CELEBRITY SKIN

Country USA

Style Glam/Punk/Hard Rock

Celebrity+SkinCelebrity Skin had its roots in Los Angeles hardcore band the Germs (band). Following the death of Darby Crash and subsequent breakup of the Germs in 1980, Germs guitaristPat Smear eventually formed the band Vagina Dentata with former Crash girlfriend Michelle Bell on vocals, bassist Tim Ferris, and drummer Gary Jacoby. Vagina Dentata recorded a version of the song “Golden Boys”, reputedly one of the last songs co-written by Darby Crash before his death, and a number that would become a Celebrity Skin staple for many years.

Following the breakup of Vagina Dentata in 1985, Ferris and Jacoby recruited guitarist Robert Haas (formerly of the band Endless Banana) to form Celebrity Skin. Their first gig was reputedly a backyard performance for some graduating Caltech students, and was characterized by multiple costume changes and drum solos to flesh out their 15-minute set. At this point, Celebrity Skin did not have a regular drummer, and instead went through a number of drummers (supposedly 27), including, the “Little Matador” and Cujo. Jazz fusion guitarist John Goodsall of the progressive rock bands Atomic Rooster and Brand X was also briefly a member.

Due to their raucous, prop- and costume-filled live shows, they were eventually banned from every club in Hollywood, and subsequently relocated to San Francisco, at which point former Verbal Abuse (band) guitarist Jason Shapiro joined as second lead guitarist. They experienced similar difficulties in San Francisco, where they again were banned from a number of clubs due to their outrageous stage shows. One infamous show took place at the V.I.S. Club on Divisadero Street a week before Christmas.(Date Needed). Photographer and artist Tony Millionaire created a mechanical sleigh pulled by 4 skinned goat heads. The sleigh had a bull’s penis in it and the heads rocked back and forth feigning motion. The show was shut down prematurely by the owner, and the animal parts were callously thrown into the street. The next day the penis and heads were discovered off Hayes Street. Shortly thereafter the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story of “possible ritual animal sacrifice”. (SF Chron date needed).

After Cujo left the band they were united with another Germs alumnus, drummer Don Bolles, who had also played with Vox Pop and 45 Grave following the breakup of the Germs. At this point, Celebrity Skin focused on the music and costumes, and toned down the more sensational aspects of their stage act. In 1988 they recorded their cover of “SOS” by ABBA for the SST Records compilation The Melting Plot. By 1989 they were one of LA’s top live acts, and stories about the band appeared in the Los Angeles Times and in the hardcore magazine Flipside.

In 1989 the band began negotiations with the German record label LSD Records, which had recently signed the LA retro-alternative bands Thee Fourgiven and the Miracle Workers, to go to Berlin and record an album. Negotiations fell through, however, when the band discovered that the record label had only purchased them one-way plane tickets. At the same time, they were evicted from their apartments and forced to live in “The Celebrity Suites”, a suite of offices above a dance studio overlooking Hollywood Boulevard; and adjacent to the offices of Rock City News. However, in April 1989 they were soon evicted from these as well and forced to find other accommodations.

In late 1989–early 1990, Celebrity Skin signed with LA-based record company Triple X Records. Triple X Records, founded in 1986 by Dean Naleway and Peter Heur, had developed a reputation for signing first wave hardcore bands like D.I. and Rhino 39, and had recently achieved much success by releasing Jane’s Addiction’s first album. It was hoped that Triple X could do for Celebrity Skin what had been done for Jane’s Addiction, i.e., to take a highly popular local band and record a debut album that would allow them to reach a larger following, resulting in a major label deal. Celebrity Skin joined a stable of other popular LA live acts, including Liquid Jesus, Inland Empires Funky Junkies, Pigmy Love Circus, the Ultras (formerly the Ultraviolets), on the Triple X label and would do many shows with these other bands.

In early 1990 Celebrity Skin recorded a four-song self-titled EP which was produced by producer and former Sparks guitarist Earle Mankey, who had previously produced albums byThe Runaways, The Dickies, and The Three O’Clock. The EP was recorded in Mankey’s Thousand Oaks house and was released in April 1990. Throughout 1990 the band played a number of gigs at LA clubs the Roxy Theatre (West Hollywood) and the Whisky a Go Go with such other acts as Liquid Jesus, L.A.P.D. (aka KORN), the Ultraviolets, Haunted Garage, Tender Fury, the Miracle Workers, Thelonious Monster, Steel Pole Bath Tub, and Babes In Toyland (band). Celebrity Skin toured the US in 1990 as the opening band for Psychic TV.

In early 1991, the band recorded their first long-playing album, entitled Good Clean Fun, in Hollywood, which was released in April 1991. The album was produced by long-time punk producer Geza X (who had produced albums by Germs (band), the Weirdos, Black Flag (band) and the Dead Kennedys). The album showcased the band’s progressively greater pop direction but didn’t sell well.

The members of Celebrity Skin typically dressed either in female drag or in elaborate costumes that included body paint, platform shoes, wigs, furs, crowns, lederhosen, feather boas, glitter, longjohns, cheerleader outfits, spacesuits, and tuxedos. Theme shows were a feature of Celebrity Skin’s performances. They included a gig for which each member of the band dressed as a different cast member of The Wizard of Oz. Bassist Tim Ferris had long blond (occasionally green) dreadlocks and singer Gary Jacoby at times sported two different hair colors. The musicians would often take on different fictional personalities both on stage as well as off. Bassist Ferris took this to the extreme, and he would transform himself for days. Memorable Tim Ferris alter-egos were; “Fred McMercury” (a strange combination of Fred MacMurray and Freddie Mercury), “Polyester-Man” (a 70’s sleeze-ball complete with three piece suit and disco hair), and “Mountain-Man” (a rough and tumble fella from the Ozarks with a Coon-Skin hat, and buck-skin coat, pants, and boots). Gary Jacoby was known to have shown up for a gig dressed as Pinocchio.

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In 1990, Celebrity Skin were playing in New York, touring with former 45 Graves bassist Rob Graves (who was helping them out on the road), when he was discovered dead of an overdose in the back of the tour van. Throughout 1991, Celebrity Skin continued to play local gigs in support of their album, playing at such clubs as Club Lingerie, Gazzarri’s, and the Roxy in Los Angeles; the Kennel Club in San Francisco; and Bogart’s in Long Beach, with such supporting acts as Tad (band), L7 (band), Helmet (band), Tiny Tim (musician), Green Jello, the Dickies, Theater Carnivale, Ethyl Meatplow, Shonen Knife, Permanent Green Light, the Muffs, and the Ultras.

On August 24, 1991 they played the Splattering of Tribes Festival in the desert outside Indio, California, with such acts as Lead Corpse, the Rails, Liquid Jesus, Sort of Quartet, Pigmy Love Circus, Haunted Garage, the Stains, DC3, Suplex Slam, Porno Sponges, and Dead Corpse. In October 1991, Celebrity Skin did a tour of the United States opening for the glam metal band L.A. Guns. Chuck Mosley from Faith No More traveled with them helping out on the road.

On December 4, 1991 Celebrity Skin played a show at the Shark Club in Hollywood with Pigmy Love Circus and the Saddletramps, 10 days after the death of Queen (band) vocalistFreddie Mercury. The gig would turn out to be their final one, and the next week the band’s breakup due to internal tensions was announced in the LA Weekly.

Despite their enormous popularity in the LA alternative club scene, Celebrity Skin never managed to achieve mainstream success. Their glam, ’70s-influenced look, melodic hooks, and feel-good lyrics set them apart from the then-popular grunge movement, which emphasized stripped-down attire (typically jeans and flannel shirts), heavy and frequently atonal music, and angry lyrics. In addition, because of their glam look and sound, they were frequently lumped in with 80s glam metal bands such as Poison (band) andWarrant despite having little musically in common with these acts.

Following the breakup of Celebrity Skin, the various members moved on to other music-related pursuits. According to AllMusic, guitarist Jason Shapiro formed the band Threeway (still in existence as of late 2011) also currently playing with Redd Kross, and bassist Tim Ferris formed Big Baby, and later reputedly joined the Cramps. Lead singer Gary Jacoby released a second CD as a member of the Death Folk with former Germ Pat Smear, and a solo album under the name of Gary Celebrity, Diary of a Monster, which contained the former Celebrity Skin songs “Fairies To London”, “Golden Boys”, “Gods”, “Hobos”, and “Life’s a Gas”. Drummer Don Bolles was a disc jockey for the Los Angeles radio stationKDLD, where he had a regular and long-running show called The All-Night Truck Driver’s Show and played in the occasional 45 Grave reunion show. In 2006, in answer to the favorable response to the Germs biopic What We Do Is Secret (film), Bolles, guitarist Pat Smear and bassist Lorna Doom reunited the LA hardcore band the Germs with the actor who played deceased singer Darby Crash, Shane West, taking over on vocals. Bolles currently plays with the group Fancy Space People.

In August 2005, Celebrity Skin posted a page on the MySpace web site and as of April 2010 had 962 friends. On October 6, 2007, all five members of Celebrity Skin reunited for the second annual LA Weekly Detour Music Festival in downtown Los Angeles and were enthusiastically received by the crowd; a number of videos of this performance (as well as a few from their heyday) are available on YouTube. As of August 2008 they have posted no information regarding future shows.

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– Celebrity Skin [1990]
– Good Clean Fun [1991]

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CELEBRITY SKIN, 8.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings