Genre August 1999 No. Seventy Three
Interview by Morris Weissinger
Photography by Nicole Rosenthal
He claims Marilyn Manson stole his "sexless alien" image, so he crossed
Liberace with Elton John, added a birdlike reptile to the soup and sprinkled
it with Ziggy Stardust. Hes Pat Briggs, the outrageous frontman for the
glam-goth rockers Psychotica, whose upcoming release "Pandemic" will be out
next month. He's a cutting-edge club impresario, founder of New York's
Squeezebox and L.A.'s Make-Up, an ambisexual chamelon, and the nicest guy you
could ever bring home to your mother... Just tell her to hide the eyeshadow.
Genre: Is the marketing plan for your new album to bll yourself as the first
openly gay rock star?
BRIGGS: NO, i always find that pretty irrelevant. I don't have any
particular loyalty to the gay community because I don't think most of them
like rock-n-roll anymore.
G: you're right about that.
B: I think that following I have throught the country is not necessarily a
gay following--its more of an ambiguous following, which is what I portray.
When I'm onstage doing my shows or even when I'm doing my clubs, I like
everyone to feel like they're welcome. I don't like to be exclusive one way
or the other. But I am trying to make the gay community more into rock 'n'
G: How would you describe the sound of Psychotica?
B: Pretty classic rock-n-roll but with a lot of influences. I tried to some
degree make this record romantic. My head space was in this early 20's
romantic Hollywood, Valentino-era goth glamour period. The song "Salome and
Valentino" is representative of that.
G: Was there some formative event in your childhood that influenced or
motivated your look?
B: Probably, but it wasn't anything quite that profound. I just became so
emotionally contorted over the years from living on the streets and doing a
lot of stuff, and then I sobered up and wanted to bring a part of that life
with me. Its how i manifest the way I feel inside.
G: How do you feel inside?
B: Well, it changes from day to day. I have gone through different phases
of creating this whole sexless kind of image. In some ways, it goes beyond
androgyny. I had so much of that stuff when I was younger and working the
streets--I had to look like this or like that in order to get laid and get
money, or get a job--that I'd had enough of it by the time I was older. So I
thought it would be an interesting psychological experiment to take the sex
out of rock n roll. And I have been equally received with negative and
G: People who are familiar with glam rock and the New York Dolls and Goth
are not going to say "Oh my god, this is so shocking" but what do you say to
a regular rock n roller type guy who might be threatened by a fem,
lipstick-wearing lead singer of a rock n roll band who looks like an exotic
B: Its for those who want it, not for those that need it.
G: But what about those 18-year old boys who are really into Metallica, and
then they hear Psychotica and say "oh, this is really great." and then see
what you look like and was, "What the fuck?"
B: You try and tell people to open their minds, but they're not going to
until they're ready, I don't try to force-feed it to anybody. I'm not into
that. I'm on my own path, and those who want to follow do. And every year
that caravan gets bigger.
G: So you have no strategy for winning the hearts and minds of Middle America? .
B: I don't think of it that way. I've been in the music business for 15
years, and I keep surviving for some reason. I'm not really positive
why--maybe its because I haven't been a total hit.
G: Do you think this third album is going to be "it"?.
B: Do I think so? No, probably not. I have a sneaking suspicion that my
path is going to be a steady climb upward, but slowly.
G: How would you explain the phenomenon that is Marilyn Manson?
B: Well, he was on his own path, but then he chose to borrow from others,
and it really worked against him because I think people got sick of him. I
think the thing that words for me is that people haven't gotten sick of me yet.
I keep just enough intrigue going on so even people who hate me go, "Oh, whats
he going to do this time?
G: Who are you the most sick of being compared to?
B: Probably Bowie. But I find this album much more Queen than Bowie.
Bowie was never really one of my influences musically. I just chuckle every
time somebody compares me to him because it seems that--evidently--he
G: Tell me something about you that would suprise your fans.
B: I like to cook.
G: Were you an exhibitionist as a child?
B: No, I Was really introverted, and still am sometimes.
G: What scares you?
B: That things will become like they were in 1996, and I'll end up using
drugs again. That's probably the scariest thing. I had 14 years of sobriety
and then a year of fame and I took a big battering. I had done "Rent", a
movie, Psychotica first record, a huge tour, Squeezebox, everything was
insanely great. I think the stress and pressure of getting tugged at all the
time and then also the backlash, the professional jealousy. I think people
thought I was some kind of overnight sensation because suddenly I popped into
the spotlight--but they didn't realize I'd been doing this for 12 years.
G: Why do you think gay men have such a tendency toward self-destruction?
B: My main beef with gay men is that they're emotional children. They're
always trying to extend the party and keep having a great time. Whether that's
sex or drugs or whatever. But listen, who am I to criticize? I did the same
thing. But I think emotional immaturity is what I'd attribute that to.
G: What do you say about the media frenzy that gets whipped up every time
there's another school shooting and they blame it on the music kids are
B: The real problem is bad parenting, which no one wants to deal with,
especially after the shooting at Columbine High School. The other problem is
that kids are not allowed to express themselves creatively beyond certain
limits that are socially acceptable. You could say that's the problem in the
gay community too, really: Fear of self-expression.
B: Goth kids throughout the country are a perfect example: They feel they
have no outlet other than their makeup and clothing as a form of expression.
I think tha'ts why places I've created, like Squeezebox and Makeup are so
successful because suddenly, there's an outlet for people to go all out. At
these places, gay people, rockers--everyone--dresses up and goes beyond what
they would normally do. There's a sense of humor involved; people don't take
themselves so seriously. If there were more outlets like that, we might not
have so much of this shit going on.
G: How do you compartmentalize your stage and show personas and the real
B: Well, they're all facets of my own personality. I just dress them
differently. My character Torment is obviously my more female side--and far
more bitchy than I am in person. You know, far more typical drag-queen type
of behaviour, and very catty. The bitchy rock n roll girl that everybody
admires and secretly thinks is cool.
G: Like Joan Jett?
B: More like Patti Smith, bit a little more glamourous. But my character in
Psychotica is a little more me, and ironically a lot more tender. More
dramatic, but a lot more fragile, although by looking at me in Psychotica, you
couldn't think so.
G: Do you design all your own costumes?
B: I do the basic layout, but someone else makes them. I use my clubs as
sort of testing ground for what iIm going to do publicly. I started doing
headresses at Squeezebox and Makeup and decided I wanted to go in this
futuristic Las Vegas direction because no one was doing that. It's a little
bit Liberace, a little bit Elton John, and a little bit Japanese Kabuki.
It's a lot of my favorite things. Liberace was all about rhinestones. And
when I have them glued onto my face, it gives me a sort of reptilian texture,
which I like. It's a fantasy of going beyond my own human skin.
G: Did you ever need to get fucked up in order to go onstage and perform?
B: No, I don't do good shows when I'm fucked up. That's the great dichotomy:
You can't. You have to be on top of it. If you get up there looking
Fucked up in front of 20,000 pople, they're like wolves. If they smell your
fear, they'll eat you alive and pick their teeth with your bones.
G: Whats your idea of perfect happiness?
B: I dont know, I'm pretty close right now. There are a few daily
Aggrevations, but I'm having a good time.
Thanks to mop for typing this out!back to interviews
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