The Return of Glam, Ain't it a Drag

cover story from THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY, July 10, 1996
by Charlie Finck


Psychotica's leader, Patrick Briggs, an overnight sensation who took more than a decade to break nationally, is a whirling, tornado-like, cultural force to be reckoned with. His exploits as promoter, rock n' roll star, and Downtown, soon-to-be internationally-and-Internet-legend, are formidable. He has for years been known as a tireless crusader for gender equality n rock n' roll, and for his campaign to put the "show" back in show business.

Teaming up with co-producer Michael Schmidt and club impresario Don Hill, Briggs has carved out a small, extremely vibrant corner of New York's rock n' roll estate. Squeeze Box!, a glittering, eclectic, sweaty, two-year-old, multifaceted entertainment experience, is a rockin' refuge for bands and their fans who can't or won't buy into the gender limited stereotypical world or corporate controlled, testosterone driven rock n' roll.

In this low budget, heterosexual-friendly atmosphere, the phenomenon has grown from a super secret "in" scene, drawing glam core rockers needing a safe staging area from which to unleash the burgeoning "trannycore" rock movement, to pulling in movie and tv stars, tranny-chasing record company presidents cruising for signings, and some of the biggest names in rock n' roll: Green Day, Joey Ramone, Marc Almond, Courtney Love, Nina Hagen, who, while the Squeeze Box! house band blasts the hits, happily flounce and stumble in five-inch heels across the stage. Its is perhaps the most exciting, ground-breaking, barrier-smashing venue for rock n' roll in all of its theatrical manifestations that I have had the good fortune to cover since the prescient progenitors of the punk parade landed at CBGB's exactly 20 years ago this Summer.

Emerging from the depths of this sanctified, rarefied realm, Briggs and his bandmates have recorded the self-titled album Psychotica, for Ventrue/American records. This is a ground-breaking, culture clashing and gender-blending album of futuristic rock n' roll revivalism. The music is a blistering, driving mix of fiery guitars, cutting edge percussion born of the industrial music revolution, reggae rapping, electrified orchestral strings combined with the specter of sounds, attitudes, and fashion sensibility of the late but great pre-punk, glam rock era.

As a parade of costumed characters sashayed by the tiny subterranean dressing room door, I spoke at length with Patrick as he prepared for the album's release and the band's imminent departure to do battle on the main stage, as the unknown underdog, in the legendary land of Lollapalooza '96.

Looking at the lineup of Summer's major tours, I can't help but notice Lollapalooza has Psychotica and the Ramones, KISS has picked up D-Generation as an opening act, and Patti smith, high priestess of New York punk rock, is touring the country again. The unrecognized cultural subtext appears to be "the revenge of the bands from the Lower East Side".

Totally, like totally!

Having played a pivotal part in the grassroots, Downtown Rock n' roll scene for over a decade, what are your feelings seeing this apparent national and international acceptance>

I'm so excited I can't even tell you. I have much more of a vested interest in the Downtown scene being recognized than myself being recognized. I see myself as a cog in a wheel Downtown, just part of a machine. There's an enormous amount of talent on the Downtown scene that's completely untapped. I've seen some stuff that has been absolutely, bar-none, brilliant. There are others who are coming back like Jayne County with a new album and a book. Those artists from the old school, they've spawned a whole other generation of performers that just come from an entirely different place.

This is out of the Max's Kansas City, CBGB's axis of 20 years ago?

Yeah, indirectly. It's gone down a generation and now has turned into something else. It's showing another face, melding many things like performance art, theater and music which is really interesting.

Absolutely, and we will develop even further in that direction.

What were the early days like in the scene when you first came to New York?

The first person I met in New York was the drag star and performance artist Joey Arias. We met at Fiorucci.

What were you doing at Fiorucci?

I had to go 'cause I was fresh to New York and it was Fiorucci, you know? There was Joey, walking around the store with a Joan Crawford rolled hairdo and eyebrows that looks like slits going up the sides of his head. I was scared shitless. Who knew years later that I would be a part of that scene.

Were you involved in music at that time?

I don't think I really knew what I wanted to do. I came to New York to be a dancer. In Honolulu, I had been dancing in hotels, sort of tacky-choreographed Solid Gold-type shows. I did that in New York City starting at Don Hill's Cat Club with the Cat Club Dancers. Perry Lister, who was married to Billy Idol, was one of us so we'd end up doing shows with Billy at the Ritz, dancing during his set. It sort of bridged me into music.

One day this Penthouse Pet decided she was going to start a band called Rixon. She got Traci Guns and Johnny B. Frank from Kingdom Come, and Ricki Rocket from Poison, who were nothing then. She asked me to sing back up. She had big breasts and big blonde hair. The group played Motley Crue glam-oriented music, which was going to be a big thing in a few years. We did a showcase at the Limelight and it was just awful. The management dropped her the next day and asked me if I wanted to sign with them. I didn't even have a band, I couldn't sing, I just looked good and I could move really incredibly. I guess I fooled them. This guitar player who was manager by Bill Aucoin (KISS' manager) came up to me and eventually helped us put the group, R U Ready, together. We lasted eight years, went through three record deals and I left the band right before the record was supposed to be released. It was a Spinal Tap nightmare.

Exploding drummers?

Ironically the drummer was the best thing about the band. This was during the whole 'big hair' band scene and, in general, it was very oppressive for everyone involved in the music scene at that time, unless you were in the testosterone boys club you were not acceptable. Women bands were unheard of at that time unless they were bimbos. Even Joan Jett was not doing well at that time. Vixen and bands like that were the only way that girls could get over. Anything freaky was completely shunned. It was just oppressive for everyone involved. The bands fell into it and were trapped, then were the major label A&R people were done milking every last dollar they could from it, they dropped them. They completely used them and threw them away like old Kleenex. It was, bar none, one of the sleaziest, rottenest times I have ever seen in music.

On stage at Squeeze Box! and in our previous conversations you've spoken of your campaign to fight against the "testosterone factor" in the music business. What do you mean by that?

It's the brick wall that many other musicians and I, personally, have been up against my whole career. It comes out in A&R guys saying to me "You've got to tone it down," or trying to make me into the next Bon Jovi or whatever was making them money at the time.

What specifically do they want you to tone down?

My personality in general. Telling me as an entertainer "you can't be too wild." I remember one time, years back, an A&R guy asked me in front of my band, "Pat, what is your dream?" I said "Walking on the Madison Square Harden stage, naked," and he was like, "You are completely crazy, don't even think about it." The band thought I was nuts. I just couldn't see anything that wrong with it. It was the difference of me being a square peg in a round hole. I just didn't fit in.

When the industry power brokers were having so much conflict with your creative impulses, how did you keep your sanity and your sense of self as a creative artist?

I think I lost it for a period of time. I made the decision to leave that band. Between MCA Records and the band and wives, it was completely a nightmare. I had achieved what I wanted, which was to get a deal and make a record, and I was completely out of my mind, miserable, hate it! I couldn't remember a time, since I had walked off the streets, when I was more unhappy with my life. I made the decision to leave that band and lock myself in my house for a little over a year.

Were you writing?

No, I didn't know it at the time, but I was rejuvenating and getting ready to reinvent myself. It was almost like going into a cocoon an d coming out a butterfly. When I came back out, Michael Schmidt and I started Squeeze Box! at Don Hill's club which was a success instantly, and then boom! things started happening one after another. It was just like a speeding train I couldn't stop that completely led up to this. I just don't see an end to it.

How has Don Hill figured in your success and the success of the scene?

Don Hill is totally the Bill Graham of the '90s. Twelve years ago, when I was a dancer working for him at the Cat Club, he saw something and allowed me to utilize whatever was his, including his club for rehearsal, for whatever I needed. He's done everything from lend me money to push A&R people, unwantingly at times, in my direction. He is a band's hero who has done more behind the scenes. almost by doing nothing, than anyone I know. His theory is to just allow the kids to have a creative space to work in and he does anything in his power to make that happen.

I remember years ago seeing Malcolm Forbes, one of the richest men on the planet, parking his Harley on 13th Street and walking into the Cat Club.

Yep, they worship him like an icon, he's the guy! He thrives in a creative environment, loves being around it, insists on it. It's also happened to make him money in return, but it wasn't always that way. That club sat there or a year, completely empty. It didn't matter to him. Don doesn't let his own club politics ever affect you. His vision is much bigger than getting caught up in petty shit.

I hear the club is plugged into cyberspace. What's the story with that?

Sensenet, Inc., a company which has the world's largest internet broadcasting network, did a full installation, cameras, computers and whatever. It enables them to broadcast, live on computers, what is happening on stage or in the audience. We did a trial run in January on a Squeeze Box! night with Deborah Harry and Joey Ramone. The site had about 300,000 "hits". Staring with Psychotica's performance on June 21, every Friday night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. New York time, people can surf to our website (http://www.sensory.net)and we will be transmitting live real time audio and video.

Sort of a Downtown goes digital thing?

It's everything people have read about in the gossip pages. Misstress Formicka hosting drag queens, rock n' roll bands, major label acts and movie and fashion stars, only you'll be able to watch and interact with the multiple cameras from your home computer. You won't have to get sweaty and dirty like the rest of us.

What led you to put Psychotica together?

In the first incarnation, we got up at Don Hill's to do some cover songs like the Squeeze Box band does, some old Bow Wow Wow songs, X-Ray Spex, The Go-Go's tune "This Town". I had done an early form of the stage look that I now have, I bound myself in Saran Wrap. The crowd went totally ape shit. I thought, okay, I guess we should do another show. So, for the hell of it, we started writing and got together a five-song set. The day before the first show, we were rehearsing at the club when Amanda from Ventrue Entertainment walked by, heard the music, came in and said she wanted to sign us. I wasn't about to put up with an A&R person's bullshit at that point. I didn't have to. I had some security. I had the club and was happy doing Squeeze Box!. If I didn't have a successful band, then fine with that. My reply to her was, "if you are serious then do it. If you aren't, I don't want to hear about it. " The first Psychotica show as the next night, word had spread through Downtown that I was putting together a new band, so the room was totally full. They came down to the club, saw the show and the paperwork was on the table the following week. it was incredible.

I couldn't have dreamed that up. Our first gig we got signed, by the second gig we ended up in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in a display with Iggy, Bowie and Trent. By the third gig last year we did the third stage at Lollapalooza. Immediately following that we went in to do the record. At the time I was also playing professor Tom Collins in the original cast of the play Rent when it was in development off-Broadway. I had to drop that when it moved to Broadway because of the time needed to cut the album. While we were cutting the album I was cast in All Over Me, a feature film set in the Downtown music scene and shot at Don Hill's club, directed by Alex Sichel, which just got picked up by Fine Line Features. Then the band was announced as the opening act on the main stage for Lollapalooza '96. I can't even keep up with what's going on. It's completely out of my control and I love it when it's like that. I had a lot of fucking miserable years and I'm making up for lost time. if I could eliminate sleep, I would do it.

Some of your songs, and an aspect of your vocal delivery, is reminiscent of Ziggy Stardust filtered through the industrial music revolution of the '90s. Were you musically attracted to our influenced by David Bowie?

Actually no, my influences are completely different. I suspect in fact that they may have been some of Bowie's influences. Klaus Nomi was a highly underrated musical genius. Much more of a performance artist than a musician, he was from that incredible late '70's Berlin cabaret scene that produced strange, beautiful creative people like Nina Hagen. That whole clique of people, for whatever reason, was really into experimenting and pushing things into the future. I've always been drawn to that kind of stuff. The Europeans and Japanese have much more penchant for experimentations in music than we do in America. We're not very willing to take very many chances because things are so formulized.

The only reason people assume I'm a Bowie fan is 'cause I happen to sing in that register which thousands of people did in the new wave era. That was very common, though it was an entire subculture at some point, most of it wasn't from Bowie influences. That period in music was really, probably my favorite time in music because there was room for lots of things. Bow Wow Wow was just as different as Devo was, sound-wise and look-wise. One band was completely different and had nothing to do with the others. The Ramones were around then, Debbie Harry and strange things like Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen, Oingo Boingo, The Go-Gos. every band had their own identity, their own sound and look. It was just an enormous amount to choose from. I think people found some of it hokey so they lumped it all together as new wave, but that wasn't the case. It never got a fair shot. I think people got scared, and again, the testosterone boys kicked into action and said, "Oh, let's bring heavy metal back." If new wave had gone on, it would have futurized music as we know it today. We wouldn't have been recycling what we've heard for a long time.

You and the Squeeze Box! Revue have recently returned from a road trip to Japan. What was that like?

It was amazing, just incredible. They're light years ahead of us in every way, even down to the toilet paper. I've always been a big fan of Japanese culture and even though I don't like the music so much, I do like how they look stylistically. Japan has that thing that the new wave era had, the bands are completely outrageous and completely individual. You look at them and they are like...oh my God they are completely ridiculous, great. I just wish some of it would spread over here.

Your musical approach comes from a long theatrical tradition and Japan has hundreds of years of Kabuki.

Totally. You see the Kabuki influence in Japan in rock n' roll. I wish that here, musicians would get it, the value if you from the much older sections of our culture, and incorporate it into your act. That's what I like using strange stuff like ballet an d classical music, which have been a solid, legitimate art form for hundreds of years. It's got a great deal of influence on what we do, whether we realize it or not. I'm constantly surprised when people say "Oh, you have a cello in the band?" or "What's with the ballet dancers, we didn't think it would work?" Of course it works. What we're doing is totally derivative of that and they can never seem to put it together.

Anyway, we went over with the Squeeze Box! house band backing up, Misstress Formicka, Lilly of the valley, Miss Guy and Theo from the Lunachicks. We performed at clubs and private events in Tokyo and Nagoya. The Japanese people went berserk and totally got what we are all about.

The Japanese ate KISS up as well. Their stage image was very much like kabuki theater - white make-up and black, very angular, warrior-like costumes.

Totally, in a lot of respects this, Psychotica and the combination of drag culture and rock n' roll, is the new KISS for them and for a lot of other people as well. It has a lot of the same essences.

The cliché is that sex and rock n' roll go gland in hand. How much importance does sexuality have in the music of Psychotica and in presenting your persona and the band in a live context?

First of all, I feel a great deal of responsibility about what I say in front of 14-year old kids, which I think has gotten really lost in the last 15 years. There are certain aspects of old school entertainers that I love. No matter whether they were having a bad day or even a bad life. they left their shit off the stage and were thereto entertain you. I think to a certain degree, that needs to come back into the music and performance in general. Many performers these days use the stage as their own private therapy sessions, inflicting on the audience. I don't want to listen to some person sit there and tell me how fucking miserable he is while he's making 40 million dollars a year. It's bullshit, you know?

Two years ago, near the end of the Lollapalooza tour, I was backstage and walked up to one of the headliners and asked them, "So, did you have a good time this Summer?". This person turned to me and said, "I'm not really into that, I'm not really into the whole good time thing." I was like, "You are at the apex of your career, you are headlining the biggest tour of the year, you are making a bazillion dollars doing what you love, cut the crappy I'm-depressed-and-alternative act." It's bullshit at that point. It's as much a gimmick as anything else. Being one that loves gimmicky strange shit, I can spot it from a mile away.

Do you think the audience can spot it, and can see through that phony stuff?

Of course they can. Entertainment is a make-believe world to begin with. It was created for that. It's not that I see anything wrong with it, I just think there should be some certain parameters. I don't want to see some guy with this faux-miserable act - show me what it is that you do best.

I want the old school of entertainers to come back. I want the Elton Johns and, as fucked up as he is, the Michael Jackson-like superstars. That's who I love. Someone that when you go to their shows, you know that no one on the planet can do what he does. Now it's like after seeing hundreds of bands, booking them, dealing with them at the club, I think that people have lost that concept of developing that something absolutely no one else can do.

Is that your vision for Psychotica?

That's totally what I'm after. I want to find my niche, settle into it, develop it into something that I know that someone, a kid in Iowa, cannot do it, therefore he must come and see us do it. I don't want to see my next door neighbor in his street clothes playing a guitar, I don't care. We've been seeing it for a long time. There's a large market of kids who do like that because it's something to identify with, but that's not my personal taste.

I think we've just about hit bottom with grunge and the British mope rock shoegazers. If life is a balance, it has to swing back in the other direction. I'm certainly up for glam again, I had fun the first time around. After all, this is show business, so make it showy. At least get dressed up for a performance for crying out loud. The show gazers are...

Just a bore I just think kids are bored with spending their money, that the don't have very much of going to see teen angst. They've got enough of that already. I think they want to get out of that and escape into another world that's not their own. That's what made music popular in the first place. From Elvis to the Beatles, kids could get out of whatever oppression they had to deal with in their own lives. It's like, oh my God, this is a fantasy world. It's sex, it's decadent, it's fun, it's rocking - there's a total positive energy. I think they are really just hungry for... they want something to change, they don't have the power to do it for themselves, and they go to a show and see somebody utilize whatever power they do have, to do it. We've had an instantaneous warm reception from them, I've never been in a band that was like this, ever, where kids instantaneously were like, "Oh my God, I love this."

You opened your show at SqueezeBox! singing the track "What is God" while suspended on a revolving giant chrome crucifix. What's the inspiration behind that song?

Lyrically, its very metaphoric. Some of the idea of the song came from my own beliefs about organized religion. I'm going to get myself into trouble here if I start spewing. I have a very sort of belligerent idea of organized religion, how crappy it is and what a farce it is.

How, supposedly in the service of God and the faithful, what a moneymaking, real estate business it really is. How come they get to not pay any taxes?

Totally, That is exactly where I'm coming from.

Okay, fine, they don't want to pay taxes, drop the bingo games. They want to run a gambling empire that preys on and exploits the lower socioeconomic classes, they should kick in the taxes just like Off Track Betting or the lottery does.

I love how they sold tickets for the Pope. as far as I'm concerned, the Pope is the biggest superstar on the planet and he is making the most money.

And merchandising.

And merchandising. I don't care what anyone says, it's eternally shocking to me how people cannot, or don't want to see through it.

I think that kind of denial is indoctrinated at a young age. Kids are taught to unquestioningly trust the clergy. These are the people who are ordained to be your connection with God because you aren't smart enough or pure enough to recognize that connection yourself. You must go through them, listen to them, trust them, and obey them unquestionably.

What is God? To give part of it away, the song is about priests preying on... victims. Primarily, the obvious things. I'm addressing it because as far as I've concerned I think its high time people started swinging the ax. through my own personal experience, I mean I've been on the streets since I was 12 years old, and as an adult my biggest pet peeves are pedophiles. Its the only thing on the planet that I become instantly violent about. An adult is an adult, I don't think it matters what two consenting adults do, they can make a choice.

The issue of trust is on an equal basis.

Yes, exactly, but when it comes to children - it's like if it were legal I would run around and shoot every pedophile on the planet. Having been a victim of it a number of times, having made a living off them. It's just where I come from, so its something that I know a lot about.

What do you mean, make a living off them?

I was on the street by the time I was 12, that's how I made my living.

Ever dealt with any priests?

Yes, actually I did. At this point, if I wrote a book I could ruin half of Hollywood. I was 12 years old, and I needed to make money for survival on the street. It served its purpose for me and probably kept me alive. At the same time, who in their right mind fucks a 12 year old? That's something as an adult I still have a conflict with. On the one hand it saved me from a violent home life, on the other hand, that in and of itself it almost killed me too. it had its very positive side and had its very negative side. I am the only person that I know of out of almost every peer I had at that time that is alive. This had nothing to do with AIDS or disease, it had to do with lifestyle. People preying on kids, drugs, you name it. They were all unnatural deaths. I just sit sometimes, not believing that I'm even here.

There has been rumors several years back of child-sex ring operations being used as blackmail for politicians and diplomats.

You'd be surprised. I had sex with high political people when I was 14 years old.

Where they good tippers?

Uh yes, but they did what all of them did, used you an d then threw you away like a Kleenex. I don't think any child should ever have to be subjected to that. I was subjected to that as a young child even in my home life, so to go out on the street and just keep being used like a Kleenex, you know it's something that as an adult... it's probably the reason I am a performer. It's that need for somebody's approval. Somewhere deep down, somebody to tell you that you are doing the right thing.

So, in a way, that song is an effort to balance the karmic and psychic scales for you?

Totally, I mean all over the album there's that kind of stuff. I like to keep things hidden deeply in metaphor. Like I said, I don't want this to become some fucking therapy session, I want it to still be a song that if someone want s to give it a happier perspective than that, they can, and I welcome it. It doesn't have to mean to them what it does to me. It can be something different.

The track, "New Man" seems to reflect that as well. Who is the New Man?

That was me, totally. that song, which delves into my background in theater and performance, was written specifically for the thing that I do coming out of the chrome egg, naked, sexless. People who have heard about it but haven't seen it assume I did it for shock value. That wasn't the case at all, ever. We wrote that song and it was like a celebration in a lot of ways. Everyone who was there and saw it, got it, but people who've only heard hearsay about it, all they hear is that I come out of an egg naked. They don't get it.

The firsts time I did it was at SqueezeBox! You could see the look on people's faces, they were just dumbfounded by what they were seeing, they were wild about it. It was new and different, glamorous and artistic done from a little different perspective. Someone was actually putting some thought behind a rock n' roll show again. It was incorporating theater with rock n' roll. I hope to really develop that skill because it worked really, really well.

The image of someone coming out of a silver egg is metaphorically linked to an alien coming out of a saucer.

Totally.

Do you have an affinity for outer space and aliens?

No, I've just always felt like one.

Well, you may in fact be one.

you never know. I try not to second guess myself anymore. "New Man" was, in my mind, somewhere between that and birth. I wrote the lyrics "New man rises like a phoenix, through the sunshine and rain." it was my statement that I've come back in a different form after going through what I went through years ago.

There's something I've got to ask you about...

I know what you are going to ask, but go ahead anyway.

On MTV News, Entertainment Tonight and in The New York Press, there were reports that you had cut off your own penis. Do you want to comment on it at all?

Unfortunately, no. To set the record straight? I'm a little unhappy that it's out there. Like I said, I feel a great sense of responsibility to the audience, especially kids. First of all, anyone who has seen me do the live show and seen me do the egg knows about it. The show is geared for people who can deal with it, an over 21 audience. I don't feel that it's appropriate for... well, I'm not going to be doing it at Lollapalooza because it's a much younger audience.

I never want someone to think that some of the things I've done in my life are cool for them to go out and do, when they haven't had the same experiences that I have. I have to be very careful about that kind of stuff. I've very important that I don't send out the wrong signals. I'm belittling it right now. I should, because it's all the mainstream media are talking about. Anybody who wants to come to Psychotica's "adult" shows knows the deal so it's not a big secret, it never has been a secret, not a big deal at all. In fact, I've incorporated things like that into my show, but, well I'm trying to do things with some class. They're going to pick at me no mater what I do. Anything as extreme as what I am, personality-wise, they want to sit there and pick it apart and figure it out, but they can't, ever! They shouldn't even try, 'cause it's far too scary for them to try and get inside of my head, so they shouldn't. Just look at what I do on stage.

If it is really that scary inside of your head, how do you deal with those fears?

I have totally made peace with a lot of it. At this point I feel like I'm embracing the things I've always wanted out of life. Through certain situations and things that maybe weren't so great that I've done with my life, it's made me welcome this kind of stuff all that much more. The fact that I'm going on a great tour, that I happen to like the record I've made the movie I'm in.... I'm happy with that stuff and feeling very gratified these days. No matter what they say about me, they can not pick that apart.

You aren't going to start singing "My Way" in Frank Sinatra drag now are you?

Look, in the picture, I came from selling my ass on the street, to walking on the main stage at Lollapalooza this year, so anything that some gossip columnist exposed, some facet of my life, anything they could possibly say to me is really small potatoes. Really, I couldn't care less. The bottom line is that I'm not having to sell myself for a cheeseburger to eat today, or having a gun held to my head, or having a needle sticking out of my arm or any of that stuff any more.

You've successfully integrated those parts of your self and your life completely into your stage persona?

I've incorporated all parts of my life into it. What they see on stage, they may perceive as theater or gimmicky, but it is in fact, me drawing from all areas of my life. I really don't think I'm talented enough to be somebody else. Other people can do it differently but I'm very limited that way. I can only draw from facets of my own life.

What is the experience that you want people to get from the music on the new album or from a live Psychotica show?

I don't think it's all that deep. I don't think I'm talented enough to change the face of music or anything like that, but if I can wedge the door open a crack for someone else to move in and change the face of music, that would be awesome. I'm just trying to do like we did with Squeeze Box!, light the fuse, stand back, and watch it explode. With all of the hoopla about Psychotica, I'm still up against the testosterone boys club. I have to deal with it, usually on a business level, 'cause those guys totally control what we hear and see and if it threatens them in any way, even if they're making money off it, they'll do anything in their power to stop it.

Your life is a testament to survival which is, I think, what everyone ultimately is concerned with. It may not be on the level of, "Am I going to have to sell my body for a cheeseburger?", it may just be, "Can I pay the rent or taxes?" As an example, you've evolved yourself out of some very extreme situations and not only have survived, but seem to be thriving.

I'm totally thriving. I'm in fact thriving a lot more than a lot of "normal people" and it's maybe because of everything I dealt with when I was younger. In some ways I'm very old and I've done, in a short period of time, what it takes a lot of people 60 years to do. Now I feel like I can enjoy the ride. I got through all of the hard stuff, though I'm sure it's not gone completely.

I totally feel a great deal of responsibility about letting kids know that I was on the street and I made it out, achieved some goals and changed. I've taken my life over and made what I wanted out of it. If nothing else, that is an important message to send to kids no matter where you come from or what your lifestyle consists of, your life is totally your own to do with as you please. It's a corny thing. No mountain is too high to climb. If I had made a list 15 years ago of all the things I wanted out of life, I would have totally short changed myself, no now I wake up every day and try not to have too many preconceived ideas of where I'm going to go with things. I just try and let it happen more and more. the older I get, the more I just let it happen.



Psychotica are appearing on the main stage at Lollapalooza '96 on July 10 and 11 at Randall's Island in New York City. Their self-titled album has just been released on Ventrue/American Records.