Flashback 8-8-88: Interview Excerpts from forthcoming book 'Phantoms: The Rise of Deathrock from the L.A. Punk Scene.'
Flashback to 8-8-88:
Today marks thirty years since Zeena's first public collaboration with music group Radio Werewolf, which led soon after to her becoming co-director as composer, musician, lyricist, singer, artist and art director.
Music historian Mikey Bean interviewed Radio Werewolf for his forthcoming encyclopedic volume, 'Phantoms: The Rise of Deathrock from the L.A. Punk Scene.' The Radio Werewolf chapter covers a vast amount of yet unknown information about several key points in the bands development, from all members involved.
Thanks goes out to Mikey Bean for granting permission to share a peek of this book, prior to release.
The following passages are specifically in reference to the 8-8-88 rally at the Strand Theater in San Francisco.
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VINTAGE, ORIGINALS & COLLECTIBLES
Radio Werewolf begin working on The Norse Eddas shortly before 8-8-88
Zeena: In Summer of '88, a couple of months after we'd met, Nikolas mentioned that he and Kirby were planning on doing an album of the Norse Eddas.
Nikolas Schreck: …on rehearsing the adaptation of the Elder Edda, which formed the centerpiece of Radio Werewolf's second album Songs For The End Of The World.
Zeena: He said, “I'm looking for a strong woman to play the role of a Valkyrie and you just might be the one I've been looking for.”
Nikolas Schreck: Her artwork and creative writing, which she read to me, and her skills as an improvisatory keyboard player with a gift for haunting medieval melodies, her experience in theater as ritual, these were the many things we had in common as far as the mutual artistic approach that blossomed into our collaboration in the next phase of Radio Werewolf.
Zeena: He knew I'd done theater pieces and had acting experience, and asked if I'd be interested. Now, the funny thing is, between '87-88, I'd been having a pleasant dalliance with King Diamond. Right around the time Nikolas asked me to participate in the Eddas recording, Kind Diamond said he'd like to find a way to bring me on tour with him but in order to do that, he would have had to work me into his act to justify my travel expenses. At that time, King Diamond had a stage act that involved a haunted house story with a scary old grandmother character and he asked if I'd consider wearing a latex mask to play the grandmother. Well, given the choice between playing a Valkyrie or playing an old grandmother in a latex mask, which would you choose?! (laughs) So obviously Nikolas, Kirby and I began working on what would become Songs For The End Of The World fairly early on. We were artists who would’ve collaborated as equals on something anyway, regardless of whether or not we got romantically involved, and regardless of Nikolas's then involvement with the first cast of Radio Werewolf.
8-8-88 rally at Strand Theater SF
Nikolas Schreck: Then in August, the 8-8-88 concert happened, the anniversary of the Manson murders. Zeena came to San Francisco from LA at my invitation, to do a reading at this concert to which Boyd Rice and I had agreed to several months before.
Zeena: I was supposed to arrive at the venue with Boyd and Adam Parfrey. I wanted to get there a little early, as I usually do, but they wanted to wait until the last minute and opted instead to kill time eating dinner in Japan Town. Meanwhile, Nikolas and his girlfriend were still running around getting everything together for the performance, obviously with no help from the three of us.
Zeena: The 8-8-88 rally was the only time the old line up of Radio Werewolf and the yet-to-be new line up of Radio Werewolf worked together. It would be the only performance that Nikolas, the original percussionist Wilhelm, and I ever performed live together. That marked the transition point spanning three phases of Radio Werewolf: 1) the Nikolas Schreck/Evil Wilhelm collaboration, 2) the solo Nikolas Schreck/The Fiery Summons, and 3) the Nikolas Schreck/Zeena collaboration.
Zeena: During the performance my cue was a particular organ chord that Nikolas would play; Boyd's part came before mine and when Nikolas played the cue Boyd was to step away from the podium to make room for the next in the line-up, me. When the time came for my part Boyd just stood there, I kept looking around wondering when he'd get it, his part was finished, but he stood there an interminably long time, just sort of zoning out. Judging by Boyd's and Adam's jitteriness that they expressed at dinner over the Geraldo crew filming it, I think that must have been what panicked him, they weren't yet used to that level of national attention.
Nikolas Schreck: When the Geraldo Rivera [U.S. TV show] film crew had arrived at the theater they asked me in all seriousness if they could film my Satanic wedding ceremony with Zeena LaVey; they were very disappointed when I told them there was no such wedding planned!
Zeena: Because of Boyd's stage fright, it left me about half the time I needed for what we'd planned for me to read…so I just hurriedly did my part and moved on. It was also tense during the performance because shortly before we went on, we learned of a call-in threat from someone with the intention of stabbing the participants on stage with syringes filled with AIDS infected blood.
Zeena: I was not at all comfortable with the atmosphere immediately after the show and wanted to immediately leave, as was the original agreement. There was supposed to be a car waiting for me, which never materialised so I was stuck in the backstage area with a bunch of dips wanting to ape for the camera. There were some group photos taken and if you notice I'm at the far outer end…why? Because I didn't even want to be in the photos at all. I was the only one standing off to the side watching the others take photos but the ‘Anton LaVey fan-club’ all whined that I should be in the photos with them and that's why I'm actually half in, and half out, of those shots.
Nikolas Schreck: Me and Wilhelm gave an interview to Geraldo, and if you watch the interview you can already see the tension that comes across from us sitting together.
Evil Wilhelm: During the show I looked around in disgust and said “this is just not fun anymore…”.
Zeena: You could cut the tension with a knife, because on the one end of the spectrum you had these goofy newcomers to the CoS, getting off on their 15 minutes of media high, and then on the other end of the spectrum you had this silently smouldering Radio Werewolf drama between Wilhelm and Nikolas unfolding behind everyone else's drunken giddiness…as for me, I just wanted to go home.
Fastforward 30 Years
Zeena: Although we haven't collaborated on musical projects since Radio Werewolf ended in 1993, there are still a lot of similarities in theme and content to what we both do.
Nikolas Schreck: These days, Zeena and I focus on solo performances and individual writing/art projects; we purposely don't attend each others' gigs for a variety of practical reasons, mostly having to do with maintaining respect for each artists' autonomy, and to dispel the moronic ‘Mommy and Daddy of Satanism’ idea which originated primarily from both the US Fundamentalist Christian AND Satanic factions.
Zeena: We live and work entirely independently of each other these days. On a practical level, we learned long ago that it's very difficult for two very focused artists, who are always working on a continuous stream of projects, with unpredictable schedules, to attempt to live any sort of conventional co-habitation or ‘coupledom’ lifestyle. In addition to that, I've taken Buddhist Bodhisattva vows and am a yogini, which also necessitates specific ways of living.
Nikolas Schreck: I’m flattered that [more than] thirty years after I started [Radio Werewolf] people are still enthusiastic and excited about it. I saw from the beginning that it’s something beyond…I can’t get away from it, but it isn’t ‘me’; I feel like I have a younger twin brother who did all this stuff and I have to deal with the consequences, that it’s like a child I brought into the world and I have to accept the responsibility of it.
Zeena: For me, the most powerful, valuable and enduring lesson of all that came out of my Radio Werewolf years is the message of our final album: Love Conquers All.
[End of excerpt]