Doesn't Anyone Get Naked Anymore? In Houston, Yes
Just like you like it: The Jack-Onz get it their way.
One of the observations Rocks Off has heard a lot over the years is, "What do David Bowie's kids do to rebel?" The meaning behind that is obvious. As we rocketed towards the end of the last millennium, the boundary of what is shocking was pushed to a point where nothing short of death would rouse the world's musical libido. Audiences had become audacity junkies whose tolerance to their drug had reached the point that only a fatal dose could supply the high they craved. Thus are we in the middle, though hopefully edging to the end, of the faux-purity movement led by the Jonases and the Cyruses. Sexual rebellion/gratification through denial is nothing new, and in a way no less extreme, but Rocks Off hungers for the days of the opposite approach. Any discussion of sex revolution in rock in Houston must begin with the legendary punk rockers the Jack Onz. When Rocks Off was in high school, the lurid tales of the band's antics were whispered as certain impossibilities. "The Jack Onz had sex onstage and everything," says former KPFT DJ Rad Rich. "Sad for me, the whore they had onstage with would not even give me the time of day. Those guys were funny as shit. They beat each other with belts, bled onstage, went nude, fought the crowd, etc. They showed porn movies onstage and were the GG Allin of Houston when they were around."By all accounts, the Jack Onz's music was terrible; the appeal was the legend that grew up around their antics. The one that was most whispered to Rocks Off was that they had taken a set of explicit pictures of singer Forest (real name Patrick Dillon) with a Jack in the Box head receiving fellatio from a girl dressed as fast-food chain mascot Wendy, and distributed them at shows as a set of trading cards. After a decade of disbelief in so naughty an artifact, Mike Simon of Rockin' Robin was able to put to of these Holy Grails of Houston shock-rock into our hands for public consumption. Ultimately, the madness of such an act could not be contained. As a joke, Forest faked his own death, which much of the Houston music scene found to be very unfunny. Years later, there was still enough bad blood about it that he was nominated for our "Most Hated Musician in Houston" article. Nights in jail and a ban from most clubs due to the mess the band tended to leave behind further derailed live performances. "Tragic the way things ended with those guys," lamented Jeremy Hart of local music Web site SpaceCityRock.com. "Forrest was a good friend before he pulled the whole faked-death thing and alienated everybody. After he left town for Austin, he tried to make the Jack-Onz thing into a documentary movie of sorts. Unfortunately, he committed suicide a year or two ago up in Austin."
Bad Moon Rising: 10th Grade Cutie's Rex prefers to play al fresco.
The natural inheritor of the Jack-Onz's contribution to the world of nudity and mayhem is Houston's own 10th Grade Cutie. Few local bands in Houston can claim the same reputation as the punk gurus, but by his own admission, Rex Nabours III hasn't played a show fully clothed in years, often rocking out in nothing but a pair of boots. This minimizes the cleanup of blood, feces, sweat and other things at the end of the night, enabling Rex to easily feel fresh as a daisy once the hum of the amplifiers ceases. Nabours denies any artistic pretensions are behind his sexual expression, claiming to simply enjoy being able to get away with it. "Prolonged adolescence is a recurring theme of American pop culture that will probably never go away," he says. The Sporatics and Clockpole are some more of Houston's musical nudists, taking the opportunity to shed their clothes whenever it feels ridiculous enough. "I'm a photographer," says Joe Ortiz of Clockpole. "I've shot friends either fully nude or near-nude. To me, it's not a big deal but I do understand that there is something about a naked person, male or female, that gets a reaction from people. That said, there is a difference in seeing a photo of someone with no clothes on and in seeing a person in a public place with no clothes on." Though often shocking, such behavior is usually seems as harmless fun, innocent in a dirty kind of way. But it can still lead to people reacting violently. During a Breast Cancer Benefit Concert at Galveston's Crazy Oaks, Ortiz was beaten by four bikers who considered his behavior disrespectful.
Sorry, we have no idea how Clockpole got its name.
The Born Liars also experienced some severe retaliation for playing in their birthday suits at Trash Bar in Humble on May 8. As one observer reported, the band got "nekkid and amorously gay onstage" during the show. This prompted outraged patrons to cave in the roof of the drummer's car, slash two tires and break off the side mirrors. Nor was the morally outraged mob content with vandalism. "At the end of the set, one of them was pacing back and forth saying, 'I'm gonna get you' over and over again," says Liars bassist Bill Fool. "So I threw my bass off, grabbed him by the neck and punched him in the face repeatedly until I was dragged off of him. Then Jimmy [Sanchez, guitar/vocals] jumped off stage and continued hitting the guy. After he ran away is when we noticed the car." Fool chocks the reaction up to homophobia, and has no plans to alter Born Liars' performance style. Thus is a legacy founded on the likes of Wendy O. Williams, Iggy Pop, Shannon Hoon and others continues to fare well in H-Town. Although the radio waves are currently heavy with virtue, an orgy of nude rock continues for those who wish to partake.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.