Monday, January 21, 2008

Me and Alice

Subtitle: Everyone Needs A Fantasy Bad Boy.

I can't tell you what it is about Alice Cooper that I find intriguing. Maybe it's his severe case of schizophrenia. Maybe I just need a bad boy. I'm not sure...

But I never gave Alice Cooper one single moment of thought or consideration other than a passing thumbs up at "School's Out" until about 1975. I was a senior in highschool and I heard "Only Women Bleed". When I asked someone who sang it, they told me, "Alice Cooper". I thought: they had to be kidding.

But they weren't. And thus began my love/hate relationship with Alice, one which I'm sure has kept him up many a night.

What glues me to Alice is the dichotomy of his nature. His split personality(ies). He's a gentleman golfer and a violence-exploiting putz at the same time. And while most people wish to hide the good/bad in their personalities (see: Wilde, Oscar. "Picture of Dorian Gray"), Alice is just comfy sharing the whole lot. Emotional stability be damned! I just couldn't...and still can't...understand a guy who pretends to drink blood on stage, yet has been happily married for years, plays 36 holes of golf a day and was invited to sing with Ms. Piggy on The Muppet Show.

Is it just me?

Now ol Coop was born Vincent Furnier, but gave birth to Alice as an entity that became his band. He referred to Alice always in the third person...even when speaking about himself. This, alone, should have made loved ones get him to Bellevue, but Alice Cooper (the man and band) began to make big bucks and therefore, no one stopped Vince/Alice (the man) from doing anything. Like almost drinking himself to death or using a snake as a stage prop, or throwing a chicken out into the audience who promptly killed the poor thing. In Alice's defense, he said he thought chickens could fly and would just come back to the stage. In reality, I think he was probably toasted and had lost all ability to reason.

But the Alice Cooper I came to like gave us "Welcome to My Nightmare" which contains "Only Women Bleed" and is about as sensitive a song as any man could give us. I found the song insightful to the point of scary as a wide eyed 18 year old, and now listening to it as an older woman who had been in an abusive relationship, well it's even more stunning...compounded by the fact that it was written and sung by a man named Alice. The theme albums that followed "Goes To Hell" and "Lace and Whiskey" (which contains another very female POV song: "No More Love At Your Convenience") are my favorites in the Coop repetoire.

So now, Alice (the man) has taken another turn to sobriety, book writing, golf and an embracing of Christianity. But the old Alice is still there too...out on stage for that "Psycho-Drama -- This Won't Hurt...Much" Tour.

Go figure. I certainly can't.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I think part of Alice's appeal is that he IS so contradictory.

In fiction, they say that these contradictions make for the best characters. That the contradictions make the characters real.

Since Alice is, essentially, a fictional character separate from Vincent, you can say the same thing holds true here.

Plus, Alice is just COOL.

suchsimplepleasures said...

i love his music. one of my favorite least, that is what i think it was called!!! but, i don't find him attractive, although...i guess i can see what someone would find attractive about him. he's super cool!