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[whitespace] Nashville Pussy Janet Jackson Eat Your Heart Out: Nashville Pussy lead guitarist Ruyter Suys can hold her own in the world of trashy rock.

Rocking's Shocking

Nashville Pussy and a slew of morally suspect bands lead the newest wave of shock rock

By Mike Connor & Steve Palopoli

WHEN IT COMES to the sleaziest, trashiest, most extreme end of the rock & roll spectrum, sometimes the truth hurts. And Nashville Pussy frontman Blaine Cartwright is more than willing to spread the pain around, judging from what he has to say about his band's new album Say Something Nasty: "It's our best one yet, and we're gonna shove it up America's ass!"

Jaded rock fans, however, are not so easily convinced. "It's all been done before," they'll say, sphincters still smarting from the last band that shoved its new album up their ass. And it's hard to disagree with them, just running through the catalog of shock-rock acts that have been sticking it to the American obsession with "family values" over the years: the pioneering freak shows of Alice Cooper, the masochistic onslaughts of Iggy Pop and the Germs' Darby Crash, the brutality of the Mentors, the horny sleaze of the Cramps.

And then there are the legends that, regardless of their validity, still teased and taunted our imaginations. Who cares if Ozzy never really refused to start a show until the puppies he'd passed out into the crowd were returned lifeless to the stage? Good for the puppies. And never mind that Gene Simmons never sliced his frenum, thus enabling him to seal an envelope at arm's length. Even if he didn't do it, surely there are one or two hundred diehard KISS fans out there that did.

Point is, we've been entertained, challenged, left speechless and probably hopelessly scarred by these rock antics, and bands like Nashville Pussy, who bring their an all-out psychobilly raunchfest to the Catalyst Friday, are carrying on the trash-rock tradition.

"The name comes from an intro to a Ted Nugent song," says Cartwright. "Ted said, 'I dedicate this song to all the Nashville pussy out there.' We were playing that song at the time, we had two women in the band and we lived in Nashville, so it just seemed to fit."

Husband and wife Cartwright (lead vocals, guitar) and Ruyter Suys (lead guitar) front the four-piece band, with Jeremy Thompson (drums) and Katie Lynn Campbell (bass) backing them up. Their debut album Let Them Eat Pussy was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1998, which they lost to Metallica.

Cartwright still hopes to win a Grammy, but you wouldn't guess from his songwriting. Titles like "Keep on Fuckin'," "Down at the Jack Shack," and "I'm Going to Hitchhike Down to Cincinnati and Kick the Shit Out of Your Drunk Daddy" would make for an interesting award presentation, though.

The band's live show is an aggressive, turbo-charged, sexed-up free-for-all. It's stripped down to the bare essentials of shock rock: skin, sweat, nasty words and hard f'n' rock. But what would NP be doing if they had an unlimited budget to spend on stage gimmicks? Off the cuff, Cartwright says, "I don't know, maybe have thousand-foot dildo cannons shooting out vanilla ice cream into the crowd, I'm not really sure. I don't think it's gonna happen any time soon though."

What's amazing is that the brave new world of shock-rock has already gone far beyond Cartwright's dildo dreams. Here's a rundown of some of the genre's heaviest hitters, in case you're shopping around:

The Genitorturers

Easily the reigning royal family of the current shock-rock scene. They're even superfreakier now than when they used to come through Palookaville every once in a while back in the day. Lead singer and actual dominatrix Gen has been known to take the stage wearing a collection of vibrators on her utility belt, which she proceeds to toss one at a time out to the crowd. Sort of like that safe-sex workshop you went to at UCSC, only you can dance to it. Various nubile, corseted young things of both sexes are brought out for Her Genness to thrash, but depending on your sleaze threshold, things start getting uncomfortably oogy around the time (a) women dressed as nuns get rosaries pulled out of places the baby Jesus doesn't want to know about, (b) the piercings begin, or (c) a fat man dressed in nothing but dirty underwear and a Japanese baby mask gets strapped to a table and spun vertically for several minutes nonstop. How much of this is faked we have no idea, but we have a nagging suspicion it's not as much as one might hope. The Genitorturers have also sharpened their kinky industrial sound lately on bondage-fetish anthems like "Machine Love" and "Asphyxiate," meaning they sound better than most sleaze bands. Go for the darkwave cover of "I Touch Myself;" stay for the wearing of the gigantic mechanical phallus.

Extreme Elvis

Sure, Elvis was on a downward spiral, but who could have imagined what he might have become? Extreme Elvis embodies the answer: He's got a gut the size of Nashville, he gets drunk and naked in concert, and oh yeah--he likes to do number one and number two onstage. Or at least he used to. Extreme Elvis has been banned at more venues than he can shake his stick at, which is probably for the best, because he's out of control. At a Covered Wagon show safely streamed via internet, EE threatened to crap onstage if the staff didn't bring him a beer. Then, buck naked with his pants around his ankles, he took a big hit of nitrous and sang "Devil in Disguise" in a deep, druggy baritone. The club owners got mad when he stuck their mic where the sun shouldn't shine, but he really brought his point home when he took his porcelain throne and let diehard fans watch him grunt his way through "Love Me Tender." Sinatra had nothing on this guy.

Texas Terri I Don't Want Candy: At least not if it came out of the notorious sleaze rocker Texas Terri.

Texas Terri

Perfectly charming and sweet in person, Texas Terri is savage and crass onstage. With her flaming red hair and ink-laden body usually exposed to the elements, T.T. grinds more than just her raw vocal chords atop the trash-rock sounds of her backing band the Stiff Ones. But she still manages to dole out a bit of her inner sweetness to her audiences. As she told the Cleveland Scene, "I used to shove Gummi worms up my pussy--Marilyn Manson gave me this idea--and pulled them out, one at a time, to feed to the punk boys at the front of the stage. That's where you separate the real people from the poseurs. There was no shortage of punk boys up there in the front row with their mouths open, waiting for worms." If you go to one of her shows nowadays, though, you'll have to bring your own gummi worms, because she's strictly punk-rock and electrical-taped nipples onstage.

Lords of Acid

Sex and drugs are pretty much all this Belgian band thinks about (see "Screwed Bi U," "Rough Sex," "Finger Lickin' Good," "LSD=Truth" and just about every other song they've ever done). In concert, new lead singer (and model) Deb Ostrega likes to hump a computer during "Cybersex," bring out slaves for "Lover Boy/Lover Girl" and get as many people as possible involved in the all-hands-on-deck crowd-pleaser "Spank My Booty." Meanwhile, the guitarist hangs around wearing no shirt and an executioner's hood, which no doubt helps him make friends quickly in unfamiliar towns. The Lords had a minor underground hit with one of their lamest songs, "Pussy," but in truth the industrial-techno music is mostly a joke. The shows are a hoot, though, and group mastermind Praga Khan continues to put out some genius hard techno on his own.

Marilyn Manson

Even in the style-over-substance world of shock-rock, Marilyn Manson's music is notably atrocious. That a guy who's created such an inexplicably effective panic among parents, local authorities and other folks who rock music is supposed to piss off has to then go and suck so completely is tragic, but his shows are good for giggles. At a recent live DVD taping, he rode onstage on a chariot, trotted around in breathtakingly tall stilts, rained fire down above the audience's heads, put on a little cryptofascist routine and made it appear as though he were growing to a height of three stories. All this against his chosen backdrop of grotesque decadence and decay--would you expect any less?

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From the July 10-17, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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