I wish someone would write a song like that about me.
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I was in my bedroom [when] Axl called. He would always call me and sing me new songs. He would play this drumbeat on his knee and sing and snap to me on the phone whenever he had a new song, he would call me and sing a little and ask my opinion of it. Back then it was the best thing that had happened to her. Most of them ended up going to jail or rehab or both or worse. The rent was dollars a month.
With only Duff working anything other than spasmodically, they learned to survive on next to nothing. They discovered the all-you-can-eat-for-a-dollar buffet at Rage, a well-known West Hollywood gay club. That was it. You survived. Or at least, you did at first… Once word got out that the alley behind the Hell House was deserted at night, a tiny urban black hole in the midst of West Hollywood, it became the place to go once the clubs closed for the evening.
Soon, from the early hours until daybreak, hundreds of people were gathered there to party. The band, seizing their chance as proprietors, began buying cheap beer and selling it at marked-up prices. Soon they were making enough to pay the rent for the month. Some of the women were ruthlessly exploited. If one of the band was having sex with her, another would be stealing her money. We managed. Izzy was not only using but openly dealing, another source of income.
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He claimed that Joe Perry had once come by to score, just before he cleaned up and Aerosmith began their commercial resurrection. It transpired that a girl he was sleeping with, in an apartment further up on Gardner Street, and her roommate had got Steven into smack, and once Slash started dating the roommate, he was soon doing it as well. In addition to heroin and all of the pills and booze, a creepy crack dealer named Philippe also became a fixture.
The squalor was overwhelming. I used to shit in a box and throw it in the trash, because the bathroom was so disgusting. The depravity spilled over. They would get horribly fucked up at shows.
Axl started a fight with someone in the crowd. He also got barred briefly from the Rainbow — some achievement — and the band earned a reputation for drunken obnoxiousness, bumming drinks, starting fights, aggressively panhandling at their own gigs. T hen, in December , came a dark and serious incident that signalled the end of the Hell House era.
Michelle was known to the band. Towards the end of the night, maybe as the drugs and booze wore off, she lost her mind and freaked out intensely. Axl told her to leave and tried throwing her out.
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Sex, for her, felt like more than a temptation; it felt like her soul. I think about it. All the time. She had her own. She had kept having sex right up until she left for Honor Academy. Everything else she could think of had consisted of little more than blow jobs at keggers. In true Christian spirit, Gabrielle gave selflessly, expecting and receiving no attentions in return. The thrill was the reward.
And as she turned the little car into her confessional, rattling off matter-of-fact memories of the boy who wanted his blow job in the middle of the party, and the boy who vomited over her head while she squatted in the woods before him, I remembered being sixteen and the self-loathing that can make a kid step too hard on the gas, chug cheap vodka, and hopelessly lace his fingers around his own jugular.
E ros, desire , has deep Christian roots. The first followers of Christ were filled with, even consumed by, a literally erotic love for their savior. For some, this desire was later displaced onto the Virgin, her sexual purity a fetish that enabled the believer to love her without lusting for her, to want her without desecrating her.
Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain. Critics called the movie pornographic; but the many American evangelicals who keep the DVD on shelves of honor in their homes, viewed annually or more often, recognize it not as porn, which is utilitarian, but as erotic, which is sacred. The meaning of the experience—watching, that is—lies in knowing Jesus is committing the ultimate act of rebellion against materialism, consumerism, and the Roman Empire.
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And the viewer is right there with him. For much of the twentieth century, that other was political, which is why we have a hard time seeing evangelical eroticism now. Throughout the Cold War, American evangelicalism framed temptation and its perils as a problem of politics, a kink of ideology. Communism was not an external enemy but an internal one, and no one was immune. That was true, in one sense: evangelical activists studied Communism for clues to successful organizing, certain that the Soviets and the Chinese and that strange couple at the university, the skinny Negro and the big-hipped Jewess, knew something about the laws of attraction that the church had forgotten.
The scars left by anti-Communism cover up the allure American evangelicals saw in the red creed, the possibility of a more material communion that so drew on the hearts of good Christians that preachers felt it incumbent to sermonize against that gravitational force Sunday after Sunday. Radicalism, not sex, was the seduction they feared. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and the red flag shimmied down the pole.
The collapse of the Evil Empire was a great victory in the eyes of American evangelicals, and one they took credit for. The enemy and his internal threat were gone. The great battle was over. The world began to feel… safe.
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It was right around this time that the crusade for sexual abstinence came of age. It had sputtered along for years before the end of the Cold War, of course, and there was never a time when American evangelicalism winked at promiscuity. But there is a difference between regulating sex and engaging it, and a divide between a metaphor, such as Communism, and the thing itself, which is desire. As in the Cold War, victory would not be defined by obliteration, but by co-optation: conversion to a cause worthy of sacrificing all.
W hen we arrived at the hell house, Valerie and Gabrielle knitted hands, and Johnny and I walked a few paces behind. At the head of a path into a forest of scrub trees, a little girl veiled in a black burka met us and walked us through a series of scenes staged in prefab rooms.
see We watched a drunken husband punch his wife and throw his daughter to the floor with a frightening thud. A tall demon with a tail that dangled down between his legs like the phallus of a dead porn star told us that this was what happened to women when liberals took God out of the schools.
Johnny wore an uneasy smirk, confused by the crossed signals of kitsch and his new religion. Gabrielle assumed a pose of high piety, shutting her eyes at all the right cues. But Valerie absorbed the scene with careful scrutiny. Gabrielle closed her eyes. Johnny went pale. She held the gloop beneath our noses, as if we were to sniff the remains. Near the end, demons herded us down a rocky path into an underground tomb illuminated by fire, and then into closets shaped like vertical coffins.