By Peter Hagerman III
In the mid-80s I played in a hardcore punk rock band, but I believe we stretched what had become a formulaic genre. The courtship of heavy metal and punk had begun, and there were odd instances of covers of hippie music from the sixties, but the scene was still very segregated. Outside of the Dead Kennedys, nobody was using elements of prog rock, which the reaction to was part of the impetus for punk in the first place. Maybe it’s a delusion of grandeur for me to say that we were a little ahead of the curve, but I feel like this has been accomplished in both my major bands. I’ll leave the accuracy of that statement to others, and that’s not really the focus of this essay/article anyway. I only mention it as stories of the Tallahassee punk and alternative/experimental music scene of the 80s, which seems to be growing in legend, even if it’s only in our own minds.
What I’m here to do is tell a story about an ill-fated (at least from my perspective) gig which happened in the context of that place and time.
My band Paisley Death Camp was on the bill opening for some touring band (can’t remember which one at present, but somebody reading this will know, I’m sure), and I think this was at Planet 10, but it may have been CA Chapel run by my friend and scene impresario George Barker.
Many of my memories from that time are disjointed and foggy, as those were the days of cheating death by chemical means on a weekly if not nightly basis.
As the story goes, the idea of anarchy was a central one to punk rock, and we fancied ourselves as revolutionaries, but also tried very hard to distance ourselves from what we saw as a somewhat wimpy message our older siblings, and in some cases, parents had embraced in the 60s counterculture. This was an aggressive, in your face, angry, confrontational, and desperate (get used to it) message. We certainly weren’t going to be ignored or marginalized, although both became the case in many ways, at least at the time.
This political stance being so attached to the music, and my absurdist sense of humor, gave me an idea.
I had decided to create a superhero persona for the performance called “Anarchy Man”. Quite easy really. I took an old cape from a costume my grandmother had sewn for me when I was little, and a ski mask on the forehead of which I had painted or drawn a prominent anarchy symbol. The costume was completed by wearing a particularly worn and torn pair of jeans in which the ass had almost completely disappeared.
As was my custom at the time I got sloppy drunk before the show. It may have even been over a course of days, and god only knows what other substances I had gotten into, what I may have eaten in the preceding days (beefaroni?).
As a result, I began to experience some digestive distress as show time approached. I was also in the habit of throwing caution to the wind in other ways and gambled on a fart. Needless to say, this wouldn’t be much of a story if I had won that bet.
Being quite loose in the caboose, the result was embarrassingly messy.
I didn’t have a car to run home and change, and if I remember correctly, our time to get on stage was nigh. I did the best I could by going to the restroom and cleaning my soiled posterior and attempted to hide the evidence that was in my boxers in the trash can. Another bet I lost.
So, for our set I performed in assless jeans and a ski mask. The alteration in my attire didn’t go unnoticed, and somebody noticed the evidence in the restroom trash.
It’s very funny now but was horribly embarrassing at the time.