Psychotica's Briggs gets `Over' in starmaking turn
by Jae Ha-Kim
from the Chicago Sun Times, May 9, 1997

Even Psychotica's diehard fans will have a difficult time recognizing Pat Briggs in the film ``All Over Me,'' which opens today at Pipers Alley.

Without his heavy stage makeup, skintight outfits and meticulously sculpted white Mohawk, the singer for the theatrical rock group looks more like the average kid you'd see at a Psychotica show than the band's frontman. ``I'm the man of a million faces,'' Briggs said, laughing. ``It's really great because during Lollapalooza [last year], I'd come out onstage and do the show. Then I'd go wash the makeup off, put on a pair of jeans and wander around and just enjoy the other bands. Nobody recognized me.''

His fame quotient is about to go up, thanks to his starmaking turn as Luke, a gay punk rocker in ``All Over Me.'' With his shaggy hair and teen-lean build, Briggs looked at least a decade younger than his 32 years. More importantly, he played the role with none of the self-possessed awkwardness that has stunted the film careers of countless other musicians (Mick Jagger, Chris Isaak, Donny & Marie). Also, he refused to turn the role into a cliche.

Luke becomes a big-brother figure to the 15-year-old protagonist Claude, who questions her sexual feelings for her best friend Ellen and tries to figure out where she belongs.

Acting isn't new to Briggs, who was offered the part after director Alex Sichel saw him do a performance piece at Lollapalooza '95--the first of two years he participated in the alternative music festival. He did community theater at 8, won bit parts as extras in feature films during his teens and was in the first cast of the play ``Rent'' when it was in workshop form two years ago.

``One of the reasons I did this movie is because it fits in with the direction of the rest of my career, and I really liked the vibe I got from the script,'' said Briggs, who is working on a new Psychotica album in New York. ``I think of Psychotica as an interactive band that allows its members to expand outside of the group, so I don't see acting and making music as being mutually exclusive.''

Briggs also is the co-founder of a New York club, Squeezebox, which recently celebrated its third anniversary.

``The basis of it was to create a place where gay, bi and kids who are considered freaks could go to and be involved with rock 'n' roll,'' he said. ``When I was growing up, all the gay clubs played house music, and I didn't want that. I wanted to be a part of rock 'n' roll.

``I had a tremendously difficult time coming out, and once I did, I felt like I had to keep quiet about it. When I had my first record deal, I was in a band with straight men, and everyone was really nervous that I would talk about [being gay]. The ironic thing is it still seems OK for girls to be out of the closet, but not for guys. Women in general are a lot less threatened by sexuality.''