The Last Unwanted Caress: On Getting Groped at Danzig

Pink merch being sold does not necessarily mean Danzig's female fans will go unaccosted at his shows...quite the contrary.
Pink merch being sold does not necessarily mean Danzig's female fans will go unaccosted at his shows...quite the contrary.

Glenn Danzig is a front man like no other who has single-handedly crafted not only a devoted cult following but also an entire music subculture. A man absorbed by his mission, he is the driving force behind the horror- fueled dark spectacle of all projects attached to his name: The Misfits, Samhain, Danzig (I-IV), Verotik Publishing and Plan 9 Records.

That kind of creative power certainly demands respect, or at least a friendly nod toward the satanic circus that is the Danzig conglomeration. He is responsible for a subgenre of punk and metal all to himself that can really only be described to the casual inquisitor as, “If Elvis and Satan had a child together…”

Certainly comical caricatures are to be expected from such a union, and naturally Danzig’s Verotik comics fits the bill for any lover of satanic, sex-fueled anime. On a hot night earlier this month at Houston's Bayou Music Center, the merch table displayed copies of the Verotik title Satanica, whose covers exposed the erotica and gore drawings that have made them famous. Along with shirts, hats and hoodies of deviant symbolism, images of sex and death, and new this year just for women — Danzig’s signature horned skull in pink.

Laugh if you will at Danzig's well-known eccentricities, but his music is adored by many fans and musicians alike. It’s no secret the likes of Metallica and Johnny Cash have sought out his songwriting abilities.

Add to that talent a voice with sweeping baritone range and an uncanny ability to howl, yell and sing all in one lyric is truly a musical talent feat. Watching this man snap the microphone cord around his back and in his signature style and shout into the mike sideways fashion while stomping around is the live energy that is uniquely Danzig. He is a living legend, displaying his own legacy of brutality onstage.

And that brutality showed itself in Houston when the sound system continually failed. This is also a performer infamously known for his attitude of zero fucks given at any time. And when the monitors failed to work, Danzig let the venue know of his utter distaste. Unfortunately, there were sound problems from the moment he took center stage. Even the opener, Pennywise, experienced a sound-system meltdown of their own when the guitar sound dropped out altogether. Always the optimist, front man Jim Lindberg “bass solo” attempted to laugh off the sound struggles by calling the silence a “bass solo.”

Yet Danzig is not a laughing kind of guy. Sparing no feelings, making his opinion widely known, barking into the microphone, “These [monitors] are blown! Replace ‘em before I kick them off the stage. I don’t give a fuck. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.”

Despite his threats and promises of violence althogether unfulfilled, Danzig began to speak about his future musical plans, while sound system engineers feverishly worked to please the musical demon, “I’m working on a project now, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. An album of covers. Would you like to hear some?”

And with that, he broke into an Elvis cover, deeply perverse and much darker than the original, and then more covers (despite dying applause and shouts for Misfits songs). True to his talent and form each cover was phenomenal. His gorgeous, deep, rich voice covered the lyrics perfectly. Not one note off, his dynamic ability to take a song and truly make it his own in his impressive style was completely evident….all for a man who celebrated his 60th year in 2015.

...Wait. While I’d love to explain more about this show, I can’t. After several open gropes, some too-close-for-comfort full-body pass-bys, and other hands that just seemed to find my breasts and butt, I left. Yes, I left.

We’ve all been there. Two tickets to a show and a wingman gone missing. Texts explained the usual excuse-inspired drivel that accompanies such flaky behavior: “Dude, sorry, I gotta work tmrw, my boss is killing us right now…” Blah, blah. It’s 2015. I’m an adult. I can go to a show alone, right? I happen to be a female...who paid more than $70 to see the one and only Glenn Danzig. So what? Adult females go out alone in public all the time. “Man up,” I told my vagina.

Danzig's tour bus outside Bayou Music Center earlier this month
Danzig's tour bus outside Bayou Music Center earlier this month
Photo by Kristy Loye

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I arrived late enough to miss the Cancer Bats' entire set and early enough to find the smoking porch crowded with loud, leather-clad loiterers. Lingering between vape clouds and Marlboros was the roughest and rowdiest of the Houston music fanbase: bikers, tatted gang members, and blue-collar metalheads fresh from work and ready to mosh. Yet despite this crowd’s sharp edges, I felt an affinity for them. This is Houston. This is home. I’ve been to countless shows in this city and undoubtedly shared audience space with the majority of these Bayou City residents. I felt no trepidation whatsoever as I walk into the venue just in time to hear the opening song of Pennywise’s set.

I pushed forward like any self-respecting fan, and listened as Pennywise broke into Bad Religion’s “Do What You Want,” then “Society,” at which the crowd lost their minds. A mosh pit opened amid the many calls from guitarist Fletcher Dragge, “Come on, you CRAZY MOTHERFUCKERS!” and Lindberg’s persistent yet effective “Houston, make some NOISE!”

And then, I found myself between sets hearing the phrase I coached myself in the car to deflect: “Are you here alone?” Insert record-scratch noise here. “Of course I’m not here alone. That’s silly. My 6’4” Harris County Sheriff husband of 15 years is actually in the bathroom now, doing some chinups over the stall and simultaneously cleaning his firearm.”

Is what I should have said. Yet after my third alleged grope, I was at a loss. Do I leave? That’s silly. I have every right to be here. I’ve done nothing wrong. Do I call an officer over? Which guy is it? Who knows? Should I snap a pic with my phone as I feel a hand and risk a headlock from Mr. Anti-Photography, Danzig himself?

Now, I could coach all music-loving women to take heed, find that dependable wingman at any cost, bring a stun gun, or just stay home. Yet, music is art. Music is community, and live music is that community at its best. By its nature, music is celebratory and in that regard alone, everyone is invited to the party. Even me. How about instead of instituting a house arrest on lone-wolf females like myself, Houston boys play nice? Act the way you were raised and keep your damn hands to yourself. Rock is not a male-exclusive club. Let me support the artists I like – in person – and just show a lady some respect. 

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