Can a GG Allin documentary be heartwarming? This one sure tries

GG-Allin-All-in-the-Family

Before I watched GG Allin: All in the Family on Showtime this week, I was pretty sure that the world really didn’t need another documentary about punk rock’s most notorious jockstrap-wearing, poop-flinging dickhead. Todd Phillips’ Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, released in 1993 just before his death, did a pretty comprehensive job of summing up everything that was both appalling and fascinating about GG Allin‘s transgressive behavior and confrontational live shows. He came, he saw, he sang a few songs, threw a few punches, pissed on the stage, went home and died of a heroin overdose. The end. Right?

Well, no. What makes GG Allin: All in the Family worth watching is that it focuses less on the megalomaniacal asshole behind such eternally offensive hardcore classics as “Bite It You Scum” and “Expose Yourself to Kids” and more on how his family and his band, the Murder Junkies, have dealt with his legacy. Along the way, you meet Allin’s sweet but prickly mother, Arleta; his brother, Merle, who played with GG in the Murder Junkies while he was alive and has kept the band limping along in the decades since his death; and the Murder Junkies’ longtime drummer, Donald “Dino” Sachs, who even more than Merle (who, let’s be honest, seems more interested in cashing in on his brother’s reputation than embodying it) might be the closest thing GG has a true acolyte, a guy who even into his fifties (sixties?) still plays naked and obligingly lets fans jam drumsticks up his ass at every show.

I realize it’s probably a stretch to call a movie that features drumstick ass-play (and plenty of footage of GG himself, naked, bloodied and picking fights with his fans) “heartwarming” — and many will probably find the inhabitants of Sami Saif’s film as dislikable as the man whose shit-smeared shadow looms over everything they do. But I found it hard not to be touched by how devoted, in spite of everything, these misfits remain to honoring their fallen son, brother and bandmate. Merle and Dino cycle through a revolving door of hapless lead singers who can never hope to replicated GG’s onstage antics, and trudge through gigs at shit-hole punk-rock clubs where half the crowd is there hoping to see a trainwreck, not a concert. Arleta guards GG’s grave in rural New Hampshire from marauding fans — until the church where he’s buried finally locks it away to prevent further desecrations. “You don’t want people coming from Canada to piss and shit all over your grave,” an exasperated Arleta declares at one point — which is a fair statement, even though it’s probably also fair of GG Allin fans to assume that pissing and shitting on their hero’s headstone is an appropriate way to pay their respects.

GG Allin: All in the Family was originally released in 2017 until the title The Allins; you can watch a trailer on the film’s original website. It now appears to be a Showtime exclusive, which means you need to be subscribed to their cable channels or their streaming app to view the whole thing. Watch it at your own risk. Until then, here’s Merle hyping its release from a year ago:

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Weird Live Review: GWAR

I’m really glad one of the last things I did before Election Day was go see GWAR. This is a band, after all, that “heartily cried for the destruction” of all candidates earlier this year, and who bookended their set at the Hollywood House of Blues by bloodily decapitating stand-ins for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Deep in the throes of election fatigue as I was, it was a pretty cathartic way to spend the first Sunday in November.

I can’t really tell you much else about my first GWAR experience that the photos don’t say for me. (Jake, sadly, couldn’t make it, but he did loan me his vintage ’80s GWAR T-shirt so I wouldn’t get stomped in the mosh pit.) I’ll just note that in addition to Romney and Obama, Oderus and co. also dismembered Hitler, Jesus and Super Cyborg Jesus (that’s SCJ in the photo above, pre-dismemberment), and for their encore, they fed about a dozen lucky fans into a giant meat grinder. You know, family entertainment.

I’ll also note that, as a GWAR newb, I was not fully prepared for just how much fake blood (and fake green god-monster jizz, spurted from Oderus’ enormous god-monster phallus) they hose down their audience with. By the end of the show, the stuff was practically ankle-deep on the floor. I probably should gotten close enough to get doused—GWAR rite of passage and all—but I pussed out because, frankly, they mostly sprayed the mosh pit and I would not have lasted five seconds in that seething mass of flailing elbows and sweaty crowd-surfers. I’m old and I’m pretty sure my crappy insurance would consider “attends metal shows” to be a pre-existing condition.

Anyway, a rowdy, sacrilegious good time was had by one and all—especially when they dismembered Jesus. And man, they dismembered the shit out of him. Even Hitler gets off easier at a GWAR concert than poor old J.C.

Oh, also: After playing it as a joke for The Onion A.V. Club, they have actually added Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” to their set list. Which was nearly as awesome as Super Cyborg Jesus.

GWAR’s remaining tour dates after the pics. If you’ve never seen them live, for fuck’s sake go. They are truly a bucket list band. And be sure you get in the fake-blood line of fire. I’m already kicking myself for missing that part. Though not as hard as I would’ve gotten kicked in that mosh pit.

GWAR’s remaining 2012 tour dates:

11/8: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
11/9: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
11/10: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
11/11: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
11/12: Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theater
11/14: Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Events Centre
11/15: Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall Ballroom
11/16: Saskatoon, SK @ Odeon Events Centre
11/17: Winnipeg, MB @ The Garrick Center
11/18: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
11/19: Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
11/20: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
11/21: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
11/23: Detroit, MI @ Harpo’s
11/24: Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
11/26: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theater
12/20: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
12/21: Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa

Haunted Garage

Have you ever wondered what the missing link is between the Misfits and GWAR? Us neither, but a reader named Jeremy just found it for us and posted it on our Facebook page (and hey, while we’re on the subject, go over to Facebook and “Like” us, will ya? I know, it’s annoying, but you never know…maybe if you do it, we’ll give you a pony). The band is called Haunted Garage and they appear to have taken the fine art of covering your audience in fake blood and real slime to heights that would probably leave Oderus Urungus clutching his codpiece in a fetal position. Okay, maybe not, but they were pretty fucking gross, is what I’m saying.

Haunted Garage were part of the L.A. underground rock scene from around 1985 until 1992, although they’ve done a handful of reunion shows in the years since. They only released one album as far as we can tell, a lost nugget from 1990 called Possession Park, although they also did the soundtracks for a lot of horror and sci-fi B-movies like Nightmare Sisters and The Dead Hate the Living!

The band was started by a B-movie actor and screenwriter named Michael Sonye. Among the credits on his IMDb page: Dorm of the Dead, Terrors From the Clit, Hollywood Chainsaw Bartenders and of course the immortal Troma classic Surf Nazis Must Die, which I’m pretty sure I watched in a bonghit haze back in high school and even then thought, “Wow, this sucks.” For Haunted Garage, Sonye made up an alter ego named Dukey Flyswatter who’s sort of a combination of Iggy Pop, Glenn Danzig and Dr. Frank N. Furter. The band apparently started out playing cover versions of songs from classic horror film soundtracks, but eventually started coming up with original tunes with titles like “Torture Dungeon” and “Brain in a Jar.” Their sound is usually described as horror punk, although Dukey also used the term “splatter punk,” which is a lot more evocative, don’t ya think?

Haunted Garage shows were highly theatrical and sometimes destructive affairs. A bio on the band’s MySpace page claims that their final show, at a long-gone Hollywood dive called the Coconut Teaszer, ended with the crowd tearing down the sprinkler system and girls getting their tops ripped off. Up onstage, most of the blood, gore and mayhem was faked, but sometimes the band could cross over into full-on freakshow territory. Dukey, for example, is famous for attaching mousetraps to his face. (And if you clicked on that link, I apologize. That’s gonna be a tough image to shake, huh?)

There’s a cool “video profile” of Haunted Garage on YouTube, which also introduces such other memorable band members as their drag queen guitarist, Gaby Godhead, their rat-loving drummer, Stiff Slug, and the “gore-gore girls,” who provided the eye candy. But the video that we felt would give y’all the best taste of Haunted Garage in all their gory glory was the one below, featuring a sort of necrophiliac love song called “Dead and Gone.” Stay with it till around the 2:30 mark, when it really takes a turn for the freaky.

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GG Allin

So the other day this reader writes into us and goes, “You know who’s way weirder than all these bands? The Bloodhound Gang.” And we’re like, “You mean the guys who had that song about the Discovery Channel? What the fuck is weird about that?” And apparently, this guy thinks they’re, like, the weirdest band ever because they’ve been known to occasionally piss on each other and drink vomit onstage. Which at this point in rock history is not even that weird anymore. It’s so not weird that the other current band semi-famous for such things, The Black Lips, got bored with it and stopped doing it. It’s a post-“Jackass” world, people! Grossout stage antics just aren’t that interesting anymore…especially if the best you can provide for musical accompiment is shit like that Discovery Channel song.

But one positive did come out of the whole Bloodhound Gang thing…it reminded us that, holy shit! We haven’t written about GG Allin yet! What the fuck is wrong with us? Time to drop a little punk-rock history on you young’ns.

For those not familiar, GG Allin was a punk rock singer active in the ’80s and early ’90s whose entire shtick was basically to get naked, start fights with people in the audience, and spew various bodily fluids everywhere until someone called the cops, venue security hauled him off, or he passed out—whichever came first. Oh, he’d shit onstage, too. Although he was also known to take laxatives before each show, so very often his feces qualified as just another bodily fluid.

A little backstory: GG was born Jesus Christ Allin (no, really) in New Hampshire in 1956. His dad was apparently one of those wackjob Christian fundametalists who swore that Jesus came to him in a vision and told him his son would be the messiah. Dad skeedaddled while little J.C. Allin was still a toddler, and mom eventually changed his name to Kevin Michael, but the nickname GG—his brother’s mispronunciation of “Jesus”—stuck.

Apparently, so did dad’s messianic visions and mental health issues. As he got older, little GG fell in with various punk bands, first as drummer, eventually as a frontman. Pretty early on, by all accounts, he decided that he was the savior of rock ‘n’ roll—that rock was becoming safe and commercialized and he was going to bring it back to its rebellious roots. Eventually, he pretty much dropped the rock ‘n’ roll part and just decided that he was The Savior, period—come to rescue America’s youth from all that is boring and conformist. He would do this, apparently, by flinging poo at them when they came to his shows.

Not surprisingly, GG had a hard time keeping bands together and he churned through a bunch of them: The Jabbers, The Scumfucs, The Texas Nazis, Bulge, The AIDS Brigade, and his final and most famous outfit, The Murder Junkies, featuring his equally batshit older brother Merle on bass. The music was all pretty much the same, though: noisy three-chord punk rock with lyrics that sound like they were cribbed from some middle school boy’s bathroom. Sample song titles: “Bite It You Scum”, “I Wanna Fuck the Shit Out of You”, “Suck My Ass It Smells”…you get the idea. There were also a few more grandiose songs about things like penal code reform (“Legalize Murder”), pedophilia (“Expose Yourself to Kids”) and religion (“Jesus Over New York”). But mostly, it was all just so GG would have a soundtrack while he was writhing in his own filth and smacking a microphone against his head.

The best document of GG Allin’s antics is a documentary called Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, which came out literally three days before his death. Weirdly—or maybe not so weirdly—it was shot by the same guy who directed Old School and The Hangover, Todd Phillips. Back then he was a film school student at NYU. Wonder if it’s still on his reel? (You can watch the documentary online. Heads up: It’s what the squares call “not suitable for children.”)

Despite GG’s best efforts, he did not die onstage—after a pretty extraordinary life, his death was all too ordinary. He died of a heroin overdose in New York on June 28, 1993. His last show ended in a mini-riot that found GG running naked through the streets with his fans in pursuit—or at least that’s how one version of the story goes. In another account, by punk writer Mykel Board, the cops showed up and GG fled to avoid arrest. Who knows? Either way, he turned up dead the next morning.

Even GG Allin’s funeral, which was videotaped, turned into a piece of transgressive rock ‘n’ roll theater. It was an open casket service, with the rock messiah’s bloated, unwashed body in full view, clad in his trademark leather jacket and dirty jockstrap. People stuck bottles of booze in the casket and his brother put in a Walkman and stuck a pair of headphones on his head, playing some of Allin’s own music. His gravesite is routinely vandalized. Apparently, people really like pissing and shitting on it.

Fun little side note: You can still actually see the Murder Junkies, from time to time. Merle Allin and the band’s perpetually naked drummer, Dino Sex, have kept the group going as a GG Allin tribute band, with various fill-in singers and guitarists. Judging from this video, we think the group’s current lead singer, PP Duvee, doesn’t try to start fistfights with the audience, but we make no guarantees.

Second fun little side note: If there’s an aging punk rocker in your life who already owns GG’s greatest hits, and you’re too lazy to figure out the rest of his bewildering catalog…well, now you can just get the dude a GG Allin bobblehead doll for Christmas instead.

Listen, let’s be clear here: GG Allin was a delusional asshole. He wasn’t some punk DIY purist like Fugazi. He wasn’t above going on The Jerry Springer Show. If any major record label had the balls to give him a record contract, he probably would have taken it. Behind all the talk about putting the danger back in rock ‘n’ roll and calling out the hypocrisies of society was a violent sociopath with a severe messiah complex. He says he was building an army of followers who would do anything he asked of them, and he probably believed it. How could he not, when he saw how many of his fans actually enjoyed getting kicked and punched and even raped by their hero?

So we’re not trying to canonize this guy. But we are saying this: To all you would-be weird bands out there, how far are you willing to take it? “It” doesn’t have to be pissing on each other—in fact, we’d rather you try something else, because GG Allin pretty much took care of the whole pissing and shitting thing. That ship has sailed.

So what else you got? That was kind of the whole original purpose of this blog, actually—to find and single out bands that are doing something really, truly unique. It doesn’t have to be the kind of shit that lands you on Jerry Springer—but it should be the kind of thing where, when people see it, or hear it, or read about it for the first time, they go, “Wow—I wasn’t expecting that!”

We’ll leave you with that thought—and with this little GG Allin highlight reel* highly NSFW live clip of GG and the Junkies ripping through “Bite It You Scum” in 1991. Truly, the man was one of a kind. And we’re kinda glad we never made it to one of his shows.

*The highlight reel was removed from YouTube due to “multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.” We believe that’s legalese for “Bite It You Scum.”

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