Sunday, October 27, 2013

Make Mondo Zombie Boogaloo this Halloween's soundtrack

I've purchased or received a few Halloween-themed compilations over the years, and have made my own mix tapes for the same purpose, but it would be hard to find a better one than Yep Roc Records' Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.

Three of the best live bands around -- Los Straitjackets, The Fleshtones and Southern Culture on the Skids -- have joined forces on this 15-track album that came out on Oct. 1. Los Straitjackets and SCOTS contribute five songs each, The Fleshtones chip in four, and the three groups collaborate on a Spanish version of "The Monster Mash" titled "Que Monstruos Son."

The lucha libre mask-wearing Los Straitjackets weave more of their intricate guitar magic through their primarily instrumental offerings, beginning with the vintage-sounding "It's Monster Surfing Time." The band presents "Theme From Halloween" and the slower "Theme From Young Frankenstein." "Ghoul On A Hill" isn't a variation of The Beatles' "Fool On The Hill," but "Ghostbusters" is a playful interpretation of the title track hit from the popular '80s movie.

The Fleshtones strike it rich early with "Ghoulman Confidential," and I have a feeling that the band's gentrifying hometown of Brooklyn may have been the inspiration for "Haunted Hipster." "(Sock It To Me Baby) in the House of Shock" packs a lot of fun into less than two minutes with a great mix of keyboards and guitar, and "Dracula A Go Go" is what you'd expect to find in the classic Fleshtones songbook.

It's been more than nine years since I've had an opportunity to see SCOTS, and the material here gives me even more reason to witness it again. The group covers The Cramps' "Goo Goo Muck" and, while Mary Huff's vocals are a little less threatening than the late Lux Interior's, there's still some solid howling going on. Cramps fans may also be interested in knowing that Steve Blickenstaff, the man who drew the cover art for that band's 1984 Bad Music for Bad People, is also responsible for the graphics on Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.

SCOTS mixes acoustic and electric guitars on "The Loneliest Ghost In Town," gets appropriately bluesy on "Tingler Blues," throws in its own instrumental number in "La Marcha De Los Cabarones" and ends the album with "Demon Death."

These three groups are touring together in support of Mondo Zombie Boogaloo, and I've heard great reports from those lucky enough to catch them since the triple bill unfortunately didn't make it to Toronto. They're on the road in the eastern United States until Nov. 2, so there's still time if you're in the vicinity.

Whether you have the chance to see these songs performed live or just get to hear them coming from your living room stereo while joined by costumed friends later this week, I perceive no way in which you won't enjoy yourself.

Mondo Zombie Boogaloo is available on compact disc, digitally and as a double long-player on coloured vinyl.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My night partying with porn stars

The Everything To Do With Sex Show has arrived in Toronto, and I was invited to the Oct. 17 media launch at Oasis Aqualounge -- a sex club  that earns its name via a swimming pool and hot tub.

I was on the guest list for the same event at another swingers club called Wicked about five years ago. But my invitee status still didn't stop the door staff from briefly barring my entry because my red Converse Chuck Taylors weren't classy enough to grace their sticky floors. I eventually talked my way in and ended up chatting with 2008 "Playboy Playmate of the Year" Jayde Nicole and porn stars Nikki Benz and Bree Olson -- who briefly gained mainstream notoriety in 2011 as one of Charlie Sheen's "goddesses."

Do you want to take a ride in the shaggin' wagon?

Flash ahead half a decade and, not wanting to risk the potential wrath of the Oasis Aqualounge footwear czars, I kept the black leather shoes I'd worn to my office earlier in the day firmly in place on my feet. It turned out that it didn't matter what I wore, but security was tight in other ways. I had to enter personal information into a computer, listen to a recited list of rules and then agree to an online waiver before being allowed to pass through the club's entrance foyer.

I now have a password if I ever return and know that the fifth day of the week around this place is known as "Foreplay Thursday." 

Feel like makin' whoopee?

There was a bar right inside the door, so I felt obliged to make use of it. I was asked to pay seven dollars for a plastic glass of Mill Street Tankhouse Ale. A media launch without free booze? Epic fail. Yes, we journalists can be a spoiled and jaded lot at times.

A friendly woman named Fatima then offered to take me on a tour of the joint. Aside from the bar, there was a lounge area with a stripper pole and a wall-mounted screen showing porn, a sauna, showers and washrooms on the main floor, with a pool and deck outside. Cool, wet weather made that area pretty useless except for those seeking a smoke break.

I always thought that dungeons were supposed to be underground, but the Oasis Aqualounge has its on the second floor. It had a cage, some bondage apparatuses, a suspension device, a large bowl full of condoms and lubricants, and a couple of warning signs.

We went up another flight of rose petal-covered stairs and saw various rooms meant to inspire romance and/or hardcore rodgering. There were more bowls of condoms and bowls of candy, as well as customized cupcakes and a penis-shaped cake, but no food of any substance. I filled the void in my stomach with another Tankhouse Ale.

One of the highlights of the night was supposed to be a fashion show. But what we got were several young women and a couple of guys dressed in skimpy superhero costumes who walked so quickly past the patrons that they couldn't get decent photographs.

The biggest attraction, however, was the chance to interview "ETDWSS Celebrities, Entertainers and Sexperts." I don't know if one particular attendee was included in that grouping, but she described herself as a "famous publicist." I'd heard of her. But if you're using "famous" to describe yourself, you probably aren't.

Lady luck may have been on my side when I was standing at the bar as the party's two marquee names, porn stars Charmane Star and Breanne Benson, arrived on the scene. There didn't seem to be any formal interview set-up, so I figured I might as well take advantage of the situation and asked Star to pose with the penis cake. Once her days of being paid to do reverse cowgirl are over, I think she could have a bright future as a Price Is Right model. 
Ladies and gentlemen: the penis cake.

The ladies were quickly escorted away before I had a chance to ask them any questions. Since I've never covered the sex beat (though I confess that the concepts of porn and beating aren't entirely unknown to me), I'm not sure what queries I would have come up with anyway.

In retrospect, however, I think they would have been:
a) Do you actually enjoy getting jizz all over your face and in your eyes?
b) Do you want to go over in that corner and ride me silly?

I wandered around a little bit longer as some of the club regulars started showing up, including an immodest woman with admittedly bought and paid for breasts leading around a much older (and unfortunately shirtless) man with a leash and collar. The clientele didn't exactly get my loins stirring, so it may be a long time before I ever make use of that password.

Charmane and Breanne check out their selfie.

I made one more sweep of the third floor and, if I was braggadocious, I'd tell you that I did both Charmane and Breanna from behind. The reality is that our private parts touched, but it was through mutual denim as I brushed past them in a crowded room.

I never got a chance to see the fourth floor private party room, but I helped myself to lots of condoms -- not that I have any use for them these days, unfortunately.

For an event and a venue that's supposed to be all about climaxing, this launch was pretty anti-climactic.

The Everything To Do With Sex Show runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 before it pulls out.

Breanne and I successfully execute the "I'll shoot the mirror image of you while you're giving me the finger" photo.