As last night's debut entry crashed into the blogosphere establishment with minimal trauma, we feel heartened to barge further along before the night moods set in, into the year of Our Lord, 1977, appropriately known to our Far Eastern friends as the Year of the Snake. Last go round, there was mention of the first Cramps show, when the band was billed below the Dead Boys as "Special Showcase". Humor me. Check it out; it will make you smile. Double click the first CBGB's ad at the very end of the last Cramps posting. That first show was somewhat anticipated by Cleveland pals who communicated, as we all did in the analog years, via Pony Express. Today's post entry delivers some gasket-busting laughs, especially after the dark clouds rollin' in during Friday's midnight confessional. We'll be perusing some ancient teenage letters, kids, so I may as well prepare for instant blackmail. First up is some school boy stationery from Stiv Bator. The lad's marvellous sense of humor comes through in this ballyhoo preceding the first Dead Boys/Cramps double header.
Stiv was a gas. He's totally kidding in this letter so don't get excited. We were runaround pals, that's IT. So get your brain out of the bidet. Ha! Best thing I remember about him is a collage he had made of The World According to Stiv. He had gone and clipped every Rolling Stones picture out of any teen magazine he could find, and had glued the photos artistically onto a sheet of art board, along with pictures of pretty girls, and hep slogans an headlines from the daily papers. There was a pop art designy look to the thing. And I should mention that all of clip art of the Stones and girls and headlines radiated from, you guessed it, a zitty photograph of Stiv's teenage head! SB told me that it was very important for everyone to maintain a teenage complexion, which was easily accomplished, he said, with regular using peanut butter facial masque packs. The effect of plain or chunky Skippy or Jif piled onto one's face could cause a multitude of troubling teenage pimples on skin of any vintage. Funny, I've only ever known two people crazy for facial packs, and they were both guys-- Stiv with the PB and crazy Bradley, who was hooked on Queen Helene's Mint Julep facials, still available at your local cut rate drug store. (Word from Cheetah Chrome on hearing this is that Stiv already had bad skin and told the girls that he worked on zits on purpose!) Here's a letter from the legendary Babs Fraley. Bator is said to have burned her panties off on the dance floor of the Piccadilly Inn. I'm presuming he got them OFF her before he ignited the inflammable underthings. One would hope! Go Babs:
That night went very well for both bands, 714 aside! The Ohio crew was present, which had it a whole lot easier for a first timer like myself. If the Dead Boys thought there was something missing in the bass-less Cramps, they surely didn't let on. Hilly Kristal was crazy about the Dead Boys and they became regulars at CBGB's. The Cramps would play with them again in early '77.
Back in Cleveland, Stiv was a regular ring leader with the local rock n rollers, all ten of us. It was a single digit crew lead by Stiv who drove down to Youngstown when the Ramones played their first show outside of New York. We stopped by his super cool parents place on the way, Stiv's idea to say hey to the folks. Pretty remarkable. When I first got out of school and was job hunting unsuccessfully in Cleveland, he got me a job working with him at some type of semi-unscrupulous cold call service, where we phoned people up and tried to sell them tickets to the local firemen's ball. I was terrible at it, I don't think I sold a single ticket, but Stiv was selling left and right. When the Dead Boys hit New York the second time around, they pretty much took over our Snake Pit. One of the guys ended up dating Pam Blam, and then the whole gang moved in. It was officially too much when Johnny, I believe, kicked the steel front door off the hinges and fell into the kitchen covered in blood. That's when I went out for a walk and ran into an old classmate from KSU, who asked if I knew anyone who could apartment-sit for a few months while he went to South America. I took his pad without hesitation. That's the place I would share with Lydia Lunch and crazy Bradley, as he had finally gotten out of jail back in Ohio.
More found pix and letters here, this one's from 1976. I know because my hair was still blown out by an experiment in terror back in Ohio. My pal Michael, who was in the last stages of beauty school, talked me into a permanent wave which took quite a while to grow out. So don't be nasty.
Here's one snapped by Richard Robinson at his uptown pad, before we went in to Bell Sound to record. I've got another that features Ivy with a switchblade. I'll look for it. Incidentally, Richard filmed us there, too-- at his apartment, I mean, not at Bell Sound.
In '77, I needed to renew my Canadian passport so I checked into the local photo booth with my brand new haircut and Flamin Groovies badge. Nice snap but the consulate sent me away, saying my hair was too long and no campaign buttons, please!
Another big thrill for all concerned was getting a spread in Rock Scene. I'd had a letter to Wayne County published a couple years earlier, a serious inquiry about eyeliner and Dusty Springfield, two topics which to this day hog up much of my brain space. Anyway, getting a spread was too much, and the lovely and talented Stephanie Chernikowski took the snaps.
Am I sounding like Lisa Robinson yet? I really admired (still do), the action packed teen set writers like Lisa.. and Gloria Stavers before her-- these gals got paid to have fun 24 hours a day, every day. I really do still need both their autographs.
Here's a rare nice review from the Voice, from when it was still something close to "good". That would be when James Wolcott was on staff!
1976 CRAMPS DEMO LP ISHED IN SPAIN
Tomorrow's blog, we take the dog (Greyhound) back to Ohio. Seat belts, please.