Originally Published: August 19, 1971
Author: Jim Bickhart
You and a guest are cordially invited to attend the summer season debut of Alice Cooper, to be held at the Venetian Room, Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, the evening of Wednesday, July 14th, 8:30 PM to midnight. Formal dress or equivalent costume is requested, but hardly mandatory.
Los Angeles - Dennis Lopez is a short, slight, dark young man in natty clothes who has spent recent months trying to sponsor a concert featuring the Stooges, the GTOs, and the Cockettes (all of them impersonators of some sort) in Southern California. Due to more than a little pressure from the LAPD vice-squad, he couldn't pull it off, and his revenge has been to begin throwing parties.
Just recently, Alice Cooper had played a sold-out concert in Long Beach's steamy old third-floor Auditorium down by the berth of Queen Mary. Other L.A. jobs included a club appearance before 40 souls and a homecoming dance. It seemed the right time for a party, and it turned out to be the party of the year.
During the course of the evening, Warner Brothers' president Mo Ostin and his wife stepped into the stately hotel party suite. It was the Mrs.' birthday. They stopped the music while TV Mama, a 350-pound black singer found through the Yellow Pages, confronted Mo's wife with the appropriate serenade. Miss Mercy GTO popped out of a seven-foot cake fully clothed; she'd been hired to be naked (TV Mama had agreed, for $20 more, to go topless, and near the end of the evening, she did); a gorilla and some mechanical men chased each other in and out of nearby hotel rooms, and the hotel staff was further disjointed by a Cockette posing as a cigarette girl as he offered: "Cigarettes? Candy? Vaseline?"
The Ambassador Hotel is a couple of miles east of downtown L.A. and not the place one would expect to find such a bacchanal, but Reprise had decided on a formal locale for such a formal party. Arrangements were handled by their A & R staff, working with Lopez. Invitations were on white cards, printed out in florid Kingsbury Script. They were sent out to anyone who might be worth a double take or a society column sightem. The guests, who ultimately numbered maybe 500, strolled into the Venetian Room (red-carpeted, with walls of mirrors and mirror-bright chandeliers) in everything from formals and tuxes (including glitter-filled hair and beards) to jeans and workshirts.
The hired band played waltzes while a living "mannequin" danced by himself. The black gorilla sat idly at the reception desk behind Shelley Cooper of Warners, watching guests check in. After drinks and a few fights, the show began, with TV Mama and her stoned-freak soul band, all dressed in purple satin. "She may be TV Mama to you," the band's MC kept saying, "but to me she's TV Dinner." Then Miss Mercy flew out of her Happy Bastille Day cake, spitting and throwing icing at the photographers.
The entrence of the members of Alice Cooper was also accomplised with no undue fanfare. The boys were dressed in full formal regalia and quickly retired to a stage table where they received visitors for two hours. Callers included Rod McKuen, who spoke of life and arm-wrestling, Richard Chamberlian, who was one of the few to be dressed as well as Alice, and members of the Beach Boys.
When the time came, Alice Cooper repaired to the dressing room and returned in silver lame to do one of their usual "killer" sets. Their two hits, "Eighteen" and "Caught In A Dream," "Second Coming/Ballad of Dwight Fry" and "Black Juju" comprised the abbreviated but energetic show with the group graduating from merely schizoid lyrics to straightjackets and psuedo electric chairs, showering the audience with goose down and swinging the chandeliers. Lead singer Alice's histrionics were especially effective in the cramped surroundings and it proved to be an above-average Cooper performance.
Hotel guests sat outside and watched the freaks come and go ("We have hippies, but nothing like this!" said one out-of-towner). Lopez, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy what he helped to bring about and promised great things for the future.
"This party was good but not all that weird," he said. "Alice Cooper are a group for the masses, not for super-freaks. Now we're planning a deal for Sylvester [the Cockettes' torch singer in search of a record label] that will make this one seem like a kindergarten class! And next time Alice comes, we hope to do a show with Salvador Dali."