Zig Zag

Originally Published: September 1971

Alice Cooper

How would you explain your theatre...or is it for real?

It's definately theatre; just by its being there it's theatre. It's third generation rock theatre - shock rock, which is very valid. Sixteen, seventeen and eighteen year olds don't want to hear jazz...they want to hear rock. And they want a sex image - an anti-heroic image. Our music is energy, high energy...that's the main thing about it. That's what third generation rock is...look at us, the MC5, and the Stooges - it's all high energy music. When you leave the concert, you don't leave thinking "wow, what a heavy guitar solo", you leave thinking "whew!" You sweat a lot - and that's what rock is; rock should be sweat. It should really be high energy electricity and sex music. It doesn't hit you in the brain, it hits you in the, you know, the dick. It hits you where it feels the best...and it feels the best in the lower areas of your abdomen.

Do you get a lot of feedback from the Women's Lib...

Yeah, I did the whole trip with that; we got picketted in New York and everything... Women's Lib hates us - they think rock lyrics are discriminating against women. They did an interview with me and Barbara Streisand. Can you believe that combination?


I said I think that woman should be used as sex objects. I think that's what they're best at. Very honestly, I said I don't think it's any insult because that's what their main purpose in life is - being sex objects. I mean, what's wrong with that...they can still run a corporation and be a sex object.

They could run a corporation through being a sex object.

True...exactly right. I think that Women's Lib is pretty much a combination of horny dikes, which is cool - I like horny dikes...there's nothing wrong with that.

The Guess Who were here recently - they were off on a similar trip...

Yeah - their singles are very valid but it's not very blatant. Our trip is not that subtle - it's very blatant...it's like hitting somebody in the face with a snow shovel. But there is some subtlety to it.

How about the Doors - their's was pretty high energy music.

Well, the Doors sort of took it to a point, but they didn't go to the next step, which is props. Morrison was a better actor than a singer, and he was a fantastic actor. That's the thing - on stage, he really knew how to relate to the audience. The Doors were, I think, probably the best musical group in America - and the most productive. Them and the Beach Boys. (Much laughter). No, really...an incredible sound - Brian Wilson is like Burt Bacharach, you know...they both use the same methods of producing albums. Burt Bacharach is quite a freak, you know, he really is.

He's writing classical music...

That's it. In the seventies I think you're going to find out that only people writing classical music in the sixties and seventies were Burt Bacharach and the Beatles...and maybe Laura Nyro.

Why do you use all these props? (A dummy which he stabs to death, an electric chair, a boa constrictor, a straight jacket, whip, feathers, etc)

To create tension in the audience. They're contrived, but they're perfectly contrived. They're like, abstractly, surrealistically contrived. There's no real reason for the electric chair in that song. There's no real reason for the feathers at the end, except for the tension of the orgasm. Everyone can relate - they can relax at the end. After all the tension, they go "Ahhhhhh Finally!"

You should have seen the security police craning their necks to see you tonight.

Last night in Oklahoma City we had two security police who were the best actors we've ever seen. I had them come on stage; after I stabbed the dummy, they came on and grabbed me like real police - then they threw me into the electric chair, pulled that thing down on my head, and one of them said "fry!" That was perfect. And afterwards, when we went backstage, they were laughing their asses off. They were great.

We heard you had a little trouble with obscenity...

Yeah - they wouldn't let me say "horny". Because they said we couldn't use any obscenities, we had to put up a 2,500 dollar bond. I told them that we don't usually use any verbal obscenity anyway, and they said I couldn't strip off either. Alright I said. Then they said "you can't say horny". Horny? That's not even a bad word! Anyway, that night John Mayall comes out on stage and says "hey, what's wrong with these fucking microphones?" He can say "fucking microphones," but I can't say "horny".

Who do you aim your concerts at?

We're approaching the sixteen year olds - they're our most important audience, just because they're at an impressionable age. But we have fun too - you have to satisfy yourself too. We're very much into black humour. Subtly. We collect articles from the newspapers. One real good one - just to show you what I mean - a lady called a fire engine because her kitten was up a tree...the old fire department and kitten thing, you know. So they rescued the kitten and got it down. After all that, the fire engine backed up and ran over the kitten...perfect. That's where the humour lies in the group.

How do you get the theatre across on the albums?

That's the difficult part; we didn't accomplish it on the first two albums at all, though we tried to project the theatrics on both. But on the new one ('Love it to death') I think we've created a feeling on 'Black ju ju', 'Dwight Fry' and 'Second Coming'. I think we created theatre on that album, and that hasn't been done for a long time.

Do you think the West Coast audiences are a little jaded?

Well, no. You can go to any audience, including LA, and get the same reaction as we got tonight. It just depends on what you give them to react to...like if they're tired, they need some adrenalin, right?

Do you think those types of audience are better for the sophisticated type of things you do? Audiences round here seem to dig the rawer forms of humour.

Mmmm. Yeah, I never expect anyone to get all the subtleties. Projecting third generation rock, we're mostly just doing humour for ourselves - just to keep ourselves interested in it. We don't really expect too many people to get all the humour involved. The people who get it are more sophisticated, but then, that's not the main point. The main point is music and the sex drive idea. For example, they used to throw jelly beans at the Beatles. They throw bras at us...with phone numbers. That means we're winning...only 36 inch and above - no, we get training bras every once in a while. We put them on backwards - they fit our shoulder blades real good. We get underwear too - we scrape the stains out and smoke them.

Are you planning to go on with concerts indefinately, or are you going on to something more

We're planning on doing Broadway. A sex drive thing with a rock music background - because people are more involved with sex, death and money. That's the whole basis for theatre - or for music, or anything. That's what's commercial. Look at anything that sells and that's it; sex, death and money.

Like Gore Vidal is sweeping it under...

No, I like Gore Vidal...I like Kurt Vonnegut; they're almost pop art.

Do you think you put out a commercial sound?

Yes, we do... we honestly do. We've sold 200,000 albums - and that's commercial. What can you do when we come and with a hit single like 'Eighteen'? That song worked because people really liked it - they got into the whole idea of being 18...the frustrations. It's sort of like an updated version of 'My Generation'. But a hit single is 'dangerous', because we're drawing ten times as many people. And when all those kids are coming to see us, then going 'Wow, I think I'll go home and put on some of Mom's eye make-up '...and their dad's a cop...

How graphic a sex trip will your Broadway thing be?

It's not going to be pornographic, but it'll be, like, tasteful sex. But I love skin-flicks...they're pure, raw sex.

Does anybody in particular get you off?

No - just television, Budweiser beer, Screw magazine, and masturbation.

Girl with Alice: Hey Alice, these people are from a paper.

I know, that's why I said it. But Salvador Dali still masturbates, you know.

Do you ever play in the smaller places like clubs?

We did that for about 6 years - 4 years with the theatrics. No, we'll do nothing but concerts from now on.

Do you use the same props every time?

No; like tonight was the first time we've used the whip for a time. I used to be very good with a whip - used to be able to do the thing with the long cigarette. That was back in the good old days.

You got pretty satanic during the concert; is any of that real?

A lot of people think we're really evil, but that's not true - we just look evil. We don't push that image; it's more of a black humour trip - we're not involved in the devil at all. He's just sort of there all the time anyway - always on the other line.

Do you get strange things in the mail?

Costume jewellery, which I really love; things like that are fantastic - so cheap. I really like gaudy, awful things...things that nobody would really wear.

Where do you keep your snake?

In my pants. Naw, it's not in my pants at all; she's sleeping right now...she's very emotional. Snakes are very gentle - they can't hear, and they're very sexy.

What sort of groupie scene do you get?

Girl with Alice: I'm not a groupie - I'm a friend from back home.

What's wrong with groupies?

Girl with Alice: I'm fantastic, but I'm not a groupie. (Alice lifts up the girl's dress as if to view her crotch - she's wearing slacks however).

No, I don't mind at all. Do you? In fact, we get a lot of fourteen year old boys. But we don't, you know...they just show up. I just think it's funny that they do.