Thursday, 24 October 2013

July ‘78

Eggyweggy Iggy

The Evening News asks me to do restaurant reviews. Unbelievable. And what a scam.

I dine out with a mate or Dina and after I pay the bill I ask to see the manager and explain that I’m reviewing the restaurant and how I really enjoyed the food – which I invariably do. Who wouldn’t? Then I claim the whole bill on expenses.

A week or two after a glowing review appears in the paper, I wander on back to the restaurant, with a guest, where a beaming manager greets me and says the review has done wonders for his business and insists my money is no good. I eat out two, three nights a week for absolutely nothing.

Plus, since grabbing the gigs on Record Mirror, the Record and the News, I get taken out to lunch twice a week by sexy record company PRs hungry for column inches who seduce me with wine and crème brulee.

And then one of them asks if I want to interview Iggy Pop.

I take the tube down to RCA’s luxury West End offices but claim for a cab. It’s hard to be a saint in the city. I’m a little nervous. I’d heard some very heavy things about Iggy Pop and his hatred of journalists.

He turns out to be a pussycat.

My last glimpse of him was brief. Shelter out of the midnight rain in the Music Machine. Iggy on stage beating his hairless chest with chimp hands. He was wearing a leotard and fishnet stockings like the ones kept in the back of a housewife’s wardrobe and brought out on special occasions, in the dark.

Pop of the Iggy kind turns you on like that, in the fishnet-stockings dark.

He vanished after the Music Machine show. ‘I'd just had enough. After every gig I need to get away − it's a psychological trick. I use the simplicity of distance, in miles, to enable me to gain a perspective of where I've just been. Then I can sit back and evaluate in a totally clinical way.’

Iggy the ego hero is sitting opposite me. It’s just the two of us. I’ve got an hour. He’s limiting himself to just two interviews. After that he loses patience.

He looks as healthy as a visiting tennis player, but his virginal white is marred by the odd pubic black poking through the racket. His hair is Sassoon-slick, his dress despicably tasteful.

So where's the demon?


And where's the diesel powered snake body?


Or so it seems. He’s just so friendly. The drug-ravaged piss-artist that I’d been told so much about turns out to be little more than a lovable rogue with a neat line in vilification and Detroit demagoguery.

Snap, crackle, POP! ‘This is a real dirty business – a filthy business. I hate it. It’s a big industry built on precarious foundations. So I try and keep myself apart from it as much as I can. I give everything I’ve got on stage and steer clear of the industry after that.

‘I’m afraid I’m a member of that terribly unfashionable school which adheres to the rule of giving people entertainment. My life revolves around my work. I’m not a very interesting international playboy.’

He’s got a perpetual grin that erupts into a full scale smile every so often. For a moment, a very strange moment, I think I’m talking to a member of Blue Oyster Cult or maybe even an Eagle. Imagine!

I pull myself together by asking about his relationship with Laughing Boy Bowie.

‘Things I read about him and me bear so little resemblance to what actually goes on. It’s so predictable. I value everything we’ve done together. And there are things between us that will come to light in time. Projects we’re working on now are years ahead of this era.

‘I seem to have found myself in a position where I’m always ahead of the next man. Everything I do is interpreted later. That’s why there’s so much press about me. People are unable to understand where I’m at so they all become interested in are my attendant features – like vomiting a lot.’

Pretty understandable if you ask me.

‘I’m often regarded as a boil, y’know. A big boil that has to be lanced.’

But don’t you like to be thought of in that way? Don’t you capitalise on it, huh?

‘Sure I capitalise on it. Instead of ignoring it, I embrace it, accept it, and it brings me more fame and fortune. And the more fame and fortune I get, the more it enables me to play my music.’

Simple. But what about that music? That sonic boom that freezes your brain, know what I mean?

‘My music is like a high-pitched dog whistle. You either hear it or not. To me it’s soothing. I need volume to drown out the rest of existence. It has this soporific effect, weakening almost, on me. But at the same time its sheer buoyancy keeps me afloat.’

Would you like to die on stage? Y’know – Iggy goes Pop in public?

‘I get very scared about death – but I guess I wouldn’t mind dying that way. It’s bound to happen anyway. There are a lot of guys out there that hate me. One of them is gonna get up one night and – BANG! – shoot the fuck outta me.’

That put the wind up him.

How do you live up to the undoubted richness of your character?

‘Oh, I occasionally go into bars and jerk off over women’s legs.’

That put the wind up me.

You really done that?

‘Yeah, really.’

Nah, really Iggy’s a mummy’s boy at heart. ‘My parents are pretty important to me. They have a great deal to do with whatever position I’ve attained now. They’re the best.

‘A lot of guys in rock don’t talk much about their folks. That’s ‘cos they’re now fighting the battles they should’ve fought when they were seven. Y’know, they say now, “Hey Mum, I don’t wanna eat my eggyweggy,” when they should’ve said it years ago.

‘Me, I always told my mum if I didn’t want my eggyweggy. Sure my parents are shocked by some of my actions. They always wanted me to be in reasonably one piece. Still, better shocked by me than strangers, eh?’

Hands up all those who knew there was an Iggy Junior. Eric’s his name. Eric Pop born out of wedlock eight or nine years ago, Iggy’s not absolutely sure about the time.

‘He’s in California at the moment riding horses all day. I don’t see much of him. I provide but that’s all. I guess looking after him financially is my way of doing something worthwhile.’

What about Eric’s mum?

‘I don’t see much of her either. That’s the way I like it. I move around a lot. I don’t like the same surroundings.’

Say Iggy, didn’t you once describe yourself as the King of Failures?

‘That’s apropos. I’d just been reading Cocteau when I said that.’

Of course.

‘See, all the successes I know are really boring little cheeses. Once those guys are exposed to that dirty thing called the public they become ignorant and inhuman.’

And what was that stockings and leotard get up for the Music Machine show all about?

‘I don’t like to disappoint my fans. Besides, I looked really beautiful in that outfit. I mean that. I’m their superman and before I walked out on stage that night, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, Wow Iggy, you’re pretty good looking. You know something? I think I’m the greatest.’

I think I’m the greatest when, after the interview, the PR invites me into RCA’s record library. ‘Help yourself. I’ve got to dash. ‘Bye.’ Help yourself? Well, sugar pie honey bunch, I can’t help myself. I take as many albums as I can possibly carry, including the entire Bowie back catalogue, three Kinks, a couple of Jefferson Airplane, an Elvis greatest hits, a brace of Don McLean, several Nilssons, a ZZ Top and a Fats Waller. There must be 40 albums in my arms as I struggle through the reception, smile and push open the door into the street with my foot.

Needless to say, I get a cab back to the office.


Next – Pulling down the Palais starring Steve Jones.

Adapted from the book Tell Me When by Barry Cain

© Barry Cain 2013





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