I only met Rozz Williams once.
A bunch of the Blue Blood crew were in Los Angeles, celebrating the release of Blue Blood #5. That was the first full color issue of the magazine. I’d used a comic book printer who did high quality art repro and had no problem printing depictions of nude women. Heck, they actually also printed tons of publications involving sexualized eviscerations of women. (Yes, we were doing cross-promo with Glenn Danzig’s extreme Verotik at the time and he used the same printer.)
But the printer had had some concerns about Blue Blood’s content. First, they were very concerned that there was bestiality. I was like, WTF? They are holding up printing my magazine because they are concerned about the bestiality? Where do they think I have bestiality? Then I realized that I had written a fiction piece about the drummer in a dykey industrial band who gets with a werewolf. I was proud of the story and it was illustrated with elegant photographs by the famous Gunter Blum. I was thrilled that someone as huge as Gunter Blum wanted to be in Blue Blood. I really didn’t want to remove the werewolf piece and I really wanted to get my magazine printed. So I call the printer ready to do battle.
It turned out that the werewolf erotic fiction was not the problem at all. NOFX had sent Blue Blood a blow-up sheep. At the time, NOFX was unpopular with a lot of music journalists because they didn’t like to do interviews. I thought sending me a Love Ewe (get it?) was a billion times cooler than any interview could be, so I thought they were totally cool. Forrest Black shot me using a strap-on on the NOFX Love Ewe and we ran a picture of it, as part of a piece on NOFX, in Blue Blood’s bits and pieces entertainment section. Just looking at the film, the printer had thought this was actual bestiality. After the magazine was printed and shipped, the printer told me they were very concerned that I had male nudity in the magazine. That was undeniable and not about to change, so I only printed one issue there.
The issue came out, despite the printer’s reservations, and it looked great. So the Blue Blood crew headed out to Los Angeles to celebrate. On Rozz Williams night at the Probe on Highland in Hollywood, California, we were all feeling really good about having gotten the magazine hot off the presses, against so many obstacles. We were meeting so many interesting new people. We were thrilled to be among our own, among people who wouldn’t be pussies about something as funny as fucking what was essentially a punk rock balloon animal.
I went over to where Rozz Williams was holding court and gave him a copy of the new issue. He was shy and sweet. He thanked me. He told me he had enjoyed the earlier issues and did not have this one yet. Maybe he was just being polite, but the thing which sticks in my mind is that he took a moment to be kind. But, when I walked around the club, there were all these people saying the most terrible things about Rozz Williams. I don’t mean they were criticizing him for being a little too into Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer or something. I mean, people were just tearing the man down, saying he was past it, he was old, he looked ugly, his music didn’t matter, and on and on.
In point of fact, as an unbiased visitor from out of town, I feel qualified to say that Rozz Williams looked ethereally beautiful. I don’t recall what he was wearing. My attention was drawn to his face and the encounter was brief, but his makeup was deft and creative for a man to be wearing. He looked timeless, not old. His music had made a difference to a large percentage of the people in the room. Even to people who were not big fans of Christian Death or Shadow Project, Rozz Williams was an important creative driving force in the West Coast deathrock scene and his influence helped launch so many bands and so many cool creative people.
Fast forward a few years. Rozz Williams has committed suicide. Nightclubs in Los Angeles throw mournfests for him and they get good turnout. People speak his name reverently, they press fist to chest and say, “mi hermano.” I’m probably spelling the Spanish incorrectly, but you get the idea. (They might not be pronouncing the Spanish either.) I remembered the crush of people running Rozz Williams down. Although the Probe was one of the biggest nightclubs I had ever been to and they thought the man was worth throwing a night for, while he was still alive, most of their patrons couldn’t support someone who’d made such a difference . . . not while he was still drawing breath.
People often ask me to pin down precisely who Blue Blood is for. Gothic, body modification, deathrock, punk, fandom, glam, rivethead, ad infinitum. Really, Blue Blood is for people who have moved through a lot of subcultures. For people who have that maverick something different. Who feel a certain attraction in a lot of those scenes, but who do not feel wholly satisfied in any particular one. Blue Blood is for people who enjoy exploring and experiencing the creative fringes, and the cultures which thrive there, but don’t want to cram themselves into some cookie-cutter mold.
In the deathrock scene, it is rare that the people who have accomplished a lot get very much credit for it. The thing which made me think of Rozz Williams was noting that a link to BlueBlood.net was removed from Wikipedia’s woefully incomplete and slanted entry on deathrock. Someone had complained that Blue Blood was porn and thus did not belong. First of all, if deathrock is supposed to be for gothic folks with balls, what is anyone doing whining about smut practically designed for them personally? The multitalented Jeremy Meza’s late lamented deathrock mag Ghastly described Blue Blood as “It’s the one you’ve been waiting for! Death rock porn! Punk smut!” (For years, I used to run that quote with an ellipses in place of the word porn because I am troubled by the semantics, but that is a subject for another article.) Secondly, BlueBlood.com is where the naughty pictures are. BlueBlood.net is where we run lots of free articles and free forums and free promo tools for the scene. Blue Blood magazine in print had both deathrock music press and erotic photo sets in the same place. Glad I could clear that up for anyone that all was not patently obvious to. A bizarre percentage of the Wikipedia entry is on the Long Beach club Release the Bats. Blue Blood were huge early boosters of that club night. We shot tons of photos there. At great personal cost, I might add, as we were using film. We hyped Release the Bats both online and in print. Release the Bats was kind enough to host the re-launch of BlueBlood.net party. Whether someone thinks Blue Blood is the best thing to happen to deathrock since Sex Gang Children and 45 Grave or not, the deathrock connection is undeniable. At some point, perhaps I may attempt to list all of the luminaries, of the deathrock world, Blue Blood has done something with. I’ll include Jeremy Meza and Ghastly, although neither is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for deathrock. Viva Britannica.
There are a lot of appealing things about the deathrock scene. I love a non-wussified gothic look with yummy torn fishnet and leather and Alien Sex Fiend has smacked me from the stage with an obscene balloon. (Recurring motif. I guess there is something about me which makes bands want to press lewd balloons against my flesh.) The appeal of deathrock is why so many of us have spent time figuring out the hair products needed to create a devil lock or ordering expensive import CDs. But the problem with that scene, like many others which remain subculture, is that the nail which sticks out gets hammered down.
Blue Blood is for the nails which stick out.