I kinda think I might go see her again tonight. I need to let off some steam.
If you have, in any way, missed out on the legacy of GG Allin, take a minute and watch this video, before proceeding. Or, as a follow up, try this one. (Or to see the gentler side of GG, check out this clip, which begins with his cover of Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" and then cuts to him signing stuff for fans at an in-store, more or less professional, witty, engaging and even generous).
If any of that is eyebrow-raising enough to intrigue you, the bad news (some might say) is that you will never get a chance to see GG Allin live, since he no longer is (though there was an entertaining joke online awhile back about a holographic GG throwing feces at Coachella crowds).
Why GG Allin Matters").
But take heart! If you really feel like you've missed out, Betty Bathory's GG Allin tribute, BB Allin and the Stabbers, onstage tonight at Pat's Pub, is hilarious and brilliant and probably about as close as most of us would ever want to get to the real thing, anyhow. Even people offended by GG - a brutal, fucked-up human being, by most accounts, who spent time in jail for hurting a woman in an ugly and likely nonconsensual sexual transaction; who routinely assaulted his fans when he performed; who abused every drug he could find up until he died of an overdose, having had his last night alive, smeared with blood and feces, caught on film as he rampaged through the streets in his underwear after a gig; who occasionally, if memory serves, blew his brother (or had his brother blow him?) while they were performing; who had hookers pee on his face on film (see Todd "The Hangover" Phillips' film about GG, Hated); and who smeared himself (and others) when onstage with real shit, real blood, real pee - unlike Betty - can rise above their objections to him as an "artist" and human being (which, really, are kind of reasonable; if GG hadn't died of a heroin overdose in the 1990's, if he were somehow still touring, I would seriously think twice about going to see him live) and go to this show, assured that they're not seeing anyone who has actually hurt people onstage (at least that anyone has told me about; I mean, who knows how Betty spends her free time). Nor are you seeing anyone actually harming themselves, or being hurt, onstage (the bottle was fake and broke like water; it would have prolly hurt more if Betty had simply SLAPPED my head with her hand). It's theatre - Grand Guignol theatre, where instead of blood and guts you're seeing simulated drug use, self harm, and so forth - but it's DEEPLY interactive and unique, and being performed by a woman, to boot, which, you know, there's probably a feminist argument for endorsing, though let me off the hook in trying to construct one, okay?
I generally don't care much about tribute acts but this one is brilliant.
Betty Bathory as BB Allin by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission
Bloody Betty has been doing horrifying, horror-themed burlesque for some time in Vancouver - I talked about her history a bit for my Westender article, awhile back, including the notorious "fish incident" - but she's also a pretty great punk singer. I enjoyed her Sex Pistols tribute, the Fuck Guns, plenty - but a Sex Pistols tribute seems actually pretty limiting for a woman of Betty's tastes and talents. GG Allin, in contrast, makes the Sex Pistols look like the Beatles, offering her a COMBINATION of transgressive theatre and music, that she might fully manifest her demons onstage. I've missed her Fistmiss Misfits tribute, which looks from the photos to be pretty amazing, but I totally vouch for how WELL Betty and company do their thing as BB Allin and the Stabbers. It was in a different lineup that I caught them, of course - the band tonight now features - Little Guitar Army/ Strugglers/ Crummy frontman Bert Man on guitar - but Bert's great, too, so...
To be clear, there is stuff about GG Allin I don't like - songs of his I won't listen to, that I remove from any playlist they appear on, that I don't want to own on record, etcetera. Those who dig into his lyrics will find what may or may not be tongue-in-cheek references to exposing yourself to kids, for instance (say in the song "Expose Yourself to Kids"); or songs revelling in people dying of AIDS (or anything; GG often sung the praises of death and violence, with one of his last backup bands being called the Murder Junkies); or indulging in no-holds barred, ugly (though again, possibly not sincere) racism. You never QUITE know what GG "really" believes - since some of his lyrics seem homophobic, for instance, but he'll also say things like, "I've got nothing against faggotry" - an odd turn of phrase, but there it is - and then pose in photos with - I actually can't remember if the image in Hated is of a guy sucking GG's (famously tiny) penis, or GG sucking a guy's penis, but it's in there. I don't want to make too strong a case for his work, you know? There is probably some social utility to blowing off steam with an outpouring of every antisocial, misanthropic feeling or thought you can manifest, in a sort of foul-smelling "safe zone" where the only thing you're safe from is being told what you can't do. There is SOME reason (besides sheer voyeurism) that people went to see GG Allin's shows, you know? (Often, we gather, WANTING to fight, and hell, maybe even wanting to get some of GG's fluids on them, to boot).
But Betty isn't GG. In many ways, by virtue of being not real, of being theatre, she's better. Not that this act would ever EXIST without GG's, uh, "contributions," but there are times - horror movies themselves are another example - where the real thing really ISN'T what you want, where the distinction between reality and simulation is really, really important.
Plus, I sure had fun last time. (And I haven't caught Crackwhore yet, and gather they're pretty great as musicians, though grindcore isn't really my thing...). I wonder if there's anyone I can cadge a ride off...? I can't miss the last Skytrain - I gotta be up in the morning to work... Hmmm.