New Musical Express

Originally Published: July 01, 1972

All people want is sex and violence

There maybe some truth in the expression "There's No Business Like Show Business", but in endeavouring to further shock his audience, that transexual singing snake charmer Alice Cooper almost over-excelled even his most bizarre on-stage antics, by almost killing himself quite recently.

It was during the questionable gallows sequence. The one that depicts Alice being executed, only to re-appear later on, resplendant in white tie and tails to finish his performance with a parody of a Broadway song and dance routine. Well on this one occasion, the star of the show almost took his final curtain.

He disclosed, "What happened was, the rope suddenly broke during that part where I get hanged and I came crashing down on my knees at the back of the stage.

"It was a really bad fall," the velvet clad vamp recalled. "Apart from the initial shock and massive rope burn on my neck, I honestly thought that I had dislocated my neck and broken both my legs."

For those pseudo-intellectuals who have desperately tried to analyse Cooper's toe-tapping transvestisms, self auto-destruction before a capacity audience would perhaps have been the obvious conclusion.

Well, I mean, how could you top, topping yourself?

However, as fas as the subject of analysis is concerned, even the ulitmate encore wouldn't have in any way clarified the state of confusion that surround's Alice Cooper's Theatre Of The Absurd.

"You see, there's actually no point whatsoever to our act," the perpetrator confessed in all honesty.

"Neither is there any solution or conclusion to what we do in front of an audience. All we do is throw out all these ideas and then let people who are watching us interpret it as they see it and act accordingly. It's as straightforward as that."

With the second coming of American rock in the mid-sixties, there was a sticker that circulated for a short period that proclaimed with friendly menace: "We Are The People Your Parents Warned You About". Had it come a little later, it could have been conceived with Alice Cooper in mind. For in the eyes of middle-class America, Alice Cooper is regarded as a pervert and a blatant purveyor of bad taste.

"Bad taste... believe me, there's not such a thing nowadays as bad taste," he declares the focal point of these accusations, who, like a Vampire drawn to the warm life giving blood of his victims, thrives on outrage and infamy.

"I ask you, how can anyone say that there is such a thing as bad taste, when the top box-office movies are 'The Clockwork Orange' and 'Straw Dogs'," Cooper cutely theorises, knowing full well that as long as he continues - with snake, axe, make-up, electric chair and songs about "Dead Babies" - to aggravate the acute paranoia currently rife amongst the over-protective Mothers of America, the longevity of his rapidly excalating success is guaranteed.

Despite his calculated shrewdness, Cooper is nevertheless aware that there is more than a passing tragic hint of truth in many of his highly controversial utterances.

"You know as well as I do, that today most people are only interested in flagrant sex and violence . . . to the point where it has become a pre-occupation.

"They just delight in witnessing a gory accident or sit glued to their television sets watching disaster, rape, war and murder." This is more "live" ammunition for those who insist that Alice Cooper and his "fairy" friends, are willfully intent on corrupting every impressionable minor.

Not since the pelvic thrusts of Presley and the unhibited bum-waggling Jagger, has any one individual managed to totally alienate his elders and at the same time successfully win over a large and ever increasing section of the youth culture.

In the midst of such a public outcry, Cooper sits back - bejewelled hand resting on leotard knee - and smiles with emmense satisfaction from beneath his heavily mascaraed eye-lids.

"I just love to scare people," the mock bi-sexual bogey man chortles.

"From experience, I know that my parents were really scared of the Rolling Stones when they first came to America and appeared on television.

"It makes an act like us so much more personal for the kids when their parents openly hate us and show concern when their kids start copying us by wearing eye make-up."

Though it had little if any social implications in it's extremely banal lyrics, Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" when presented as a high-decible soundtrack to "The Blackboard Jungle" had an alarming and far-reaching effect upon the then emergent voice of a rebellious younger generation. In just three minutes flat, it epitomised an entirely disorentated life-style.

Had the Who's "My Generation" been linked with such a stark celluloid image, it may well have had a more far reaching effect.

In the wake of the newly spawned militant Pupil Power Movement, it could well be that Alice Cooper will achieve the adulation and the big breakthrough that he has been seeking via his new hit single "School's Out".

Set against a relentless high-energy rock beat, Alice defiantly champion's the cause of the activist scholars. Behind the satin and lace, the sequins and eye-shadow, this extrovert showman is a shrewd cookie. He is aware of where his appeal lays and he is astute enough to exploit it.

"Pupil Power is a great thing, so long as it has some kind of constructive purpose," he observes.

"I've noticed that the kids today are a lot smarter than when I was a kid. Personally speaking, I feel that if a kid can take care of himself then he should be encouraged to do so. It makes him more of an individual... it gives him more confidence and eventually makes that person for more self-assured.

"The trouble is, that kids in America are too spoon-fed and that's wrong, for, in the long run, it can prove to be very harmful." This is another pearl of wisdom which should result in sacks of threats and abuse arriving through Alice's mailbox.

"I'm not a real revolutionist, I'll leave that to other people, but in all honesty, I believe that school kids should be given a far better deal.

"I can remember getting kicked out of high school no less than eight times, because my hair was just one inch longer than the school regulations stipulated, which was absolutely ludicrous. Believe me, I am in total sympathy with many of the kids in what they are forced to endure under the present education system."

"Alice At The Palace," that's the name of the new Broadway musical scheduled to open at New York's famed Palace Theatre sometime in October of this year. And as you may have ascertained, it will have Alice Cooper as it's star.

Choreographed by Michael Bennet who added his personal touch to another highly successful Broadway production "Follies", it will be conceived along similar lines to that of another classic stage presentation "Hellsapoppin' ".

Says the star of the show, "It is my intention to progress into total environmental theatre, where nobody can get away, for the simple reason that they are part of the concept.

"As far as this show is concerned we'll probably just do it for a week and then depending on the reaction we will either take it on the road or sell it to a touring company.

"In the same way, we are currently working on our first film which, like our stage act, has no positive conclusion. It will incorperate both documentary snippets and pre-arranged situations, to the point where it will be humourous in some parts and spinetingling in others. Probably you won't know what to make of it, but that's neat," he concluded.

It is common knowledge that Alice Cooper are very involved in all forms of mass media, to the extent that they draw most of their inspiration for their catastrophic stage antics from continually watching television.

Indeed, Alice feels that the future direction of rock entertainment, and perhaps it's ultimate salvation will be in the extensive use of video tape.

"Music is still very important and you have to realise this. You see, when we first started out, people were not listening to what we were playing. All they did was to look at us in one dimension. I suppose I have to concede that we're easier to look at than to listen to.

"But our act is designed to cause excitement, and to baptise the audience with total energy, but even this can limit an audience's freedom. People have got to get into our music more than they have done in the past and it would appear on the strength of the success of our last album and single that this is just what they are doing.

"I'm quite certain that video tape will take over from a lot of concerts. People are wisening up, they want to be entertained, they want to get involved.

"Who wants to go to a rock concerts and see three or four groups just standing motionless churning out the same old shit. You wait and see, this is what's gonna happen."