What’s Inside a (Super Fan) Girl?

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

By Margaret Cross

The first time I heard The Cramps, I was a 13-year-old kid living in a very suburban suburb of Cincinnati. It was the summer of 1985, and a friend’s college-age brother played us his cassette tape of Bad Music for Bad People. I made him play it twice more, before he asked me to just go ahead and dub it, already! I did, and spent hours and hours listening to it, and being inexorably pulled into this land of beautifully distorted guitars, a drum beat that would drive a sane person to their knees, and the truly gleeful, terrifying, hopped-up vocals of Lux Interior.

I now believe that some of us are just born Cramped, and that’s how it is. But I’ll take you a journey so you’ll understand what I mean.

the cramps bad music

I’d never heard anything like The Cramps before. And I’d never heard anything like their unsung heroes, the B-movies, monsters, and beautiful women who influenced their raw, sleazy, throwback sound. At that time I had been steadily listening to bands like Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and The Cure, from which I moved easily into Minor Threat, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Dead Kennedys. But something about the power of The Cramps’ music compelled me to try to find out everything I could about this band.

At that time, I wasn’t sure why my friends were only somewhat interested in The Cramps, as if they were a mere novelty act. I felt The Cramps whispering in my brain and pumping through my heart. It was no novelty; it was real rock and roll! The realest this gal had ever heard! So I figured there must be others like me, and started on my Super Fan Journey.

The first people I met who were Cramps Fanatics were a creepy married couple in their thirties who ran the only bookstore in my town in where you could buy Bukowski, Maximum RocknRoll, and Love and Rockets comics. I went there every few weeks, and noticed the husband wearing a Bad Music For Bad People T-shirt. Creepy or not, I was determined to talk to them!

They were pretty surprised when I started gushing about the Cramps, and happily gave me all the information they had on the band. They told me about Lux and Ivy and how Lux was from Ohio, just like me! They had the Gravest Hits EP as well as Songs The Lord Taught Us, and taped both for me. If I thought I had been obsessed before, well, I was starting a trip that would take me out of this world! I couldn’t get enough of the sound and when I later learned about Alex Chilton’s involvement in it, it totally blew my mind.

Fast forward to the summer of 1986 when I was about to turn 14. Creepy Married Couple gave me the news that the Cramps were touring to support their new album, A Date With Elvis. They were playing at the Metro in Chicago a few days before my July birthday, and again in August at a well-known underground punk club in Newport, Kentucky called the Jockey Club. The couple were driving to Chicago to see them. I knew there was no way for me to get into the Metro, or for that matter tell a good enough lie to road trip to Chicago and back with the Creeps to see The Cramps. So I waited for what seemed like an eternity for August to roll around, and I planned my trip across the river to the Jockey Club, praying I could get in.

lux interior gold lame
Photo © ITV/Rex Features

This was one of those clubs where they could be lenient about checking your ID, and I had managed to get in once before. No dice this time: the place was packed before I even made it, and they carded me right away. I knew I was going to be stuck outside listening, but was so excited I was actually going to get to hear them live I barely cared! My first show, and it was a killer! Lux was wearing the gold leather jacket and pants that he did that whole tour, and it was hot as fuck inside. The wild crowd was stuffed in like cattle, totally excited and loaded out of their minds; the bar ran out of beer that night, and Lux removed every stitch of his clothing in that sweat soaked, gnarly place. . . and I glimpsed the full throttle insanity through the door, marveling, marveling.

My adolescent mind began delving further into this universe of fetishism, nostalgia, and juvenile delinquents. I started looking high and low for anything I could find about The Cramps, and devoured it all: The Wild, Wild World of The Cramps book; their entry in RE/Search Incredibly Strange Music; the rare glimpses I could catch of them on MTV’s 120 Minutes, Video Jukebox, and Night Flight (where I saw Decline of Western Civilization and Urgh! A Music War).

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4 Responses to “What’s Inside a (Super Fan) Girl?”

  1. king LOUIE:
    March 31st, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    wow…tHATS gREAT …lOOMIS

  2. SlimGil DeLuxe:
    March 31st, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    “…So Happy to know more about “What’s Inside This (Ultra Fan) Bad Girl…?”
    Love For A Beautiful Monster From A Beautiful Monster

  3. Lindsay Hutton:
    April 1st, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Very cool piece Margaret, as were the others too. All the best, L

  4. Chris Matthews:
    April 5th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    The best tribute to the Cramps i have read! This article should be printed in All Music magazines rather than the factualy wrong and uninspired reviews i have so far read in the press.

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