Me and my ole pal Oderus Urungus (aka David Brockie) backstage before the October 6, 2009 GWAR show at the Masquerade Club in Atlanta.
By Michael G. Plumides, Jr.
GWAR and I go way back; all the way to 1990. But I knew of the band before then. A high school friend of mine, Emily Yudell, went to Virginia Commonwealth University, and GWAR was among her favorite Richmond punk acts alongside Death Piggy, Mudd Helmut, and the Alter Natives, so she was the one who actually turned me on to the gory theatrical outfit circa December 1987. Little did I know.
I promoted my first GWAR show at the 4808 Club’s second and most viable incarnation on 7th Street in Uptown Charlotte on March 3, 1990, drawing several hundred people to their parody of torment supporting the release of their punk-metal aural assault Scumdogs of the Universe.
The 4808 was shut down a month later after a L.A. Guns show on Easter Sunday. Due to fire code infractions, I was forced out of that building, a historic old textile warehouse that has now been leveled. But being the stubborn, idiotic, glutton for punishment that I was, I opened a new club on 5th Street three months later in another old warehouse, also now leveled. Paramount had just shot some scenes from Jerry Bruckheimer’s dog shit racing film, Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise, at that location (who incidentally, I met at a college party in Wilmington, NC alongside Emilio Esteves in 1986).
I couldn’t wait to destroy the leftover set and use the building material for the new, and ill-fated, 4808.
I ended up spending somewhere from 45 to 60,000 dollars on the new club. I even put in a wheel chair elevator to satisfy code requirements, and appease the local enforcers. I remember what a struggle it was trying to get the place open. I had to cancel a Social Distortion show because the city wasn’t satisfied with something or another. And as fate would have it, my arch-nemesis, Alcohol Law Enforcement, was in the James K. Polk Building just a block over.
Excerpt from KILL THE MUSIC that appears in the latest issue of BLURT Magazine in an article entitled, “What Price Blood and Guts.”
Around 4:00 P.M., GWAR’s tour bus pulled up on Fifth Street and parked in the vacant lot across from the club. Their truck, sporting a bloody handprint on the side, backed up to the bay area. Out of the truck stepped Liz, GWAR’s tour manager.
Liz looked like a fat little blonde pigeon, with a purple spot of fake blood on her white tennis shirt, resembling the birthmark on Mikhail Gorbachev’s forehead, and yellow stuff like silly string in her hair. She was wearing plaid shorts, and Vans tennis shoes, which made squeaks when she walked across the tile floor.
The GWAR crew was dirty. As they loaded in blood spattered amp crates, and costumes covered in endtrails, it occurred to me that I was in for a long night. My sound crew painstakingly covered all of the equipment with plastic. The stench of the stage props was inescapable as filthy, Bohemian art school weirdos prepared their alchemy.
That night, the club was at capacity. I wanted a big crowd. Be careful what you wish for. The lights came up slowly and the stage was soon covered in mist. GWAR opened the show with “The Salaminizer,” a song that embodies their theatrical ethos. The lyrics went something like:
“Here’s a little something from a god to a slave, who never should have been let out the fucking microwave! We’re on this planet and we’re running amok. I should give a shit, but I don’t give a fuck! Ever since I was a scumdog, I blew a cum-wad. I need a mother-fucking suckadickalickalong!Burning a mall or two, blowing the load I spew. You don’t wanna fuck me? I’ll fuck you.”
On stage, GWAR looked and sounded like they were conjured right out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. Oderus Urungus, the lead singer, aka David Brockie had the most vivid costume, vile yet brilliant. With a demon’s face, spiked shoulder pads, body paint, monster feet and hands, netted stockings, and a big fish like penis hanging from his groin he called “The Cuttlefish of Cthulhu” with a three-testicle scrotum sac suspended between his legs, Oderus’ “Omni-sexual” character was festering and oozing with presence. The other members of GWAR consisted of: “Balsac, The Jaws of Death” with cloven hooves and a metal bear-trap face, on guitar; “Beefcake the Mighty” dressed as an oversize breast-plated Macedonic warrior, on bass; “Jizmak, the Gusher” a Neanderthal, on drums, and “Flattus Maximus,” a primitive Viking on guitar. They were accompanied by their guido, big-haired manager “Sleazy P. Martini” and “Slymenstra Hymen,” the nimble and statuesque female fire breather, as well as numerous slaves who do the band’s dirty work during the performance.
The band banged out some crowd favorites such as their hardcore tune “Americanized,” “The Horror of Yig,” “Vlad the Impaler,” “Sick of You,” and “Slaughterama,” where the band decapitated a “skinhead,” a “hippie,” and an “art fag” during a faux game show.
GWAR also tried out some new material such as “The Morality Squad.” During the song a costumed actor plays “Corporal Punishment,” a parody of Marvel’s “Captain America” and another, “Granbo” representing the geriatric, gun-toting religious right, were both mutilated. Oderus and the other slaves tore out their guts and entrails, and sprayed the excited crowd with fake blood and bodily fluids, much to everyone’s satisfaction. By this time, I was over capacity and absolutely slammed. Between keeping up with crowd control, door money, and bar money, I missed a lot of the show.
At the end of GWAR’s performance, Oderus sprayed the crowd with the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu.
The Urban Dictionary describes the stage prop as “Oderus’ sexual reproductive organ” resembling “a huge slug” with lips, which “spurts when excited.” Spurt it did, sealing my fate. As I counted the door money in my office, the club was raided.
Sometime during the performance, Oderus had sodomized a Catholic priest, and then shoved a giant crucifix in his sphincter. None of it was real, and was all part of GWAR’s twisted, yet comical and debauched spectacle. I didn’t see it. Had I witnessed the event, I probably would have had a stroke, like my dad. But the show was also chocked full of satire and social commentary, no matter how grotesque, not to be taken literally. Try selling that to bunch of redneck cops.
In handcuffs, I lead Sullins back to the dressing room where the band had just finished their encore and were taking off their costumes. The dressing room was steamy, close, and uncomfortable.
Detective Sullins with Alcohol Law Enforcement, spoke with authority, “Which one of ya’ll is the lead singer? Brockie, still in costume from the waist down, said indignantly, as if answering to roll call, “I’m the lead slave!”
“Well son, you’re under arrest for an obscene performance under North Carolina law.”
“Do you mind if I get out of my costume and put some clothes on?”
“Hurry your ass up, boy.”
Brockie bent over to take off his monster feet and the Cuttlefish, aiming his blood crusted bare butt cheeks toward Sullins.
Sullins commented, “I could have gone all night without seeing that.”
Another policeman approached Sullins. “I couldn’t figure out which one of these fellers is the priest, Detective Sullins.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sullins replied. “I got everything I need to shut this place down.”
Sullins pulled up his gun belt like he had just foiled a crime in Mayberry, and sniffed.
“Confiscate that fish, or penis, or whatever the hell it is.”
Brockie interjected, “It’s the ‘Cuttlefish of…”
“Put a plug in it, boy.”
The policeman then asked me, “You got somethin’ we could put this thang in?”
The Cuttlefish of Cthulhu was covered in fake blood and still dripping. Danny brought the cops an old rusted mop pail. The police confiscated the stage prop and carted it, and us out of the 4808.
The cops were all chuckling among themselves, as if they were a bunch of kids who had just peed the pool. Brockie wasn’t surprised. His brand of sarcastic, sadistic mayhem was bound and determined to eventually piss the wrong folks off somewhere in the South. It was only a matter of time before some “Bible-Belt” yokels caught wind of GWAR’s theatrics, and these cops were ready to kick both of our asses up around our shoulder blades (especially after this 2 Live Crew mess).
When Brockie and I were lead out onto the street in handcuffs, the crowd was in an uproar. The scene was chaotic outside the 4808 Club, awash in punk rockers soaked in sweat and fake blood, blued constables brandishing their nightsticks, and of course, the media, ready to report the whole scene as inaccurately as humanly possible. A column of police cars were lined up outside the club blocking Fifth Street. And to add insult to injury, a police helicopter was hovering overhead with a spotlight. The crowd became riotous, chanting anti-fascist slogans, and pushing up against the squad cars, resulting in a few more arrests.
“What am I charged with?” Brockie, a Canadian National posed, nervous about a possible deportation.
Detective J.H. Hurd of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Vice Squad, pulled a small pad out of his back pocket, and read him the charges:
“Violating North Carolina Felony Criminal Statutes, more specifically, you’ve been charged with ‘Disseminating Obscenity,’ by simulating ejaculation with a two-and-a-half- foot latex penis, simulating sodomy, and eating feces, along with other misdemeanors.”
Brockie pondered the charges for a moment, and queried, “You mean you can’t do that in North Carolina?”
It was a night filled with cruel jokes.
Needless to say, the club was shut down and Brockie and I went to jail during the mass hysteria of the PMRC era. I didn’t really know Dave all that well, and the first time we ever had any conversation was in an 8 x 10 holding cell. And what circumvented us from getting to know each other then was the grunting homeless man who had deficated down his pant legs sitting 3 feet away. The Sheriff’s office thought it funny to put Mr. Doo Doo in there with the two of us. Dave and I certainly were in “a world of shit” that night. No question about it.
- “Raunchy Singing Act hits Wrong Note With Police,” was the headline as the news clip below illustrates. Thanks, Charlotte Observer. This town’s still full of assholes.
The incident made MTV Music News, Billboard and Rolling Stone (alongside Dee Dee Ramone’s pot bust). It was the end of the 4808 Club, and GWAR was banned from North Carolina for a year. I left Charlotte and it’s aftermath behind me. But the incident sparked American and European interest in GWAR. The Charlotte arrests were the springboard GWAR needed to get to the next level, later making appearances on Joan Rivers, and Jerry Springer, among other TV and talk shows, and would eventually become favorites of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead.
But, I had not been run completely out of business. I did what every criminal does: I moved to Myrtle Beach. And I started promoting shows again, but this time in 4 states up and down the east coast whilst chasing pretty girls in the sun. In the following years I did Reverend Horton Heat, Widespread Panic, Helmet, Corrosion of Conformity, Colonel Bruce Hampton, White Zombie, Hootie and the Blowfish, L7, Testament, and Agnostic Front to name a few. And I did a number of GWAR shows; one though, in Wilmington, NC, set for New Years Eve 1992 never came to fruition as the Mad Monk burned to the ground before the engagement. Another was in Virginia Beach, where GWAR recorded their follow up to Scumdogs, and the second on Metal Blade entitled, America Must Be Destroyed (where they also shot their hour length video Phallus in Wonderland that got them a Grammy nod). I even promoted a few RAWG shows (that’s GWAR without the costumes).
But I hadn’t spoken to Brockie much over the last few years. After a series of ill-advised relationships, and personal failures spanning almost a decade, I had lost my direction. Starting with my father’s death in 1995, and never living anywhere more than a year or two, I grew this nomadic sense of boredom and malaise (also spending entirely too much time on myspace and browsing europorn). In 2004 I married an Elite Model that was 18 years younger than me. Big mistake. She’s since been deported.
Years in Atlanta had turned up fruitless partially due to my own downward spiral into lethargy and idleness brought on by alcohol and excess. That lifestyle nearly killed me. So I left Atlanta, and made my homecoming back to the Queen City.
After several months back, my dog, Tyberius, was hit by a car. He was the last beautiful thing left in my life, and now he was gone.
By then, I had almost lost all hope. I was riddled with guilt, and felt indefinitely consigned to the tree of woe. Then an idea popped into my head. I thought to myself, “Wait a second. I was part of a glorious time in music. I wasn’t just some moron. I was somebody once. And everybody tells me I’m a good writer. I need to do something I know how to do and stop procrastinating.” It was then I decided I would write about the 4808 Club.
The tale needed to be told the best way I knew how to tell it: raw and real. The 20th anniversary of the clubs’ closing was coming up in 2010 and the era was highly underdocumented. So, I set a schedule for myself. It was the first time in my life I actually had a schedule. And I would dedicate my book to Tyberius. He was my best friend and saw me through the tough times. I owed him that.
When I started writing KILL THE MUSIC, I found Brockie’s email address and let him know I was writing a book and a screenplay. He was receptive. We chatted a little about a warehouse in Richmond that he wanted to buy, and he committed to a film if I could get one made.
I had already written a few short stories about Megadeth, Jane’s Addiction, Danzig, and Soundgarden so I weaved those together and expanded them a little. I wrote all the chapters, edited the existing ones, shot the cover art, and had the first pressing printed in less than three months, with the help of my girlfriend and editor Anne Saunders.
Dave and I stayed in touch over the course of the earlier script writing phase. But when I began working on the screenplay, I was also attaching as many folks as I could to raise interest. Dave didn’t like it when I mentioned the prospect of John Rocker, the infamous Atlanta Braves baseball player, appearing in the film as a character based on Ric Flair. Rocker had made some comments about New Yorkers that were a bit on the Nazi side, so much that Rudolph Juliani said the Braves’ “Closer” needed psychiatric help.
Brockie said of Rocker, “I don’t want anything to do with your film if that racist asshole is gonna be in it. That guy is a fucking pig.”
My response was, “ Rocker’s not that much of a racist. Matter of fact he’s dating a black chick that writes for the New York Times (go figger). Rocker’s actually a pretty good guy once you get to know him. And besides, Dave, you’re in the most offensive rock band in the universe, and write songs like ‘Hard for a Tard’ and ‘Chinese Don’t Eat Cheese’… ‘Rock n Roll Never Felt So Good’ is about having sex with a girl with no arms or legs! The lyrics say you’re gonna ‘Fuck her asshole with a piece of frozen shit.’ You need to lighten up.”
Then there was some tussling over the use of a GWAR photo. He gave me the run around, and I got mad, then Dave slipped into Oderus mode, “I’ve read everything you’ve sent me and it all sucks! Maybe you should consider taking some writing courses at a your local fucking community college.” I told him that he’s a bipolar asshole. Then we didn’t speak for a while, even after the book came out.
But we reunited under the guidance of my long time friend, Greg Green, GM at the Masquerade in Atlanta. After reading KILL THE MUSIC, Greg called me and told me how much he enjoyed the book and asked if he could do anything. I suggested maybe we could do a book signing.
Greg replied, “Consider it done. I’ve got GWAR here in October. We’ll do it then.”
How could I refuse.
On October 6, 2009, You could smell the love in the air at the Masquerade. Right before the show, I went backstage with Greg. Brockie and the others were about to go on, still suiting up. Brockie agreed to take the picture. In full costume, Dave muttered through the mask, “Hey Mike. Hey everybody you remember Mike.”
It was my first photo op since the release of my book, Kill The Music, with my ex-jailhouse roomie. Brockie and his band are now celebrating their 25th Anniversary, and the release of Lust In Space on Metal Blade Records, which debuted at #94 on Billboard in August. GWAR is spawning not only loads of bodily fluids but also sponsorships from the likes of Jagermeister, and drew 1000-plus screaming, blood-soaked fans to the Masquerade.
Oderus is on Fox Red Eye (how fucking ironic is that?), and I’m writing books and movies, so things have turned okay for us.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, I went to see GWAR for the 20th time at Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte. How could I resist? After all, I’ve had a symbiotic relationship with the band for years. Dave even asked me to help him with his book, which was flattering. He said, “You did it. It’s not like you don’t know how to do it,” so I may take him up on that prospect. So, look for “GWAR, Me and the Onrushing Grip of Death” out next year in paperback.
KILL THE MUSIC is now ranked on the Amazon Kindle Store at #15 in the Punk and #17 in the Metal Category. And the pieces of the puzzle come together a little more every day for a KILL THE MUSIC film possibly in the works by 2010.
And coming this summer, GWAR will be playing at Bonnaroo to spew filthy loads on some rich hippies.
It seems that GWAR has “been in my life for so long, I don’t know anything else,” as Ellen Ripley once said of the Alien. I am tethered to GWAR, to the point I feel like a growth on the Cuddlefish of Cthulhu’s testicle.
A whole new generation of fans enjoy a filthy load or ten from GWAR.
Michael G. Plumides, Jr. is the author of the critically acclaimed indie book, entitled, KILL THE MUSIC, available on www.amazon.com. For more information, click the link below:
KILL THE MUSIC Fan Page: