By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
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You've seen the bald and spastic guy throwing himself around in front of the stage at the Metal Factory and Tavern 213. He's perpetually clad in long shorts, a T-shirt, and white socks that crinkle beneath his ankles. Sometimes, he's one of the three or four people standing for a show. But even when it's crowded, you'll see him up there in front throwing his head and clutching a cigarette. He's feeling something other people aren't.
He's Death Metal Douglas.
It was 2 a.m. The Fort Lauderdale Saloon (626 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale) and most of the bar had cleared out when his band, Radar O'Reilly, finally took the stage and opened up with a cover of the Who's "My Generation." Amy, the blond, bobbed obstacle between Death Metal's heart and the female population at large, was saddled up on a bar stool in a skirt, a rhinestone-collar necklace, and clunky black heels. A Budweiser rested on the bar in front of her.
I looked into her brown eyes and told her, in so many words, that I've had my eye on Death Metal for a long, long time. "That's funny," she said, and laughed with a contemptuous lack of concern that seemed to say, "Yeah, you and every other chick in this town."
On stage, his fingers twitched over the bass like insects in death throes. Radar's drummer, Buddy Banger, had a tattoo running up his left arm toward his glistening bare chest. The guitarist and singer, Righteous Richard, so named for his Christian bent, was growling up front, his eyes shaded by a prominent brow that deflected the overhead lights. It was loud as hell, and the paltry crowd of 15 was dragging -- it seemed because of the hour.
"Is everybody enjoying themselves?" Righteous Richard asked into his microphone.
And Death Metal followed with a touchy observation: "God, nobody's here anymore."
"This stuff that we're doing is up to that level," the 35-year-old sex object asserts when we settle down across from each other at an outdoor table at Maguire's, sans Amy (sweet!), on a recent Tuesday night. "There's an audience for that stuff. They just haven't found us. I saw some of the scenesters at the Queens of the Stone Age show. The same people who won't give us the time of day."
Shortly, Douglas admits that he hasn't always been so invisible, especially with the females.
"Get this," the bald hottie says, underestimating his elusive appeal entirely, "I would never consider myself the biggest ladies' man ever, but I went to four fucking proms, man. Most people I know that are like me didn't go to prom at all."
Surprise, surprise, cheri.
Then the Don Juan of four strings keeps building the case for a powerful strain of masculinity buried in the gray mush of his subconscious. Long ago, he abandoned the sax and turned toward bass. "I started playing saxophone in the early '80s. Even though I was punk, I'd learn, like, all the solos to pop songs, crap like 'Urgent' by Foreigner. To hit the high notes, I had to crunch the reed, and I hate wood in my mouth, aw, yuck! I don't even like to bite into popsicles that have wood sticks. It grew to gross me out. I can't stand wood in my mouth."
His ease with his manhood oozes through every pore of his sheeny, opinionated head when he says the words all women wait to hear. "A lot of people are like, 'I don't like chick flicks.' I'll watch a chick flick, if it's good. I've been meaning to watch this Bridget Jones's Diary. I've seen parts of it. That's a great movie. Then you've got some piece of shit like Autumn in New York with Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. This is the worst piece of shit I've seen in my life. All they do is talk about their relationship. Unfuckingbelievable."
Speaking of unfuckingbelievable, Death Metal launches into a tirade about his band's outsider status on the local rock scene. "I keep wondering why I even bother trying to play shows. We played a show at Churchills [5501 NE Second Ave., Miami] where there were like 25 people in the bar, [but] we were playing on the patio to the two or three people that we brought. I threw my bass down and went inside and fucking yelled at a bunch of people and told them what pieces of shit they were for fucking dissing us. 'You people fucking know me and you can't even come out and watch my fucking band,' you know? We haven't played Churchill's since.
"A few people out there say that Radar O'Reilly sucks," he says. "It's unfortunate. We played a couple of shows at Billabong [3000 Country Club Ln., Hallandale Beach] with a couple of bands, and their crowds would go outside... while we played... I don't like that shit. I want to be appreciated just like everybody else."