L.A.’s one-and-only “glam rapper” speaks with City on a Hill Press before his first appearance in Santa Cruz
I had a naked moment with Mickey Avalon.
Gearing up for his tour to promote his sophomore album to be released this February, Mickey Avalon scheduled a phone interview to promote his show at The Catalyst this Friday.
“Can I call you back in three minutes?” he asked. “I just got out of the shower and got to put some clothes on.” Five minutes later, Mickey Avalon called back.
“You got some clothes on now?” I asked.
“A robe,” he said. “Good enough.”
He immediately set in to rambling about his room at the Red Rocks Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas.
“It’s like a club,” he sais, going on to describe the view of Sin City from his suite, which was outfitted with a grand chandelier, multiple flat screen TVs, two turntable booths, a stand up shower, several jacuzzis and a “crazy round bed with a disco ball mirror thing” hanging over it — fitting for Mr. Avalon, who is often described as a “glam rapper.”
The man comes with a story that supersedes his music, about how he grew up in Hollywood, sold pot with his mom at the age of 14 and eventually worked as a male prostitute to support his heroin addiction.
Avalon’s new identity as a musician began when he met Simon Rex (aka Dirt Nasty), the former MTV VJ, now rapper, who got him in the recording studio, as well as clubs with Hollywood’s rich and famous.
In 2006, Avalon rose to fame with his self-titled debut album which detailed his life journey and L.A. lifestyle, with it’s silicone, sex, drugs and of course, rock and roll.
Mickey Avalon spoke with City on a Hill Press about his views on Hollywood and hippies, false Wikipedia entries and the dirt on his falling out with Dirt Nasty.
CHP: I read the LA Weekly piece on what was essentially your life story. I’m sure you get a lot of questions about your past prostitution, drug use and family history. How does it feel to be so explicit about your life? Does it get old?
When we did the piece years ago, I wasn’t really thinking about hiding anything. I kind of said everything.
It feels like a different lifetime—not that its not relevant anymore, I don’t necessarily revisit those times in my mind. When they wrote all that stuff, I was still in the middle of it and was poking fun of it. I liked a lot of that stuff I was writing about.
It’s a little trickier now that I have success. People might misunderstand the jokes.
CHP: Most of your songs have to deal with a certain Southern California lifestyle. For example, “So Rich, So Pretty” talks about girls who obtain beauty through designer clothing, plastic surgeries and eating disorders. What do you think about the Northern California? What would you write about?
Being that I live in SoCal, I just kind of wrote was around me. People are a lot the same around, but then there are differences. Northern California is more hippie. I say that in a good way. I don’t think hippie is a bad word. It’s not as plastic.
People are still funny no matter what. I moved to Portland awhile ago. I got married and had a kid. I wanted to leave all the stuff I talk about in my songs. I wanted to raise my kids in a good area without that bullshit.
I was shopping at the health food store and had to get food for the kid and thought that the hippies loved everybody and were open-minded. They had like dreadlocks and tie dye and Birkenstocks. I thought that was uniform for loving everybody and being open.
However, they were really into everyone that looked like them. They didn’t treat me really nice and it felt like L.A. in a way. I thought I left this materialist shit, these people were still were like, “My club is better than your club.” I had a shaved head. Since I didn’t have dreadlocks and Birkenstocks I didn’t really fit in.
CHP: Speaking of L.A. culture, what do you like most about it?
Most is the weather and being by the ocean. Go somewhere where you like the weather.
Everyone’s into their career. If you met someone, rather than “How are you, what’s your deal?”, they would ask “What do you do?” Everyone’s so driven. Rather than going to parties and having fun they’re to trying to network and be ahead.
Where I live, it’s not easier because people are full of shit. It’s so hard to find people that aren’t.
CHP: According to Wikipedia, you attended Webster University in St. Louis before you signed with Interscope Records.
That’s the only thing that’s not true. I’ve been to St. Louis one time and I didn’t go to college.
I did a brief stint at a community college in Portland. I got some little loans to pay for the classes. I took some art classes and a few writing classes. I actually became a writing tutor and got paid. At the time, the most I’d gotten paid was minimum wage—five to six bucks. They paid me nine bucks.
I dig school. Some people are really anti-school. If you have the means to do it, do it. I didn’t—I was already married and had a kid.
CHP: I read you used to be apart of a well-known graffiti crew in Hollywood. What kind of art you doing now?
I did [art] when I was younger. I will [again] when the time’s right, when I have a nice collection of paintings that won’t be connected to Mickey Avalon. I do oil paints, paint figures and stuff.
Take for example Marilyn Manson. He’s a painter and does cool watercolors. But then people might want to go because of Marilyn Manson. I’ll rather them like the art and find out later that it was me.
My favorite living painter is a guy named David Choe. I went to school with him. I didn’t even know he was artist. He is the sickest painter. He does paintings on campus and painting outside. Graffiti, but not pieces with letters. He does the crazy figures and scenes and shit.
CHP: You were in a rap group called Dyslexic Speedreaders along with Dirt Nasty, Andre Legacy and Beardo. In a Myspace blog entry posted August 16th, you wrote that the Dylexic Speedreaders were “finito.” What happened?
Unfortunately, things happen that you hear happen to people but you don’t think will happen to you. Bands break up and hate each other. We thought that it wouldn’t happen to us because we’re boring.
Soon things got in the way. Money stuff. We were best friends. I had a manager, then we all had him, then I left him, then they stayed with him. That would’ve been fine, but things got worse and worse. Not only did they not help me out with that situation, they got in the other side and screwed me.
I still have to send money to my old manager, shit they could’ve helped me get out of but didn’t. Our first few tours ended costing me a ton. I come back in the negative and my manager paid them also. They came home with a certain amount of money and I came home with negative $50,000. Everyone got their commission except me, so I got deeper and deeper in a hole.
It got to the point where we couldn’t really talk.
CHP: You and Simon Rex (Dirt Nasty) aren’t friends anymore?
No, we’re not anymore. Or Andre Legacy. But Beardo’s on tour with us. He’s the only one I’m friends with.
CHP: Tell me about your new record. How’s that coming along? How is it different than your first?
The only difference is on my first record I hadn’t played any shows. I wrote from my head whereas now I still work in my head, but say for a chorus, I think about some things work better live. As far as the chorus, I think more of the audience and what they would take to better.
CHP: I first heard your music when I was cleaning some dude’s apartment in exchange for weed my freshman year of college. He was playing “Jane Fonda.” Under what circumstances do people usually play your music?
Sex, drugs and rock and roll. People said they get laid to my music. Boys and girls—people say they get lucky at my shows. Even if they don’t dig what I’m doing, they can pick somebody up.
Strip clubs play my songs a lot. People said they’ve worked out to it, appropriate for a song like “Jane Fonda.” That’s about everything—expect sleeping.
You can stream Mickey Avalon’s new single, “Stroke Me” on Myspace.