Note: the following essay was written as part of an elaborate multi-person practical joke, which was enacted on the old Epinions site by myself and a group of music reviewers. Our intention was to create a fictional band, arguably the Worst Punk Band of all time, and create a body of reviews to cover its dubious history. An homage to Spinal Tap, perhaps, in epistolary form.
Every detail of the FLOOPY phenomenon was planned in advance: the name of the band’s most famous single, the frontman’s name, a line-up of musicians over the years. I chose to dive in with a concert review and a memoir of the band’s first and only video, for its own dubious hit song.
I’m posting this because it’s Comedian’s Day, March 20th–and I so seldom attempt straight-up humor.
Hope you folks can bear with me.
Ah, memories! The year is 1983. I’m 13 years old, staying up late on a Saturday night; the local television station in Durango, Colorado has one of those new-fangled “video shows” on that the kids like so much. It’s exactly the sort of scrofulous mongrel nonsense that you’d expect from a small-town TV station in an area where kids can’t get the ol’ MTV. Some poor tech spends the week collecting clips and tapes from god knows where and then spins ‘em all at midnight, hoping to keep the teen market interested enough in the show to watch a few commercials for Bob Sellars Chrysler Plymouth and the local record store.
And we do watch…because gawd, we are so bored, so helplessly, hopelessly, ruinously bored, that we will watch anything! Sometimes, we know, Our Boy at the tv station will come up with something bearable. Maybe we’ll see an oldie like George Harrison’s “Crackerbox Palace”. Or Peter Gabriel’s “Games without Frontiers”. Or maybe something new and good we’ve never heard of.
Most often, of course, it’s loser repeats of clips that were taped off really old episodes of Ed Sullivan, or bootlegged off MTV a year ago: footage of the Beatles touching down for the first time in America, or ”Video Killed the Radio Star” and “O Mickey Yer So Fine”. The sublime and the ridiculous—and things that were a little of both.
Which brings us to my first vision of the band called FLOOPY.
We’d gotten to the end of the show, and things were starting to drag. They’d already re-run a video from last week, “Dirty Creature” by the Split Enz. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but an icon of the swinging ‘70’s, the greatest Anorexia Poster Girl of them all–the world’s first supermodel, Twiggy! And what followed was the most unspeakably bizarre video I’d ever seen, for the most unspeakably bizarre instrumental number of all time:
“Slow Motion Restaurant Roast-beef Seduction”, by the infamous “Cleveland Six”—FLOOPY!
I really can’t begin to describe how this video warped my young mind, but to give you a hint, I now weigh over 300 pounds. During a song that lasted nearly 8 minutes, I saw a level of erotic innuendo that my innocent eyes had never before beheld, all worked out among the courses of a standard white-bread American meal: mashed potatoes, gravy, green peas and dripping chunks of rare roast beef.
I had never, never, never seen a nude woman smear herself with steaming mashed potatoes before. By the time some guy was teasing her bare skin by raking it with the tines of a steel fork, my mouth was hanging open in amazement. The closing image, where Twiggy kneels with her arms crossed over her bare breasts and her mouth open, and someone from off-camera squeezes out pulsing spurts of brown gravy over her face…well, I’d never seen a pornographic movie before, but I got the message!
Jimminy Christmas, it was horribly obscene. And I could never forget the name of that band, as those closing credits rolled: six smirking jerks standing there in chef’s uniforms, waving to the camera, each one of them with a single huge black letter painted on his tall hat.
Needless to say, I was not much into “alternative” music as a kid; I was just barely able to handle standard pop acts like Men at Work, the Police, and the Stray Cats, and I hadn’t developed a sophisticated enough musical palate to be immune to the chart-topping Michael Jackson album of the day. So I wouldn’t dream in a million years of going out and looking for anything recorded by a band who would load a big instrumental number with accompaniment by bagpipes, bells and triangles.
But still, that video stuck in my head like a barbed hook. It hurt to have it in my memory…but I couldn’t get those images out of there without doing myself even more damage!
(I’ve heard that electroshock therapy can help these things. I’ve seriously considered it.)
We have to flash forward several years before I ran into any more references to FLOOPY. From 1986-1992, I’d see the band mentioned in a hip magazine once in a while: Rolling Stone interviewed the singer, Paz Kreeger, in their “Up and Coming” bands feature every other year or so. I would read these blurbs with a sort of twisted but inescapable curiosity, in the same spirit that you read a follow-up article about someone who lost all four limbs in a horrible wheat-threshing accident.
“Wonder how that poor bastage is doing?”
All I really remember about those interviews is that someone would always ask poor old Pazster the same dull questions. “So, have you guys picked a new bass player yet?” “Are you really Irish?” “Why did you punch out Iggy Pop back stage at CBGBs?” And finally, the killer: “What does FLOOPY stand for, anyway?”
Paz always had a new and creative answer for this last question. It’s generally accepted that the final answer he gave before he retired from the music scene was the right one: Fight Liberate Organize Outrage Protest Yell. Personally, I’ve always found one of his earlier replies more compelling. At one point Kreeger claimed that he had named the band after the things he thought were best and most important in life: Freedom, Love, Orgasms, Opium, Politics, and Yogurt.
Regardless of what the acronym actually refers to, however, what FLOOPY always seemed to stand for was some kind of raw, naked loathing of the Herd Mentality. Whatever direction the great mass of humanity was driving in, Kreeger had to go the other way; if he’d been born a salmon, he would have died gasping after fighting his way back down stream to mate–with himself, if necessary.
I did eventually encounter FLOOPY in person. This was years later, in the early ‘90’s, when I was spending the last few dissolute days of my youth clubbing the underground music scene in Seattle. In May of ’93, I caught a weird little show at one of the city’s most notoriously violent and unmusical concert venues: the International Parking Garage, just off the Denny regrade, in the middle of the city’s industrial no-man’s land.
This concert was a collection of acts which were supposed to get in your face and puke on your shoes. Some poor benighted soul had collected every band whose purpose in life was to offend, and the marquee was a great glorious middle finger upraised to every form of propriety, decency, and hygiene. FLOOPY was the opening act, although I didn’t realize it at the time; the gig was very disorganized, and bands came on in no particular order, often staggering out onto the stage only after they’d had as much cheap beer as they could hold.
The roster included a wild mix of bands, some at the height of their game, some on the way up, and others on the way down or long dead: Hare Krishna Muthafukka, Jesus Christ Carpenter Dude, the Sniveling Shitz, and many others. The vast majority of people were there for a rumored reunion of the famous Dead Kennedys, one of the most notorious in-yer-face bands of all time.
What I saw that night was almost beyond description…but believe me, the shoes I wore were never the same. Most of it is still a blur, frankly, but I do recall that someone emptied a bottle of Thunderbird into the mouth of a skinhead who had climbed up on stage to do a little diving. People threw dead parrots and hamsters wrapped in electrical tape out into the audience: Suzi Gardner took down her leather pants and showed us all why her band was called Camel Lips.
A splendid time was had by all.
In the end, the only thing I had to show for the evening was a tape which someone tall, red-headed and ugly as sin shoved down my cleavage after the concert. I was too tired and drunk to protest much, although his hand stayed down there for some time; I was leaning against the wall outside at the end of the night, waiting for my housemate to show up and give me a ride home. It wasn’t until the haze of alcohol cleared the next afternoon that I dug the tape out of my bra and found that it was a dubbed recording of FLOOPY’s one and only album, Passion Pit…complete with the now-infamous instrumental assault called “Slow Motion Restaurant Roast-Beef Seduction”.
Attached to the tape case was a sticky note, which I have kept to this day. At the top is an illegible phone number, smeared beyond readability by sweat and beer. You can still read the words, though, and I still take them to heart:
“Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke, love.