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New York's Psychotica admit that it's their outrageous live-performance style that landed them at Lollapalooza. Yet their debut album, Psychotica, is similarly theatrical. Grounded in a hard Gothic crunch and enlivened by rap and industrial inflections, the songs don't diverge much from the mascaraed glory days of Bauhaus. But flamboyant singer Pat Briggs and an ear-shattering bass track lend the cuts a spirited grandness, which is as entertaining on headphones as it is on stage. B - Entertainment Weekly

"Psychotica Vampire Freaks"

Psychotica is a band that had it’s share of mixed luck: Lead singer Pat Briggs is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “Future of music” exhibit and his band, Psychotica, was signed on their second practice session to Ventrue records. The unfortunate side being the majority of their albums remain unavailable and Briggs’ talent, unrecognized. One can only get their hands on the mediocre “Espina” and if they are lucky, their self-titled début. After several label changes and finally settling on Red Ant, Psychotica recorded what was to be their landmark album. “Pandemic,” only to have it never be released. . .commercially, that is.
With the exception of a few sparse records handed out at a Chicago listening party, the tracks are in the Red Ant Vault and will more than likely stay there. For Psychotica fans not so privileged to have attended the Chicago event, fans and the band have gathered together a selection of the album and out takes that can be found here and here .
Pandemic opens with a melodic guitar/violin which shifts quickly into high gear with the open notes of the first song, “Fool’s Gold.” This song swings between frantic electric guitars and synthesized string ambience. Angelic voices back Briggs’ often brash voice. The album floats through deep swells and decrescendos having no defiantly climax or closing. In fact, the album cycles. The beginning of the first song, “Into,” picks up right where the last song, “Valentino” leaves off.
Not only does the music take the listener through the gamut of human emotions, so do the lyrics. In “Oceans of Hunger,” Pat croons to the listeners, “And I wish you were the conscience lost forever in the war/Wish you were my spirit what went out with the storm/Wish you were the air that feeds the fire,” he brags in “Euthanasia,” “You were a slave in heaven/And now a superstar in hell” and assures him/her in “Contradiction,” “I used to be a feather in your headdress/But it beats the fucking loneliness /And I'm happy now.” The only disappointment was the song “Valentino,” where Briggs and band over-dramatize a refrain. It feels like a rough jolt from the serene sadness of the rest of the piece. It feels like a Broadway musical gone sour. This being said, Pandemic is a must for new listeners and hard-core Psychotica fans alike. Who knows what could have been, with this possible break-though album left in the vaults. Everyone should check it out because you sure can’t beat the price.
-reviewed by Aubrey Zich (Kissofmeth/VyL8)
July, 2002 - Vampire


Zero Hour

"Oh gee whiz," I thought when I saw the flagrantly pretentious Mark Kostabi-designed martyred Jesus cover art on the new Psychotica release, Espina. "What the heck is going on here?" Fronted by the flamboyant, gender-confused Patrick Briggs, Psychotica have a reputation for being way more image than substance, so I'm delighted to report that while I was busy ignoring them, they evolved into a tight little ball of emotive and explosive hard rock. Though the embarrassingly titled "Ding Dong Dead" starts out sounding like Devo trying to imitate the Sisters of Mercy, this ill-fitting cloak is shed halfway through the song, and Psychotica begin to really rock. Psychotica tout themselves as a gothic band, but the glam-rock theatrics of "Bleeding" owes as much to metal mavens Dio and Dokken as it does to Bauhaus. I'm especially impressed with Briggs' interpretation of the oft-covered classic ballad of emotional devastation, "MacArthur Park." Briggs mixes the dramatic vocals of Richard Harris' mid-'60s version with the syncopated beats of Donna Summer's disco standard to create a modern rock heart-tugger. I can even forgive him for singing "Sweet Green Icing" instead of "Sweet Cream Icing." I mean, it somehow fits.

Richly produced by Doug DeAngelis, Espina flows smoothly with a powerful musical energy and refreshing lyrical maturity. A dark little treasure waiting to be discovered. Zero Hour, 14 West 23rd St., New York NY 10010

--Gail Worley - Ink 19

"Pusing the Limits"

PSYCHOTICA Pushing the Limits (from Hit Parader)

Its been said on more than one occasion, by more than one individual, that you've got to be just a little crazy to want to play rock n roll... at least crazy like a fox. Ozzy's proven it, Manson's proven it, and countless others have tried to prove it--to widely varying degrees of success. And in that somewhat noble tradition of trying their best to out-rage and inflame their way to fame and fortune, here comes a band called Psychotica who just may rank among the most unusual acts ever to come tripsing down the rock and roll pike.

The brainchild of one Pat Briggs (who in a previous life a decade ago was the Sebastian Bach look-alike, pretty-boy frontman for a hair metal band called R-U-Ready), Psychotica seem intent on turning many of your well-established rock and roll perspectives inside out. As proven through out the groups sophomore album, "Espina", their ability to blend together seemingly divergent musical reactants--including heavy metal, goth, punk and a touch of traditional Spanish music-- has served to a quickly establish Psychotica's reputation as a band that’s got more to offer than just a strange look and an outrageous stance. In fact, according to vocalist Briggs (who is accompanied in Psychotica by guitarist/bassist Ena Paul Kostabi and cellist Enrigue Tiru velez), his band is designed to be a multi-dimensional, multi-cultural experience focused on expanding the often restrictive bonds of rock and roll.

"This is a musical experiment in progress," Briggs said. "I believe we're trying to accomplish things that no other band has even attempted--let alone succeeded. We're trying to remove the restrictions, break the bonds that so much music has. Rocking--while still being successful."

For Briggs and his unusual band, the road to rock n roll experimentalism has been-- as one might expect-- a most unusual one. In fact, it wouldn't be pushing things to say that Briggs has lived one of the strangest musical lives of anyone currently inhabiting the hard rock sphere. Going back a decade, his highly touted band R-U-Ready got a major media push by their then-burgeoning record label, only to see that disc never even released in the US for a variety of still mysterious reasons. Then soon after Psychotica's self titled debut disc appeared in 1996--at a time when the band seemed on the verge of something BIG after touring with Tool-- their label promptly up-and-folded. While such unsavory history might have been enough for some musicians to pack up their guitars and head for home, such activity only seems to further inspire the eve-unpredictable Mr. Briggs.

"There’s no question that some unusual things have happened to me in my music career," he said. "But I don’t waste my time thinking about what might have been or should have been. Things happen for a reason. Everything that has happened to me in my life has prepared me for making this album." Indeed from the opening riffs of "Ding Dong Dead" through the heavy-handed machinations of "Blind" to the bands highly intriguing cover of the schmaltz classic "MacArthur Park", Psychotica have offered up a text book example of hard rock eclecticism. Certainly it’s not music designed for everyone; Briggs would have it no other way. But if your rock tastes run towards the unconventional and the unexpected, and your idea of a good time is having a laugh while you're banging your head, then perhaps "Espina" is the disc you've been waiting for all your life. It certainly promises to be startlingly different from anything else that currently may be inhabiting your disc collection-- exactly what you'd expect from a band whose motto is "Infiltrate, assimilate and annihilate"

"You can both screw and cry to this record," Briggs said. "You can take it seriously, or you can laugh. We leave it all up to you."

Continuing in the grand tradition of glamour goth, ESPINA is the long-awaited follow-up from Psychotica's successful 1996 self-titled debut album. "Our goal was to make a record leaning toward the romantic side because an album should be like a time capsule of your life that the moment," explains Pat Briggs, the flamboyant front man and main songwriter of Psychotica. "As a band we are feeling a bit more mature and a bit more sentimental in out own lives, and there’s no reason that those elements can't mix well together."

And they certainly do. "Too Late' the albums 1st single was inspired by the romantic breakup Briggs experienced years ago. "I remember sitting alone in my house just moments after this person had finished moving their things out and wishing that i could take it all back," sums up Briggs.

"I had just signed a record deal and caught a large case of 'Rockstaritis.' A very dangerous thing for any performer. I suddenly learned one of the major lessons of my adulthood. That you had to be careful about what moves you make in life, because sometimes you move forward on a course that you can't turn back on! I now see that you can be on top of the world and realize on all the way up there... you had alienated the people closest to you, who meant the most"

- Hit Parader

"Wham Bam Thank You Glam"


Psychotica rides a twisted new wave of glam rock, from Spacehog to Imperial Drag, as the queer costumes of the 1970s become the openly gay musical platform of today. James Patrick Herman surfs the Zeitgeist. Photographs by Nitin Vadukul (From the November 1996 issue of OUT magazine)

It's a sticky L.A. day at Lollapalooza '96 - humidity that inspires thousands-strong crowd of beefy straight metalheads to, circuit-queen-like, shed their shirts at Irvine's Meadow Amphitheater - and no one's feeling the heat more intensely than Psychotica's sweaty, silver mohawked frontman, Pat Briggs, who's dressed in a skintight rubber bodysuit and attached to a spinning Plexiglas crucifix on stage. Such is the high price of fashion.

Unlike in previous years, gay people have low visibility both onstage and in the audience at this Metallica-led Lollapalooza, a reality reflected in its nickname, Testosterpalooza. But opening act Psychotica, New York City's neo-glam rockers, are determined to pick up the slack. Briggs leaps off the cross, through billows of exploding yellow smoke bombs, and then right off the stage he's a fierce, controlled, wiry bolt of energy. The visual void left in his wake is filled by Sophia Ramos, a Vampira-inspired black goth rock chick; when not wailing soulfully, she tongues an invisible lover and mimes masturbation with exceptional flair.

Walking into the audience with wireless mike in hand, every vein in Briggs' neck is taut, bulging as impressively as his apparently cucumber-size, barely contained package, straining the already frayed seams of his glimmer suit. At song's end he announces, apparently without irony, "If it weren't for prostitution, I wouldn't be here today!" For a moment it's uncertain whether the crowd will applaud or shout in unison, "Crucify the faggot!".

But they do neither. These beer-guzzling, long-haired redneck boys are shocked into silence - into submission. Briggs emerges triumphant, the conqueror. Final score: hetero metalheads: 0; homo glam rocker: 1.

Blame it on grunge backlash or pre-millennium wackiness or the cyclical nature of history. Whatever the cause, there's no disputing the fact that American culture is suddenly in the throws if a love affair with glamour - specifically, traditional feminine glamour, but even the bizarre, futuristic bastardization that Briggs flaunts. The evidence is considerable: When celebrity macho, macho men - media kings (Howard Stern), sports greats (Dennis Rodman), movie stars (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze Stephen Dorff) - get in touch with their inner drag queens in clear view of the public eye, really, what more proof is needed?

Here's another important scrap: Rock n' roll has finally outgrown that grungy ol' flannel shirt. Glam rock is back. Dubbed "rock n' roll with lipstick" by John Lennon, glam was way ahead of its time in the 70's. Now it seems very timely indeed, perfectly of the moment, with a slew of exciting major-label bands dabbling in glitter rock revisionism - Psychotica, Spacehog, Imperial Drag, Sponge, Nancy Boy - and this past summer's return of glam icons: Gary Glitter, looking as shiny as ever, starred in the recent tour of the Who's Rock Opera Quadrophenia; New York's legendary club Jackie 60 celebrated a packed-to-the-rafters David Bowie tribute, replete with go-go dancing thin white dukes; and during VH1's 7 Days of the 70's, the man himself pranced across television screens nationwide.

Of all the musical genres, glam rock is perhaps the most intellectual, the most postmodern, and - show tunes included - the gayest. Which accounts for the interest of filmmaker Todd Haynes, director of the art-house masterpieces Poison and Safe. Haynes is developing a new film called Velvet Goldmine, the title borrowed from an obscure Bowie B-side from 1971. In the downtown Manhattan office Haynes shares with longtime friend and producer Christine Vachon, he takes a break from casting (names like Trainspotting's Ewan McGregor are being tossed around, but Jaye Davidson will not, as previously rumored, be playing late T. Rex frontman and Bowie rival Marc Bolan) to speak about his "valentine to the area of glam - a false history drawing from the myths of real-life people." A fitting word, valentine, for Haynes admits that his movie focus on "a love affair between an American [Lou Reed crossed with Iggy Pop] and a Brit [based on Bowie]." The film is set in a time before Bowie figured out that he was actually a closet heterosexual, a realization that apparently also struck Reed, once a gay trannie-fan, now loath to discuss those days.

Haynes appears visibly influenced by his research: Tall and lanky, with spiked hair, he looks a bit like a retired, post-rehab rocker himself. "It's part of a larger '70's revival, or reevaluation," he surmises, trying to account for the current neo-glam action, "which in the States has been focused more on the silly, pop, Brady Bunch 70's and, on the other hand, Zeppeliny kind of guitar-driven bands. But what I always feel is missing is a look at the cultural climate of the time that allowed for things like glitter rock in ways that I don't think have been possible since. The revivalism has been somewhat dismissive, like, 'Wasn't it a mindless, plastic time?' It was, but especially compared to what followed, it was a uniquely progressive time too.

That decade - and, granted, the tail end of the previous one - has had enormous impact on the contemporary music scene. But say the words music and seventies to a hipster and his response will undoubtedly be: "Punk rock, man!" And to Haynes, that's ridiculous. "Glam rock was far superior to punk," he enthuses, "absolutely, in every way. It attached a very comfortable notion of sexual identity and a belief that the music industry - the mass media - could allow for any direct, authentic communication or expression. The artifice of performance was being flaunted and acknowledged and made fun of and enjoyed and NOT denied.

But can glam get a reaction in the nothing's-shocking '90's? "Some of the shock value of glam is certainly gone," Haynes admits, "but images of Ziggy Stardust are still eerie and fascinating. I think that's because they're not just gay or straight or male or female; the interesting thing about glam rock to me is the way it blurred boundaries. I hope that's returning today. We're now in these nice separatist little categories - gay, straight, black, white - and at best we can all respect each other's differences and not cross those lines. But people are always crossing those boundaries.

Psychotica's Pat Briggs (not to mention eerier rival Marilyn Manson) is not simply crossing, he's exploding boundaries with his vaguely androgynous but nonetheless hard-core, sexually charged persona. (He calls it "the new wave android") But surprisingly, most of the prominent players in the glam revival - unlike their gay-for-pay predecessors - balance gender-bending public personae and private lives as (gasp!) heterosexuals. Indeed, it is Nancy Boy's male-model frontman, Donovan Leitch, who most accurately embodies the spirit of Ziggy Stardust, despite his total lack of visual; shock value (and, many critics say, talent). Leitch lives by the artifice-is-everything, get-famous-quick formula that Bowie patented: Act like a rock star, and sooner or later the right people will treat you like one.

Just as Bowie once hired a gang of unemployed Warhol actors to play the part of record company bigwigs in order to manufacture hype for him in America, Leitch hired New York uberpublicist Jason Weinberg long before he had bothered to record so much as a single (it was far less work that way). He may have shot any hopes of critical respect, but at least he won the fame game and, like Bowie, landed a supermodel (the stunning Kristy Hume) for a mate. How could Bowie himself not approve?

His heterosexuality nothwithstanding, the flamboyant Leitch is a derivative of sexually confusing (mainly British) musicians ranging from present-day fey frontmen Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Brett Anderson (Suede) to '80's Morrisey (tellingly, a New York Dolls fanatic), 70's Bowie, '50's Little Richard, and perhaps even Elvis, all the way back to dandy archetype Oscar Wilde. "The essence of glam rock," says Todd Haynes. "He constructed himself as an artist the way Bowie constructed himself as a superstar. He was known in Europe and America as a figure, as a 'type' before he had published a single wok. He was elevating artifice to a level of exquisiteness that nature could never match.

"Oscar Wilde and glam rock," Haynes continues, "are the best examples of a camp sensibility that really acknowledges the constructedness of experience, but does it in such a way that is also incredibly beautiful. So it's beautiful at the same time. Which, I guess for me, the first couple Roxy Music records are about as close as you could get to that."

Admittedly, Nancy Boy's recent self-titled debut record does not come very close to that. Their authentically English Electra label mates Spacehog, however, have already scored with a h it song and heavily rotated MTV video for "In the Meantime," the first single from their Resident Alien album. They certainly act like they have: Unlike Eddie Vedder, Billy Corgan, and Michael Stipe, this quartet of Manhattan transplants from Leeds, England, act the part of rock stars. They love sex, drugs, rock n/ roll, drugs, and glamour. And drugs. And they are proud of it.

They are even more proud of their songcraft. They realize that (are you listening Donovan Leitch?) retro charm aside, "it's not about imitating the '70s," according to drummer Jonny Cragg. Spacehog update their glam influences with keyboard samples scattered amid the flashy guitar work that are, well, spacey, and confrontational lyrics that leave no room for ambiguity. On their record, a voice-over introduces their latest single "Space is the Place" with a stunning explanation: "This song [deals] candidly with themes of brotherly love and homosexuality." The fact that Spacehog's lineup includes real-life brothers Royston and Anthony Langdon adds an extra level of what society would surely dub "perversity." The lyrics go: "Just because you kiss your brother, it doesn't mean to say you're gay. And just because you're fucking him, it doesn't mean you don't love me." How on earth did this elude the parental advisory sticker police? Not only do Spacehog sing openly of gay sex, they're singing about incetuous gay sex. A perfect 10 on the controversy meter.

Humbly, the brothers shrug off their taboo-breaking achievement; they're unpretentious and riotously funny and, despite their lyrical content, straight-identified. "I'm reasonably straight," clarifies Royston, "but I've had plenty of experiences with the 'homosexual experience' - we just don't work that bisexuality thing."

Anthony, who also has a girlfriend but calls himself "a poof," sheds insight into the band's famously decadent and invigorating live shows. He sounds like every queer boy who came of age in small-town America: "Growing up in Leeds, there was very little aspiration to the whole glamour and theater of what I thought music- and life - should be: theatrical, sensational, and fun, you know? What I found was a lot of testosterone-based, homophobic bullshit. But then I came to New York, and all of a sudden here was this place where you could go nuts." Which is precisely why Royston, and friends Cragg and lead guitarist Richard Steel do onstage, with considerably panache, Jackie O. sunglasses, and a few feather boas thrown in for good measure.

While there's nothing androgynous looking about Spacehog (no amount of boas could hide their boyish faces), genderfuck is at the core of Columbia Records' Sponge and Imperial Drag, a band whose married lead singer and guitarist, Eric Dover, brags "I've spent all of my life in drag." And in a straight, less pretty Boy George-ish kind of way he is a drag queen. Fittingly, them, Imperial Drag's first single from their eponymous debut album is called "Boy or a Girl," and it contains the line "I feel straight, but I'm not so sure."

"A Lot of people tell us that 'Boy or a Girl' is very homoerotic," Dover brags. "We thought glam rock was the perfect vehicle for a song about sexual paranoia and gender-bending and everything gorgeous. It's sexually based music, which is great for an era where people are afraid of their own sexuality. Now is the time to put blush on your face and keep people wondering."

With his equally flamboyant outfits, Sponge's tough, gold-toothed frontman, Vinnue Dombroski, also keeps people curious. His wardrobe is shocking not because it contains pieces of actual women's clothing but because they're being worn by a former grunge poster boy: Sponge's previous album, 1995's Rotting Pinata, was heralded as a worthy example of post-Nirvana guitar rock. It's typical for bands to evolve from album to album; Sponge have made nothing short of a metamorphosis on their recent Wax Ecstatic - they're reemerged shiny (as in vinyl-clad) and new. "We wanted to do an Al Green meets Ziggy Stardust thing," Dombrokski says in his very butch growl of a voice, by way of explaining the presence of "Ziggy-style guitar riffs and grindy feedback" and not one but two songs about drag queens (three, if you count "Have You Seen Mary").

The narrator of "The Drag Queens of Memphis" has a touching tete-a-tete with Presley's tombstone: "With a sparkle boot on the grave of Elvis, he shouted, 'Hey King, I'm here. It's your Queen." It takes serious courage to risk offending Elvis fans (scary Lisa Marie included) but even more chutzpah to turn on a loyal fan base of grunge enthusiasts, whose buying power should not be underestimated. "Rockers have been programmed to believe [glamour] will take away from the integrity of what they do musically," admits Dombroski. "But I'm looking for the flamboyance that's been there since Elvis Presley shook his hips. I love putting on great clothes and shaking my ass at a gig, you know? Who's gonna say my songs are less meaningful because I'm shaking my ass?"

Well, potentially, homophobic rock critics whose cherished ideas about representations of masculinity would be challenged (Dombroski is straight and wants it known that "it takes a real man to wear a dress, as they say," though he claims that "being a man has nothing to do with that little fleshy dolly between your legs"). This ass-skaker's bad boy fondness for musical rebellion can be traced back to his childhood, specifically when he purchased Bowie's 1974 album Diamond Dogsgrunge musicians but... They've been like, ' want to come out of my closet and dress up again.' They're frustrated, they've been waiting for the chance to put on stretch vinyl pants and glitter boots.

Some have already broken their closet doors. Billy Corgan seemingly lives in a pair of tight silver pants, and he's acquired an embarrassing cosmetics habit to boot. The men from Metallica too are toying with eye makeup - yet another sign of a gay-themes bandwagon cruising through MTV land that creatively challenged bands are only too eager to hop aboard. Perhaps since it's becoming such a cool thing to do, rock musicians will begin abusing Revlon the way they previously abused drugs - that is, with careless abandon - before that kind of decadence became so un-PC. But few will push the limits as far as an ingenuously innovative maniac like Psychotica's Pat Briggs.

Briggs purveys an extreme, anti-mainstream persona that, much like Bowie's Stardust, has inexplicably attracted mainstream attention. Despite his band's MTV invisibility (not a good omen for Psychotica's recently released self-titled debut album), Briggs has exposed his music - a compelling mixture if industrial, goth and yes, glam - to the country via the Lollapalooza tour, sweating through 22 cities in sex weeks, with guest vocalist Sophia Ramos and bandmates Ena (guitar), Tommy Salmorin (bass), Enrique Tiru (cello),and Buz (drums). Yet surviving, even winning over Testosterpalooza, may not constitute Briggs' greatest achievement. Every day, 3,500 tourists visiting Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum encounter a fiberglass statue of Briggs' mock crucifixion, a display that must come as a surprise to stroller-pushing suburbanites there to see John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper's costume. And - a little-known fact - Briggs is one of only 14 people who can claim to have been among the cast of the first New York staging of Rent in 1994, when Broadway was a mere twinkle in the then-living composer Jonathan Larson's eye.

But what Briggs is most proud of (he now dismisses Rent as a "politically correct piece of shit") is creating the groundbreaking - and now legendary - queer rock n' roll pleasuredome Squeezebox. Briggs invented the downtown Manhattan club with former fashion designer Michael Schmidt. "We never thought we'd create this monstrous thing that had such a giant impact on the whole town and even the country in some ways," says Briggs. "Because I've toured the whole entry - even the hillbillies in Tennessee were rocking to Psychotica - and I'm not kidding, there's not anywhere I went where people didn't known about Squeezebox." It's stage - which has seen the likes of Courtney Love, Green Day, and Evan Dando, as well as lesser-known queer-fronted bands (Pansy Division, Tribe 8, Extra Fancy) -also gave birth to Psychotica, and it's where a record company executive signed them directly following their debut performance, just over a year before this final Lollapalooza date.

Perhaps as an end-of-tour reward for Briggs, the notoriously cheap American label foots the bill for a black stretch limousine and chauffeur to drive Briggs and friends (drag celebrities Sherry Vine and Lily of the Valley) around West Hollywood after the show, cruising the very same Santa Monica Boulevard that, ironically, Briggs once worked as a child hustler, when he hoped in vain to get picked up in just such a luxurious set of wheels. He spent five years selling his body; along with his acting background, perhaps this is yet another reason Briggs makes such an amazing performer: He's been satisfying strangers since the age of 12.

"Look, Lily, there's my old corner, that bus stop," he shouts, pressing his palms against the tinted windows. The driver steers into the nearby parking lot of the Yukon Mining Co. restaurant, another former haunt. But Briggs' attention stays locked on that bus stop.

The Yukon, which Briggs affectionately dubs "Dennys from Hell." is quintessentially glam - everything is flashy and fake, from the plastic ferns to the baritone-voiced "hostess" to the bodacious, heavily made up clientele. "Look at all this club trash and trannies," remarks Sherry Vine. "There's more jelly in here than Dunkin' Donuts!"

Briggs, by comparison - he sports pink vinyl pants, an oversize X (The Japanese, not the L.A., punk band), white go-go boots - looks out of place, even in this surreal-by-David-Lynch-standards venue. "People try to peg me as a Bowie spin-off," he says. "But that's not where I come from at all. In the early '80's, when I was most impressionable, there were a lot of visually stunning bands - Devo, Bow Wow Wow. I picked up virtually everything I know from that period" - Wow-esque mohawk included. Of course, the Greed Decade's hair bands were a direct result of the glam era's Aqua Net ambition. "Then I guess I'm a third-generation rip-off," he says.

Briggs later admits that his inspiration extends beyond the Reagan years. "Little Richard is the most highly underrated influence of this century," he says. "He's the creator of glam rock - a total screaming queen." And Briggs, as they say, is proud to carry the torch. "The most refreshing thing about Psychotica's show is the theatrics," gushes Lily. "It's all about glamour, and that's what's been missing from music lately."

"I have a lot of respect for Pat," agrees Vine, powdering her shiny nose, "because there aren't a lot of people in rock n' roll that are openly gay. There's a gay chic right now, but that's not the same as being "I'm a fag!" for a bunch of Soundgarden fans. Some of those rockers [at Lollapalooza] were gorgeous but I was terrified I'd get my ass kicked."

For the record, Briggs doesn't like to identify as queer (although, he says, "if somebody really needed to know, I would), he prefers the term rocker. The difference, he explains, "is my life doesn't revolve around my dick. My life revolves around my rock career right now. And that's the way I love it. I really feel I have a good shot of fucking blowing things apart in the near future, and I totally plan on doing it." Thankfully, it will at least be a glamourous destruction.

James Patrick Herman writes for New York and Elle and is a contributing editor at Raygun.

- Out

"Return of Glam, Ain't It A Drag"

The Return of Glam, Ain't it a Drag
cover story from THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY, July 10, 1996
by Charlie Finck

Psychotica's leader, Patrick Briggs, an overnight sensation who took more than a decade to break nationally, is a whirling, tornado-like, cultural force to be reckoned with. His exploits as promoter, rock n' roll star, and Downtown, soon-to-be internationally-and-Internet-legend, are formidable. He has for years been known as a tireless crusader for gender equality n rock n' roll, and for his campaign to put the "show" back in show business.

Teaming up with co-producer Michael Schmidt and club impresario Don Hill, Briggs has carved out a small, extremely vibrant corner of New York's rock n' roll estate. Squeeze Box!, a glittering, eclectic, sweaty, two-year-old, multifaceted entertainment experience, is a rockin' refuge for bands and their fans who can't or won't buy into the gender limited stereotypical world or corporate controlled, testosterone driven rock n' roll.

In this low budget, heterosexual-friendly atmosphere, the phenomenon has grown from a super secret "in" scene, drawing glam core rockers needing a safe staging area from which to unleash the burgeoning "trannycore" rock movement, to pulling in movie and tv stars, tranny-chasing record company presidents cruising for signings, and some of the biggest names in rock n' roll: Green Day, Joey Ramone, Marc Almond, Courtney Love, Nina Hagen, who, while the Squeeze Box! house band blasts the hits, happily flounce and stumble in five-inch heels across the stage. Its is perhaps the most exciting, ground-breaking, barrier-smashing venue for rock n' roll in all of its theatrical manifestations that I have had the good fortune to cover since the prescient progenitors of the punk parade landed at CBGB's exactly 20 years ago this Summer.

Emerging from the depths of this sanctified, rarefied realm, Briggs and his bandmates have recorded the self-titled album Psychotica, for Ventrue/American records. This is a ground-breaking, culture clashing and gender-blending album of futuristic rock n' roll revivalism. The music is a blistering, driving mix of fiery guitars, cutting edge percussion born of the industrial music revolution, reggae rapping, electrified orchestral strings combined with the specter of sounds, attitudes, and fashion sensibility of the late but great pre-punk, glam rock era.

As a parade of costumed characters sashayed by the tiny subterranean dressing room door, I spoke at length with Patrick as he prepared for the album's release and the band's imminent departure to do battle on the main stage, as the unknown underdog, in the legendary land of Lollapalooza '96.

Looking at the lineup of Summer's major tours, I can't help but notice Lollapalooza has Psychotica and the Ramones, KISS has picked up D-Generation as an opening act, and Patti smith, high priestess of New York punk rock, is touring the country again. The unrecognized cultural subtext appears to be "the revenge of the bands from the Lower East Side".

Totally, like totally!

Having played a pivotal part in the grassroots, Downtown Rock n' roll scene for over a decade, what are your feelings seeing this apparent national and international acceptance>

I'm so excited I can't even tell you. I have much more of a vested interest in the Downtown scene being recognized than myself being recognized. I see myself as a cog in a wheel Downtown, just part of a machine. There's an enormous amount of talent on the Downtown scene that's completely untapped. I've seen some stuff that has been absolutely, bar-none, brilliant. There are others who are coming back like Jayne County with a new album and a book. Those artists from the old school, they've spawned a whole other generation of performers that just come from an entirely different place.

This is out of the Max's Kansas City, CBGB's axis of 20 years ago?

Yeah, indirectly. It's gone down a generation and now has turned into something else. It's showing another face, melding many things like performance art, theater and music which is really interesting.

Absolutely, and we will develop even further in that direction.

What were the early days like in the scene when you first came to New York?

The first person I met in New York was the drag star and performance artist Joey Arias. We met at Fiorucci.

What were you doing at Fiorucci?

I had to go 'cause I was fresh to New York and it was Fiorucci, you know? There was Joey, walking around the store with a Joan Crawford rolled hairdo and eyebrows that looks like slits going up the sides of his head. I was scared shitless. Who knew years later that I would be a part of that scene.

Were you involved in music at that time?

I don't think I really knew what I wanted to do. I came to New York to be a dancer. In Honolulu, I had been dancing in hotels, sort of tacky-choreographed Solid Gold-type shows. I did that in New York City starting at Don Hill's Cat Club with the Cat Club Dancers. Perry Lister, who was married to Billy Idol, was one of us so we'd end up doing shows with Billy at the Ritz, dancing during his set. It sort of bridged me into music.

One day this Penthouse Pet decided she was going to start a band called Rixon. She got Traci Guns and Johnny B. Frank from Kingdom Come, and Ricki Rocket from Poison, who were nothing then. She asked me to sing back up. She had big breasts and big blonde hair. The group played Motley Crue glam-oriented music, which was going to be a big thing in a few years. We did a showcase at the Limelight and it was just awful. The management dropped her the next day and asked me if I wanted to sign with them. I didn't even have a band, I couldn't sing, I just looked good and I could move really incredibly. I guess I fooled them. This guitar player who was manager by Bill Aucoin (KISS' manager) came up to me and eventually helped us put the group, R U Ready, together. We lasted eight years, went through three record deals and I left the band right before the record was supposed to be released. It was a Spinal Tap nightmare.

Exploding drummers?

Ironically the drummer was the best thing about the band. This was during the whole 'big hair' band scene and, in general, it was very oppressive for everyone involved in the music scene at that time, unless you were in the testosterone boys club you were not acceptable. Women bands were unheard of at that time unless they were bimbos. Even Joan Jett was not doing well at that time. Vixen and bands like that were the only way that girls could get over. Anything freaky was completely shunned. It was just oppressive for everyone involved. The bands fell into it and were trapped, then were the major label A&R people were done milking every last dollar they could from it, they dropped them. They completely used them and threw them away like old Kleenex. It was, bar none, one of the sleaziest, rottenest times I have ever seen in music.

On stage at Squeeze Box! and in our previous conversations you've spoken of your campaign to fight against the "testosterone factor" in the music business. What do you mean by that?

It's the brick wall that many other musicians and I, personally, have been up against my whole career. It comes out in A&R guys saying to me "You've got to tone it down," or trying to make me into the next Bon Jovi or whatever was making them money at the time.

What specifically do they want you to tone down?

My personality in general. Telling me as an entertainer "you can't be too wild." I remember one time, years back, an A&R guy asked me in front of my band, "Pat, what is your dream?" I said "Walking on the Madison Square Harden stage, naked," and he was like, "You are completely crazy, don't even think about it." The band thought I was nuts. I just couldn't see anything that wrong with it. It was the difference of me being a square peg in a round hole. I just didn't fit in.

When the industry power brokers were having so much conflict with your creative impulses, how did you keep your sanity and your sense of self as a creative artist?

I think I lost it for a period of time. I made the decision to leave that band. Between MCA Records and the band and wives, it was completely a nightmare. I had achieved what I wanted, which was to get a deal and make a record, and I was completely out of my mind, miserable, hate it! I couldn't remember a time, since I had walked off the streets, when I was more unhappy with my life. I made the decision to leave that band and lock myself in my house for a little over a year.

Were you writing?

No, I didn't know it at the time, but I was rejuvenating and getting ready to reinvent myself. It was almost like going into a cocoon an d coming out a butterfly. When I came back out, Michael Schmidt and I started Squeeze Box! at Don Hill's club which was a success instantly, and then boom! things started happening one after another. It was just like a speeding train I couldn't stop that completely led up to this. I just don't see an end to it.

How has Don Hill figured in your success and the success of the scene?

Don Hill is totally the Bill Graham of the '90s. Twelve years ago, when I was a dancer working for him at the Cat Club, he saw something and allowed me to utilize whatever was his, including his club for rehearsal, for whatever I needed. He's done everything from lend me money to push A&R people, unwantingly at times, in my direction. He is a band's hero who has done more behind the scenes. almost by doing nothing, than anyone I know. His theory is to just allow the kids to have a creative space to work in and he does anything in his power to make that happen.

I remember years ago seeing Malcolm Forbes, one of the richest men on the planet, parking his Harley on 13th Street and walking into the Cat Club.

Yep, they worship him like an icon, he's the guy! He thrives in a creative environment, loves being around it, insists on it. It's also happened to make him money in return, but it wasn't always that way. That club sat there or a year, completely empty. It didn't matter to him. Don doesn't let his own club politics ever affect you. His vision is much bigger than getting caught up in petty shit.

I hear the club is plugged into cyberspace. What's the story with that?

Sensenet, Inc., a company which has the world's largest internet broadcasting network, did a full installation, cameras, computers and whatever. It enables them to broadcast, live on computers, what is happening on stage or in the audience. We did a trial run in January on a Squeeze Box! night with Deborah Harry and Joey Ramone. The site had about 300,000 "hits". Staring with Psychotica's performance on June 21, every Friday night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. New York time, people can surf to our website ( we will be transmitting live real time audio and video.

Sort of a Downtown goes digital thing?

It's everything people have read about in the gossip pages. Misstress Formicka hosting drag queens, rock n' roll bands, major label acts and movie and fashion stars, only you'll be able to watch and interact with the multiple cameras from your home computer. You won't have to get sweaty and dirty like the rest of us.

What led you to put Psychotica together?

In the first incarnation, we got up at Don Hill's to do some cover songs like the Squeeze Box band does, some old Bow Wow Wow songs, X-Ray Spex, The Go-Go's tune "This Town". I had done an early form of the stage look that I now have, I bound myself in Saran Wrap. The crowd went totally ape shit. I thought, okay, I guess we should do another show. So, for the hell of it, we started writing and got together a five-song set. The day before the first show, we were rehearsing at the club when Amanda from Ventrue Entertainment walked by, heard the music, came in and said she wanted to sign us. I wasn't about to put up with an A&R person's bullshit at that point. I didn't have to. I had some security. I had the club and was happy doing Squeeze Box!. If I didn't have a successful band, then fine with that. My reply to her was, "if you are serious then do it. If you aren't, I don't want to hear about it. " The first Psychotica show as the next night, word had spread through Downtown that I was putting together a new band, so the room was totally full. They came down to the club, saw the show and the paperwork was on the table the following week. it was incredible.

I couldn't have dreamed that up. Our first gig we got signed, by the second gig we ended up in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in a display with Iggy, Bowie and Trent. By the third gig last year we did the third stage at Lollapalooza. Immediately following that we went in to do the record. At the time I was also playing professor Tom Collins in the original cast of the play Rent when it was in development off-Broadway. I had to drop that when it moved to Broadway because of the time needed to cut the album. While we were cutting the album I was cast in All Over Me, a feature film set in the Downtown music scene and shot at Don Hill's club, directed by Alex Sichel, which just got picked up by Fine Line Features. Then the band was announced as the opening act on the main stage for Lollapalooza '96. I can't even keep up with what's going on. It's completely out of my control and I love it when it's like that. I had a lot of fucking miserable years and I'm making up for lost time. if I could eliminate sleep, I would do it.

Some of your songs, and an aspect of your vocal delivery, is reminiscent of Ziggy Stardust filtered through the industrial music revolution of the '90s. Were you musically attracted to our influenced by David Bowie?

Actually no, my influences are completely different. I suspect in fact that they may have been some of Bowie's influences. Klaus Nomi was a highly underrated musical genius. Much more of a performance artist than a musician, he was from that incredible late '70's Berlin cabaret scene that produced strange, beautiful creative people like Nina Hagen. That whole clique of people, for whatever reason, was really into experimenting and pushing things into the future. I've always been drawn to that kind of stuff. The Europeans and Japanese have much more penchant for experimentations in music than we do in America. We're not very willing to take very many chances because things are so formulized.

The only reason people assume I'm a Bowie fan is 'cause I happen to sing in that register which thousands of people did in the new wave era. That was very common, though it was an entire subculture at some point, most of it wasn't from Bowie influences. That period in music was really, probably my favorite time in music because there was room for lots of things. Bow Wow Wow was just as different as Devo was, sound-wise and look-wise. One band was completely different and had nothing to do with the others. The Ramones were around then, Debbie Harry and strange things like Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen, Oingo Boingo, The Go-Gos. every band had their own identity, their own sound and look. It was just an enormous amount to choose from. I think people found some of it hokey so they lumped it all together as new wave, but that wasn't the case. It never got a fair shot. I think people got scared, and again, the testosterone boys kicked into action and said, "Oh, let's bring heavy metal back." If new wave had gone on, it would have futurized music as we know it today. We wouldn't have been recycling what we've heard for a long time.

You and the Squeeze Box! Revue have recently returned from a road trip to Japan. What was that like?

It was amazing, just incredible. They're light years ahead of us in every way, even down to the toilet paper. I've always been a big fan of Japanese culture and even though I don't like the music so much, I do like how they look stylistically. Japan has that thing that the new wave era had, the bands are completely outrageous and completely individual. You look at them and they are like...oh my God they are completely ridiculous, great. I just wish some of it would spread over here.

Your musical approach comes from a long theatrical tradition and Japan has hundreds of years of Kabuki.

Totally. You see the Kabuki influence in Japan in rock n' roll. I wish that here, musicians would get it, the value if you from the much older sections of our culture, and incorporate it into your act. That's what I like using strange stuff like ballet an d classical music, which have been a solid, legitimate art form for hundreds of years. It's got a great deal of influence on what we do, whether we realize it or not. I'm constantly surprised when people say "Oh, you have a cello in the band?" or "What's with the ballet dancers, we didn't think it would work?" Of course it works. What we're doing is totally derivative of that and they can never seem to put it together.

Anyway, we went over with the Squeeze Box! house band backing up, Misstress Formicka, Lilly of the valley, Miss Guy and Theo from the Lunachicks. We performed at clubs and private events in Tokyo and Nagoya. The Japanese people went berserk and totally got what we are all about.

The Japanese ate KISS up as well. Their stage image was very much like kabuki theater - white make-up and black, very angular, warrior-like costumes.

Totally, in a lot of respects this, Psychotica and the combination of drag culture and rock n' roll, is the new KISS for them and for a lot of other people as well. It has a lot of the same essences.

The cliché is that sex and rock n' roll go gland in hand. How much importance does sexuality have in the music of Psychotica and in presenting your persona and the band in a live context?

First of all, I feel a great deal of responsibility about what I say in front of 14-year old kids, which I think has gotten really lost in the last 15 years. There are certain aspects of old school entertainers that I love. No matter whether they were having a bad day or even a bad life. they left their shit off the stage and were thereto entertain you. I think to a certain degree, that needs to come back into the music and performance in general. Many performers these days use the stage as their own private therapy sessions, inflicting on the audience. I don't want to listen to some person sit there and tell me how fucking miserable he is while he's making 40 million dollars a year. It's bullshit, you know?

Two years ago, near the end of the Lollapalooza tour, I was backstage and walked up to one of the headliners and asked them, "So, did you have a good time this Summer?". This person turned to me and said, "I'm not really into that, I'm not really into the whole good time thing." I was like, "You are at the apex of your career, you are headlining the biggest tour of the year, you are making a bazillion dollars doing what you love, cut the crappy I'm-depressed-and-alternative act." It's bullshit at that point. It's as much a gimmick as anything else. Being one that loves gimmicky strange shit, I can spot it from a mile away.

Do you think the audience can spot it, and can see through that phony stuff?

Of course they can. Entertainment is a make-believe world to begin with. It was created for that. It's not that I see anything wrong with it, I just think there should be some certain parameters. I don't want to see some guy with this faux-miserable act - show me what it is that you do best.

I want the old school of entertainers to come back. I want the Elton Johns and, as fucked up as he is, the Michael Jackson-like superstars. That's who I love. Someone that when you go to their shows, you know that no one on the planet can do what he does. Now it's like after seeing hundreds of bands, booking them, dealing with them at the club, I think that people have lost that concept of developing that something absolutely no one else can do.

Is that your vision for Psychotica?

That's totally what I'm after. I want to find my niche, settle into it, develop it into something that I know that someone, a kid in Iowa, cannot do it, therefore he must come and see us do it. I don't want to see my next door neighbor in his street clothes playing a guitar, I don't care. We've been seeing it for a long time. There's a large market of kids who do like that because it's something to identify with, but that's not my personal taste.

I think we've just about hit bottom with grunge and the British mope rock shoegazers. If life is a balance, it has to swing back in the other direction. I'm certainly up for glam again, I had fun the first time around. After all, this is show business, so make it showy. At least get dressed up for a performance for crying out loud. The show gazers are...

Just a bore I just think kids are bored with spending their money, that the don't have very much of going to see teen angst. They've got enough of that already. I think they want to get out of that and escape into another world that's not their own. That's what made music popular in the first place. From Elvis to the Beatles, kids could get out of whatever oppression they had to deal with in their own lives. It's like, oh my God, this is a fantasy world. It's sex, it's decadent, it's fun, it's rocking - there's a total positive energy. I think they are really just hungry for... they want something to change, they don't have the power to do it for themselves, and they go to a show and see somebody utilize whatever power they do have, to do it. We've had an instantaneous warm reception from them, I've never been in a band that was like this, ever, where kids instantaneously were like, "Oh my God, I love this."

You opened your show at SqueezeBox! singing the track "What is God" while suspended on a revolving giant chrome crucifix. What's the inspiration behind that song?

Lyrically, its very metaphoric. Some of the idea of the song came from my own beliefs about organized religion. I'm going to get myself into trouble here if I start spewing. I have a very sort of belligerent idea of organized religion, how crappy it is and what a farce it is.

How, supposedly in the service of God and the faithful, what a moneymaking, real estate business it really is. How come they get to not pay any taxes?

Totally, That is exactly where I'm coming from.

Okay, fine, they don't want to pay taxes, drop the bingo games. They want to run a gambling empire that preys on and exploits the lower socioeconomic classes, they should kick in the taxes just like Off Track Betting or the lottery does.

I love how they sold tickets for the Pope. as far as I'm concerned, the Pope is the biggest superstar on the planet and he is making the most money.

And merchandising.

And merchandising. I don't care what anyone says, it's eternally shocking to me how people cannot, or don't want to see through it.

I think that kind of denial is indoctrinated at a young age. Kids are taught to unquestioningly trust the clergy. These are the people who are ordained to be your connection with God because you aren't smart enough or pure enough to recognize that connection yourself. You must go through them, listen to them, trust them, and obey them unquestionably.

What is God? To give part of it away, the song is about priests preying on... victims. Primarily, the obvious things. I'm addressing it because as far as I've concerned I think its high time people started swinging the ax. through my own personal experience, I mean I've been on the streets since I was 12 years old, and as an adult my biggest pet peeves are pedophiles. Its the only thing on the planet that I become instantly violent about. An adult is an adult, I don't think it matters what two consenting adults do, they can make a choice.

The issue of trust is on an equal basis.

Yes, exactly, but when it comes to children - it's like if it were legal I would run around and shoot every pedophile on the planet. Having been a victim of it a number of times, having made a living off them. It's just where I come from, so its something that I know a lot about.

What do you mean, make a living off them?

I was on the street by the time I was 12, that's how I made my living.

Ever dealt with any priests?

Yes, actually I did. At this point, if I wrote a book I could ruin half of Hollywood. I was 12 years old, and I needed to make money for survival on the street. It served its purpose for me and probably kept me alive. At the same time, who in their right mind fucks a 12 year old? That's something as an adult I still have a conflict with. On the one hand it saved me from a violent home life, on the other hand, that in and of itself it almost killed me too. it had its very positive side and had its very negative side. I am the only person that I know of out of almost every peer I had at that time that is alive. This had nothing to do with AIDS or disease, it had to do with lifestyle. People preying on kids, drugs, you name it. They were all unnatural deaths. I just sit sometimes, not believing that I'm even here.

There has been rumors several years back of child-sex ring operations being used as blackmail for politicians and diplomats.

You'd be surprised. I had sex with high political people when I was 14 years old.

Where they good tippers?

Uh yes, but they did what all of them did, used you an d then threw you away like a Kleenex. I don't think any child should ever have to be subjected to that. I was subjected to that as a young child even in my home life, so to go out on the street and just keep being used like a Kleenex, you know it's something that as an adult... it's probably the reason I am a performer. It's that need for somebody's approval. Somewhere deep down, somebody to tell you that you are doing the right thing.

So, in a way, that song is an effort to balance the karmic and psychic scales for you?

Totally, I mean all over the album there's that kind of stuff. I like to keep things hidden deeply in metaphor. Like I said, I don't want this to become some fucking therapy session, I want it to still be a song that if someone want s to give it a happier perspective than that, they can, and I welcome it. It doesn't have to mean to them what it does to me. It can be something different.

The track, "New Man" seems to reflect that as well. Who is the New Man?

That was me, totally. that song, which delves into my background in theater and performance, was written specifically for the thing that I do coming out of the chrome egg, naked, sexless. People who have heard about it but haven't seen it assume I did it for shock value. That wasn't the case at all, ever. We wrote that song and it was like a celebration in a lot of ways. Everyone who was there and saw it, got it, but people who've only heard hearsay about it, all they hear is that I come out of an egg naked. They don't get it.

The firsts time I did it was at SqueezeBox! You could see the look on people's faces, they were just dumbfounded by what they were seeing, they were wild about it. It was new and different, glamorous and artistic done from a little different perspective. Someone was actually putting some thought behind a rock n' roll show again. It was incorporating theater with rock n' roll. I hope to really develop that skill because it worked really, really well.

The image of someone coming out of a silver egg is metaphorically linked to an alien coming out of a saucer.


Do you have an affinity for outer space and aliens?

No, I've just always felt like one.

Well, you may in fact be one.

you never know. I try not to second guess myself anymore. "New Man" was, in my mind, somewhere between that and birth. I wrote the lyrics "New man rises like a phoenix, through the sunshine and rain." it was my statement that I've come back in a different form after going through what I went through years ago.

There's something I've got to ask you about...

I know what you are going to ask, but go ahead anyway.

On MTV News, Entertainment Tonight and in The New York Press, there were reports that you had cut off your own penis. Do you want to comment on it at all?

Unfortunately, no. To set the record straight? I'm a little unhappy that it's out there. Like I said, I feel a great sense of responsibility to the audience, especially kids. First of all, anyone who has seen me do the live show and seen me do the egg knows about it. The show is geared for people who can deal with it, an over 21 audience. I don't feel that it's appropriate for... well, I'm not going to be doing it at Lollapalooza because it's a much younger audience.

I never want someone to think that some of the things I've done in my life are cool for them to go out and do, when they haven't had the same experiences that I have. I have to be very careful about that kind of stuff. I've very important that I don't send out the wrong signals. I'm belittling it right now. I should, because it's all the mainstream media are talking about. Anybody who wants to come to Psychotica's "adult" shows knows the deal so it's not a big secret, it never has been a secret, not a big deal at all. In fact, I've incorporated things like that into my show, but, well I'm trying to do things with some class. They're going to pick at me no mater what I do. Anything as extreme as what I am, personality-wise, they want to sit there and pick it apart and figure it out, but they can't, ever! They shouldn't even try, 'cause it's far too scary for them to try and get inside of my head, so they shouldn't. Just look at what I do on stage.

If it is really that scary inside of your head, how do you deal with those fears?

I have totally made peace with a lot of it. At this point I feel like I'm embracing the things I've always wanted out of life. Through certain situations and things that maybe weren't so great that I've done with my life, it's made me welcome this kind of stuff all that much more. The fact that I'm going on a great tour, that I happen to like the record I've made the movie I'm in.... I'm happy with that stuff and feeling very gratified these days. No matter what they say about me, they can not pick that apart.

You aren't going to start singing "My Way" in Frank Sinatra drag now are you?

Look, in the picture, I came from selling my ass on the street, to walking on the main stage at Lollapalooza this year, so anything that some gossip columnist exposed, some facet of my life, anything they could possibly say to me is really small potatoes. Really, I couldn't care less. The bottom line is that I'm not having to sell myself for a cheeseburger to eat today, or having a gun held to my head, or having a needle sticking out of my arm or any of that stuff any more.

You've successfully integrated those parts of your self and your life completely into your stage persona?

I've incorporated all parts of my life into it. What they see on stage, they may perceive as theater or gimmicky, but it is in fact, me drawing from all areas of my life. I really don't think I'm talented enough to be somebody else. Other people can do it differently but I'm very limited that way. I can only draw from facets of my own life.

What is the experience that you want people to get from the music on the new album or from a live Psychotica show?

I don't think it's all that deep. I don't think I'm talented enough to change the face of music or anything like that, but if I can wedge the door open a crack for someone else to move in and change the face of music, that would be awesome. I'm just trying to do like we did with Squeeze Box!, light the fuse, stand back, and watch it explode. With all of the hoopla about Psychotica, I'm still up against the testosterone boys club. I have to deal with it, usually on a business level, 'cause those guys totally control what we hear and see and if it threatens them in any way, even if they're making money off it, they'll do anything in their power to stop it.

Your life is a testament to survival which is, I think, what everyone ultimately is concerned with. It may not be on the level of, "Am I going to have to sell my body for a cheeseburger?", it may just be, "Can I pay the rent or taxes?" As an example, you've evolved yourself out of some very extreme situations and not only have survived, but seem to be thriving.

I'm totally thriving. I'm in fact thriving a lot more than a lot of "normal people" and it's maybe because of everything I dealt with when I was younger. In some ways I'm very old and I've done, in a short period of time, what it takes a lot of people 60 years to do. Now I feel like I can enjoy the ride. I got through all of the hard stuff, though I'm sure it's not gone completely.

I totally feel a great deal of responsibility about letting kids know that I was on the street and I made it out, achieved some goals and changed. I've taken my life over and made what I wanted out of it. If nothing else, that is an important message to send to kids no matter where you come from or what your lifestyle consists of, your life is totally your own to do with as you please. It's a corny thing. No mountain is too high to climb. If I had made a list 15 years ago of all the things I wanted out of life, I would have totally short changed myself, no now I wake up every day and try not to have too many preconceived ideas of where I'm going to go with things. I just try and let it happen more and more. the older I get, the more I just let it happen.

Psychotica are appearing on the main stage at Lollapalooza '96 on July 10 and 11 at Randall's Island in New York City. Their self-titled album has just been released on Ventrue/American Records. - Aquarian


Pandemic 2008
Espinia 1998
Pschotica s/t 1996



Imagine a band who gets signed to a major label after their first rehearsal, is invited to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at their first gig and asked to play Lollapalooza at their second. Sound totally crazy? But it all happened to the New York group Psychotica.

Psychotica started early in 1994 in a small downtown club in New York City called Don Hill's, managed by one Patrick Briggs. Briggs' own life story could fill a book (at this point a movie is actually being discussed). Born in Southern California, he was drawn to the theater at a young age, making his stage debut at the age of 8 in a community theater version of "The Seven Year Itch". He ran away in his early teens to escape an abusive home and supported himself hustling on the streets through his teenage years. He credits prostitution with having saved his life, remarking that otherwise he might not have escaped alive. He eventually pulled himself together & kicked a serious drug habit.

promo picture of Psychotica Even after all he's been through he lives without regrets. "I don't think I'll ever get rid of a lot of that stuff. In some ways I hope I don't because it sort of carved me into who I am now. It's not a bad thing anymore. Now it has helped me do something positive. Had I been an accountant in LA instead of a prostitute, I probably wouldn't be doing what I am now and be as happy as I am."

From LA he moved to Hawaii and worked as a dancer in hotels (in his words "sort of tacky-choreographed Solid Gold type shows"), then moved with a friend to NYC where he danced at the Pyramid and the Cat Club (owned by Don Hill) and bartended at Mars.

He worked his way up to managing Don's next club while pursuing his ambition of starting a band. Unfortunately at this time the metal "big hair bands" were at their peak in popularity, and Pat made his biggest mistake in allowing the record companies who signed him to completely mold him into what they wanted him to be. He constantly struggled with the A&R reps who wanted to tone down his personality and repress his sexuality, constantly telling him "you can't be too wild". His glam metal outfit R U Ready narrowly missed record releases with several companies, including Mechanic, which went under eight weeks before their album was set to debut. Pat describes this period as the lowest point in his life; ashamed that he'd let others take control of his life, he essentially locked himself in his house for a year and set about reinventing himself.

Enter Michael Schmidt, a talented young fashion designer who'd worked for the likes of Madonna and co-managed Don Hill's. Briggs and Schmidt set up a partnership & took over the club every Friday night to create their own ongoing party. They gathered a post punk house band and invited local drag queens to sing along and MC the affair-- and so SqueezeBox was born. It attracted a hip stylish crowd of widely-mixed gender preferences looking for entertainment on the cutting edge, as well as performers like Joey Ramone, Green Day, Marc Almond, Courtney Love and Debbie Harry. And always one to juggle a number of projects at once, Pat also joined the original cast of the then unknown off-Broadway musical Rent - a present-day Lower East Side update of La Boheme - playing the part of Professor Tom Collins.

Tommy Salmorin, a bartender at Don Hill's, kept urging Pat to start a band with him to perform at SqueezeBox, but Pat, soured by the music industry, steadfastly resisted until Tommy assured him that it would be "just for fun". So on July 22, 1994 to provide another act for Squeezebox they got some musician friends together and gave their first performance as Psychotica. Squeezebox mistress of ceremonies Misstress Formicka introduced them to the crowd and Pat was carried through the audience strapped to a cross amidst wild strobe lights, clad only in "pants" of clear saran wrap and thigh high blue glitter platform boots. They opened with "This Town" (originally performed by the Go-Gos) and their short set included covers old New Wave hits by Bow Wow Wow ("I Want Candy"), and X Ray Spex ("Oh Bondage, Up Yours!") along with some early originals.

They enjoyed themselves so much they decided to write some original material and chose the name Psychotica after a song Pat had written. Between the two of them they knew plenty of interested musicians. Tommy brought in two guys he'd been in a punk band called Youth Gone Mad with - drummer Buz and guitarist Ena Kostabi, who'd been the original guitarist for White Zombie in their infancy. (He appears on their first 7" "Gods on Voodoo Moon")

* Pat invited along Enrique Tiru-Velez, a talented cellist from a classical music conservatory and completely traditional music background. Enrique had caught Pat's attention a few years prior when he'd booked Enrique's previous band Nine Ways to Sunday. Nine Ways had been an eclectic ensemble also consisting of former members of art-rock band Polyrock and soon-to-be Nine