Villain or Victim ?
One: Tulsa, Oklahoma
is a nice place if you have nothing to do and you want to keep it that way. Fortunately
for me, it had snowed that day so, at least, I could sniper the people on the
street with iceballs from the roof of the Howard Johnsons where I was staying.
Unfortunately, I didnt have gloves so I had to stop after half an hour cause
my hands felt like they were being donated to science. So I did the only thing
that was left I hung around the bar until the Sex Pistols opened up at
leads the Pistols out and hes a great routine - black leather badboy with
a Frankenstein walk. The Pistols do their standard great show. Rotten is a hard
core star but, to my own surprise, Vicious is the more interesting of the two.
two thirds of the way through the set, an outrageous piece of ass - blond, green-eyes,
hot bodied and dressed like a stripper - swaggers into Caines and deposits
herself at the foot of the stage midway between Rotten and Vicious. She looks
up at Sid but he turns and spits at the audience, scrunging up his lips to the
shape of a crushed beer can. The chick thinks this is the ultimate and shakes
her ass over to Vicious. He remains firm in ignoring the broad, who is obviously
reacting to the stuffiness of Caines by opening up a few buttons of her
low-cut blouse. Vicious takes notice and in one motion 1. winks, 2. mouths "backstage",
3. nods in that direction and 4. picks up the broad.
the show there was a mad rush of press people towards Rotten and a couple of people
to each of the other Pistols. I instantaneously noticed three things: The broad
was with Sid, she was no ordinary fox and she was a he! I introduce myself to
Sid who responds with the expected. So fucking what?
em, I figured. People should always have to pay for their mistakes. So I
whip out a couple of cameras and start shooting. Sid mugs a couple, then gets
bored and screams. What the hell are you taking so many millions of pictures
of me for ? Amused, I reply. Cause youre with my sister.
Part Two: A Vicious
been co-hosting a cable television show in New York, The Efrom Allen Show. Wed
had Blondie, The Ramones and Divine on the show and I figured Vicious was a natural.
I approached him one night at Maxs and asked him if hed like to be
on with Stiv Bators, Sunday at midnight, LIVE. I told him there was no censorship
and that the television audience would call in with questions to which he could
supply answers, laugh at, hang up on or handle any other way he saw fit. Sounds
like fun, said Sidney, quite friendly, actually, and we set the date. Sid
then went back into his coma, hunched in a chair like a great boxer
who had just been defeated. I took two photographs and left. It depressed me to
see him so down, especially since I remembered him as the most outgoing Pistol.
have to admit that I didnt expect him to show. On my way over to the studio,
I begin inventing a song and dance act to fill in the one hour time spot. There
are many things you can accuse Sid of, but being reliable certainly isnt
one of them.
entered the studio to find Sid and Nancy Vicious along with Bators and Cynthia
of the B-Girls seated at the guest table. I tried to act like I wasnt in
the least bit surprised. Efrom Allen hastily handed me a microphone and the show
was on the air before I even had a chance to take a piss.
and I do our little Whats Happening Around Town rap and then
Efrom introduces Sid by playing his single, My Way, as serviceable
a personality portrait as any one song could be. All six of us are laughing our
asses off and Sidney, of course, is laughing the hardest as he noted, Its
really fuckin great, aint it ?
give my "pocket guide to punk" so the T.V. audience can have a little
food for thought before Efrom opens the show to two-way television, where the
audience becomes the interviewer by calling us on the phone.
All the lines are lit up like Christmas lights and the first caller addresses
himself generally to the six of us in one of those highbrow, college professor
voices: In the 60s, it seems that all our rock stars were freaks.
But now, in the 70s, it seems the thing to be is a monster. What
Sid cuts the guy off with a vengeance, Speak for yourself, you jerk off.
Hang up, you fucking cunt.
next question comes from a more lowbrow listener and is directed to Efrom and
myself: Why do you have creeps like this on your show ? What
Again Sidney pounces back with the answer. Speak for yourself, you pervert!!!
Sid lets out a belch that probably registered more decibels than the Concorde,
then he sits back, either straightens or messes up his hair and proceeds to make
a series of distorted faces as the camera zooms in on him. Sid was loose now.
The initial tension that began the show was buried (the guy who runs the station
had put these tacky plastic flowers in front of us and Sid wanted them out. The
TV guy said, in his asshole way. Theyre getting dry, arent they?
So Sid doused them with the water pitcher.)
show stayed on this pitch for the entire hour, people calling with insults or
ridiculous questions, Sid chucking back vicious answers. You probably missed the
show, so let me give you the highlights.
girl, about mid-twenties, calls. She has a giddy, dumb-blonde voice:
My girlfriend and I think Sid is sexy. (The camera goes on Sid who rises from
his seat and starts to bellydance). We think hes real cute and he should
be in a movie, like Naked Lunch...
(Falling down to his seat and answering in a bored, disgusted voice). And what
should I be, a salami?
This caller is around 45, probably a semi-successful businessman, much too "intelligent?"
for this rocknroll stuff.
Whats all this skunk rock about ? (Sid cracks up laughing) That is what
you call it, right, skunk rock..?.
Bators: Nah. thats your breath.
Maybe so, but Im not picking my nose (getting a bit louder, a little outraged)
or dribbling spit in front of thousands and thousands of people.
No, but I bet youd like to be.
The next caller, finally, seems to know something about whats happening.
Did you really spit blood back in the face of the girl who punched you in the
mouth in Dallas?
Id like to congratulate you on that.
(Swallowing a laugh) I am rather far out, arent I?
Caller: Are you playing anywhere in the near future?
Sid will be at Maxs next week, then in Boston.
You shouldnt have told em ! Now Ill have all these assholes
at my gigs.
Caller: Hi. I work for a record company in L.A. and I wonder if youd be
interested in doing a few tracks on Ron Woods album?
(totally pissed) Do me a favour. I aint gonna play with that cunt.
isnt punk bigger in America?
Sid: Because you assholes listen to the
Grateful Dead, thats why.
When the show is over, Stiv Bators and I look at each other and laugh. I ask Sid
if hed like to go somewhere and have a drink. He maintains his arrogant
profile, snorting, No, but you can take us all out for dinner. I look
at him and laugh. Some people dont even know which players are on their
teams. Even though Sid rarely drops his guard, and even then for moments at a
time, these glimpses are enough to assure you that somewhere inside him is an
intelligent human being trapped inside an image he created. I wouldnt want
to have to live up to his name.
Three: A Backstage Vicious Rap
called Sid up to set up another interview, a few questions I thought he might
answer reasonably. As usual, this had to be cleared with his manager,
Nancy Vicious. It seemed like a bad trip to have someone like Sid, a guy with
leadership qualities (indeed, Neo-Nazi dictator leadership!) being yes-and-noed
into a coma by some Philadelphian bleached blond with a put on British accent.
As a friend of mine put it, Sids like a bull being led around by a
ring through his nose. Still, Sidney interests me in spite of his depressing
condition. He interests me because what he has going for him is beyond talent:
Sid is a unique character living a movie with a plot he knows nothing about.
we decided to meet at Maxs on Thursday night as Sid was gigging with The
Idols there. It was a situation I didnt care much for in that I figured
that he probably scheduled all the press for one night, that thered be a
ton of budding reporters crammed into the dressing room and theyd all have
to (try to) interview him at once. I came on Friday night and, as it turns out,
my paranoia was well founded. You should ave seen this place last
night, the guitarist marvels, nothing but journalists in the front.
Writin and writin even during the show. And photographers ? The place
was full of em. Fortunately, I had the run of the place this night
and planted myself on the right side of the stage to tape the show and take some
pix. Sid was last to make it to the stage. He was white as a methadone cup, holding
his stomach with both hands and showing a pained expression that made him look
like an exaggerated poster for dangerous drugs. Despite whatever chemical disadvantage
Vicious began from he managed to pull himself together for a fairly good set,
after which I scrambled up to the dressing room to interview Sid.
I waited in the room for about 40 minutes until Sid made his appearance. All of
the Idols,, their girlfriends, Sids girl, a few friends, groupies and some
employees of Maxs gathered around as I began to ask questions. I felt like
I had come to marry the chiefs daughter. Somebody asks Sid a question and
he says. Shut up. Im givin an interview. Sid then assumes
the posture that he is to maintain for the entire rap - slouched in a chair with
his head hung down. I ask Sid how he likes America and he half mumbles, Its
alright, much better than England. Everybody just sits around complaining in England.
As for staying in America. Sid yawns, Yeah
maybe. I hope to,
then slouches a bit further. The Idols have about the same reaction to Sid as
he to them, a temporary situation - chump change as drummer Jerry
Nolan calls it. The only people I have to play with at the moment,
is Sidneys rendition. And as to what recording the future might bring, your
guess is as good as Sids in that he hasnt got much material and isnt
writing much either. Perhaps Sid is interested in something besides music, the
Pistols do after all, have a movie coming out Ill never do anything
besides rock n roll, swears Sidney.
for reasons unbeknown to me perks up a bit at this point. His answers are sharper,
more loudly vocalized and generally brief. Sort of one liners. Something like
Do you go to movies much?
No. Its too far to walk.
Have you seen much of the other Pistols?
If I see Steve or Paul I might pass time with them. I dont talk to John
Rotten. I was so glad when that band broke up just to tell him what I really thought
Do you have any hobbies?
You should have been an American.
(Sid gets very up here, joking and bragging. He is most animated when talking
about his sexual prowess.) American girls are alright. I picked up a sex change
in Dallas. She was really good.
I remember her. That was Tulsa. She was a he, I knew that much.
I wasnt sure until I got it home.
What did she do, model?
(With an "are you kidding!" expression) I dont know. I didnt
ask any questions. (Sid does a little Shakespeare act) Ask me no questions and
Ill tell you no lies.
Or less lies. What's your ambition?
To have fun.
Was it your idea to do My Way?
It was somebody elses idea to do it but it was my idea to do it my way.
Did they have any objections?
Yeah, plenty. I overruled them.
Did you ever like Lou Reed?
Yeah, I always liked Lou Reed. The Velvets came out when I was 10 and I loved
that stuff. (Sid turns to the Idols and shouts across the room, "Hey, let
s do Waitin For My Man tomorrow night.") And you know what
I love is in Sister Ray where he mixes it so you cant quite
hear whats going on.
Yeah, he does that in Kicks too.
(Nodding) I like that song.
and I sat up in the office of Maxs Kansas City talking about various rock
artists we liked Bowie, Eno and, mostly, Lou Reed. We talked about the possibility
of hooking Sid up with Lou Reed and letting them talk about the history of rock
or whatever. Sid thought it was a great idea (Id love to talk to Lou
Reed. Theres a lot of things Id like to ask him.) and Lou was
in town so I tried to set it up. I shouldnt have done it, tried to give
Sid a script, because Sid is a character living in a movie whose plot he must
know nothing about. And now the movie has a suicide or a murder in it. But Sidney
Vicious created himself out of the boutique manager John Simon Ritchie and, as
his mother put it, Sid Vicious? It was all a joke at the start. There was
nothing vicious about him. He just got a lot of fun out of being outrageous...
(but) he began to believe all the publicity about himself. So the plot thickens
but still, Sid Vicious knows nothing about plots.
every rock writer in New York becomes an investigative reporter. And crack young
journalists see their careers opening before their eyes ...,His face pale
and scratched, the dazed looking Vicious muttered curses and, Ill smash
your cameras as he was led from the hotel where the body of Nancy Laura Spungen,
20, clad in blood-soaked black lace bra and panties, was found crumbled under
the bathroom sink. Thank the New York Post for that account.
Yeah, I thought it was Mickey Spillane too. So Malcolm McLaren, after checking
with the American Stock exchange, jets onto the scene and the next thing you know
Sid is out on bail, living with his mother in The Seville Hotel where prostitutes
are prostitutes (not dancers) and dealers are dealers (not artists). That's about
the difference between it and the Chelsea. True to form. Sid tries to commit suicide
but, alas fails.
yeah, yeah. Everybodys got the hot scoop and the bigger the publication
the insidier the gossip. But what they don t understand is that Sid is a guy who
gave a taxi driver his guitar because he forgot his wallet. Sid is a guy who cut
his wrists, poured his blood on his cereal and ate it just to heavy out a cowboy
in some hick town. And Sid has moulded himself that way,into a movie without a
plot where he is the star.
originally appeared in the magazine New Wave)
and compiled by Phil Singleton.
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