JUST ENOUGH STUFF: THE SAGA OF MARGARET DOLL ROD II
As told to Jimmy McDonough
Reading time 77 Minutes
There was no plan to have the Doll Rods be just two guitars and drums. Thinking is completely overrated, so I never thought about it. I only knew how to play the little guitar I knew and hadn’t played in years. At that point in my life, if I was gonna have fun, I didn’t wanna have to learn a whole lot. And Dan was already playing guitar. For Christine just having two drums was better ‘cause she couldn’t see. Later on, as I learned to play, I wondered why people had a bass. You already had those strings on guitars--you can play a base line and easily get those sounds out of a regular guitar. I never really got that. I was never against it…
I’m always making songs, I’ve always been like that. “You should write for Hallmark,” my Mom would say. Songs came to me like the same way they still do--I’m singing to my cat or I’m singing to my dog about the little stuff in my day. Most of the songs are for a friend or for a dog or for a plant. Or something simple in my life. We’d roller skate around the neighborhood. I’d starting singing, Christine would join in and add some words.
I don’t really believe that I’m a songwriter. The songs just come, I don’t feel like I even write them. You know how an amplifier will pick up a radio station? I’m like that. Or maybe it’s coming from a higher power. If you spend a lotta time with Christine, you learn that you have more than one sense. Being legally blind, Christine is forced to use more than one. If you don’t, they get weak. When you spend time with people that do use them, yours get stronger.
To be certified for sharing, a song has gotta go through certain checkpoints inside my soul. There’s the gut and there’s the guttural. Adrenaline’s in there, too. There’s these basic instincts we have and my music is from there. It’s very primitive and very raw.
A song usually starts coming out all once. I just have to grab pen and paper and write it down. If I do any changing, it’s just a few words—“I don’t know, this word is more fun.” Mostly I just keep it like it is. Sometimes out on the road, I’d say, “Pull over the van, I got a song coming!” I’d get pen and paper and start writing. Or scribble it on toilet paper in the bathroom of the club. Now, “Married for the Weekend,” definitely all three of us worked on that, I remember that very clearly.
On the albums I credited the songwriting to all of us. Maybe the song comes through me, but whoever I’m spending time with, I feel them. Even if they didn’t contribute all the words, they were there. I loved the Doll Rods so much that I felt that we were all equals. I didn’t really wanna say “I wrote this and I wrote that.”
When it came time to do a song with the band I would just say, “This is how it sounds in my head” and hum it to Danny and Christine. They would come up with their own parts, and it would come out how we all played it. As far as music goes, no one instructed Christine or me about anything. Danny would tell me the chords. He was very patient and nice--“You can do it! It’s only these little chords. You can do this!” Dan was very encouraging, very nice when it came to learning guitar stuff. That was something he loved doing, sharing that kind of thing.
We’d go and play in the basement. I’ve heard it said that I made Dan practice. I just liked playing. I thought it was fun for them, too, but I heard differently over time. I don’t really care, the basement was a very magical place. So magical that if you have your amp on, it will pick up a radio station that only plays gospel. And it would play until we started playing.
The Doll Rods were a special family for me. This was a very sweet and wonderful time. I know Danny and Christine were very happy to go on their own in the end, but they were very, very important to me, and I loved being with them every day. There was a point where I started getting up sing-songy just because I loved being around them so much.
How was the vibe in the Doll Rods different to, say, the Gories? It was like, “Yay, anything goes! Do whatever you want to! Our parents are not here, here’s your big chance to do what you wanna do.”
After putting out five incredibly crude singles, the Demolition Doll Rods recorded their first album Tasty in 1997 for In the Red Records.
I love recording, I think it’s really fun. Your first record is really special. I was like, “Everybody should have this!” We recorded half of Tasty here in Ferndale at Studio 54 and then in New York at Funhouse. For the Ferndale recording I wore a swirly 1950s blue one-piece bathing suit with giant shoes and big hair on top of my head. Steve King, the engineer, was a genius. He’s so important to that record. There was a real magic to how he listened to us. You could tell him, “I want it to sound like thunder” or “I want it to sound like a girl with a large rear end just walked in the room.” “I want rain, thunder, lightning, alien space guns!” That was how we communicated. Going out to New York was amazing, working with Jon Spencer and Gerry Teal at Funhouse. Mick Collins produced half that first record, too. We were really fortunate at that time of our lives. Larry Hardy at In the Red really believed in us. I think he worked as a grocery bagger to pay for that album.
I don’t think I had any real philosophy about recording. I know I didn’t wanna do the song over and over a hundred times—“It’s beautiful, just leave it like that.” I also didn’t wanna do guitar solos over five hundred times. Dan liked re-doing his leads over and over and over. I was like, “Come on, man, just fuckin’ do it!” No noodling on the guitar, that was a big rule. Sometimes Danny would come to practice going through different phases. An Eric Clapton phase. No Eric Clapton crap going on at band practice! You can do it at home, but none of that here. I’m sure Eric Clapton is amazing, but it wasn’t my deal. By the second record we were adding more stuff. All those background vocals are Dan. He was the choir.
The first album is stuff about ourselves. “Queen Bee Drag Racin’” was written by Dan Dollrod, one of the few that he wrote by himself. 100% Dan. And “If You Can’t Hang,” I give him all the credit for that. “Motor City Dragway” is about keeping your engine clean and staying on track--convincing myself I could go without drinking and doing drugs, a positive message. “Raw”--I like things in their most primitive state, so “Raw” was our anthem for that. “Come Out of the Rain” was for Dan and Mick when they were in the Gories. As I mentioned, touring with the Gories was not very fun and at the time Dan and Mick seemed like thunder and lightning. They were always so sad. I remember Mick crying. That song was my way of singing to them. My Dad taught us that when things are hurtful and not nice you just walk out the door and come out of it. So I was asking them to come out of the rain. “Do Walka—Walka” was inspired by a fight. At that time in my life, if I got upset, I was gonna get up and…walk. I don’t think we fought in the studio. You have to behave a certain amount with someone else there. There was definitely tension, we were famous for that! Silence, sitting on the couch, no talking. Sometimes my behavior doesn’t seem like a fight to me, but for someone else it was a horrible, miserable one--and I was just talking!
Our version of “Spoonful”…people would complain, “But the song goes like this.” “Not anymore,” I’d say. When you do a cover, you don’t do the song exactly like the person that already did it! To me that’s mocking them. I thought, “We will do covers in a way that’s totally different so these people know they inspired us.” Sometimes songs need to be slowed down, stripped down and done with more feeling. A little down and dirty gyrating, that’s how I feel. I like to do ‘em slow. Slow because I was slow. At that time I was a learner, re-learning guitar 100%. See, I liked that Gypsy Rose Lee style of show-biz stuff. You should have some room for hip-thrusting, you should have room to take your glove off.
“Hot Child In The City” was another cover we did. For sure that song was written for me before I was born. We recorded “Love Bug” by the Supremes. I love that song. “The love bug just bit me.” You have been fuckin’ bit, man. “Big Rock Candy Mountain” was a song from when I was a kid. I always wanted to do candy songs, I love the candy songs! I wanted to do “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr. I LOVE Sammy! Are you frickin’ kidding?!? The way he would hold his hands, his little legs, that hair. I thought he was HOT. A little package of everything.
The cover of Tasty, where we’re all riding the hot dog and Mick from the Gories is eating us? That’s Christine’s idea—“Cool we’re all riding a hot dog, but why don’t we ride it into Mick’s mouth? He is workin’ on the record.” Joe Sopkowicz was the Doll Rods’ photographer. I had a big crush on Joe, he worked at the morgue. He would try all of our ideas, do anything to help. This is when you had to cut the pictures and put them together, not just do it in a computer. We did all that together, it was really fun.
Joe did the picture of us in our kitty outfits in the kitty litter box for one of our singles. There was this amazing park close to Danny’s house where Danny had grown up, it was a dangerous area at the time and it was considered a gay area. I was like, “Oooh! It’s dangerous and gay? Let’s go! They have GAY DANGER.” Wherever people said, “Don’t go there” we would go. We would pile into my big, giant car…I think it was the white Oldsmobile 98 with the 455 rocket. And get in the sandbox! That was kind of a thing with us. I’d wake up listening to Dan talk to our roadie about how they could go poop outside and just cover it up like a kitten in a sandbox. I can’t imagine that we’d be able to have those conversations in other bands.
Oooh, all dressed in gold
givin’ things, some bought, some sold
Ooooh, you go so fast
Givin’ all young boys, givin’ them that quick whiplash
You know they want it
I watch ’em beg
Oh yeah, they drool, must want it bad
Oooh, ahhh, must want it bad
Now what about
Those men with the fat bald heads
Givin’ all, givin’ all that they can
Just maverick girl
Oooh, ahhh, she gives it, too
Do only, only what she can do
You know they want it
I watch ’em beg
Oh, yea they sweat must want it bad
Oooh, ahhh, must want it bad
--MAVERICK GIRL, Demolition Doll Rods
The song “Maverick Girl” is what things look like from the stage when you’re a stripper. I started when I was 18 or 19. I was still living with Dan and his roommate suggested that I try. There was an ad in the paper so I called. The audition was in Canada, and Canada is totally naked. My first strip song was the Cramps, “Ultra Twist.” I was doing the twist where your arms go around in a circle like a go-go girl…my idea of stripping wasn’t their idea of stripping.
I couldn’t work there. I was getting way, way too drunk. I started on the Detroit side and there was a little bar called The Booby Trap, and when I was there it was a very clean place. Then I worked outside Detroit in a mom-and-pop place that was very burlesquey, they couldn’t touch you and you couldn’t touch them. You’d wear a nice outfit and talk a lot and listen a lot and do one or two dances. It was pretty old-timey and I liked that.
I worked in the strip clubs to pay for things---pay off school, my house, pay for the Doll Rods. However long we were gone on the road, we had bills to pay. If we’re playing music together, you’re my family. I’ve never been a good cook, but I’d still buy food and make something for everybody. Or I’d bring food from my work so that everybody was taken care of. They weren’t making what I was making as a stripper, so I felt fortunate that I could do that, without saying anything or having anyone worry about money.
I was a day-shift person, which was very tranquil. You realize that people need someone to talk to, someone to listen, someone they think is pretty. And live out their little fantasy for a half-hour. Someone who is gonna be nice, and say nice things to them. That’s what it meant to me--giving people loving attention.
I told myself very seriously, “The first moment that stripping is no longer fun, we are no longer doing it.” After doing the Doll Rods a while I just got tired. I thought, “I’m not giving the audience what they deserve.” I saw dancers that were just going around with that attitude of “Gimme your money!” I’m a very sensitive person. If I couldn’t be a decent stripper, then I wasn’t gonna do it. It was starting to get not old-timey. My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
You Look Real Good
YOU LOOK REAL GOOD IN YOUR BIRTHDAY SUIT
The nakedness happened right after the first Doll Rods show. There wasn’t ever a plan. It just happened. The first few shows, it was, “I dunno, everybody wear what they wanna wear.” We had costumes--regular clothes never happened in the Doll Rods. Then I started feeling like we should wear uniforms. I remembered that in parochial school, you had to wear a uniform so that no one was paying attention to what you wore. I thought, “In the Doll Rods we’ll just wear all the same things, and then no one will pay attention to what anyone else is wearing.”
We’d wear costumes we found for children, which were too small and riding up every which way--those were uncomfortable. Then we just started taping whatever we liked to our bodies. “Why don’t we start taping little disposable things on, then we can take them off.” It just got easier and easier: “This is who we are and this is what we like.” Isn’t that what life should be? Who you are and what you like? Your body is a frame, an opportunity to express what you like. If you like an over-sized flannel shirt, great. But I like Hot Wheels.
One time it was, “Let’s be our favorite snack foods!” This was before we were playing all the time, we had time to construct our outfits. I think Christine wore Hostess Snowballs—domes with pink sprinkles she shellacked. I had made a costume out of milk cartons and a graham cracker box. I think Dan wore bananas.
There were the toilet-plunger bikinis with black rubber gloves. Or the outfit with hubcap bottoms and spark plug caps for our head. Those were really beautiful. We made matching bikinis out of vinyl records. Pulling the tape off your boobs was getting awful…we let go of that. One show I decided I was gonna wear chicken wire--that was painful.
One of us would think of something as we rode in the van—“Today we’re gonna wear White Castle tiaras.” “Really, how?” “There’s an empty bag of White Castle boxes there, we just have to pick them up, put strings through them and wear them on our heads!” Or people would bring us stuff—“You guys, I found these Foxy Lettuce boxes in the trash, you can wear those.” “Yeah! We can definitely wear that.” In Philadelphia it was, “Oh, we should definitely wear Philadelphia cheesesteak!” Immediately it rolled underneath our boobs, stuck in the saran wrap covering our bodies, absorbing every drop of sweat—Philadelphia cheese sponges. On our first European tour we ended up playing in Rome and we were like, “Yeah, we should wear stickers of the pope on our boobs.” Christine and Danny were like, “I don’t know…do you think we should?” I’m like, “Definitely, we’re here in Rome, it’s the Pope’s capital. We have to wear stickers of the Pope on our boobs.” We’re playing, and people are screaming, “Il Poppa! IL POPPA!” We were like, “Who’s Pappa? Who’s your Daddy?” Christine’s outfits were always getting stolen. Nobody was ever stealing my stuff or Dan’s stuff, they always wanted Christine’s. She had a little special somethin’ that we didn’t have.
Then we found Tom the leather man, this Detroit guy who made outfits for Bootsy Collins and other P-Funk people. We’d tell him our dream outfits and he’d do it. Very precise about it, an amazing guy. We asked him, “Can you teach us how to make stuff? We’re not crafty!” Danny was into this super, ultra feather thing. I was hand gluing and stitching bird pelts together. I was terrified of the sewing machine so I’d do it all by hand. “This is for your birthday!”
This, for me, was all part of the miracle of the Demolition Doll Rods. I’ll be forever grateful to Danny and Christine for doing that with me, ‘cause it allowed me to confront a zillion fears. Going on stage with no clothes on…I think a big part of me was trying to make the past okay. That being stripped of all your clothes is okay, ‘cause of what happened to me. As a child I remember being on the floor of a room with nothing on, stripped naked and someone throwing a cloth at me saying, “Clean yourself off.”
I felt that there had to be other people in the universe that had experienced the same things that I felt and I wanted them to know that to be naked was okay. That whatever anybody did to you, you’re still okay. That beauty is something they can’t take away.
This was a big part of finding my way. When something like that happens to you as a kid, you get trapped inside of yourself and you feel like you can’t come out. You can’t get out of your own skull, and you feel like you’re moving through life with these weird feelings that only happen inside of you. Automatically you feel something is wrong, then all that crazy guilt and weird stuff is brewing inside you. You only safe on the inside, you can never come out. There are very few people you feel safe around. Fortunately I found them.
Performing with next to nothing on was a big way to say, “It’s my body. I’m the one doing this now. And when I sing, I’m offering this up to my God. This is my sacred spot, my holy place, what I’m offering up. And you can’t touch me.”
TAKE IT OFF
TAKE IT OFF
My parents came to our first record release party. I think it was a lot for them--their daughters were onstage wearing almost nothing. Dad never said anything ever about anything I did. He liked the Doll Rods’ country songs. After he passed away, people told me that he’d play our songs that were sounding a little more country and get excited—“I think she’s a country singer!” That was probably his dream. The naked stuff was a little hard for Dad.
My Mom came to one of our first shows and told our friends listening to our music was like doing drugs but without having to do the drugs. I thought that was pretty cool of her to say. That’s how music should be--it should be able to transport you to a place without having to take any extras. You shouldn’t have to pay more to get where you wanna go.
People in their fantasies (and in our fantasies sometimes) thought we were this super wild, sexual band but we weren’t. We were so clean-cut, we just ate grass and drank smoothies. Even our pugs ate smoothies. We were living off air and positive thinking. We were not sexual in any way. In fact, we were the most unsexual things that ever existed. The band never had sex…and if anybody did, I don’t know how or where they had it, because we were always together in the van and it was never happening! I know the three of us at different times really wished that we were having it somewhere, with someone, but we weren’t!
What do I find sexy? My dog and all the little creatures outside. Dragonflies when they’re holding their tails together. I have a video on my phone of two ladybugs just hammerin’ it. These are the fucked up things that I find to be very sexy. Bugs. Bugs doing it.
I had a very sexual moment a couple weeks ago when I found myself in the middle of a poppy field. And I sat on a rock in the middle of this gigantic poppy field, the wind would blow lightly and the poppies would shimmy. And then they would stop. And then they would shimmy again. I found myself talking with them--saying, “Come on! Shimmy, shimmy, little poppies. Dance!” And then they would start dancing and I was like, “Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.” Other people go crazy over shoes or a sexy outfit. I’m like, “Wait until you see some poppies shimmying! A thousand of them all at once!”
People thought us Doll Rods were so full of ourselves, but we were really shy and didn’t know how to communicate well with others. When I get nervous or excited I’m an explosion of Tourette’s. To this day. And what guy has the courage to come up to me or Christine and give that a try? “Wow, they’re so wild…” After you know me a while, I’m actually pretty lame. I’m not so wild.
When we started doing the Doll Rods gay people and cross-dressers were still getting the crap beat out of them. I remember being really worried for Dan, going out to the middle of the audience gyrating and doing crazy stuff. Sometimes people weren’t nice. We didn’t know what would happen.
One time a kid did come at me and smashed the mic into my mouth. It chipped my tooth, but I flashed my crotch at him and that was enough for him to go, “Whoa!” Sometimes body parts are miniature swords. “You gonna get close, watch me, buddy!”
Another time a kid came onstage and Christine and I were wearing can-can leg cut-outs over our boobs along with these blue, fluffy fake-fur tutu things. This kid came and snatched the can-can leg right off my boob. I stopped the show and everyone was like “Oh, my God.” I marched out there, grabbed it, gave him a little bitch slap and walked back on stage. Everyone thought we were done, but I just needed to re-tape my girly legs back on my boob. Then we played like nothing happened. Another kid found pleasure in dumping beer on me while we were playing. Danny was ready to come to my defense and get physical. I was like, “Oh, come on! He has to work a regular job, he’s frustrated and fed up…it’s all right! The worst I’ll have to do is clean my guitar. And my hair’s gonna be shiny tomorrow!”
People that play with me start to realize how much I really care. I don’t expect anything in return, but if they don’t give it, it doesn’t mean I’m not. I’m a hard person to deal with, ‘cause when I do a show I believe it should be something special. Bring the fun. I’m not gonna hold back or change my outfit or knock things down a few notches so it’s safe for everybody. When Danny would go out into the audience, I started going to his amp ‘cause his cord would get unplugged so I’d go there to put it back in. While I was there I’d notice his effects pedals—I’d think, “Ooh, why don’t we add a little of this? Or that?” And I’d work the pedal while he played. So it was really like we were playing together.
Danny has this amazing guitar sound. We went to guitar shows and he’d wander off. Everyone would be doing their best blues riffs and then I would hear Dan--“Oh, there you are!” I could find Dan at any moment, just by listening to him play. He has his own sound. And I think that’s why I loved Dan, that sound was magic. He had a style that was a little nitty-gritty, especially when he first started. My dad was a very big fan of Dan’s guitar playing. He would tell Dan, “You really know how to pick that guitar!”
For a long time Dan was the lead player. Then one day we were in France at this giant festival with Public Enemy. I thought, “No one is coming to see us play…they’re all going to see them.” But the crowd for us was huge and they were freaking out. We were playing “Open Up Your Door” and I don’t know what came over me. I got super excited, ran out to one of these pillars onstage and suddenly I was playing leads like crazy. It just came over me!!! I think Dan was pretty floored. I don’t know how he took it. Hmmm--excited, or not? I’m not sure.
My guitar is something I love. I’m not looking to sell or trade it. Some people like putting theirs in a case to show their friends, put pictures online. There’s nothing original on my guitar. It’s purple, I think it’s car paint that we sprayed on it. They warned me, “If you put that one your guitar, it’s never coming off.” I was like, “Great!” My show and tell is different, I guess. I’m not a collector, I’m a lover! Some guitars when you get them, they’re like a wild horse. “Oh yeah, come on now, we gotta get that sound! We gotta get this together.” I talk to my guitar. “Here we go! We’re having a good time now, aren’t we, honey?! I LOOOOOOOOOVE you!”
The white Doll Rods van was the biggest love of my life. I fall in love with vehicles. I cried when my parents sold our first station wagon and, believe me, I cried when I had to sell the Doll Rods van. I spent most of my time in the loft my Dad and Danny made out of scrap wood that they found. And we took our pugs on the road, Max and Maybelline (and later Benny). The van made me feel okay. When times got hard at home in Detroit, I’d go to sleep in the van.
Sometimes the Doll Rods played to big crowds and sometimes we played for nobody. I remember our very first tour, I think we were in Philadelphia. We were wearing matching tap-dancing outfits and absolutely no one was there. There were some tables in the back filled with people wearing tie-dyed dancing bear shirts and bandanas. This one kid came and stood up in the stage area. He didn’t look like them, so it was obvious he had come for us. We did our little show. Danny and Christine were like, “Do we have to?” I was like “Yes. He came for us.”
Another time we played at a big Indian casino and there was nobody there. These kids came, maybe four of them. They’d driven hours to see us. I told them, “Well, we gonna put on the best show that we know how.” In the back there were maybe seven Native American people, looking at us like What The Fuck. Those four kids were so into us that we were doing all our tricks, kicks and spins, writhing, humping, pulling all the stops out because they had come so far to see us.
After the show, the Native Americans came up to us and they told us that was the most amazing thing they ever saw. They played their Indian instruments for us in the parking lot and gave us sweetgrass and invited us to a party at their place in the woods. I was like, “No way, man! We’re gonna end up at some weird cocaine festival and they’re gonna end up boiling us.” I told Danny and Christine, “Take your sweetgrass, your sweet memories and get your sweet ass in the van.”
The garage rock people
THE GARAGE ROCK PEOPLE
Singing in public was just horrible. I just never thought my voice was very beautiful. You have to get it over two giant guitar amps and drums, and nine-tenths of the time the sound guys never knew who we were. They had no clue how to do our sounds. It wasn’t like, “Oh yeah, they’re like the Rolling Stones or Nirvana.” Our sound wasn’t like anyone else. We would do an a cappella song and it sounded cool, but it was rare to find the right sound when we were playing live. So I would just yell. I was used to being ignored at sound check--“The girl’s not supposed to sing, she doesn’t need any of this, she’s just stupid.” Dan was everything, for everybody. To this day, people think he wrote the songs. And he certainly wrote a few. But people were sure the Doll Rods was all Dan. That was okay, because my idea for this whole band was for Dan.
You always hope that people have a more open mind. That it’s possible to rock without having an external wiener. I would sometimes go for walks with Dan with my giant wig and I’d wear a fuchsia pink unitard and stick a giant fake wiener in my pants. This was in Ferndale, before things were acceptable. “People were like, “Yeah! That gay man is paving the way!” There was this great place called Gigi’s, where they had cross-dresser shows. Girls were allowed, so I dressed up. I had my blue wig and fake wiener, and this man asked me to dance, pulling me really close to him. He started rubbing on me and I told him, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I have exactly what you’re looking for.”
I’ve seen where people say the Doll Rods were all boobs and ass with Danny wearing a dress in the middle--“It wasn’t about the music, it was about what they were wearing.” You mean a skinny young man wearing a bikini plus the two Gomoll sisters--the one who can’t see and the one with one boob bigger than the other, and who’s wearing a plastic dog crap bra with a newspaper strapped to her ass saying “Naughty Little Doggie”?!? After three songs you didn’t notice anything the Doll Rods were or were not wearing. Oh, sorry you never got it, is all I can say. I can’t expect everybody to get it.
I don’t think the Doll Rods were what the garage scene was looking for. A lot of garage rock people, they are very true to the sound of yesterday. They want to do it exactly like it is on the record, no changes. So I’d try to play with them, they’d start a song and say, “You’re off the count, Margaret.” Are you gonna tell James Brown how to count, or go with the flow? I’m sorry, but I don’t wanna wear just white boots with a little heel. There’s so much out there in the world. I love so many of those garage records, but Parliament-Funkadelic wasn’t on the garage rock scene, and I’m not gonna deny that I love them. Or Little Richard. I don’t know how to break it to anybody, but Little Richard didn’t wear go-go boots while riding a scooter.
Why persecute me because I’m a little bit wilder or I come from a different place, Rockwood? It’s a little nitty-grittier, forgive me for being a little bit down-home.
I think what they really wanted was to bring Dan down. I don’t blame him for needing the acceptance of the garage rock community. It’s hard to have people judging and shooting arrows at you all the time for not wearing straight-leg, two-inches-short hip huggers and go-go boots. Once I wore a bikini to one of their garage rock hangouts--and not because it was so sexy, as the bottom was all puffy—and the whole world came tumbling down, it was scandal everywhere! Twenty years from now I’ll be able to go to that same local corner bar in Detroit and they’ll all be there. And I’ll be thankful that no matter where I go in the world, I can come back and the same sixties garage rock people will still be there playing the same exact songs in the same exact outfits! Chances are I’ll show up in a bikini. When I’m 70.
I remember when the Doll Rods played with Richard and the Young Lions. They were thrilled with what we had done to their song “Open Up your Door.” And the Monks freaked out over us--they didn’t care that we were clothed or not clothed. I think it’s pretty insulting to the people in those bands to pretend that they just liked us ‘cause Dan was in a bikini! You’re gonna say that’s why all these musicians like us? They liked us because we were good. And because we had a sound. And we were different than every fucking thing everybody had been listening to.
You’re my best friend, Pt. Two
YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND, PT. TWO
Everyone thought I had Dan on a chain, but I didn’t. I heard it said that I destroyed Dan’s first band, then made him do this Doll Rods stuff. You gotta be kidding me! Is he that spineless of a guy? It’s insulting to Dan. And I take it as pure flattery. You think I have that kind of power? I can make someone play, or dress a certain way, and keep him from playing with someone else? Maybe I was just there, doing my best to make fun and good times happen.
There were times that girlfriends of his would bitch to me about stuff--“He’s making out with this guy!” For years, if the relationship went sour, it was because of me! I’ve been to Dan’s apartment a total of like, three times in my life. I didn’t have any control over what Dan would do.
There was a video some band wanted Dan to be in dressed in his girl clothes. He came to me and said, “I don’t want to do the video” so I’m like, “Then don’t do the video.” So then the video people were telling me Dan was saying I was the one who said he couldn’t do it. Finally I was pissed off. I’m like, “You’re gonna do that mutherfuckin’ video if I gotta kick you out there with my feet. I made him a care package—“You’re supposed to be a cross dresser in that video, so here’s some socks for your bra, some go-go boots, You’re going out to the desert and makin’ fuckin’ video. I don’t wanna be your scapegoat!”
Dan always made it like I was controlling. I’m not controlling, I just wanna know what’s happening. One big no–no was drinking while driving. Because there were only two of us that could drive the van, Dan took it like he was never allowed to drink. But it was, “I’m not allowed to drink, Dan, because I’m an alcoholic. You do what you want to in your free time, but you can’t drive our van when you’re drunk.” One night he was driving too fast—“I wanna keep up with the truckers!” The next thing I know we’re spinning around three times before we did the Bed Knobs and Broomsticks thing, went flying off a bridge and landed in a ditch.
Now, earlier that day I had bought a giant fifties Jayne Mansfield wig and when the car flew forward, so did I, and the wig went in the dash. I heard Christine crying and I was like, “What’s wrong??” She cried, “Your head is stuck in the dash!” I said, “No, that’s just my wig.”
Just before this, Christine was hating me--and after, she was loving me. That’s what touring was. A constant roller coaster of emotions that just kept going and going and going. Sometimes we’d get along and have a very, very fun time. Other times we’d be slamming the door and have to pull the van over. But the love was always there.
When I was pissed off at Danny, I could sling a guitar at his ankles and scream, “Dance, mutherfucker!” But then as he went out in the audience, if someone was messing with him or his cord came undone, I had to save him. He knew no one would mess with him. We loved each other the best we could.
Pass the biscuits, please
PASS THE BISCUITS, PLEASE
Born in 1936, Andre “Mr. Rhythm” Williams recorded a classic string of lewd, crude and rhythmically compelling singles in the fifties for the no-budget Detroit label Fortune Records (he also co-authored the R&B standard “Shake a Tail Feather”). After languishing in obscurity Williams started working with younger bands and putting out new solo records in the mid-nineties, the undeniable masterpiece of these being 1998’s Silky, recorded with members of the Doll Rods and the Gories.
Tony Fusco turned us on to Andre Williams. He worked at Fortune Records and was constantly spoon-feeding us these cassette tapes. He had the most amazing record collection that ever existed in the universe. We loved Fortune Records and even made a live video where the original building used to be. One of our very first concerts was a benefit to make money for a tombstone for Nolan Strong of the Diablos. Nolan Strong and Nathaniel Mayer were the really beautiful singers at Fortune Records. Andre Williams was… “Pass the Biscuits!”
I really got into the music of Andre Williams. When I end up loving something a lot, I gravitate to it with a velocity that sometimes bucks me right off my feet to another dimension. I remember listening to that tape constantly in the van. And loving it so much. Then this kid called and said, “I heard you like Andre Williams. Do you wanna open for him in Hoboken?” We were like, “Yes, we are on our way!” We were losing our minds, we were so excited. We went and bought chicken and biscuits and little Mexican hats. We were gonna wear his songs—“Okay, I’m gonna be the chicken, you be the biscuits and you be Tijuana.” Maybe Dan was the biscuits and I was the chicken. I can’t remember which food each one of us wore.
We talked on the phone and I found out Andre lived in Chicago. I said, “I can come there and we’ll go on a date.” I got on a train, and next thing you know Andre and I were walking around Chicago in the cold forever. He kept telling me he was taking me to dinner and the movies—“Andre, where is this movie theatre?” He says, “You know what, I’m hungry. Let’s skip the movies and get something to eat.” “Okay, where do you want to take me?” “Let’s go to this Chinese place right here.” I would’ve gone anywhere, I was so frozen. We go to the Chinese place, and that’s when he asked me for money. For dinner.
Andre thought we were a crazy, psychedelic freak-out band. He was backstage telling us how rich he was, and picked us up the next day in his limo. I was all excited and giving him my phone number—“This is awesome, I’m gonna date Andre Williams!” I thought he was hot to trot, beautiful, amazing. Oh, yeah. My girlfriend Whitney was like, “You are not going to date him. I felt his suit. There is no limo, and he’s not rich, he’s poor!” I said, “Okay, whatever, we’re gonna give this a whirl anyway.”
We went to his house. Then Andre says, “Let’s watch some TV.” And the TV was very similar to the one in my parent’s living room, the one that never worked. The volume lever didn’t have a button and he had to stick a rattail comb in there to lift the lever. Just your regular channels--no cable like the rest of the world. And Andre goes, “Let’s watch my favorite show: Saved By the Bell.”
And then I found out the house he was living in was just a friend’s house. I started feeling bad for him. This man who did all these cool things didn’t have money anymore. At one time he was probably a big deal--and now he’s not. I thought, “That’s not so great, that sucks for him.” There was something about Andre I really liked.
Now, in between Chinese food and watching Saved by the Bell, Andre had been showing me all of his song lyrics, telling me what he was writing, his ideas…the band I saw him in in Hoboken was more of a doo-wop band, it wasn’t the “Please Pass the Biscuits” stuff. I told Andre, “Why don’t you try something like what you did on Fortune? That stuff was really cool. I think I could probably get some people together to work with you, waddya think?” He was excited.
I got on the phone with Larry at In the Red Records and said, “I’ve seen all Andre’s lyrics, I can put together a band, I think we could do something cool!” And then I had Andre come to Detroit. And they recorded Silky with Dan and Mick backing him. That’s when things got crazy.
When Andre left that guy’s house he was staying with, he was a totally different person. As soon as he got out of that environment he started drinkin’. I don’t even know where Andre was getting the liquor from, ‘cause by that point I didn’t drink anymore.
Now, I think Dan had moved out, or was in the process, but he was always around. Andre was like, “Who is this guy...who is he to her?” There was some jealousy there.
And I’d come home from working at the strip club and Andre was like, “How much money you got for me??” I was like, “I don’t have any money for you.” “You worked all day, you musta brought me home something!” I was happy to buy him chicken, I would buy alotta chicken…but this person started coming out that wasn’t nice.
I told Dan, “I don’t feel comfortable staying here alone with him here. I wanna get this project going and carry it through, but I don’t think this is boyfriend material. You have to sleep on the floor in the living room.” So Dan had to camp out.
I got Andre not only a record deal but shows, too. He was going to our record release party and he hadn’t played here for years, so it was gonna be a big deal. And Andre had these false teeth that never stayed in his mouth—they were like the wind-up joke-shop teeth, and they were always coming at you. I told him, “You have to get something that’s gonna hold your teeth in your mouth. You can’t keep talking to people with your teeth half in and half out. Let’s go get some Polident.”
So we were in line at the drugstore, and he looked over at the condoms for sale and started making all these loud jokes. If anybody else had been there they would’ve just died of embarrassment, but I thought they were hilarious. I was like, “This is the person I totally love. This is the person that is not wasted.” Yes, with dentures, but so cool and so fun. He knows how to treat someone like a lady. If I didn’t have to pay for denture cream, it would’ve been a really great time!
Sure, Andre was over thirty years older than I was. I didn’t care. For me age, race, anything like that--has never mattered…I go straight for the soul. And I loved Andre’s soul. He would always dress unbelievably. Even in the cheapest suit in the world, he was always dressed amazing. And when he had the Polident, he looked great. I just loved dressing up and riding the train with him. They’d give you a menu for the snack bar, I’d suggest the fifty-cent assorted candy and in a loud voice he’d say to me, “I’m not no fifty-cent assorted candy!! I’m the fudge brownie!!”
But the relationship had its reality. When Andre got drunk, it was unbearable and I couldn’t handle it. Oh, we fought bad. I don’t think he was used to anyone who fights like I fight. One day I came home and Andre called me a nervy white bitch. I just couldn’t deal with somebody wasted telling me I have to give them my money--and who’s wearing his “I Don’t Beat Women” pin so he can boast that he doesn’t hit women any more. So I said, “You can get your black ass OUT of my house.” And I filled these garbage bags full of his clothes and threw them out the door.
And he started walking down the street. I hear this knocking a minute later, and it’s Andre looking all sad—“Baby! Baby, how can you do this to me?? Here in this all- white neighborhood, throwing me out like this!” I’m like, “Dude, open your eyes, the people next door are black and white. And across the street their children are brown. There’s every color. So settle down.” I let him back in. I know that when people get really wasted they do things that aren’t the best. I was an alcoholic and very understanding that these kind of things happen. I thought, “I stopped drinking, and maybe one day he will, too.” I was optimistic.
The Doll Rods went on tour and I would call Andre regularly to see how he was doing. We got stranded in Fargo, North Dakota. It was so cold. I’d never seen snow higher than the van. To do that show we had to dress in the van and run from the van to the club through the snow piles. And I called Andre from Fargo, so there’s a song called “Only Black Man in South Dakota” on Silky that goes, “I fell in love with a girl named Margo/Prettiest little thing from Fargo…”
When I got home and heard all his songs and I was shocked. They were just about all some kind of love song to me. These were things I was inspiring! I was freaking. I thought A) Oh my God, this stuff is amazing and B) I can’t be this man’s girlfriend. My idea of the record was more like the style of “Pass the Biscuits.” For me, the fact that it was a love tribute to Margaret, an ode to Margaret, was too much, ‘cause I couldn’t be with him. He would turn into this nasty person, especially when he was recording. Andre was drunk by noon and a mess. No Polident, his teeth were everywhere, mixed with chicken. It wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t glamorous at all.
Andre kept getting nastier, doing drugs…he told his pusher to collect his drug money from me and Christine. And Christine always made green tea. The pusher came to collect, and I put my hand on that boiling pot of water and told that guy, “I think you’re talkin’ to the wrong girls. I think you should leave. Right now.” He backed down and left but I didn’t like being in those situations.
The title Silky came from a book about pimping. My mother knew Andre Williams as a pimp. Andre would talk about how those girls had to stand outside in the bitter cold and he’d heat bricks for the girls to stand on. Even though he was a pimp, he was really sweet.
The cover of Silky was Andre’s black hand on my naked white ass. That was my idea. Joe Sopkowicz took the photo. For me it was important, making a statement. How many things had happened to black people, things that they had no control over? How many people put their hands on them, or did whatever? I felt proud to have the hands on my ass of somebody that I cared about who was a different color--and whose life wasn’t so easy because they were a different color. I felt really great about that.
Andre would come to me and ask, “What is lewd and lascivious? ‘Cause they say I’m the king.” It went right to his head—“I’m the king of lewd and lascivious!” That’s the sort of attitude that led to song likes “Pussy Stank,” which I objected to. When Andre appeared at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit. I knew he was gonna be in town, I dressed up, went to his show and stood in the front row. He was like “Oh my God!!! Margaret Doll Rod!” Now, Andre can’t dance, even though they call him Mr. Rhythm. So I just hopped up on stage and said, “Let’s dance.” And he knew I was against the “Pussy Stank” song so he stopped the concert and told the boys, “Let’s do ‘Pussy Stank’.” Andre was good at orchestrating everything and thought he was commanding the whole show.
Now, I almost never wear underwear, because my ass just eats it. So I had fishnet hose under my dress, nothing else, and I lifted up my dress and everybody stopped, obviously. And I grabbed the microphone and announced, “Pussy does not stank--and if it does, then you take it to the doctor. Something is going on with your pussy if it stanks.” I did an educational speech in the middle of the whole show. Andre didn’t know if he should finish the song or not. I just gave him a hug and went back into the audience.
We had done so much for Andre. The whole thing ended when we had to do a tour together in Europe. He was not nice to Danny. He would introduce Danny onstage in a way that was so condescending it was pissing me off. He had these Andreisms…he would always change a one or two words to put someone in their place. He called us the Dillrods! There was another night when he told me, “You better not go out there naked!” And I was like, “When have I ever gone out there naked? I’ve always had something on! And who are you to tell me that I’m not allowed to go out there naked?” Well, there went my pants. I started writhing on the floor on top of Danny’s guitar and Andre’s looking at me like, “What the fuck…?!?”
Andre got pissed off ‘cause I wasn’t having anything to do with him, so he spent all this money on hookers. And they stole his leather outfit. Somehow that was my fault! He was really shaming our name in every direction, telling people terrible stuff about us that never happened. It was one bad thing after another. Finally Andre didn’t have any money, wasn’t having any fun and wanted to go home. He didn’t know how to get a flight, so I tried to help him. I look at his passport and the last three numbers were 666. He didn’t have any money to change the ticket, I wouldn’t give him any more of mine, and his girlfriend in New York wouldn’t give him any. So we had to finish the tour. And that was it, it was over.
We’re still friends and I still call him. I’m trying to get a show in Chicago so we can visit Andre. He had a stroke and he’s in an assisted living community. I love it when we talk. He can’t remember things and has to ask the lady at the desk to write stuff down and on the phone I’ll hear him as he walks to the desk saying “Hello, hello, baby! How’s it goin’, sweetheart?” It’s really beautiful. Sweet.
Some of the things that have helped me came from Andre. I’d get upset and argue, and he’d say, “Baby, when things get bad and you don’t know which road, take the high road, not the low road.” That makes a lotta sense. Or, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” These were little things that came from Andre that helped me.
When I’d take him around in my Galaxy I had a little cassette player like the kind you’d have in grade school, and I’d play my cassettes and one Andre just loved: Suzi Quatro. “Your mama won’t like meeeee….”
Andre used to compare me to Devora Brown, who ran Fortune Records—“You’re another Devora Brown!” She was a spiritual lady putting out the music by people that mattered, even though others thought they didn’t matter. So I took care of Andre when a lotta people thought he didn’t matter.
Touring relentlessly on a budget of nothing, the Doll Rods managed to blast out three more albums: TLA in 1999, On in 2004 and There Is a Difference in 2006.
Once we started touring, the songs became more about what was in front of us--“Rock It Up,” “All the Stars.” We were looking at the people, the beautiful people! I felt so excited by everybody in the audience. I get so overwhelmed by their glory that I make up a song. I must admit this one Doll Rods song still comes into my brain, “You Look Good.” I just love taking in the beauty of the others. Even though I no longer play that song, I find myself singing it to people in my mind on the subway or wherever I am. “You look GOOD!” “Sugar in the Raw” was inspired by the packets of sugar that you get off of the vitamin counters across the country at every health food place. The Doll Rods lived off of vitamin samples. I like the sweet things in my life in the raw! In the buff. “Fat Pussy” was about an actual cat. Honest. Really and truly.
I don’t ever listen to the Doll Rods. I’m not a big music listener. I like playing music, it’s rare that I sit around and listen. Maybe if it’s brand new…when something was then, it was then. I have music on in my head most of the time. When you grow up in a place like Rockwood and you don’t have a television, you need to keep yourself enchanted in your own way, so I have Margaret Radio on.
The Doll Rods doing gospel songs a cappella started because of broken strings. Or maybe it was the time Dan got his knobs of his guitar stuck in his fishnets and he was like a dead bug at the back of the stage, trying with his last breath trying to get himself untangled. Dan loved to tune onstage. Or use the breaking of a string as like, a cry for help, as if somebody’s gonna run to the front of the stage with a vintage SG. I’m like, “I don’t know that’s gonna happen while you’re doing this, so...”
When this kind of stuff happens and everything goes dead, you can’t stand on stage and just laugh at Dan, you have to do something. I was not a banter person on the stage most of the time. It was so much easier to go into a gospel a cappella and just to pray for the moment to pass…that we’ll get through this. To remind myself that nobody does it like Jesus. Lately I’ve mentioned it to Christine that we would pray before we went onstage and she was like, “I don’t remember ever praying.” I’m like, “OK, great. I remember. Maybe it was just me.”
To this day my spirituality is everything. I believe that everything I do and everywhere that I’ve been is a great gift. And that’s the main line to the good times. Connecting. Whatever it is for anybody else, I don’t care--for me, I have what I feel is God. It’s in everything that moves and breathes, so when I’m talking to somebody, I don’t care what’s on the outside, deep inside of them somewhere in there is God. And I believe I’m connecting with it every moment of the day. That’s my deal, that’s how I am and how I’ve always been. I’m a little like Elvis as far as spirituality goes. I truly, truly believe. Ask and you shall receive.
“We Will Ride,” That’s a very religious song. “I want to know you in each and every way, I wanna feel you like the blood that pumps through my veins. Pumping through my heart, my soul and my brain. I wanna make it with you each and every day.” That’s my super get-down and dirty with Jesus song!!! I had a t-shirt with Jesus on the front of it and a friend said, “If you just let me have that shirt for a little bit, I’m gonna make it amazing. “ So I gave it to him and on the back he put, “Jesus is my Sugar Daddy.” And that’s how I feel: He’s my boyfriend!
Being raised in the Catholic Church is challenging at times. You’re supposed to forgive everything—it’s never supposed to end, your forgiving, but I don’t understand why we don’t forgive the devil. I always feel that the Devil has just had such a rough time of it. How lonely it must be to have that kind of lifestyle. So why are we not forgiving the Devil? That’s a big thing for me, because didn’t God make him, too?
I forgive the devil.
Peroxide personality Liz Renay was a stripper, model and sometime actress, though equally infamous for her mobster boyfriends--most notably Mickey Cohen, whom Renay committed perjury for, which earned her 27 months in the jug. "It sure knocked the hell out of my career when I went to Terminal Island," said Liz. "I would have been a big star had I not gone to prison." Renay was known for her outrageous tell-all books—My First 2,000 Men and the classic My Face for the World to See (Liz threatened a sequel which never materialized, My Ass for the World to Kiss). In 1977 John Waters put her back on the silver screen in the depraved Desperate Living, during which Renay smothers a babysitter to death with dog food. Liz toured a mother-daughter stripper act with her daughter Brenda until Brenda killed herself in 1982 on her 39th birthday. Married seven times, Renay died in Las Vegas in 2007 at the age of 80. “A glamour girl right up to the end,” said Waters.
Yeah, I know it happened
On that bright sunny day
When your feathers went away
Left to die
If only, if only they
They had their way
I love you
‘Cause that’s all there is to do
Sky above roam free, roam true
In your innocence
Always be true
She waited for me
When I came home from school
You never cared
If I broke all the rules
You said you loved me
You loved me anyway
I feel so safe
I love you
‘cause that’s all that I do
Sky above, it’s yours
Roam free, roam true
In your innocence
Do what you do!
They served you up
Like a dainty dish on a plate
No—they did not say grace
I forever and always
Yeah each and every way, yeah
I love you
‘Cause that’s all there is to do
Sky above, it’s yours
Roam free, roam true
In your innocence
-- LIL' NAKED, the Demolition Doll Rods
Liz Renay tells a beautiful story in her book My Face for the World to See about this little chicken. Liz was in prison, and her friend in prison had told her how she rescued a chicken that didn’t have any feathers. The chicken’s name was Little Naked. She thought it was gonna die, but she saved it. And the chicken waited for her when she came home from school and loved her unconditionally and it was there for her. For everything. Little Naked was loyal and faithful and waiting--and didn’t care if she broke any rules. That chicken did more than most humans could ever do. One night the chicken was gone. She was on a plate on the family dinner table.
That story touched me to the core. This little chicken was left naked to die, and someone saved it and made it part of their life. So many times that’s how I felt. When you find yourself naked, soiled and just left there, it’s an awful feeling. A part of you does feel like it’s dying.
It’s kind of sad what happens to Little Naked. It’s just a crazy cycle. Someone eats you for their own nourishment. I think that’s what happens to all of us. We give ourselves on this inspirational level, and people eat it up and become stronger and more powerful. And you don’t.
Liz Renay was a big inspiration for me. She was so loving and so innocent and so supportive--she went to jail because of someone else. So many human beings took advantage of her, and she was beautiful every single moment of her breathing life, no matter what. And there were a lot of “no matter what’s” for that lady.
I never did get to meet her. I believe we saw her once in a thrift store in Las Vegas. She was putting eye drops in. She was an older woman, and I didn’t want to scare her. Her eyes never blinked. I just watched her from the van.
Who knows, it could have been a Liz Renay impersonator.
All the stars
ALL THE STARS
Danny kept saying, “I think you’d like this band.” The Cramps. I had already gotten kicked out of one of their Detroit shows--carried out like Cleopatra. I really loved their show and had so much fun. And here Dan was trying to get me to read articles about them. I was like, “I’m gonna meet them and know them. So there’s no need for me to read that.” He’d say, “OK, sure you are, of course you are. Why wouldn’t you know them? You’re just like Jesus and Elvis rolled into one, of course you’re gonna meet the Cramps.” That’s what he would say to me.
And then our booking agent, who really hated me--he thought for sure we were junkies, which we certainly never were—called us to tell us the Cramps wanted us to tour with them. And he told me the money and it was not enough. I said, “No, you ask them for more money!” And he told me, “You don’t ask the Cramps for more money.” I replied, “I’m not asking them for more money—you are!” And it wasn’t a lot of money. They wanted to give us $100 a night for an opening slot and I wanted $300, a hundred for each of us. And they said yes.
Upon meeting Lux and Ivy, I was very shy. I always am when I’m overwhelmed by somebody. So I seem tough ‘cause I’m scared. I remember exactly what I was wearing: a fifties leopard-spotted one-piece bathing suit that was way, way, way too big for me. So I was lost in this fifties bathing suit, and all us Doll Rods were sitting there on our amps and they came over and introduced themselves. We looked like the kids from the trailer park. They were very sweet and nice with us…it was always wonderful when Lux talked to you, because you were little and he was big. It was like having E.T. in your face. They were really wonderful with us, they treated us like we were their children. They really treated us in a special way, with our pets and all of our weirdness. Whenever I think of our song “Secret Place” I always think of Lux and Ivy. Because inside of me there’s this place that I wanna take the people that I really like, that I feel are like me. It’s a special place, it’s not like everybody can go. That’s where we tried to take the people when we played live.
Iggy Pop invited us to go on a two-week tour and it was really fun. I had that window of opportunity to talk to him, but I couldn’t. There was so much love in the way words wouldn’t come out. Iggy stood on the stage behind the curtain and watched our whole show. There’s a part in the show where Dan and I did backbends, and I was looking at Iggy upside down…I thought, “No drugs will ever compare to this! After this, whatever happens is fine. This is the highlight of my life. When I’m very old I will remember seeing Iggy Pop upside down.” I don’t know if other people have gotten to see him upside down, but I did.
Sky Saxon of The Seeds was mind-blowing. We’d pull up to gigs in the van and this guy would be standing out there waving his arms, him and some crazy chick. He’d say, “Hey Doll Rods, I’m here for ya!” “Who are you?” “Sky Saxon.” We were like, “WHAT?!” We just couldn’t frickin’ believe it. Sky was so amazed by us he was going around telling everybody. When we played with the Cramps and Iggy Pop he kept going up to this newspaper reporter and saying, “Who cares about Iggy Pop? These are the Doll Rods!” With Iggy standing right there.
The first time we met Sky was in San Francisco at a Halloween show with the Cramps. He came backstage and said, “What do you say I do a song with you?” We’re like, “Do you even know any of our songs?” He knew the song “Spoonful” of course, so we told him, “Well, you can come out on ‘Spoonful.’ But you have to dress like the Doll Rods.”
Sky was like, “Great! Gimme some of those skeletons you got taped to your boobs and I’ll put ‘em on.” His girlfriend had pinned a hand towel on him like a diaper and now he had little dancing skeletons taped on his boobs along with some eyeliner. So we did “Spoonful.” And there’s Lux and Ivy standing there with their mouths hanging open. And he’s doing that knee bounce of his, just sliding across stage and screaming. I don’t think he actually recognized the song, he just kept screaming “Spoonful! Spoonful!” We got offstage and walked past and Lux asked “Is that Sky Saxon?!?” It was so great. Sky was so much fun.
Hailing from Boone County, West Virginia, Hasil Adkins recorded a series of primitive, hypnotic one-man-band records for tiny local labels. His cult grew after the Cramps covered his demented number “She Said” (1991). In between run-ins with the law over offenses sexual in nature (and some of which involved jail time), Adkins recorded a string of crazy albums up right up until his violent death in 2005. Adkins had been “deliberately run over in his front yard by a teenager on an ATV.
Hasil Adkins we got to know out on the road. We would talk a lot on the phone. He’d call up Christine and I and there would be all this loud laughter on the other end of the line. Our conversations got a little nervous towards the end. He’d ask, “You know how to hunch, right? You know what that means?” I’d get a little scared. Hunching on the phone…. I liked the Hasil that picked me up and twirled me around, I didn’t want any other type of action.
Which is why I was a little scared when I knew I was going to see Hasil again at a show. I was heading backstage and he was there with a girl--I didn’t ID her, but she seemed to be maybe 18. Extremely young. She was on the floor on her knees in front of Hazel’s crotch, preparing for what seemed to me was a big deal. I thought, “Just take all your stuff, go the other way, and become invisible. Walk to the dressing room, you don’t wanna mess with any action.” But Hasil yelled out, “Margaret Dollrod, don’t you leave here without giving me your new phone number!” It was like he smelled me!
End of Part Two…