Pat stood at the Ticketmaster terminal, clattering the keys and watching the upcoming shows scroll past on the black and green screen. “No way,” he said.
“Jane’s is playing a bunch of dates at the John Anson Ford. Five shows.”
“Cool,” I said. “How much?”
“Ten bucks each,” Pat said.
“I don’t have fifty bucks.”
Ken approached the counter. “What’s up?”
“Jane’s at the Anson,” Pat said.
“Print ’em,” Ken said. Printing tickets was a commitment. Ticketmaster didn’t give refunds, even for errors. If the store printed a ticket, the store owed Ticketmaster the face value. “James, you in?”
“I don’t have fifty bucks.”
“Come on,” Pat said. “At least come with us one night.”
“Okay,” I said.
We carpooled over in Ken’s beater, winding past the Hollywood Bowl and on up the hill. Ken parked and we marched to the little outdoor amphitheater. The freaks were out in force. Phil, a regular at Music Plus, gave us the ‘what’s up’ head nod, his mohawk flying high, the chain-tattooed sides of his head freshly shaved. Corsets, Doc Martens, dreadlocks and eyeliner—lots of eyeliner. Twelve hundred Hollywood kids packed into a notch cut into the Cahuenga Pass.
The stage looked like the setting for a ritual killing on Mannix or something: A big Elvis tapestry, Christmas lights, candles, pinatas, collages. A big banner read “El Ritual de lo Habitual.” A band named Pigmy Love Circus came out on stage and pissed off the crowd with a song named “Cold Chili Pepper,” a jab at the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ recently deceased guitarist.
And then, in the dark of a warm LA evening, smoke rolled across the stage and Jane’s Addiction crawled from behind the stage, over and around the amps and the drum riser like Lynchian nightmares. Perry wore a jacket over his black corset and striped tights straight off of an Oz witch. His hands were hidden inside heavy, elbow length rubber gloves, the kind one wears when handling deadly chemicals. I remember green, too. Maybe it was his dreadlocks.
All of this accompanied by “Up the Beach,” Nothing’s Shocking’s instrumental album opener but for a single word: Home. I was. This was my “Beatles on Sullivan” moment, the electric jolt of finding my home. For the next twenty minutes or twenty hours the band tore through material from Nothing’s Shocking and their self-titled Triple X debut. Perry was priest, shaman, nightmare, barker: 1,200 hypnotized kids hanging on his every word.
Wish I was ocean sized / They cannot move you man / No one tries
Had a dad / Big and strong / I turned around and I found my daddy gone
I’d never seen anything like it. The rhythm section was insane. Hearing them live, the importance of Eric A.’s bass lines was undeniable. They were the framework, the armature upon which hung Perry’s deceptively simple lyrics and Dave Navarro’s guitar heroics.
They even played “Thank You Boys,” Nothing’s Shocking’s 58 second lounge instrumental. Perry declared it “tortilla time.” Sexy women emerged from the wings and threw tortillas at the audience. It reminded me of those junior high weekends in midnight theaters, chucking toast and rice in time with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
That was it. That was the voodoo. Just as Rocky Horror spilled over into the theater, corseted Perry broke the wall separating stage and seats. He didn’t just break it: He knocked it down, dry humped it, then tossed tortillas through the wreckage.
The next day Jody came home furious. “Why is our account overdrawn?” she asked.
“I’ll pay it back. I just needed money fast.”
“What did you suddenly need 40 dollars for?” she asked.
“Home,” I said.