Godless was an industrial band in Phoenix in the late 90s, of which I was made a semi-member. Technically I was never part of the band, but I was associated with the band and I performed with them as what amounts to, basically, stage decor. Not that I minded it, I had a blast and I learned a lot and made some lifelong friends out of the whole experience. I wouldn’t feel right trying to sum up nearly 2 years of my life in a single post, so I present The Godless Chronicles.
In my junior year of high school, I was taking a Photography class. In my class were these two older (Senior) goth chicks : Terri and Chrissy. I don’t recall who talked to whom first, or if maybe I just wanted photography tips (I’m still a terrible photographer – imagine what I was like 20 years ago) and they (or most likely just Terri) were happy to oblige. Goths stick together.
When we had photography assignments, we’d use each other as models. They were more photogenic, which worked nicely for my projects, but I was a 6’1″, 135lb weirdo with a surprising amount of flexibility and a penchant for dangerous and stupid ideas. So, they’d take photos of me hanging off the building, or upside down in a trash can, or contorting my body while falling off a table. We were a nice little team.
Terri and Chrissy had this little note passing system. They’d write each other a note – more like a letter, really – in their first period, then swap ’em at lunch and write replies until swapping again in Photography Class. I don’t recall if I asked outright to join them – I probably did – but eventually we had a neat little note triage going. I’d write separate notes to each and we’d swap when we could (they had a different lunch hour than me, being seniors and all). Somewhere in my memory boxes, I think I still have a few of those notes.
It was in one of those notes that Terri mentioned her boyfriend, Guy (that’s his real name, but not his real spelling), and this band he was in. She said they were looking for a little more visual enhancement for their shows, and asked if I might want to meet with him and maybe we could figure something out. At the time, I didn’t really know what she was thinking, but my rule in life is to try and say “yes!” as often as possible and work out the details later 1which is the only reason I’ve ever gotten any acting work.
I went over to Guy’s apartment with Terri and I was just blown away. This was the vision of post-high-school life. Guy lived with the keyboardist of Godless, Dan, and Guy’s electronic drumset was setup in the corner. The two of them would work on tracks and write parts of songs and sometimes just jam out to various underground industrial bands. It was in this apartment that I first learned of an internet connection that wasn’t tied to AOL, which I immediately told my mom we needed to get instead of AOL (thereby leading to my making websites later that school year).
Guy had some lofty goals for my role in their act. He told me stories about GG Allin, and The Enigma, and some other performance artists he knew or had followed, and what kind of fucked up things they’d do onstage. He was not only un-fazed by photos Terri had showed him, but encouraging wilder ideas, and I’m still unsure where he would’ve placed “the line” of what was appropriate for their act.
I was eventually taken to their practice studio, at a place called “The Icehouse”, which was mostly an artist space run by an underground artist whose name escapes me. Somehow, they’d gotten in good favor with the owner and he let them rent a small, soundproof room, in which to practice. I met the rest of the band – Brad, the singer and Mick, the guitarist. Brad ran the show, and had his own goals for what they’d have me do onstage. He wanted me to basically crawl around stage, acting like a gimp, and he’d throw things at me and I’d just thrash around. I told him I could probably wear fishnets and rip my clothing and cut myself, or pierce myself, and maybe drip candle wax on myself. He said “yeah.. yeah… do stuff like that. Just.. y’know, don’t get in front of me or try to fuck with my gear or any of the band’s gear, you know?”.
The first show I joined them for was at this club called The Nile. It was a staple of the goth-industrial scene of the time. It was a huge room, and it was known as the place to go to see local and touring industrial acts. On Friday nights, it was “goth danceclub night” and you could catch 100s of goths prancing around the place all night long. That was a regular haunt of mine around the time, so I was happy to get to perform at a (for its time and place) prestigious venue.
For most of the first part of the show, I followed Brad’s original direction. I’d crawl around onstage, kinda swipe at the audience, make weird faces, pretend to be “afraid” of Brad if he looked at, or pointed at, me. When I knew they were on their last track, I stood up, ripped the pantyhose I was wearing, and pulled out my candles. I stood on a monitor on the side of the stage and just stared down at audience members while hot wax dripped off the candles onto me. Now, I wasn’t using candles that dripped proper wax – but cheap dollar store “taper” candles. The wax on those dripped while still on fire. They stung a lot more than just normal wax, but it looked awesome seeing drips of fire extinguish themselves on my chest and stomach. Eventually, I snapped the candles in half, pretended to eat them (to put out the fire) and then went limp from the top of the monitor so it looked like I’d collapsed onto the stage.
After the show, Brad said “you probably shouldn’t try and get up on the monitors and do all that crazy shit”, but the rest of the band said it was great. Brad was noticeably upset. Later, Guy and Dan said they loved what I did, and loved even more that I’d upstaged Brad. “No one upstages Brad!” they said, proudly high-fiving me.
I had a feeling this was gonna be a lot of fun.
UPDATE : I’ve added a video of a full Godless performance right over here, if you’re interested.
Footnotes [ + ]
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