Wednesday, October 22, 2014


By Madeline Bocaro
Yesterday (10/21) was Lux Interior's birthday. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 62, due to a heart condition. The only thing in his heart was rock n' roll. We thought he was indestructible – a towering, lanky, handsome Frankenstein, creating utter chaos onstage and mock-terrorizing his loving audience. Lux was always running amongst us, getting us involved in his theatrics. He resembled an evil Elvis, but his performances were way too wild, crazy and fun to be evil!

Lux and his beloved Ivy were a wonderful team - the Sonny & Cher of Transylvania. Her echoing, twangy, ghoulish Gretsch sound characterized the Cramps' style. Ivy would stand there, stoic, sexy, snarling, smacking her gum and playing it cool. Yet, an occasional side glance at Lux and his antics would always get her eyes rolling, or force her to crack a smile!

Since 1975, the Cramps entertained us with their psychobilly surf punk. So many gigs ended with their superb demented version of 'Surfin' Bird'. Lux would almost swallow the microphone every time. If he had sung a straight baritone ballad, it would have been hauntingly beautiful…but beauty wasn't his thing. He was a true, lovable cartoon monster - a real-life amalgam of Frankenberry and Count Chocula, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Dick Dale.

The 6 foot tall Lux wore stiletto heels like a pro. One night onstage at CBGB, wearing a pair too wide for his feet, we watched with glee as he poured a pitcher of water over himself, filling his too-wide shoes to the brim. It's a wonder he wasn't electrocuted! On another festive occasion, Lux plopped a hollowed-out Jack-O-Lantern over his head, which complemented the red Spanish senorita dress he wore, with matching high heels of course! His favorite place seemed to be inside the bass drum, where he'd curl up after smashing it with his own head.

Nothing can erase my memories of the Cramps' 70s double bills at CBGB with the Ramones. SO MUCH FUN! The Cramps' cleverly insane lyrics always made me laugh. "Stick out your can – 'cos I'm your garbage man!" They were trashy and classic at once.

The Cramps counted Beavis & Butthead amongst their many fans. As fans themselves of surrealism, they immortalized Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase in the song, 'Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs'. And who did not revel in the pure joy of the 'Bikini Girls with Machine Guns' video? Nobody ever had more fun than the crowd at the Cramps' classic 1978 gig at the California State Mental Institution. Mental indeed!

We'll miss you Lux. Rock on the moon! Enjoy the zombie dance, and keep on singing your gravest hits in heaven! And never forget…Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow!

Friday, October 03, 2014


Soundwalk Collective
Killer Road
French Institute Alliance Francaise, October 2, 2014
By Madeline Bocaro

Last night, the Priestess of Punk and Prose paid tribute to the Godmother of Goth. Patti Smith channeled her heroine and friend, the original femme fatale, Nico. Soundwalk Collective, featuring Patti's daughter Jesse Paris Smith provided the instrumentation for this 'sound exploration' of Nico's death in 1988 while riding her bicycle in Ibiza.

The stage setup, white bowls in various sizes, several synthesizers, white discs turntables and wind chimes looked like a Yoko Ono performance piece was about to take place. Patti began reciting Nico's 'Purple Lips'.

He reminds all the laughter
That has left me going down
And my heart is falling silently
Into the driving evening sound

Sometimes we must keep from bringing
Certain thoughts up to the light
And a matter of the winning
In a case of two lips lies

I have been looking out for him
From over this broken bridge
The safest place it seems to be
To ever reach his purple lips

It was more of a séance than a concert. We occupied the netherworld where Nico resided all her life, and where she still exists. Beautiful and alone.

Nico's gloomy magnificence – her true essence - was Patti's focus.  Mesmerizing black and white films flickered; forests, oceans, clouds, rivers sunsets -  all rippling and distorting in slow motion. Angelic children and women -  apparitions of Nico - float naked in lakes or wander through the woods, searching

Patti read several of Nico's final, unpublished poems and lyrics. 'My Only Child', 'I Will Be Seven', 'Saeta', 'Evening of Light' and more. Soundwalk Collective provided ambient drones, soundscapes from nature and sound samples of Nico's harmonium (which Patti replaced when it was stolen from Nico in 1978). The members of the Collective resemble three Brian Enos operating suitcase synths, while Jesse Paris Smith alternates on wind chimes and manipulates the singing bowls without touching them. Bird sounds, crickets, rustling trees, footsteps in snow and other ambient noise brought Nico's spirit nearer to us. It was sometimes disturbing and ominous, but alternately serene.

Nico's lyrics were sacred, creepy, mournful, poetic – like the impossibility of her album title, Desertshore (1970). Her deep Germanic monotone resonated in hypnotic harmonium based melodies, transporting us to a cavernous cathedral. Nico could tell us all about death. She was always so close to it – in a constant state of decay.

Nico: A true artist must self destruct. I think I'm already doing it. Don't you? Can't you tell by the way I live? It is a continual battle, a drama, being a stranger to myself. I don't have any references to know who I really am…I mean to be really always in exile. I'm a total stranger to myself. Except sometimes when I get reminded. (The Perils of Nico by Jim Condon 1980).

Nico, a war-torn child of 1940s Berlin reluctantly became a supermodel. Then, a stunning ice queen - the tall blonde chick oozing cool in the white pantsuit, singing with the Velvet Underground. She later adapted a more natural and realistic visage - a dark brooding brunette enigma –a crooning cadaver, a phantom - enrobed and shrouded. Her true self. Patti Smith channeled the real Nico, and it was truly haunting.

Soundwalk Collective

Killer Road