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Saturday, January 21, 2012

1-21-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #19 (More Roots of “The Rex” -- Second Wave band Nervus Rex in ‘70’s NYC)


Okay, as for the early days of Nervus Rex, we did all sorts of nutty things, but mostly started getting gigs at places like CBGB’s, Max’s, and later the Mudd Club, Hurrah’s, the Peppermint Lounge, and numerous other dives. At the time, Giuliani hadn’t yet busted the mob for running music clubs, so there was a lot of “dirty” money needing laundering, and paying bands $1,000 a night wasn’t unheard of; some even made more.

And since the drinking age was young -- 18 -- kids came out to hear bands in droves. You COULD play the city (Manhattan) more than once a month. You could also do private parties in rented spaces and people’s lofts. The scene was small, but lucrative for musicians.

One such party came to be because I was friends with an otherworldly woman with a lazy southern accent -- Atlanta & Athens, Georgia -- named Judy. Her blue eyes were psychedelically dazzling, and she was a sweet, shy, gentle soul. She asked me, outside CBGB’s one night after Nervus Rex played, if we’d help out some friends of hers. Her ex-husband, Kevin, was guitarist in a Georgia band called The Fans. But this favor wasn’t for them.

Judy’s friends, Danny Beard and Maureen, came with the deal -- but they were so nice, too. They were the band’s record company and management -- and they were all friends. Judy said this:

“Would ya-all mind throwing a party for some friends of mine, a band from Athens? They’re called the B-52’s. You know, after the hair-do.”

“Well, they’re from Georgia? I like people from Georgia. Are they good?”

“MMmm hmmm,” Judy nodded, “REAL good. That would be so nice of ya-all. . . “

Sight unseen and band unheard, I told Shawn we should do this, because it would be a cool thing to do and a fun party, no doubt. Our last party was a big success, and Shawn’s parents seemed OK with us using their loft. At this time, they were probably in their forties, so I’m sure it was fun for them, too.

At any rate, Judy and Danny and Maureen introduced us to Kate, Cindy, Fred, Ricky and Keith a few months later, and they couldn’t have been nicer, as people. When they played music together onstage, they were so tight that you could feel, and almost see, the energy, like a V-shaped wedge or force field. I had a similar reaction to hearing Television on a good night. . . whatever “it” was, they-all had it.

One night, we did a double bill with the B-52’s at Max’s Kansas City, and it was just an amazing experience, when they got into a groove and played “52 Girls,” “Why Won’t You Dance With Me,” or “Rock Lobster.”

I couldn’t even feel envious that they got all the attention and scooped up management and a record deal in record time. They were simply awesome live, and so much fun. Long live the B-52’s, and Ricky, rest in peace.

1-20-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #18 (An aside during “The Rex” -- Second Wave band Nervus Rex in ‘70’s NYC)

Miriam wrote: "Lauren- I remember you lunching on a bowl of cole slaw with Sweet n Low sprinkled atop.. and a cup of tea, of course... at the University Coffee Shop on University and 12th Street. No wonder you maintained that girlish figure! X M"

Of course, I think that sounds totally gross, but at the time, I guess my strange menu choices (and the Sweet ‘n’ Low -- ugh!) were dictated by pocketbook and anorexic disposition. Yup, I was hospitalized for that at the age of 16, and sometimes, old habits die hard. I always wanted to be skinny, and never ever felt skinny enough (even at 79 pounds, in the hospital!). Oh well. Crazy is as crazy does. I am at a sane weight now, but sometimes I miss being the skinniest gal in the room. . . nobody comments on me being thin any more, so being healthy is my lot in life of late. And that’s cool by me.

So, in the late ‘70’s, I made friends with Fran Pelzman and Mary Harron at CBGB’s. Fran was the cutest little gal, very bubbly, whip-smart, short curly reddish brown hair & laughing brown eyes. She was working as a photographer and going out with Billy Ficca, drummer of the awesome New Wavers Television. And Mary Harron, her friend, was also pretty, thoughtful, intellectual, stammered at times, had an English accent (Canadian by way of Oxford education), blonde hair, blue eyes, and was a friend of cool English bands like The Gang of Four.

At any rate, dear Fran Pelzman wrote about my band, Nervus Rex, a lot, and photographed us in the early days. She had a friend, Diana Clapton, who edited this short-lived New Wave Rock Magazine (all of our friends were in it). The fashion editorial called for a lovely “Gamine Waif” type -- and Fran asked ME to pose!

I always wished I could be thin and pretty -- and I never thought I was good enough. But now I was a model! Wow! (or Woe! I dunno.) So for me to pose in color for this really cool ‘60’s tribute fashion spread, I was on Cloud 9. I was in a band at last, and getting recognition for other talents (and looks -- women especially are judged on this and so we sometimes need to know we’re gorgeous). Very cool. Thanks again, Fran.

Now, seeing Diana Clapton’s name and New Wave Rock Magazine makes me remember another really wacky job I had for a few months. . .

. . . But that’s for another blog!!

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