|LIFE AS A LOSER #48: "YOUTH GONE MILD."|
|By Will Leitch|
I feel obliged to keep you, loyal readers and confidants, informed of all matters of consequence that somehow might slip under your radar. And if you live outside of New York - and, contrary to the belief of many of us New Yorkers, there apparently are plenty of you who do - you probably don’t know about this:
Currently playing, on Broadway, mind you, is Jekyll & Hyde, starring, get ready ... Sebastian Bach, the former lead singer of Skid Row.
Yes, that Sebastian Bach, the guy with the tight leather pants, the “18 and Life” guy, the guy who once sang, with a straight face, “Well I puke, I stink, bitch, get me a drink, ‘cause I’m payin’ for the room. I ain’t buying you breakfast, so keep your mouth busy and wrap your lips all around my attitude.” (That was not, in fact, Paul Simon; be not mistaken.)
He is starring in a musical. He is a thespian. (I wonder, can he get nominated for a Tony? God, I hope so.) There is an ad for Jekyll, a huge poster, right next to my apartment. I see it when I walk to work every day, can’t miss it. There he is, Sebastian himself, wild blond hair still flowing everywhere, shirt unbuttoned just enough to reveal the top half of his slightly-bloated-these-days-but-still-oh-so-hot-and-sweaty (oh!-so-hot-and-sweaty!) chest. He looks all tortured and demonic, save for a few puffy, tired facial remnants of years of snorting coke off groupies’ tube tops. “The face of evil has never looked this good,” the poster breathlessly proclaims.
You’re telling me! At the risk of veering dangerously into the land of hyperbole, this is truly the greatest happening in the history of mankind, save for maybe the invention of spray butter. Sebastian Bach ... on Broadway. Don’t believe me? Check out the official site; it’s right there, swear, no fooling. I mean, the guy is now being interviewed by Michael Musto of the Village Voice (and telling him “it was great hanging with you!” on his Web site). Suddenly, I have a feeling not only that some of the old gang back in Mattoon just found a reason to visit but also that the fucking world has gone nuttier than a fruitcake (and I mean a fruitcake with a bunch of nuts in it).
Remember yesterday? Walking hand in hand? Love letters in the sand? I remember you, Sebastian Bach.
There was this guy I hung out with for a few months in high school, when I was 15 and couldn’t drive yet, named Steve Tomer. He was older, chubby, kinda dumb, but a nice enough fella. OK, he was really dumb. He prided himself on “being the only one of you motherfuckers with the balls” to do that stupid thing where you pushed “play” on The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon at the same time “to blow your fucking mind!” He actually once told me I’d one day do well with “the ladies” because “you don’t mind taking showers and all that shit you have to do.” (I later dated his sister, so there you have it.)
He was the type of guy who joined the scholastic-bowl team because he figured he could give all us dorks wedgies and noogies, and we wouldn’t fight back. (We didn’t.) That said, he wasn’t menacing enough to do much worse; his major offense was his enormous mullet - I mean, crazy-ass mullet; he looked like Billy Ray Cyrus being molested by Kip Winger - his obnoxious use of the word bitchin’ and his propensity to wear Dokken T-shirts. We were the only scholastic-bowl team in the conference whose regular reading material included Kerrang!.
But Steve had a car, and at 15, I needed to know someone with a goddamned car - desperately. Mind you, his car, a rusted-out gray 1988 Civic with no rearview mirror, was noxious and potentially fatal; its muffler kept falling off, and he always showed off how he could take the key out of the ignition and put it in his pocket while traveling down I-57 at 80 miles an hour. As the car shook bolts kept shooting out at you from the dash. It didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t at home, getting yelled at for losing the remote control while the goddamned game was on, and that freedom was worth the price of having to listen to Anthrax. (Steve also once told me that Public Enemy’s version of “Bring the Noise” “sucked ass” compared to Anthrax’s.)
Most of my fellow scholastic-bowl teammates kept their distance from Steve, but I needed rides around town. And it was through Steve that I experienced Skid Row for the first time.
Now, some of us came of age to R.E.M., some to Nirvana, some to Hammer, some even, heavens, to Mötley Crüe. But there was no album Steve and I played more during that critical time in a growing boy’s life than Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind.