|David Johansen of the New York Dolls at the Culture Room on Wednesday|
behind him, Johansen crept from the darkness in a series of slo-mo,
almost underwater movements as if he had just emerged from some kind of
cryogenic deep freeze. I was worried. He seemed too pale, brittle. But
he also looked cool in pimped-out 70s street punk clothes: sheer
leopard-print blouse, low-rise bellbottom nut-huggers, cream-colored
disco cowboy boots. And with a perverse croak of "When I say I'm in
love, you best believe I'm in love ... L-U-V," Johansen and the band
opened with a crisp yet dirty version of the 1973 classic "Looking for
a Kiss," followed quickly by three tracks of post-reunion material --
"'Cause I Sez So," "We're All in Love," and "Dance Like a Monkey."
started showing positive signs of slow thaw. He swiveled his hips. He
jangled his man-junk. He orchestrated crowd reaction with a pair of
crooked index fingers and a weird little grin. And when Sylvain saluted
him as "the original monkey man," Johansen responded with thirty
seconds of fiendish simian screeches and scatting over jags of
glam-punk noise. Then, the Dolls drove through a solid middle section
heavy with more new stuff ("Nobody Got No Bizness," "Gotta Get Away
from Tommy," and "My World") before diving into old faves such as
"Trash" and "Pills" to finish just minutes from midnight.
And we screamed and chanted until Johansen, Sylvain, and crew stalked
back out for their encore, a majestically meandering, ten-minute take
of "Personality Crisis" that was, to quote the man on the mic, "a mind
excursion to the center of infinity." Everyone -- the black six-foot
go-go girl tranny to my right, the matching mom-and-daughter duo behind
me, the dads in Who tour t-shirts and sandals surrounding the stage,
and my doubting ass -- got a good, deep glimpse of the freak side. And
it was good.
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bald-headed and dressed in an all-white undershirt-and-jeans combo with
a black silk tie knotted around the throat, danced wildly through the
crowd for two solid hours while effortlessly double-fisting cigarettes
and mixed drinks. She/he was wondrous.