Glenn Danzig. The very name causes weak men to blanch, strong women to swoon and Polish people to say, "Gdansk okolica?"
Metal's surliest personality, Danzig seeks nothing less than to refine evil to its purest essence, not caring what stands in the way, even if the obstacles are good sense and maturity. The titles in his oeuvre read like a Child's Garden of (Satanic) Verse: Lucifuge, Blackacidevil, Circle of Snakes. Hard to believe that the man responsible for such records doesn't spend his weekends in a wizard hat on the business end of a 20-sided die.
Amazingly, though, Danzig claims to never have heard of Dungeons and Dragons. Growing up an average mook in Lodi, N.J., the gym was a greater refuge than the Dungeon Master's Guide. Since his days with pioneering punk/metal outfits the Misfits and Samhain, Danzig has pumped and molded himself into a fitting vessel for the pure evil that is his life's work. Some even call him Napoleonic, although most likely, it's for reasons of stature rather than ambition.
"Ever since Anton (Lavey, founder of the Church of Satan) died, evil's been kinda lacking," Danzig tells me. "I mean, the Norwegian black metal scene? Those guys are total poseurs. You should only eat brains if you're a zombie. I know. I wrote songs about that shit."
We're soaking in the hot tub that occupies the middle of the bar at the venue where Danzig is to play on Sunday, sipping champagne. He's using Tucson as a homebase during the southwestern leg of his current tour.
For an evil guy, Danzig's managed to put me at considerable ease. Maybe it's because I don't take him as seriously anymore. For instance, there was his appearance on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, during which he poked fun at himself a little. Seemingly. "Man, those Aqua Teen guys kept getting everything wrong. They know nothing of Satanic ritual. Everything was a fucking joke to them." I do my best not to laugh.
Feeling overconfident about Danzig's good will, I mention The Incident. "Fuck that fuckball," he spits. "He got lucky. That day, I had eaten some KFC in Tuba City. I think I got ahold of some bad gravy. I wasn't myself."
He's referring to an altercation that happened in July of last year, in Tuba City, Ariz., wherein one Danny Marianinho--of the Phoenix dumbpunk outfit Northside Kings--took exception to Danzig's decision to tear down the stage and gear before all the bands had a chance to play. Danzig's reaction was in keeping with evil, no doubt: He listened to Marianinho's petition for a redress of grievances, and replied with, "Fuck you, motherfucker!" and a hard shove. It would prove to be the most ill-advised intimidatory push Danzig would ever make.
Marianinho, who goes about 300 pounds, caught his balance and then landed perhaps the luckiest punch ever, which dropped Danzig to the floor like a sack of somethin' foul. The Incident, dramatic though it was, would only have caused a minor stir, except that one of Marianinho's confreres caught it on videotape. Within seconds, it seemed, copies of the video found their way to punk and metal Web sites the world over, fueled by a combination of curiosity, schadenfreude and awe: Holy shit, Glenn Danzig is a paper demon.
Since that time, he's had to refine his understanding of evil in seeking its purest essence. Perhaps this is why he starts talking to me about Amway. "Let me tell you a bit about MLM. The deal is, through this QuixtarTM program, you'd be part of my upline. I'm already halfway toward being an Emerald. It's amazing how many Uncle Toby's Fruit BarsTM you can sell when you're Glenn Danzig." The initial shock of getting an Amway pitch from the evilest dude to ever come out of Jersey gives way to a gradual understanding--he's seeking to express the banality of evil, in a tip of his horns to Hannah Arendt. Genius!
As we sup on goat paté served with Arnotz Jazz biscuits TM, I keep waiting for Danzig to acknowledge this evil subterfuge. Has he turned evil on its head? "What are you talking about? I can't do this metal shit forever. I need to take care of my retirement security. Double Diamond is where I'm headed. You know they get yachts? I'll hoist up the Jolly Roger and go plunder."
I scrutinize him for any sign of tongue-in-cheek. Finally he starts winking. A casual observer might say he got hot tub water in his eye; I prefer to believe we have an Understanding. Before I leave, I sign up with Quixtar and spend $175 on motivational tapes. Pure Evil.
Please note: The preceding was the writer's first attempt at Danzig fanfic, and as such, most of it's totally untrue. Excepting the knockout and the hot tub in the bar.