Perry Farrell may have distanced himself from this summer's headbanger-heavy Lollapalooza, but if he were to sneak in and catch the tour's opening act, Psychotica, his belief that "nothing's shocking" might be shaken. On stage, Psychotica frontman Patrick Briggs rises from a mirrored crucifix, naked and streaked in silver paint, amid a blaze of colored smoke bombs -- a spectacle that has shocked alterna-teens all over the country this summer. He's also been known to perform clad only in Saran Wrap and to emerge from a giant silver egg. The kids are eating it up. The New York-based glam futuristic-punk outfit are tapping into the theatrical vein that's been missing from rock 'n' roll for some time now. Its spiritual forefathers include Iggy, Bowie (or should we say Ziggy?) and the New York Dolls, many of whom stand beside each other -- as wax figurines -- in the Costumes of Rock exhibit at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The rise of Psychotica begins with Briggs' cofounding New York City's hottest Friday night rock 'n' roll dance party, Squeezebox at Don Hills, which became a safe haven for rockers of all persuasions, although its slant is toward gender-bent punk rock. It is not uncommon at Squeezebox to see drag queens bashing out punk tunes with Courtney Love, Debbie Harry, Green Day or Evan Dando. Even in this exotic atmosphere, Briggs & Co.'s outlandish live sets commanded extra attention. After only three performances the band had secured a record deal, the opening slot on this year's headbang-apalooza and eternal celebrity in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But is there more to Psychotica than spectacle? We asked the man himself, who, it turns out, is not as scary or outrageous as you might expect.





Photo credits (top to bottom): Cheryl Dunn/Ventrue Entertainment, Melanie Edwards/Retna, Steve Jennings/LGI