Love & Sex

Tools of Attraction: Punks

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Up the punx! Gabba gabba hey! And so forth.

Diane, 20

So what part of your outfit is your favorite?
Probably my Elvis shirt. I’m a huge Elvis fan.

Do you eat a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches?
Actually, I do! I went to Crumbs last night for an Elvis cupcake.

Sounds delicious. Let’s talk about your hair a bit.
I got some leopard print in there. I wanted to shave the sides and I thought, “Hey, it’d be cool if I had some leopard spots too.”

Does it ever cause you any trouble in the dating world?
Not really, but I’m a little nervous about meeting the family.

How about your own family?
My mom actually helps me do my hair.

Are you wearing a Divine pin?
Yup, I’ve got Divine from Female Trouble — Dawn Davenport with acid on her face. I’ve got a little Sailor Jerry girl, and my idol Tura Satana, from my favorite movie, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

Let’s talk tattoos.
Well, I’ve got Traci Lords’ autograph… I’m a huge Traci Lords fan. I’ve got Joey Ramone, I've got a sideshow banner — I’m big into sideshow. It’s one of my pastimes.

As in, you do sideshow?
Yep! Fire-eating is my favorite.

How does one become a sideshow person?
Sideshow school, surprisingly! Out in Coney Island.

Do you have a lot of sideshow friends?
A ton, actually. We’re a huge community.

And your leather jacket. Is it from Trash and Vaudeville?
Yes it is. Baby leather.

Made from, like, baby animals?
No, just kids' sizes.

And finally, piercings. You have five I can see.
I’ve got eight, actually. I’ve got my neck and some you can’t see.

You’ve got your neck pierced. I bet people always ask if that hurt. Did that hurt?
Yeah, it was actually the weirdest one, because there’s no clamp involved — it’s just a needle straight through.

Raul, 23

So what do you do?
I play music. I’ve been playing for a while. I listen to all sorts of stuff — I have a lot of different influences. But for the most part, a lot of grindcore and death metal is what I’m doing now.

You’ve got some way stretchy earlobes, my friend. Do they ever get you into sticky situations?
Jobs were hard to find. I had them really big, about two inches, and I just recently took them out. But yeah, finding a job was difficult. For some reason, people think that if you put gauges in, you’re a masochist. You enjoy pain and you’re like this crazy, tortured person. I’m trying to shrink them right now — I kind of just got over it.

Do they ever get caught in shit?
Yes. We were playing beer pong one day, and my friend actually made the ball through my ear, which was hilarious. I was like, “Fine, you win.” I had to chug all the beer.

What do you have for tattoos?
I’m a big horror fan, so I’ve got an eyeball coming out of a coffin, The Invisible Man over here, and some zombies. I also have Frankenstein’s monster. He kind of represents a lot of what I just talked to you about — being different but not being judged only by what you look like. I have an alien fetus somewhere on my arm… it’s kind of creepy. Some skulls… a lot of dark stuff, I guess.

Do you look for attributes similar to yours when you date someone?
I have dated normal-looking girls, but they’re never as wild as the girls that are a little more out there. I like rough girls, eccentric girls. Girls who aren’t afraid of being themselves and would go on a beer run with me and just go drink at a park, rather than the dinner date. So I’ve tried “normal,” but I always end up going back to the girls who are a little crazier.

Any advice for those people out there struggling with their image?
Just be yourself. That’s the best thing you can say to anybody out there.

Jimmy, 54

So you’re an icon in the New York punk scene. How does one achieve that status?
I’ve been around a long time. I don’t what makes an icon an icon. I’ve lived through a lot. [laughs] I have all my limbs, no diseases. I’m not easy to kill.

You’ve got some pretty crazy clothes.
My clothes are from this woman Agatha, who runs New York City Custom Leather. She’s just a girl who came straight from the streets. She came here, started sewing, now she sells $3,000 pants. I once lent Iggy Pop a pair and he took me to Germany for, like five days, because those pants were so fucking good. Now that’s a good pair of pants — if they get Iggy Pop to pay for your trip to Germany.

You’ve got some cool bracelets. Barbed wire?
Thorns, baby! Barbed wire’s pretty normal. Thorns are very Jesus, and very painful!

How long have you been dressing this way?
For a while. New York just makes it easier — I think it’s easier to get away with here. You look back at all those trannys in the ‘60s — the Warhol era — on to the ‘70s, and New York’s always had a great look. I arrived in New York in 1970 with all the platform shoes and the pimps with the great hats, the hookers with the little mini-skirts, and that culture has always blended with rock & roll culture and goes on and on. 

Let’s talk about your tattoos. What are they and how long have you had them?
They’ve just kind of grown. Every tattoo I have, there’s a story behind it. I never go: “Oh, I need another tattoo.” At this point, I find no tattoos the sexiest thing. I see tattoos everywhere, so when I see someone with virgin skin, I’m like, “Yo!” My very first tattoo was the name of a little kid I raised for years. He’s part of my heart.  It was his name, Jamie, on my ankle. For a while, I actually had no tattoos at all except that one. Oh, wait, I did have “fever” on my back. You know that Cramps song? Or, actually — it came from Peggy Lee. “You give me fever…”

Oh, yeah!
“When you kiss me, fever all through the night.” Then The Cramps did it, then Madonna did it, then everybody did it. And it kinda sucked, cause right after I got “fever” tattooed on my back, Saturday Night Fever came out. I was fucked.

Is it a bummer to you that people my age could never experience New York during the punk era?
It’s odd that they don’t know where they came from. Some of the kids who work are just the coolest, and I’ll be like: “Do you know who Jayne County is?” They’ll be like: “No.” You don’t know who Jayne County is? Well, you kinda wouldn’t be who you are without Jayne County. 

How old are you?
I was told not say, but I don’t care about age. I’m fifty-four, which is awesome! I just think about getting off the bus in New York with my clothes in a pillow case, no money, not knowing a single soul — I was sixteen years old. And now I’m at a store that’s been here forever. Still selling the little bondage pants and leopard miniskirts to girls with pink hair. It’s great! Been open since ‘75! Just wait till I turn seventy-five… it’ll be perfect!

That’s going to be a hell of a birthday!
I just want to be naked in front of a sold-out house.