Originally Published: October 19, 2001
Author: John Petkovic
Alice Cooper's vision of the future depends on which Alice you happen to ask.
The on-stage Alice imagines a society without morals collapsing into a radioactive pit of violence and horror. That's the theme of the legendary shock rocker's first album in six years, "Brutal Planet." This Alice even walks the talk. His stage show is full of torture devices and debris, from guillotines to shrapnel, and he dresses for the occasion in leather bondage and torn pantyhose.
Then there's the other Alice: avid golfer, devout Christian, restaurant entrepreneur, game show guest. For him, the future is happy-go-lucky. He doesn't drink anymore, he lives in an upscale neighborhood in sunny Phoenix, his golf game is on and he's expanding his Cooper's Town franchise. He even plans on opening one of his rock-and-jock eateries in Cleveland.
Last week, both Alices came out of the closet to talk, for an phone interview in advance of his concert 9:30 p.m. tomorrow at Taste of Cleveland on the West Bank of the Flats. Alice not only alternated between the first and third person when referring to himself, he also had a hard time telling which Alice was which.
Your new album has a very dark image of the future.
Think of it - this is the most violent era ever. CNN is more shocking than my albums. Columbine opened my eyes. And now there are all these violent movies and video games. Even I can't compete with that.
Do you think your musical imitators have misinterpreted your ideas and have opted for the entertainment version of mindless, random violence?
Marilyn Manson never said go kill somebody. Rap is more guilty of that. Heavy metal gets into trouble when they start dabbling in the occult.
Are you a born-again Christian?
When I think of 'born-again,' I think of guys on TV falling down and hitting people over the head with a Bible and knocking 'em out. But I am a Christian.
You're father and grandfather were ministers. Did you rebel against them, only to come back to the church?
I never rebelled. My dad was the first person who got what I was doing. He understood the show. He knew I wasn't evil.
Well, when you were partying in the '70s, did you feel like you were being tempted by the devil?
Decadence? Yeah, I always had a buzz going. The worst thing I did was drinking whisky and a case of beer a day. But I haven't had a drink in 18 years.
What's the stage show for the new album?
Picture Cleveland after it got hit by three or four atomic bombs. There's no morality or technology - just Roadwarriors. I look like some sort of half-Chinese-samurai, half-biker. It's just a pile of junk up there. Then, after they cut my head off, Alice comes out of this device dressed in a white top-hat and tails and it's party time. We play every hit song.
You have the guillotine?
Oh yeah! The guillotine is back!
Do you ever use it at your restaurant to shave the turkey and slice the bread?
And the cabbage? No, we don't.
You're doing this Taste of Cleveland show, which is a celebration of food. And yet on your album, you complain about how gluttony has taken over society.
Well, wherever we play, we turn it into our show, even if it's a Boy Scout convention. We've done every place in Cleveland. So we're looking at it like where can we play that we haven't done?'
You still haven't done the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You haven't been inducted.
No, I haven't been indicted! I've spawned so many bands and sold as many records as (other inductees) have. There's absolutely no reason why I wouldn't be in the hall of fame. I'm a household word. I'm even a question on "Jeopardy."
Speaking of game shows, you were also a guest on the "Hollywood Squares".
I've taken Alice into every part of showbiz. And my show is every bit as cutting-edge.
There's also the Alice that goes on Hollywood Squares, plays golf and runs restaurants.
That's me. That's not Alice Cooper.
So the Alice off-stage isn't the same as the Alice on-stage?
I don't walk around with boa constrictors around my neck. Alice is as much of a character as Zorro and Batman.
Have you ever thought about bringing a golf club on stage and taking a couple swings?
Alice just hates golf. When I'm on stage, I never think of golf. And when I play golf, I never think of Alice.
So, what's your handicap?
I'm a 2 handicap. People can't get it through their heads: Here's a guy who could play pro golf and at nighttime, he's this creature.
So, how do they co-exist?
I have no idea.