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(June 07, 1973)
Originally Published: June 07, 1973
Author: Gus Dana
Terror-rock. Torture-rock. All that is true. Grand Guignol as staged by Roger Corman with an assist from Gahan Wilson. A rock star who will be the subject of at least 10 college psychology majors' thesis. But there is something else to Alice Cooper too. The Zoo World staff had a chance recently to observe Alice. In Philadelphia, at the start of his tour; in Miami Beach at a raucous press conference; in Dania at a maddeningly tacky concert; and in Ft. Lauderdale at a party for a star who was just to exhausted to enjoy it.
First, the press conference. Held in a neo-panel modish motel on Miami Beach, Alice entered the room, fashionably late, and at the sight of all the tape recorders and cameras, hid his head in mock terror, saying "I feel like I'm having a public epileptic fit. All these people watching me." To forestall the usual first question of the press, Alice has had a T-shirt printed saying "I AM NOT, REPEAT NOT, EDDIE HASKELL". "I made that rumor up myself, and I've had to answer it so many times, I decided once and for all to answer the question, forever." The T-shirt isn't the only shirt Alice scored this weekend, he also managed to get an official Chief of Police shirt from the new Dania Police Chief, John Longo. "We had dinner last night, he's really a funny guy. I insulted him, he insulted me, I asked him 'did it still burn when you piss?' We got along fine."
Another question, "well, if you aren't Eddie Haskell, who are you?" - Alice says, "I just up and lied about Haskell, so I guess now, I'll be Rona Barrett, or the illegitimate son of Jimmy Piersall, he was really a madman. The new rumor I want to start though is that Linda Lovelace is the stewardess on our plane, the AC-1."
The phone rings, Alice after thinking of several snappy answers, uses the one that seems to be the closest answer to living, "Alice Cooper, pop star". The caller is Amazing Randi, 25 times seen on Johnny Carson and a helper with Alice's new act. Alice chats a while and then returns his attention to the by-now very mellow members of the press. "I'm really enjoying just sitting around sunning. Just think today I saw Fabian and got his autograph. That's a cool thing to own", he sighed, "Heh, yeh Alice" signed "Fabe", that's so cool that tomorrow I'm trying for B. B. King's and I hear Kenny Rodgers and the First Edition was coming in pretty soon. I can't wait for them.
"I'm in pretty good shape. Since I've been on top, I'm a lot healthier. I don't drink near as much. I used to drink a case a day, now I'm down to three 6-packs. I'm really getting in shape for Foreman, I'm going to wipe him out. I'm not going to predict the round, but I'm going to take him. He's not that tough."
About the music and his particular form of it, Alice says he deals in torture rock, "we have this enormous love affair going with the audience. They're a bunch of masochists and we're sadists. About the make-up, by the way, do you know what happened to Helena Rubinstein? Max factor! Anyway, about the make-up, I wanted to look like a horribly funny, tragic case. And I am. My whole audience loves it.. Usually, my first two rows have eye make-up like that. I had this enormous biker come up to me, with sunglasses on. I thought this cat was going to kill me. Scars on his face. The original Capt. Pissgums. He whips his shades of, and says, "Hi" and he has this heavy Cleopatra make-up all around his eyes. Weird, man. That even made me more scared."
The blues - Alice hates them. "An ignorant form of music. 'Duh-blooz' one word, ugh!" Porno films - "I did one once, I interviewed this guy, making like Edward R Murrow, saying, "Pardon me sir, I couldn't help noticing your -----!" After shrieks from the shocked press ladies die down, Alice defends his choice of words, "No, no that's not bad. You should call things by there right names. That's better than calling it a weebee, or a number one. Call it by its' name." Alice's last venture in films was the scene in "Diary Of A Mad Housewife", he says he's thinking of doing another called "Muscle Spasm" - a porno.
Touring - "I started this tour when I was 25, I'm 43 now and we are still touring. I've been with my band 9 years and we've been touring almost all the time. This really wears you down." One of the reporters has heard a mumbling about Alice booked for Las Vegas - "yeah, they're talking to us. It's an awful lot of bread, for some weird shows for people who don't care. But I think maybe we'll be the International in Vegas. We're doing almost a Broadway show on the road, now. I would play the same show at the White House if someone asked us. Maybe a bit more political, but the same show. I think theatre is the only future for rock. It's always been there, but it wasn't brought out. Jagger didn't develop it into REAL theatre. It's big, the people who stand there and play in their Levis are about finished. Cocker could have been a monster in theatrical rock, but he didn't take it that far. I don't mind the people hating us."
The son of a minister, the gargoyle whose nice to his parents, the seeming sickness that's supported by the most professional group of production men around. Who says proudly, "I didn't understand one thing Salvador Dali said. He speaks in three languages that I don't speak. All we understood is that we didn't understand each other. He's into total confusion. He says I'm his favorite example of total confusion."
Alice did return to what Alice is supposed to be towards the end of his session with the press, discussing his unrequited passion for the German model Oushi, Alice gurgled, "for her I'd exhume Walt Disney, for her I'd lick Richard Speck's knife." That's our Alice.
Tacky, Tacky, Tacky
What else can you say about Alice Cooper, especially after a special junket for the press that Alice and his management and Warner Brothers (the record company) put together recently to Philadelphia to see Big A's new show, Billion Dollar Babies, which is also the name of their new album.
Philadelphia. What can you say about Philadelphia that W.C Fields didn't say on his tombstone, where it is written, "All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
The New York press were flown up in the Alice Cooper plane, formerly the Rolling Stones plane. Not even a jet, but a four propeller job. The hotel reeked with tacky class, too.
The "banquet" was the worst - my baked potato had a Gahan Wilson creature growing on it and the roast beef was class z. The worst part was a trio of senior citizen violinists who moved about the linoleum covered floor playing old favorites, badly, while we, when not trying to digest the indigestible, dined with Alice. Actually, Alice wasn't there, but the walls were covered with Alice posters, which may have been a break.
The concert itself was fabulous. Alice is slicker than ever - only reflecting the attitudes of the public he explained, not leading it - with a guillotine, dancing tooth, psychedelic dentists drill, chopped mannequins which Alice did obscene things with, an Ann Miller stage all lights and glitter, dead babies, giant balloons and even Kate Smith singing "God Bless America".
Twenty-thousand Philadelphia youths seemed to dig it, as well as Flo and Eddie who opened the show.
Following the concert there was a party aboard a cruise boat, which we reached by chartered buses. The boat didn't cruise, but most of the people at the party did. Small groups of friends, freaks, in-people, hips, weirdos, etc. all clumping, ignoring each other. The three violinist were there, annoying everyone. They played briefly a couple of times, then departed under threat of bodily harm from some of the party goers. Enough is enough.
A quintet of old-time Dixieland jazzmen more than made up for that. The weather had turned quite cold and some of the people were freezing, plus spray from outside managed to find its way inside often splashing unsuspecting guests as they lounged.
At breakfast, the booze warmed people and the food was the best of the trip. Alice appeared, held a five minute press conference, then spent 30 minutes in the hallway talking to anybody who walked up. He explained the full show wouldn't be seen anywhere, but that the essential show would remain intact.
Then all the New Yorkers and Alice left, while two Warner's promotion men Bob Brown and Ben Edmunds, and I got mellow and settled down to watching Saturday afternoon local television in Philadelphia waiting for our later flights out. That was more unbelievable than Alice's show.
Reality is always more unbelievable than theater, even when it is outstanding theater like Alice's show.