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' roll.

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 positive responses.

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 bird?
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 invented everything.

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 listening to?
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.

G: Definatly.
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 you?
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!

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