Tear It Up

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

MTV blew my mind in 1981. I would spend hours Velcro’d to the screen of my grandma’s wooden console TV waiting for my favorite videos to come on. Even then, my mom was uneasy about the sort of “messages” I was getting from this weird new music.

Adam Ant’s allusions to S&M were the naughtiest of the lot, but nothing compared to The Cramps. I actually heard them before I saw them. By 1985, I was fully ensnared by WTUL New Orleans, the student-run college radio station of Tulane University. It was there that “New Kind Of Kick” wormed its way into my eardrums.

urgh vhs cover

I hated it at first—the pounding, evil delivery of the singer made me nervous—yet the song stuck in my head anyway. And although I was open to anything different or strange, I was a fairly straight-edge kid, so the lyrics about needing dick and nitrous oxide (which I think someone had to explain to me) freaked the hell out of me. These weren’t the tongue-in-cheek witticisms I was used to; this was down and dirty and nasty.

Then I saw Urgh! A Music War on TV. A friend’s parents had a VCR and she taped several of the clips we liked best: Oingo Boingo, X, Echo and The Bunnymen, Gary Numan, and The Cramps doing “Tear It Up.” Within days, I became obsessed. I would watch the performance over and over.

Lux Interior wasn’t like the traditionally handsome boys in the other bands I admired. I was terrified yet turned on by his microphone fellatio. As an oversexed yet prudish teenager, the most male anatomy I’d seen was on the inside sleeve photo of Adam Ant’s Strip album. I speculated on what Lux’s pants were made of and how they didn’t manage to fall off. The curves of his groin spawned a new slang term: “Lux lines.” I hoped that one day I would get to see him live and in the flesh.

I saw that Napa State Mental Hospital video on IRS’s The Cutting Edge and it freaked the hell out of me, more than any horror movie except The Exorcist. I couldn’t imagine anyone more unhinged than Lux Interior. By this point I knew who Iggy Pop was but I hadn’t seen him in action. Still, Lux felt more raw and real to me than stories of Iggy crawling on broken glass.

Luckily, I was able to see The Cramps live twice. Once in the mid-90s, at an “alternative music” show on Halloween. The lighting was bad and so were our seats. Lux looked tiny from where I was, not larger than life. A few years later, I managed to catch them at the House Of Blues, with the unbelievable Guitar Wolf opening. I had the flu but it was still a fabulous show.

lux interior red show
Still from “Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs” video

Lux was the first guy in makeup and heels to make my insides throb. Sure there were pretty boys like Marilyn, but they didn’t have the same raw sexual energy. Lux Interior made me want to do bad things. He and The Cramps opened the door to many things for me, not the least of which was the bad girl within. And because of that, I’ll never forget him, even if he has moved on to another astral plane.

Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor

2 Responses to “Tear It Up”

  1. K. Telle:
    April 4th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I think my hip bone fetish came from Lux. Nice ed.

  2. Popshifter:
    April 4th, 2009 at 6:15 pm



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