A sociological experiment: What happens when a mosh pit full of punk-crazed hipsters is confronted with a bare-naked hoochie on the stage in front of them? Frenetic thrashing-for-the-sake-of-thrashing becomes a shoving match with only one goal -- a better view. This and many other Situationist propositions (e.g., if you put a row of doughnuts on napkins at the foot of the stage with no further instructions, will people eat them?) can be observed on Sunday nights at Houston's latest and most novel venue for local bands, The Pink Pussycat.
Robert Thoth, bassist for Prison Rodeo and Triple Hi Fi, has made a business arrangement with one of Houston's oldest (and down-at-the-heels-est) nudie-girl clubs. He says the club's unapologetically sleazy decor (red brocade wallpaper, dirty carpets, disco balls) seemed perfect for the noise rock of Stoma, the high jinks of the Flaming Hellcats and the ripped machismo of Träctor Fäction -- all of whom have played at the Pussycat since Thoth started booking whatever "really hard and loud bands" he could find to play on Sunday nights, when the Pussycat would otherwise be closed.
On a recent night, tattooed Spunk front man Tod Waters did his best naughty boy act -- no shirt, vinyl pants unzipped to reveal a pubeless V, rude cracks about "back-door sushi" -- but he didn't get nearly as naked or naughty as his on-stage partner, whom I'll call "Dreamgirl" because that's what it said in cursive script on the threadbare tank top she whisked off. The tank was paired with a bedraggled satin cheerleader skirt, straight off the set of the Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video.
Thoth says the Pussycat ladies will gamely dance to whatever he puts on stage, albeit, as in the case of Stoma's migraine-inducing industrial buzz, "with very confused looks on their faces." But he's trying to branch out of the hardcore arena by booking bands like saccharine-sweet Junior Varsity and all-grrrl alternagroup Marble Jar. Thoth says that while some bands complain about the whole objectification-of-women thang, "it's mostly bleeding-heart little boys, and they don't have the right to complain because they've never done it....
"Women don't really have a problem with it," Thoth says. "It just goes to show how really in tune and intelligent women musicians are. They know it's an angle; everybody's got to make money."
At nude entertainment establishments -- be they of the full or partial variety -- the frisson of sex is sweetened by the rummy taboo of money changing hands. The more, as they say, the merrier. Thoth's brainstorm has increased the Pussycat's profits by 20 percent, he claims, so everyone's happier, and -- as long as they remember to tip -- customers reap the benefits of the good vibes.
By the time Spunk was finished, one cavorting audience member was clutching a pair of ceramic hands (which Dreamgirl had abused for her own pleasure) to his head like a set of antlers. Dreamgirl, who somehow had gotten herself covered in canned spinach, was in dire need of a shower. Anyone who had brought a date was making out, and two vintage-clothed babes who hadn't even come in together fell onto the floor mid-kiss.
"Miss Darlin'," one slurred noncommittally to the other as she picked herself up, "I want your number." The other straightened her bright pink wig and replied, as if she were agreeing to disclose her favorite party dip recipe, "Of course."
-- Shaila Dewan
The Pink Pussycat is located at 3136 Richmond. Because the club is all nude, patrons pay $10 if they're men, $5 if they're women, and must bring their own beer or liquor regardless of their gender. Fatal Flying Guillotines and Junior Varsity play January 10; Billy Club and Spunk play January 17; and Donkey Punch plays January 24. Call 524-591 for more information.