Liberace Morris and his band mates Greg Streisand, Cher Dykeowski, Robo Simmons, Bugger, Raymond Pettiboner and Joe CarGucci, make up the world's greatest (and only?!) gay Black Flag tribute band called – wait for it – BLACK F∆G!
Taking to the stage dressed up as gay icons, like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and Lloyd Lee from Entourage, they've built up a loyal following giving Black Flag’s back catalogue a fist-pumpingly camp makeover, kind of like queer-eye for the hardcore guy? Seeing as it’s impossible to not start giggling like a schoolgirl at the thought of that, I got in touch with Liberace for chat about what possessed him to start it
Noisey: Hey Liberace, so give me a real quick profile on BLACK F∆G, how did you get this FAB-u-lous idea?
Liberace: One night I was just in a silly mood and singing along to a Black Flag mix CD with a lisp and I realised that simply by lisping the lyrics it completely changed the context of all the songs and turned the entire image of Black Flag on its head. All of those lyrics about depression and anger and frustration suddenly become whines of utter bitchiness. I tried lisping along with other bands like Minor Threat and the Misfits but strangely enough it ONLY works for Black Flag. Try it at home and see!
Slowly, the idea formed to put together a gay-themed Black Flag tribute band, which instantly named itself, complete with characters and costumes and comedy. But it seemed like so much work to do it right, so for a year or so it just existed as an idea. But every time I explained the idea to someone they would crack up, so I eventually decided it was too funny NOT to do. And now here we are!
Wow, you're right, can't believe I didn't think of that before. Has Black Fag affected your sexuality at all?
Well, as we all know, no one's born gay; you just become that way by watching too much Spongebob. But hopefully someday Focus on the Family will consider us just as much of a threat to humanity as Ernie and Bert.
I never knew that, I’ve obviously been blinkered by liberal propaganda - is it possible to pray the gay away like evangelical Christians tell us?
You can try to pray the gay away, but it'll just find you in an airport bathroom stall eventually.
Lulz. So do you have any of your own material or are you perfectly content to stick to lisping Black Flag covers?
We're sticking with the covers for now. If we did originals it wouldn't make the humourless hardcore kids cry as hard, so where's the fun in that?
Too right. So what's the response been like from hardcore purists?
Most of the purists love us, actually. If I may name drop, both Adam from Youth Brigade and Jack from TSOL said that we play the songs better than Black Flag ever did. We have had a few people at shows spit at us and call us names and throw beer at us, but with punk rock it's sometimes hard to tell if that's a sign of aggression or affection...
Our audiences are overwhelmingly gay positive, and the few homophobes that end up at our shows always leave angry. When we hear some douchebag yell out "You're ruining Black Flag!" it's the most wonderful sensation...like that first sip of coconut water after a two-hour pilates class.
How about the Black Flag guys, have any of them reached out to you?
Keith Morris called our CD "awesome/hilarious" so that was awesome/awesome to hear. And we recently played a show with The Chuck Dukowski Sextet, so Chuck was the first member of Black Flag to ever see us play live and he had some very kind words for us after the show. My favourite reaction thus far, though, has been from Ron Reyes, who wrote to us and said that if Black Flag had as much fun with the songs as we do he never would've left the band.
Has Henry Rollins still got it in his old age...would you?
Henry is definitely a dreamy silver fox these days. His piercing eyes, his graceful aging, and his outspoken liberal views, he's like the punk rock Alec Baldwin! If he would agree to sing with us on stage in drag we would provide him with a long list of sexual favours, or at the very least a sensual massage and some salmon crudités.
We approached Henry once to ask him if he would sing with us, but we neglected to promise him the physical payoff (or the appetizers) so it's no wonder he declined. We vow to keep trying, though!
He'd be a fool to say no. OK, so Hank’s still hunky, but cast your mind's eye back to hardcore's 80s heyday - who was the biggest hunk back in the day?
There are so many shirtless, hairless, sweaty hardcore legends to fawn over, but my main crush would probably be Brian, the guy in Another State of Mind who explained how to slam. Not only did he have that "don't ask, don't tell" military look, but he clearly understood the magic of DANCE!
Good point. I'm guessing you've got a pretty good gaydar – who do you think was a closet case?
I'm not sure if HR counts as a closet case or just an utter lunatic. Beyond the punk scene, I would say pretty much any registered Republican is suspect.
Controversial! So the original hardcore scene rocked against Reagan, what are Black Fag fighting for?
Well, first of all, the current crop of Republicans in this country makes Ronald Reagan look like Rachel Maddow. And I'm not just talking about the haircuts.
As for a cause, we're more lovers than fighters, but we do speak out for LGBT equality whenever we think someone might be listening. 10% of the profits from our CD sales go to various gay-related charities and we shoot our mouths off at our shows and on our Facebook page from time to time. We're more about entertainment than we are about politics, but because of our politically incorrect band name and our use of stereotypes we at least try to make it clear that our hearts are in the right place.
Yeah I can imagine your name causes a bit of controversy – so who's worse, the homophobes or joyless ultra-liberal types who can't take a joke?
Our raison d’être is to piss off both. The P.C. Police are less fun because they're usually not as stupid, but when we try to engage them in a serious debate about the nature of humour and the validity of what we do, they tend to argue from a very closed-minded, black-and-white standpoint. Part of the reason we do this band is to challenge their rules.
The stereotypes we employ are mostly light-hearted, like "Haha, gay people love fashion and celebrity gossip!" Is that really so offensive or harmful? If we were perpetuating stereotypes about gay people having AIDS or being paedophiles that would be horrible and damaging. But a big, fat guy in a Dorothy dress shredding the guitar solo to "Jealous Again"? That's just universally hilarious.
Denis Leary was once asked in an interview about Michael Richards' infamous use of "the n-word" and Denis said that when a comic goes into an area like that it's like juggling chainsaws. It's amazing when it's done well, but tragic when it's done wrong. So at every show we try our best to juggle our particular set of chainsaws and keep our limbs (and Capezios!) intact.
Well thought out, well thanks Liberace, and good luck to your Capezio!