Jackie

Originally Published: May 18, 1974

Another Hit For Alice

The long black limousine slid to a halt outside my New York hotel. Inside an ordinary-looking young man sat up front beside the driver. I returned to reading my newspaper. After all, I was waiting for Alice and who would ever describe Alice as average?

But then I heard a shout . . .

"C'mon man, you wanna be late for the golf game?"

It was the guy from the car and he seemed to be addressing himself to me. He had cranked down the window and was waving a hand.

And suddenly I realised - it was Alice!

It took me several miles to take it all in. The white golf cap, cable-knit sweater, cream trousers and imitation snakeskin golf shoes.

Very tasty, those shoes, I assured Mr Cooper. Really neat.

"I could hardly wear real snakeskin, now could I?" he asked. "How could I keep a boa constrictor for a pet if I played golf in one of his cousins?"

Good point. But I still hadn't fully adjusted to the idea of Alice Cooper sportsman when we had reached the first tee of a New York golf club - al least not until Alice had hammered the little white ball straight down the middle of the first fairway!

It was a perfect drive. My own first drive travelled about the same distance but in a less favourable direction.

Alice grinned and flicked the cap off a bottle of Budweiser beer. His liking for the beer is so famous now that it's almost become his trademark! He keeps hoping that the firm who makes it will send him some complimentary cans, because of the free publicity he gives them, but so far he's had no luck!

He was carrying a supply in his electric golf buggy for which I was grateful. Playing golf on a hot day with someone as good as Alice is thirsty work!

"I suppose if enough Alice Cooper fans saw me like this I'd be out of business," he laughed. "But I really love golf, nothing would make me give it up."

On stage Alice is the perpetrator of some of the most horrific exhibitions anybody has witnessed since public executions slipped out of fashion.

But off-stage, he's Mr Ordinary. Mr Nice Guy. Mr Average American. And more than a match for me on a golf course.

He plays to around an 18 handicap which he describes as "not bad for a rock 'n' roll punk." He hits a long drive and is a miraculous player of the sand shot.

"Early in my golfing career I got a lot of practice at it," he told me. "Instead of letting bunkers depress me. I just learnt how to get out of them really well. That's the only way.

"You know, you meet a lot of really interesting people in bunkers. Once when I was in this really deep sand trap . . ."

He was trying to put me off my game again. He knows all the golfing tricks...and sure enough my ball buried itself deep in a bunker. Alice loved it!

Golf, he says, is the greatest game in the world. Even greater than pool - a game at which he could have made a fair living as a hustler if horror-rock hadn't dropped a million dollars into his lap.

"I'd play golf every day of my life if I could," he said. "I suppose part of the appeal is that it's just about as far away from what I do on stage as anything could be."

He's right there. For on stage Alice wears bizarre make-up and black leather. His band's raw rock and roll provides an hysterical accompaniment to his amazing antics.

In the course of his act, Alice usually "commits" some atrocity or other - for which he is "punished." The punishment, always capitol, has up to now involved an electric chair, a gallows and a guillotine. He has considered crucifixion but reluctantly decided against it.

"One of my best effects was a huge cage of fire with me in the middle, but it breached the fire regulations of most concert halls so we had to drop it."

The current attraction is the guillotine.

"That really horrifies me," he admitted. "but it's a great effect. The guillotine has a 40lb. razor-sharp blade but the magician who operates it for me assures me that nothing can go wrong. Still, it certainly makes my heart pound each night.

"I face a lot of criticism over the act. But it's usually from people who have heard about it but have never actually seen it. I think more parents should see the show before they stop their kids from seeing it.

"Nobody ever gets hurt as one of my concerts, except for me, occasionally! Kids are safer at one of my shows than, say, as Osmonds concert. Nothing in my act makes kids violent. Quite the reverse in fact, the act drains them of any violent feelings they might have.

"Personally, I am very much opposed to violence. I'm certainly not a tough guy - anyone could knock me out in a fight.

"I don't use drugs of any kind unless you count beer, I use lots of that. I'm not even anti-American and I can't bring myself to hate Richard Nixon. I feel sorry for the guy.

"So I really don't know what all the fuss was about.

"For instance what that British MP petitioned that I shouldn't tour Britain. I was amazed. I felt he should have seen the act before he passed judgement."

Or better still, seen Alice himself playing golf. It was quite strange to see the man most people expect to see with a boa-constrictor in one hand and a whip in the other, about to make use of a five iron!

We were approaching the ninth green and Alice was looking thirstily at the club house. We adjourned to the bar for a beer and a sandwich and a glimpse of another appalling performance by the New York Giants Football Team, on the television.

Alice led the criticism and everybody in the bar joined in. Alice knew it all. But nobody knew Alice. His long hair was skilfully tucked out of sight, and he was chatting happily with people who have probably forbidden their children from owning an Alice Cooper poster.

"I suppose my stage costumes are so extreme that nobody even thinks about what I look like without them," he said later as we walked round the course! "I can play golf on public courses, play pool anywhere an go into bars without anybody recognising me.

"You know sometimes I feel that I'd like to go on stage in jeans and a T-shirt and just play rock and roll. But just for a change - I love performing the act the way it is. And fortunately, the kids seem to like the music the way it is too."

Despite the fact that you beat me hollow Alice - so do we!