RIP Lux Interior

I have been very upset for the past few days, since I heard news of the death of Lux Interior, frontman for The Cramps. This always happens when I hear of the death of one of the Punk idols of my youth. But this one struck me particularly hard.

There seems to be a wall that the old Punks hit, right about my age. They all hit it and go splat. When I read their obituaries, the first thing I look for is their age. I don’t know if I’m looking for confirmation that I outlived them, or afraid that I will go splat soon myself. But Lux was older than me, he was 62. For a moment, I felt a wave of relief, soon to be replaced by total panic. I did a mental calculation, 62 minus my age equals X, holy shit, I only have X years left to do something as totally fucking awesome as Lux did. That would be almost impossible. I am doomed.

And then I immediately thought of his wife, Poison Ivy. I never really cared that much about Lux, but I have always had an intense crush on Ivy. She was the real reason I loved The Cramps, there isn’t a hotter woman guitarist out there. And she was way out there. I spent years copying and practicing her guitar licks, nobody influenced the way I play more than she did, and today I sound pretty much like Ivy would if she was as untalented as I am. When I heard the news, I immediately thought, what is she going to do without Lux? The Cramps are dead now. How will she go on without her husband? Oh wait, maybe this is my shot! I know I could make her happy! I told a dear friend about my tormented thoughts of hitting on Ivy during her time of mourning, and she replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “Oh Charles, you’re always looking on the bright side!”

Lux’s death struck me especially hard because The Cramps were the first real live Punk gig I ever saw. It was so long ago it is hard to remember precisely when, but as far as I can recall, it was December 31, 1979, at The Strand Ballroom in Chicago. It was billed as “The New Year’s Eve of the Century.” And it totally was. The Cramps were at the peak of their early days, having just released their first full album. So when I heard about the Chicago gig, my brother and I planned a junket to see the concert. So he and I, and a few of our friends from Iowa City drove up.

We must have been a pathetic sight to the native Chicago punks, a group of hayseeds from Iowa who were out of our league. But we didn’t care, we enjoyed the hell out of it. We grabbed a table right up front, established our base camp, then danced and drank and [redacted] all night. We bought bottle after bottle of champagne so cheap it wasn’t even real champagne, just sparkling wine. Plastic corks were flying everywhere, I distinctly remember shooting one cork all the way across the room, bouncing it right off Ivy’s guitar. She didn’t even flinch. I used to boast about that, until one Cramps fan told me, “You asshole, Ivy said she hated people who did stuff like that at gigs.” So now I live with a terrible regret over what I have done. I don’t know what I was thinking, maybe I was trying to get her attention. I feel like I must make amends. So Ivy, if you ever read this, I apologize sincerely, and I will do whatever it takes to assuage my feelings of guilt. I will clean your 7 inch stilletto heels with my tongue and polish your latex catsuit to a lustrous shine, whatever it takes.

Well anyway, since I heard of Lux’s demise, I have been in a state of agitation. I plug in my electric guitar, turn on Cramps tunes and play along for hours. My fingers are callused and bloody, my ears are ringing constantly, and I still don’t feel any better. I barely feel alive. I feel like the gig is over, it’s closing time. The room lights are on, exposing the club to a harsh glare. The roadies are tearing down the equipment and packing up the guitars. I’m in the mosh pit all alone, with nobody left to bash into and bounce around. The ranks of the Punks are thinning. Almost nobody who matters is left, and nobody cares but me.

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