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Ad/Vance asks the musical question … Which Diva Must Die?

This is a 1994 piece from my per’zine, Ad/Vance. It was just an early version of the FMK game, not a prediction of how things would end up 18 years later. 

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Do you ever play hair-splitting games? I mean the sort where you start with a premise like, “I’m Lord God King of the Universe and I have the power to decide who lives and who dies … so, OK, who goes first?” 

That’s where the game begins. Start with a phraseology along the lines of that apocrophal Oscar Wilde deathbed quote, “Either these curtains go or I do.” For example [via Elton John], ”There are too many ‘divas’ in this world … you know, the kind who sing every song like they’re a contestant on STAR SEARCH.” 

You follow that with a sampling like “Well, the worst offenders are Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Therefore, one of them must die. But who?” 

Your first criterion is with the talent per se. "Well, Mariah Catey always makes an obnoxious Minnie Rippertonesque squeal on her singles, so she should die. But then, Whitney has the vocal subtlety of a pair of Doc Martens and has forever ruined I’M EVERY WOMAN for me. So she should die.” 

You can quickly see how troublesome this gets. 

Criterion Number Two: This I would usually be a fashion face-off; however, Mariah and Whitney are equally bland with their ensembles. 

Criterion Number Three: Number of times we’re forced to listen to them while (a) driving and (b) having drinks. Well, they’re tied here too since they both insist on releasing ballads and dance songs. You see, it’s not as easy as it seemed on the surface. 

Criterion Number Four: Song choices. While Mariah Carey claims to write her own songs, her biggest hit has been with a lame, unplugged remake of a Motown classic, I’LL BE THERE. (Which reminds me, is anyone game for a TV music show called UNHINGED, to be hosted by poor Connie Francis?) Whitney not only recorded, but also released a version of THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER. 

Patriotism has a place, even in the sacrilegious pages of Ad/Vance, but there ARE limits. 

Criterion Number Five: A vital one. Who are they married to? Let’s see, Mariah had the good sense to marry Tommy Mottola, head of her record company — Sony — destined to never, ever go under. Whitney married former New Edition member Bobby Brown, a man with hideous ensembles and some hit singles to his credit (and who is at 14:49 and counting with his 15 minutes). 

As you can see, it’s pretty much decided that Mariah Carey gets to live because of her advanced brain power in making the decisions that matter. Mariah, ADIVANCE salutes your survival; it’s a harsh world out there in popland. 

And so long, Whitney, and not a minute too soon. 

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Yet Another Visit to the 1990s via Ad/Vance (My Per’zine)

Welcome to 1994: a peach of a year …

THE SUMMER HOUSE — Not a great film, but 90 screen-eating minutes with Jeanne Moreau at her most, well, Moresque. That henna’d hair, that rum and cigarette voice, those jowls. 

THE ELIPTON — Extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky claims the existence this weapon that kills by producing a massive impulse of sound. “It would leave no mark on its victims,” the WASHINGTON POST reported. Not only did Kate Bush predict the weapon in her Eurohit, “Experiment No. 4,” but bonus points for Zhirinovsky’s comment, “There will not be a single trace of firearms wounds … just the corpses of 18 Muslim soldiers lying there.” I bet that when Vladimir knows what he wants, he just goes for it. 

THE DONNA SUMMER ANTHOLOGY — I don’t care what she said; at least she had the good grace to deny it. Instead, think about the string of immaculate singles she left behind, now in digital glory. And consider this, would you rather be listening to AIDS-cash pilferer and Psychic Friends embarrassment Dionne Warwick? 

NWPCA — Only blocks from my house resides the weirdest association ever, the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. And people thought my days at the National Hydropower Association seemed goofy. 

PEACH AS A SCENT — As "toffee" was the taste-sensation of 1992, peach is the nose-candy of 1994. Yardley has a soap, Glade an air-freshener and Toilet Duck is bound to follow with peach-scented bowl cleaner. 

TALES OF THE CITY —It didn’t translate right to the small screen, but it was a lot of fun. Just seeing Chloë Webb back in action was worth it — and any show that can piss off so many people is all right by me. 

HITS 1 & 2: PRINCE — They’re all great songs, but it’s here mainly because the “new” song from the collection is called — what else? — “Peach.” 

ROSEANNE PETERSON — Dig this: Peterson has been ordered to stand trial in California for decapitating her lesbian lover. I don’t know about you but I smell performance art piece. 

LARRY SMITH — Managing editor of PARADE who responded to my letter of upset that people should spend 75¢ to call and say if they’re against homelessness. Smith said, “There is no profit for us in this; our aim rather is to inform our millions of readers about the plight of the homeless and their cause.” Thanks, Larry. Why didn’t I see that spending 75¢ on a phone call is so much better than just giving it to a homeless person? 

ETHYL MEATPLOW — A new band out of L.A. They have a very cool video based on the murderess and blood-bather Countess Bathory called “Queenie.” They also have a single out called — wait — “Ripened Peach.”

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"Hanging out with hanger-on Angie Bowie"

This is a recounting of a 1993 encounter with Angela Bowie, published in Ad/Vance 3. Notes since that time:

Toni Collette, in Todd Haynes’ 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, captured her quirky American / attempted London mid-crust / unplanned Eurotrash accent with perfection.

The song I allude below is actually called “Turn My Heart Over Easy” and appears on an album she issued in 2002 called Moon Goddess.

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You have friends, you do favors — even favors as degrading as going to a book signing by professional former rock star wife Angela Bowie, David’s ex. Her claim to fame, aside from bopping both the Thin White Duke and Marianne Faithfull, is that she is the Angie (as in Mick Jagger singing …). She’s now cashing in by telling all to an uncaring public in her opus Backstage Passes: My Life as a Bowie Hanger-on or something like that. Overcoming my reluctance and deciding that maybe seeing a never-quite-was in the flesh might make for a breezy afternoon, I wound my way downtown on a Friday afternoon to meet Ms. B.

I walked in: NO crowd, not even a line. I got there about 5:30 — minutes after the thing started; two people were there worshiping at her feet. She was trying to explain her poetry to one of them and kept saying, “It’s hard to explain … I need to show it to you. It’s in my first book.” The store didn’t have it in stock. The other guy there actually had a copy and she introduced them and let them talk about her poetry. My turn.

I told her the books were for two good friends of mine in New Orleans.  Then I mentioned I’d seen her on cable singing “Heart over Easy” (which featured her wild scream of “Now SLAM DANCE!” — only twelve years after the fact. Some people just can’t keep up with the trends.). I asked if it had ever come out. She said, “It takes a long time to get these things out. When I went on that show, I thought the album would be out six months later. The same with this book, it’s been three years since we came up with the idea.” I’ve no idea who the “we” is since she was alone except for a bookstore employee who must have been assigned to keep replenishing her supply of books to sign. He wasn’t busy at this point.

After she inscribed the books, I got into the check-out line behind five other customers. Only one of them had her book. No one was waiting in line to talk to her.

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Another Visit to the 1990s via Ad/Vance (My Per’zine)

  1. The Return of Mentos — Two new commercials. One dull (a girl flirts with a group of construction workers to make them move a car); one sick (a teen dresses as showroom dummy to hide from a parental figure). I want to take a shower every time I see these.
  2. Ab Fab — Absolutely Fabulous is not just a series, it’s the story of my life as I wish I’d lived it up to this point. Bonus points for the re-ermengence of The New Avenger’s Joanna Lumley as Bitch Goddess Patsy (heart of?) Stone.
  3. Esquivel!’s Space-Age, Bachelor Pad Music — A compilation of the 1950’s Mexican bandleader-genius, Esquivel! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the act). It’s the soundtrack for a martini built for two.
  4. Zero Patience — It’s a hard film to describe — sort of Rocky Horror meets the AIDS pandemic – but its two hours have more political and artistic impact than a decade of Bennetton ads. And the songs are pretty good, too.
  5. The Alienist by Caleb Carr — So help me, a bestseller that actually has something to say about the creation of mass murderers and the ease with which we hide evil in the 20th century. Bonus points for the jar full of victim’s eyes. Cool.
  6. The Afghan Whigs (live, 9:30 Club, 4/10/94) — Riding on the heels of the highly intelligent but still rock Gentlemen LP, the Whigs tore it up live, perhaps one of the finest concerts I’ve ever seen. And hey, it was reviewed in Rolling Stone just a few weeks later. They liked it even more than I did. I think I should be worried about that.
  7. San Francisco — A very cool city. This past March, I bowed at Jack Kerouac Alley and drank at the Midnight Sun. I even experienced taqería culture. I’m not sure I’m really a West Coast kind of guy, but now I’m willing to give L.A. a chance to impress me.
  8. American Gourmet by Jane & Michael Stern — The flipside to their groundbreaking Square Meals (a major dinner party insipration for me for almost ten years now). This book has made me see Julia Child in a whole new light — trust me, you don’t want to know what light that is, though.
  9. Wonderbra® Mania — The original Wonderbra hits D.C.  — as if the dowdy frumps who are the majority of women on the streets on Washington really are going to take advantage of a bra that lifts cleavage to new heights.
  10. Mary Stiles — God knows I’ve bedded some freaks, but Mary Stiles really has. She’s the Circus Geek follower who married both “Lobster Boy” (a/k/a Grady Stiles with flippers instead of hands) and Harry Glenn Newman, the world’s smallest man. She was on trial for hiring a hit man to boil Lobster Boy. It turns out that the hit man was Lobster Boy’s son, Baby Lobster Boy.
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A Visit to the 1990s via Ad/Vance (My Per’zine)

  1. The films of Herschell Gordon Lewis:  acting takes a holiday in Lewis’ masterpieces, Blood Feast and She-Devils on Wheels. These babies are hotter than sizzling popcorn oil.
  2. Les grands succèsJeanne Moreau.  An hour’s worth of the Moreau magic.  Almost perfect, except that it’s missing that classic tune from Querelle, her dizzying spin on Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, “Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves.”
  3. Re/Search #12:  Modern Primitives.  Three years on and it still makes your average human want to vomit. Brilliant!
  4. To the Friend Who Did Not Save My LifeHervé Guibert. A bitter, cynical roman à clef about the author, Isabelle Adjani and Michel Foucault.  Says more about the AIDS crisis than Outweek ever did.
  5. Diseased Pariah News — a comic ‘zine for HIV positive readers.  A ‘zine almost as interesting as AD/VANCE. 
  6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 — Keep circulating the tapes.
  7. Visions — astrology software (both Mac and IBM).  It’s never been easier to be New Age.
  8. "Something Good" — Utah Saints:  First they had the good taste to sample Annie Lennox, now Kate Bush.  Who next,  Yma Sumac?
  9. The Encyclopedia of Bad TasteJane & Michael Stern:  A compendium of their best bits from Square Meals and Elvis People.  Recently remainered but worth every cent at its original $30.
  10. The Kids in the Hall — My faith in skit comedy has been restored.  And these are not men in drag, they are women.