By Madeline Bocaro © 2009
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Today (10/21) is Lux Interior‘s birthday. He passed away in 2009 at age 62, due to a heart condition. The only thing in his heart was rock n’ roll. We thought he was indestructible – a towering, lanky, handsome Frankenstein, creating utter chaos onstage and mock-terrorizing his loving audience. Lux was always running amongst us, getting us involved in his theatrics. He resembled the Anti-Elvis, but his performances were way too wild, crazy and fun to be evil! (“He’s ‘good-bad, but he’s not evil.”)
Lux and his beloved Ivy were a wonderful team – the Sonny & Cher of Transylvania. Her echoing, twangy, ghoulish Gretsch sound characterized the Cramps’ style. Ivy would stand there, stoic, sexy, snarling, smacking her gum and playing it cool. Yet, an occasional side glance at Lux and his antics would always get her eyes rolling or force her to crack a smile!
Since 1975, the Cramps entertained us with their psychobilly surf punk. So many gigs ended with their superb demented version of ‘Surfin’ Bird’. Lux would almost swallow the microphone every time. If he had sung a straight baritone ballad, it would have been hauntingly beautiful…but beauty wasn’t his thing. He was a true, lovable cartoon monster – a real-life amalgam of Frankenberry and Count Chocula, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Dick Dale.
The 6-foot tall Lux wore stiletto heels like a pro. One night onstage at CBGB, wearing a pair too wide for his feet, we watched with glee as he poured a pitcher of water over himself, filling his too-wide shoes to the brim. It’s a wonder he wasn’t electrocuted! On another festive occasion, Lux plopped a hollowed-out Jack-O-Lantern over his head, which complemented the red Spanish senorita dress he wore, with matching high heels of course! His favorite place seemed to be inside the bass drum, where he’d curl up after smashing it with his own head.
During their Halloween gig opening for Iggy at the Palladium in NYC (1979), the Cramps were in fine form. Bryan Gregory was 1/2 man, 1/ pony. Ivy had rubber snakes in her hair. Lux was purely INSANE! Hooded men in long brown robes preceded the band onstage, waving lanterns of incense in total darkness, enveloping the whole stage in smoke. They released live mice or rats which scurried everywhere. Lux cradled a rat in his hand and sang to it. I think it was dead so therefore it could not appreciate Lux’s serenade.
Nothing can erase my memories of the Cramps’ 70s double bills at CBGB with the Ramones. SO MUCH FUN! The Cramps’ cleverly insane lyrics always made me laugh. “Stick out your can – ‘cos I’m your garbage man!” They were trashy and classic at once.
The Cramps counted Beavis & Butthead amongst their many fans. As fans themselves of surrealism, they immortalized Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending a Staircase in the song, ‘Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs’. And who did not revel in the pure joy of the ‘Bikini Girls with Machine Guns’ video? Nobody ever had more fun than the crowd at the Cramps’ classic 1978 gig at the California State Mental Institution. Mental indeed!
We’ll miss you Lux. Rock on the moon! Enjoy the zombie dance, and keep on singing your gravest hits in heaven! And never forget…Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow!
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