Photo by Ted Van Pelt; CC by 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Faster Pussycat's Taime Down in 2008
Tonight, Respectable Street revives the spirit of good ol' sleaze-rock with a performance by Sunset Strip staple Faster Pussycat. It's been almost 20 years since the group's last charting album -- that was 1992's Whipped!, so no, contrary to legend, Nirvana did not instantly kill the L.A. scene dead.
Still, you have to hand it to Taime (pronounced TAY-me) Downe, the group's frontman and its only original member. Since the group broke up the first time in 1993, he's doggedly kept at the rock scene, following the heavyish sounds he was playing towards the end of the band's first phase and exploring new turf. That meant industrial-rock a la Pigface, a group with whom he played briefly in the '90s.
Confusingly, the band reunited in 2001 with the original members, three of whom later went off to start their own version of Faster Pussycat. Downe eventually won the name war, and, with a retooled, Marilyn Manson-esque fashion sense, has continued to tour and record occasional new material.
That's all well and good, but the band's gloriously debauched heyday was its best period, and Downe obliges by playing old hits. Still, they heyday was probably best captured in one of the most criminally underrated rock docs of all time, the awkwardly named 1988 masterpiece The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.
As a sequel to her much-acclaimed, punk-centric first Decline movie, filmmaker Penelope Spheeris headed to the Sunset Strip for a dry, hilarious look at the stars and wannabes on the scene. The vibe and fashion had to have inspired, four years later, her film-length take on Wayne's World!
In honor of the show at Respectable's, here's a look at Faster Pussycat's moment of cinematic glory, and four of the other best moments from the film.
Faster Pussycat reveals the keys to its success
The movie depicts the band as one of the de facto bands at the old hive of the L.A. rock scene, the Cathouse. In this interlude, the band, then boasting five members, comes off as a bunch of booze-loving twentysomethings incapable of taking anything seriously. Can't hate on that too much, even after Downe professes himself a "sexual monster." The clip also includes the performance of a song whose refrain is uber-classy, "I got your number on the bathroom wall!"
Unknown rockers talk day jobs (or lack thereof), makeup, and other important details
Know that guy in the super-cool local band who swears he's going to get his big beak, and uses it it as an excuse to be a bum -- or just works at shitty retail? Yeah, that's part of some things never changing. Note that you've never heard of any of the people in this montage. A personal favorite is the fellow at 2:30 in this clip, who, later in the film, expresses his utter certainty that his band, Wet Cherri, is destined to make it. Spoiler alert: They didn't, although as recent as this past January, they were maintaining this Comic Sans-filled page on MySpace.
Ozzy Osbourne makes breakfast
In this excerpt, a still pretty coherent Ozzy cooks a full morning meal while recounting the woes of the rock star life. Too bad his hands, already shaky at that point, make certain things like cooking bacon and pouring orange juice so difficult. (This shot, sadly, was staged -- but let's roll with it for cinematic/emotional impact.)
White girls grind '80s style in the infamous Gazzari's dance contest
It's hard to imagine an era in which white people danced sexily to rock music for money and prizes. But lo and behold, that's what they did at Gazzari's, an infamous L.A. club run by a then-almost-octogenarian gent with a proud penchant for barely legal blondes. Once a year, the band guys would get to judge a "dance contest" and crown a "Miss Gazzari's," a cheesy pre-mating ritual Spheeris so helpfully recorded for anthropological research. If you have any kind of feminist leanings, be warned you might weep.
Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. proves himself top in the running for the worst human being in rock and roll
Watch as he drunkenly lazes in a pool raft, at night, as he alternately takes swigs from a bottle and recounts tales of groupie mistreatment. "I've had women in my hotel room, four of them at a time," he says, "and I tell them, 'Hey, take your drawers off,' and if they don't, I call my security guard next door and he throws them right out." Bizarrely, he tells this glibly while his confused, surely put-upon mother sits nearby. Minutes later, he admits he's a "full-blown alcoholic" and admits to suicidal thoughts.