Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It’s No Big Kim Deal - A Thin White Rope Road Story

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, May 18, 2008)

I first met Kim Deal during a show in Rotterdam, Holland. Thin White Rope was booked to open for the Pixies at a rather large hall in town. We were pretty happy about it, as playing with a larger band like that, especially a larger band we liked, only helped to spread the word about Thin White Rope.

We arrived at the hall just about at the end of the Pixies sound check and started setting up for our own. The Pixies were coming off stage and introducing themselves to us. They seemed like a nice bunch of people, so we were even happier to be there.

The show couldn't have gone better. The place was packed and the audience loved Thin White Rope's set. I was happy to see Charles (Frank Black, Black Francis) standing right in front of the stage, grooving to the band. It always made me happy when someone I respected liked a band I worked with.

After a short break, the Pixies took the stage and the crowd went wild. Now, I had seen the band live several times in the past and I found them to be a very uneven live band. They could be really good, like the first time I saw them here in Los Angeles at the small Roxy Theatre. They could also be rather terrible, like the time I saw them in London when they wrote their set list and then performed it backwards. Sometimes they tended to be too clever for their own good. But this show in Rotterdam was pure adrenaline genius. I was probably the best set I ever saw them do out of the half dozen or so shows I saw during their lifetime.

We were a pretty giddy bunch backstage since we had both played great sets with maximum audience reaction. We were all drinking heavily and having a grand old time.

This was during the time when I used to wear a pink triangle pin everywhere I went. The pink triangle was used by the Nazis to identify those in the death camps who were homosexual. So, by wearing this pin, I was branding myself and basically telling everyone I was gay. I expected problems, but never ever had one. People were always asking me about the pin, especially here in the States, where few knew what it meant. But when I answered, no one ever showed any hostility; even in places I expected it, like Alabama or Soviet Moscow.

Pixies' bassist, Kim Deal was intrigued by it though. She stood in front of me, never taking her eyes off the pin. She finally said, "Can I ask you something?" I said that was fine and she asked if I knew what hat pin meant. When I answered that I was well aware of it, she asked if the band knew what it was all about. I answered that the band was well aware of my sexuality and didn't care at all. She asked me if I was sure, but then just kind of giggled and went on her way.

After a while, the party broke up and we all headed to our hotel rooms. We were all staying at the same place. Once we got there, the band told me that they had each been approached by Kim and asked if they knew their manager was gay. Each of them told her they did and that they didn't care. She reacted with amazement each time.

Although I found it a little puzzling that she seemed so obsessed by my sexuality, I still found it rather amusing and just chalked it up as another strange road story.

(There was a short, but strange incident the next morning when we all were downstairs for breakfast. Guy started talking in the sort of gobblegook way that only he could. But for some reason Kim was completely freaked out about it and hurriedly left in a flurry of confusion and what almost seemed like panic.)

Cut to some time later. We had been licensed by RCA Records, and by some hard work of my own; I had managed to get the band on the bill at the prestigious Wiltern Theatre here in LA, opening for ex-Bauhaus's singer, Peter Murphy, who was also on RCA at the time.

A few days before the show, I got a call from the Pixies management telling me that the band was in town recording their new album and that they all wanted to come see the show. I agreed to put them all on the guest list and looked forward to seeing them again.

About a half hour before TWR were due to take the stage, all four Pixies showed up. The three male members were being rather stand-offish and quiet. I didn't really talk to them except to say hi. But Kim was another matter all together. She saw me standing and talking with my boyfriend, Skip, and ran over to us.

"You're Thin White Rope's gay manager, aren't you?" she asked.

"Ummm…yes", I replied.

"Is this your boyfriend?"

Ummm...yes. This is Skip. Skip, this is Kim."

They both said hello and then I had to go back stage to get the band ready for their set.

(That set was a disaster for a number of reasons, none of them having to do with Peter Murphy, who was gracious and accommodating. I'll get to talking about it one day when I approach the subject of major labels. It won't be pleasant.)

After the set, I was feeling pretty down and went to find Skip, hoping he could cheer me up. He was pretty freaked out about something. I asked him if the Pixies were still around and he said they left right after our set and he was glad they did.

It turned out that Kim had spent almost the whole time trying to seduce him. She kept asking him if he was really gay and had invited him several times to go back to her hotel with her. I guess she felt that if she managed to convince him he wasn't gay, she would have accomplished some major personal feat. (This isn't an unusual event. It's happened to both of us several times before and after this occasion.)

Skip was afraid I was going to mad, but I just started laughing about it. I found the whole thing hilarious and still do to this day. Once Skip thought about it, he was pretty tickled by it as well. The idea that she actually tried to seduce him made him feel pretty pleased with himself.

Several years later, I managed to run into Frank Black at a show in Hoboken once. He was kind of a jerk, which was a real disappointment to me. But it wasn't until a few years ago, when the Poster Children were in LA to open a show for the Breeders, that I ran into Kim again. I wasn't working with the any bands anymore, having given up the music business in exchange for sanity. The Poster Kids were on tour with Kim and her sister, Kelly, and their band, and they were loving it. They kept telling me stories about how nice they were. Since they knew I had met Kim before, they wanted me to come backstage and say hi to her, but I was a bit nervous about it. They insisted though, so I finally decided to take the plunge and see what would happen.

They dragged me over to Kim and Rose introduced me.

"This is ML. He used to be our manager."

Kim turned and said, "Hi."

It was obvious that she didn't recognize me, so I told her that I had actually met her several times before when I was manager for Thin White Rope.

He eyes brightened and she said, "Oh yeah. How's it going?"

We talked for a few minutes and that was that. No mention of me being the "gay manager" and no mention of any other incident. She seemed pretty much like the Kim I had met before, except that she was calmer and more focused.

Once I thought about it, I realized that she had gone through all sorts of problems with substance abuse and that was probably behind the whole "gay manager" thing and her attempts to confuse Skip. She probably didn't remember any of it. I still laugh about the whole thing, but I'm glad she's got it together. I really like her, personally and musically, and I think the Poster Children were right. She is very nice.

And the Breeders are a damned good band as well.

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