I were flipping through the five or six fuzzy channels we actually got, and we happened upon a network that was displaying a scrolling list of artists and song titles. Some we recognized, others we didn’t. Next to each song was a three-digit code, and a 1-800 number pasted across the bottom of the screen. There were no commercials, no graphics. In fact, the channel was completely silent, except for every few minutes when a kind of scary robotic voice announced, “You’re watching the Jukebox Network, where YOU are the VJ!”

bikini girls still

As we eventually learned, The Jukebox Network was a channel where a person could call the number at the bottom of the screen and pay $1.99 to watch any of the videos listed. Shortly after a selection was made, the video would play in its entirety. My sister and I would watch this channel for hours, reading the lists over and over again, and getting excited when a video actually came on. It was a real bare bones operation, but it’s all we had and we loved it.

One of the few videos that actually aired was the one for “Bikini Girls with Machine Guns” by The Cramps. As a twelve-year-old, I had never heard of The Cramps, although I had been slowly moving away from my radio friendly pop music phase and had heard a little punk rock and actual “alternative” music. Watching The Cramps, however, was like jumping head first from ten stories up down into the middle of the mosh pit.

From the air raid siren at the beginning of the video, to “the guy in the swami hat with the weird eyes,” to the sleazy go-go dancing, I had never seen or heard anything like it. I was scared, yet completely hypnotized by this video. It was dark and murky, yet anchored by a pretty cool drumbeat. I liked the song almost immediately but I also got the feeling that I was watching something I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t know if I should close my eyes as Poison Ivy thrashed her semi-naked body, shooting that gun wildly with her trademark evil sneer.

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