Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Call Me Pigtail 16/20

Props Dept, Part 2

Tiggr's true genius is revealed when he produces his masterpiece, the Velourabeast, inspired by our "song" "Velour." A prop inspired by a novelty song -- why hadn't anyone thought of that before? Two essential elements of rock and roll in one nutritionally worthless package, like a Reese's cup of pop culture. Like many of our songs, "Velour" is becoming a focus of frenzy and fanaticism among some of the less-stable members of our crowd. A song about those brutally ugly shirts we wore in high school? Yes! The idea that when you feel your sexiest you are also at your most ridiculous is one of our more meaningful discoveries. It doesn't appear to us to be a contradiction at all. Sexy, like rock and roll, is stupid. The three of them, in fact, Sexy, Stupid, and Rock, are just different sides of the same big phallus-shaped monument.

So our song, "Velour," just a riff and a word, basically a less-literate version of "Tequila," if that's possible, is a big hit. One of our sicker fans sends us a genuine velour shirt from his closet. Later in time velour, like everything else, will be revived and mined for cash by the mainstream fashion industry, but at the time this gift is a real oddity, a real find. A treasure. So we give it away at our next show. It inspires an on-stage dance contest, the kids trying to mimic Skipper's spastic squirming as he shows the crowd how velour made him feel as a horny adolescent. That was fun, right? Let's do it again!

We need a new shirt, though, so GT hits the thrifts and buys up a dozen or so atrocious unwanted velour shirts, a smelly pile of tacky garments with zipper fronts and wide elastic cuffs, in noxious shades of orange and green. The pile is so old and jizzed-on that it makes the inside of our van smell like a mushroom cellar. No one in their right mind would ever want one of these, unless there was a story to go along with it. So that's what we give them, the story of the great herds of wild Velourabeasts that in days past roamed the American West, huge animals, "like a buffalo, only in worse taste," their valuable pelts the texture and color of the velour shirts they inspired. the whole ridiculous tale takes several minutes to deliver, with the band vamping ineptly in the background, and only about half of the maniacs packing the clubs know what the hell the singer's talking about up there. But a bit's a bit, and THEE NDI never let the music get in the way of the props and the jokes.

Then one night, as we are loading in to a club in Chicago, Tiggr walks in carrying something draped in red velvet. It's BIG, he can barely walk with it, and he sets it down in front of the stage with a thump and gives us a shit-eating grin. He pulls an extension cord out from under the drape and plugs it in. By now we know what this dude is capable of, but nothing prepares us for the unveiling, a dramatic swoop of the cover that reveals... what. What is it? A giant plush head, a kind of a bull-like thing, with googly glass eyes and a wide mouth full of nasty teeth. It's mounted like a trophy on a hunk of 3/4'' plywood, and Tiggr props it up, and hits a foot switch, and the thing comes alive -- holy fuck, look at this! The eyes light up and push in and out of the sockets, insane and glowing red, and the jaw drops open, revealing rows of sharp teeth, gleaming fangs. Tiggr hits another switch and there's a rasping sound and fog comes rolling out of the thing's gaping mouth. All three of us look up at Tiggr, who is so happy he can barely stand up straight. "It's a Velourabeast!" he says. "I made it in shop!"

That night we have the monster on the wall behind us, draped until the crucial moment when I get to a point in the story and the band grinds to a halt and I say, "and the Velourabeast... Came! Back! To! LIIIIIFE!" And GT pulls off the cover and Skipper stomps the switches and the monster springs into action and I'm watching the crowd's faces and it's that look we will soon learn to expect, that slack-jawed hillbilly look, simple life-forms confronted with the unexplainable, baffled brains stopped for a moment in their tracks. Fog pours from the beast onto the stage and in the relative quiet you can hear the gears grinding and the hinges creaking as the big jaw raises and lowers. It's not like the crowd thinks it's real, at least not most of them, but there's a kind of drunken, hushed appreciation for our effort. Who on earth puts this much effort into something this pointless? Thee NDI, that's who. The monster wheezes and thumps, the fog billows out with a hiss, and and we have never been prouder to be in a fucking prop band.


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