Mirror in the Bedroom

For several years, at the end of any given artist interview, I’d ask if they ever had sex to their own records, assuming I’d eventually have enough good answers that I could compile them all for a Raygun piece. Alas, Raygun went under before I could realize that glorious vision. I’m pretty sure this eventually ran in the Bay Guardian, though I have no hard copy, so am only guessing at the date.

MIRROR IN THE BEDROOM

Have you ever tried having sex to Pavement? Don’t. It doesn’t work. The one time I tried, my wife and I were so horrified that simply turning off the stereo wasn’t enough. We had to wait a whole day to try again. Even then, we put on Van Morrison’s Moondance, just to be safe.

But the whole fiasco got me thinking. Rock and roll was originally slang for sex, right?  Sure, it’s also about youth and rebellion and the doomed attempt to create a language that can’t be co-opted, but all those things come later. First and foremost, it’s a soundtrack for lust. So, are there people somewhere who enjoy having sex to Wowee Zowee? Surely not. More importantly: is it the type of record Steven Malkmus himself slips on when he’s feeling frisky?

Again, this is hard to believe. I decided to test my thesis by asking Mr. Malkmus if he’s ever had sex to his own records. In the interests of scientific accuracy, I would use Mr. Morrison as a control. I mean, everyone I know has had sex to Moondance at least once, so it sort of follows that Van Morrison himself must have tried it, too. Doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the publicist at Pavement’s record label won’t return my call. I sent Van Morrison a very carefully worded fax, but his manager just laughed at me for a while, then said there was no chance of getting Van to answer. I’m not surprised. You don’t have to be a notoriously cantankerous recluse to take offense at what’s really a pretty innocent question. I know, because ever since that fateful night with the Pavement record, I ask every musician I interview if they’ve ever tried having sex to their own music. And they always say no. At first.

I guess their reluctance is understandable. Most people who get up on stage, sing little poems, and then wait for people to clap don’t want anyone to think they’re the slightest bit vain.

Listen to Luna’s Dean Wareham insist he’s never even thought about having sex to his own CDs: “That would be like having a big gigantic poster of yourself above your bed. I’ve taken drugs to them, though,” he allows, and he promises he’ll have sex to his new record and get back to me “before the end of the year.” David Gedge has no problem aggressively barking out confessional lyrics in his band, the Wedding Present, but when I ask my humble question, he suddenly becomes very British and proper: “You think I’m a pervert or something?” he yells. “Do you read your own reviews as a turn on? Will you play back this recording? ‘Here’s where I ask that really important question — aaaahhh!’”

Smashing Pumpkins’ bassist D’arcy dodges the issue by claiming she doesn’t have sex to music, anymore: “Maybe I used to when I was younger, but I don’t probably want to remember those, you know?” Of course, this statement may be a veiled reference to her kaput relationship with guitarist James Iha, who also says he’s never had sex to a Smashing Pumpkins record: “I really don’t think of my band’s music erotically. I just won’t even go there.”

Press musicians hard enough, though, and the little confessions start slipping out. Insurgent Country artist Robbie Fulks won’t cop to slipping on his own music when he’s being romantic, but he admits this much: “My wife does voice-overs, so every once in a while we’ll put on one of her Sears-Kenmore commercials.” Fulks’ label-mate Jon Langford, from the Waco Brothers, says he has sex to his own records, “But only while making them.”

Men’s Club drummer Tom Galbraith has had sex to his album, but he’s got an excuse: “I have a CD mega-shuffle type deal. When our record came on, I jumped up like I’d been plowing a ghost. It’s creepy.” Pansy Division’s Jon Ginoli has a similar justification: “The other person put them on, I’m not that egotistical.” So long as we know it wasn’t his idea, he’s proud enough to say, “It was a blast. Some of our songs are so damn horny that it fit the occasion very well.”

Kid Congo, who’s played with the Bad Seeds, the Gun Club and The Cramps, is a little more forthcoming. He purposely chose a Cramps record one night. Still, he adds a proviso: it was a one night stand, “and it was the only decent CD in this person’s collection.”

I have to say, this sudden shyness when I ask a harmless question isn’t very convincing. Rock stars are supposed to swagger. Most of them know this. The Meice’s Joe Reineke doesn’t want us to think he’d do it to his own records, but he’s happy to volunteer his preferred background music: “The Melvin’s Ozma, cause it’s long, hard, and heavy. Just like my lovin’.” Likewise, Jon Ginoli calls Spacemen 3′s Perfect Prescription his favorite sex record, but wants us to know he’s referring to “the extra long 75 minute CD version.” Jon Langford enjoys War Pigs, by Black Sabbath, which also sounds suitably macho (although he qualifies it by asking, “Does sex with yourself count?”)

Granted, having sex to you own music is probably a lot like screwing in front of a mirror: you’re gonna realize you shouldn’t be quite so proud of yourself, but you also get to see all kind of bits you never knew you had. That’s why Kelley Deal is afraid to try it: “I would probably start thinking, ‘Oh, I should have had the kick drum louder.’”

Some musicians, however, actually enjoy the experience; it’s their partners who don’t. Jordan Zadorozny says the one time he had sex to Blinker the Star was “satisfying for me, but probably disconcerting for the other person.” What was her reaction? “‘Stop commenting on the lyrics.’” Lambchop’s Jonathan Marx won’t tell us about himself, but he’s happy to tattle on his bass player, Buddy T, who not only tried having sex to Lambchop’s last release, but annoyed his partner because, “he had to interrupt the proceedings to flip the record over.”

Moby, God bless him, went even further: not content with simply bothering his mate, he decided to let the whole world share the experience of Moby doing it to Moby. “Two remixes of the song ‘Hymn,’” he tells me, “are named after the sex that they inspired, the ‘Lucky Orgasm’ and ‘Menacing’ mix.”

Ugh. I guess I deserved that. I could do without the mental image of Moby’s face contorting as he has a “lucky orgasm,” but I have to commend him. At least he answered like a real rock star.

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