Life’s a drag, er, a
gas, when the Ettes are touring Europe…
By Coco Hames
Well, Poni and I stayed up way past our bedtime in Leipzig at a gay bar
across the street from our hotel. Some people think it’s amusing, but
personally, I feel awful when I exit a bar when the sun is up, it’s so
disconcerting and no one likes to look back on the night in the light of
day. Well, at least I don’t. This is part of why I tour so
much. I really can’t be held responsible. Also I am a vampire.
The bar was fun, it was one of those with numbered stations and telephones, so
if you spotted someone across the bar that struck your fancy, you could pick up
the phone and call them for a chat. The venue we played was a bit square
for our taste, so we did what we always do, which is go wandering in search of
some like-minded troublemakers. I mean, I don’t know how alike we are, us
and drag queens. But there are some similarities that bind us.
We dress up and perform, that’s one. We often live on the other side of
the clock, and are considered a bit (or a lot, depending on where we’re living)
strange by the mainstream, which can get lonely, so there’s that. Poni
used to be a go-go dancer in Miami,
so they can talk about dancing or costumes. And I remembered, I had a
tour revelation once (they’re common, lots of sitting time, lots of silence,
lots of opportunities to let your mind creep off on its own) that lots of
people are another person inside, in their minds.
In Poni’s mind, she is a 7-foot-tall supermodel-cum-fashion designer
(non-gender specific, career peaked in the ’70s), with a well-appointed studio
apartment in the East
Village. She spends
her days dashing from meeting to meeting, fueled by New York street coffee, and
her nights hopping from gallery to launch party, clinking martini glasses with
the who’s who of international artists and designers. Whereas, inside, I
am an older, friendly but quite stodgy gay man.
Maybe in his late-’40s, financially established, well-read and generally a
private individual, possibly with his party days behind him, possibly he seldom
felt inclined to indulge in the wild nights out that his friends were always
talking about, the clubs too crowded or the music too loud, maybe. Maybe
he is a professor of literature, or an architect or even a functioning
novelist. Something where he gets a lot of time to himself, where he
doesn’t have to pretend to be glamorous or sexy or special even. Just a
nice, quiet man, maybe he has a trusty dog (a retriever of some sort, possibly
a spaniel) and lives in a small house on a lake, maybe in the mountains of
western North Carolina, maybe in upstate New York. I do
know that this man has a secret indulgence, one that his friends chortle about
and think is just SO him… he TOTALLY has one of those $2000 hotel-grade Miele
linen presses! In his house!
This is the shit that I spend hours thinking about on drives. Though I
did pick up an English language book on the English language, a linguistic
travelogue investigating English dialects. But I should have thumbed
through it a bit more before I bought it, because it was an ENGLISH English
linguistic travelogue, and while I realize my English came from the English
English, really I am more interested in American English linguistics, because
of all of the different languages spoken in America, and how quickly so many
different languages and cultures got together and spoke the same
language. Another study for another time, perhaps.
Backstage at a club now in Wolfsburg,
of the Volkswagen automobile. We played an in-store today in
Braunschweig, which is evidently the enemy town of Wolfsburg, so much so that the promoter
threatened to cancel our show HERE if we played THERE. But we managed to
pull it off. So far.
Coco Hames fronts The Ettes – Hames on guitar, Jem Cohen on bass and Poni
Silver on drums – whose latest album Look At Life Again Soon (Take Root) is still a hot item, and they also have a
new EP, Danger Is, released by Take
Root on April 7 and also available digitally, www.myspace.com/theettes), and a Dan Auerbach-produced limited-edition
single. They are currently ruminating upon their next full-length, but
meanwhile, overseas fans can spot ‘em right now on their European tour – dates
at the MySpace page.