Circus

Circus - October 1972

Circus
(October 1972)

Originally Published: October 1972

Alice Plans A Broadway Surprise

Author: Howard Bloom

The summer's shenanigans prompted the London Sunday Times to growl about a star who looked "like a cross between Rasputin and Bela Lugosi, or Tiny Tim after tip-toe-ing through the deadly nightshade." But they were noting compared with what's about to come.

It began with the absurd sight of infamous DJ Wolfman Jack in sultan's pajamas swaying precariously on a camel's back in the center of the immense crater known as the Hollywood Bowl, and it ended with the sight of five skinny rock and rollers decked out in spangle-studded zoot suits slashing at each other with knives, dipping and twirling around each others' blades, and finally dragging the one named Alice to the gallows for a little old tie lynching. In between, the aisles were filled with men in gorilla suits and Mickey Mouse costumes handing out report cards, and the air was flooded with 5,000 paper panties dropped form a cooperative helicopter.

One irascible critic form the Los Angeles Times came determined to belch and yawn with boredom. But when he filed out with the rest of the crowd, he had to admit that the show had knocked him out with its preposterousness. Little did he realize that the whole preposterous extravaganza was just a pallid preview of the spectacles to come.

Yes, Alice Cooper, the sultry master of shock rock has got another grisly trick up his sleeve... and this time it's a lot more than just a bleeding baby doll and a set of gallows. Alice and the flashing fivesome are bound for Broadway with an October show guaranteed to outrage the Great White Way. There's only one small problem. The show has not been put together yet.

Oh, the raw ingredients are all there. Three enormous neon props are sitting in a plant on Long Island, waiting for the truck ride to bright city lights. One prop shows a cat jumping on a fence, another shows a coyote howling at the moon, and a third shows a schoolhouse bobbing back and forth with its tongue hanging out and its bell absurdly ringing. The sizzling switch blade, gang war music of School's Out and the air of political put on in the new single "You Will Be Elected" are both bursting with the seeds of some satire-and-violence-riddled plot. And visions are looming lustily in the minds of Alice, Mike Bruce - visions of a phalanx of musicians in tuxedos, a tap dancing fantasy with all the thirties glitter of The Boy Friend, and a gorey battle with all the space-age sadism of A Clockwork Orange. But until the last few weeks, the demands of toting a transsexual carnival across the face of two continents has kept Alice from pasting all the elements into a show that can truly send shudders down the spines of disapproving parents everywhere.

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Author: Jim Esposito

One stumbling block in the path of the new show was Alice's recent trip to England, where Cooper and his cronies made headlines for precipitating a minor barrage of nudity. There they were under the big tent in London's Chessington Zoo, watching the fire eaters, dancing horses and clowns entertain the party of 200 which had been invited to fete Alice's invasion of the Queen's kingdom. It was just an ordinary circus - ordinary, that is, till a curvaceous blonde took her cue from the ringmaster and turned the whole celebration into what London's Evening News dubbed "a strip show riot." Sheila pranced around the ring perplexing the astonished circus manager by peeling off one layer of clothing after another. But that wasn't quite enough. A tipsy young American damsel in the bleachers - struck by the urge to bathe her bare skin in the open are - suddenly dashed from her seat into the ring and began unbuttoning her wraps, soon reducing her wardrobe to a pair of panties. A few seconds later the bare-skinned American lass was joined by a young man clad only in a shirt who immediately began to chase her across the sawdust. The audience was delighted. Many threw bottles and cans of beer, and a few sprang into the ring and tried to grab the girls. But sitting quietly in the bleachers nursing his Guiness stout, Alice ultimately had the last laugh. The blond stripper who had started it all wriggled free of the crowd, dashed up to Cooper's seat, threw herself into his lap, and purred, "Keep this mob away from me!"

Back at the Fillmore East, where Alice and the gang are trying to pull the new show together, only a few fakes knives and couple of police hats scattered casually about supply a clue to the spectacle to come. Alice and the band huddle on the bare stage trying to settle on the skeleton of the act. Matters are slightly complicated by the fact that the group hasn't really decided what their first sound would be; but they have it narrowed down to something "that will really grab the audience."

Eventually Alice walks back to the fourth row of seats and sits attempting intently to judge the music while the band breaks into a jam. "I don't like," he exclaims suddenly. Back the drawing board. Michael Bruce sits down behind the keyboards and begins alternating between piano and his guitar, which he is still holding in his lap. Alice gets a great idea. "Why don't you do a riff on your guitar and then it on the organ?" "Because I'm not that good of a piano player," Mike replies.... and that kills the idea.

After the 9:30 break for a beer, the seeds of a new plot begin to emerge. Alice will be mugged by the other band members and hung on a huge meathook, then stuck up on a lamppost. A black cloth will be dropped in front of the body for a few seconds, and when it is torn down, the crowd will be greeted by a skeleton hanging in the exact same place where Alice dangled only a few moments before. But swinging murderous meathooks turns out to be a bit too threatening to the health. By the end of the evening, the idea has been tossed aside, and the new act is once again just a bewildered gleam in Alice Cooper's eyes.

What rhinestone flecked song of a horror flick will Alice finally fling on to one of the most dignified stage of the Big Apple? Only those who avoid the undertaker until October will ever know for sure!

(From the collection of David Gullberg, scans by Hunter Goatley)