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The Cramps, if you haven’t heard, are superfabulous rock gods incarnate who have wrought unholy havoc among the masses for two decades now. They are: lead screamer-professional maniac Lux Interior, his devastatingly beautiful gal pal Poison Ivy Rohrshach on guitar, and an endlessly rotating rhythm section that kicks out the triedest, truest, butt-shakin’ blues rock to come out of this cornfield since Jimmy Carter entered the oval office. The Cramps’ trademark sound pays homage to rock history’s greatest heroes such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and every blues bad boy that ever breathed alongside early garage rockers The Sonics, The Wailers, The Count Five, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Lux’s infectiously manic stage show and Ivy’s smoldering demeanor and even sexier riffs (not to mention her footwear!!!) combine for an intoxicating night of real rock’n’roll bliss. Their 1997 release BIG BEAT FROM BADSVILLE (Epitaph) smokes. Music for gettin’ it on. And what a picture of Ms. Rohrshach!!

Viva las Vegas, the luckiest girl in town, is a strip-tease artiste in only the seediest sex clubs. At her very best, she can be seen slithering around to classics off of the Cramps’ BAD MUSIC FOR BAD PEOPLE, hollering the lyrics at mystified customers who really do love her anyway. She moonlights as Portland band The Licks’ frontwoman/guitarist.

VIVA: Are you guys from Ohio?

IVY: Lux is originally.

LUX: Well, she lived there for a year and a half.

VIVA: Is that where you two met?

LUX: No no no no no.

IVY: We met in Sacramento.

VIVA: What was she wearing?

LUX (eagerly): She was wearing... uh... well.. uh... skintight... uh...

IVY: Cutoffs, Lux! They’re called cutoffs.

LUX: They had a big hole in the ass and there were red panties showing.

IVY: And I was hitch-hiking. People think we made that up, but people hitchhiked in the ‘70’s.

LUX: It was me and my friend and his dog and we went WHOA!!! Check her out!

IVY: But the dog was quite gentlemanly.

VIVA: So much great rock’n’roll comes out of Ohio. Why is that, Lux?

LUX: Well, it’s because it’s so horrifying there so all the kids have to do something to destroy their parents–they always have there. Plus there are a couple of really amazing DJs. You can do something completely insane there and become a hero.

VIVA: How have you kept the band and your marriage together all these years?

IVY: Well, we’re not married! We’re just dating... We keep one foot on another world and we didn’t get sucked up by all the attention. It’s better that we’re a pair.

VIVA: Does this pay the rent? Has it always?

IVY: Oh yeah. We’ve got a house and a car.

VIVA: It’s urban legend that you’re a dominatrix too, on the side...

IVY: Oh no... not for years.

VIVA: You were?

IVY: Yes, in New York. It pays well. But that was a long time ago.

VIVA: I myself am a stripper to pay the rent and a rock’n’roller by passion.

IVY: It’s great to do it if you can. You are your own boss and you get paid for being extraordinary.

VIVA: What do you think about the direction of rock’n’roll today? Do you see any trends?

IVY: Well, for years and years there weren’t any contemporary bands that we liked and there’s a lot now. Our band’s not retro, but we were influenced by a lot of old records in a very eclectic way and now I hear a lot of bands being influenced in a similar way. The Demolition Doll Rods, Guitar Wolf, the Countdowns–any band like that that can play with Andre Williams and it works. To me, all the old blues cats on Fat Possum (record label)–R.L. Burnside, T. Model Ford, Hasil Adkins–I think they’re cutting edge. I think they’re way more modern than anything that’s going on. So yeah, rock’n’roll is alive and well, though it’s mostly underground.

VIVA: It’s all about a good DJ. You know, if the kids don’t have a good DJ they’re never gonna hear any of this stuff.

IVY: Right. There’s a great DJ in Montreal right now. He plays the Cramps, he’s French, and he’s totally insane. In L.A. there’s good radio, too.

VIVA: What do you think about “Women in Rock?”

IVY: You know, you pick up a magazine and it says “Women in Rock” and it’s all folk singers! What’s changed? When wasn’t there that? I mean what’s new about that? L7 rocks.Those girls are incredible guitarists. The whole band really rocks.

VIVA: Who is the sexiest rock’n’roller of all time?

IVY: Elvis. Elvis stood up there and danced like a stripper. That’s sexy! The sexiest to me was that TV special in the sixties where he wore all black leather. I think that was his sexy peak. He blossomed into this tanned man. He just seems like he’s seething. Even when he sings a slow ballad he’s like twitching and fidgeting. So not even just Elvis, but that Elvis is the sexiest rock’n’roller.

VIVA: What makes a song sexy?

IVY: Usually a certain kind of rhythm...or a bluesy chord...something slightly haunted. The Stooges you can really move your hips to. Or a sexy singer! There aren’t many sexy singers out there.

VIVA: Well, have you heard Zen Guerrilla? from San Francisco?

IVY: No...tell me about them!

[At this point, Viva mews on rapturously about ZG’s delicious blend of gospel/blues/ punk/soul and their intoxicating stage show and Ivy even seems interested!!!]

IVY: Wow! I’ll have to check them out!

VIVA: What do you think is the sexiest Cramps’ song?

IVY: Probably none of the ones we’ve written, although I love playing “Queen of Pain.”

VIVA: What’s the sexiest song released in 1998?

IVY: Mick Collins (ex-Gories, Andre Williams) “I Can’t Stop Thinking about It.” It’s the sexiest song ‘cause it’s all about sex.

LUX: He’s a black guy who takes sixties’ white kid punk songs and turns them into dirty blues songs.

VIVA: How about the sexiest song of all time?

IVY: “Harlem Nocturne” by...

LUX: For the best slow song, “Harlem Nocturne” by the Viscounts–or by a lot of people–and for the best fast song “1970 (I Feel Alright!)” by the Stooges. That was back when Iggy screamed everything he sang and was like out of his mind.

IVY: Do you know a song called “Swamp Girl?” Frank Lane did it, but there’s this great album by Kay Martin and Her Bodyguards. She was a stripper and she’s in some magazines. This song “Swamp Girl” is really great.

LUX: That album is just the best album out of anything.

IVY: That might be the sexiest music aside from Elvis. There’s a song called “The Heel” about her boyfriend...

LUX: Sing it! You know all the words!!

IVY: She’s saying how she knows he’s cheating because she can smell perfume and she actually even tries to poison him... “The heel! The heel!” She poisons his coffee and she watches him pick it up and sings “and I reach up and smash the cup... ‘cause it takes two heels to click.” It’s fuckin’ sick! She’s incredible. Too much.

[ed. note: “out of his mind,” “like totally insane” and “fuckin’ sick” are obviously the highest compliments the Cramps’ bestow.]

LUX: Her bodyguards are protecting her with swords. That’s a serious record!! She has a Christmas album out, too.

VIVA: What’s Christmas like chez Cramps?

LUX: I buy her all these sexy outfits and she wears them.

IVY: I don’t know where he finds these things...and he talks me into wearing them! Like what I wore tonight [An “insane” sheer bodysuit with translucent tattoo type patterns–baring all!!]. He bought me that.

VIVA: What are the sexiest Christmas tunes?

IVY: The Youngsters’ “Christmas in Jail” or maybe The Sonics’ “I Don’t Believe in Christmas.”

VIVA: Do you guys do any Christmas covers?

LUX (lying): We do one called “Put the X in X-mas.”

VIVA: Mr. Interior, what was the best Christmas present you ever received?

LUX: I’m sure that if I could remember it, I couldn’t tell you.

IVY: Mine would be shoes. Lux gave me these super high platforms–but that black that looks like an oil slick–and eight-inch heels!!! You have to take tiny baby steps.

VIVA: Finally, what color panties are you wearing and how long have you been wearing them?

LUX: I’m not wearing any panties.

IVY: Black.

VIVA: G-string?

IVY: Oh, always g-string.


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