Monday, May 4, 2015

The Other Chrissy, the Even Better One

At the end of 1986, I was living with First Wife and our daughter in Santa Rosa, California, the biggest city in the Wine Country. First Wife worked at an art gallery that laundrered money for a pair of the area’s most prolific marijuana dealers, who invited us to their New Year’s Eve party at the house one of them owned high atop a hill in Healdsburg. As is my custom at parties, I went into wallflower mode while First Wife worked the room, as was her own wont. Someone switched a television on. Many gasped with delight to see The Grateful Dead performing, but after a few minutes everyone resumed socializing, enabling me to sneak over to the TV and turn the channel. What to my wondering eyes should appear but The Divinyls, featuring Ms. Chrissy Amphlett, in a girls’ school uniform, ravaged stockings, and wild eyes, looking like jailbait you wouldn’t dare mess with. 

The choices, it seemed to me, were between a gaggle of horrid, self-indulgent old hippies singing out of tune on the one channel, and, on the other, something strange and sexy and a little bit scary — and altogether wonderful. I wanted to tell First Wife, “I cannot bear another minute around people for whom this is a difficult choice,” but dared not spoil her fun. For the next half-hour, I and one of several Dead fans would notice that the channel had been changed, and go over to change it back.

I fought the good fight, my dears. I did.

I confessed the other day to having had a fairly fierce crush on The Cramps’ Poison Ivy Rohrschach. It was nothing compared to that I had on L’Amphlett.

Five years later, here came Chrissy again. She’d ditched the school jumper for the sexiest outfit any rock chanteuse has ever worn on stage, and had recorded a song called I Touch Myself, the video for which absolutely mesmerized me. That pouting! That swaying! Those lips! That body! Those septum-length bangs! Her voice was a cross between that other Chrissy’s (Hynde) and Tammy Wynette’s (though, by 2015, at least 454,290 YouTube viewers had imagined “I Touch Myself” to have been the work of Blondie ). Her body was Anita Ekberg’s, her face Bardot’s. Schwing! It was as though she’d been put together by a committee of men with my own exquisite taste.

I didn’t conceal my lust from my zookeeper girlfriend, and when the Divinyls came to San Francisco, to perform at the Warfield, she took me. She chuckled as my mouth dropped open at the sight of L’Amphlett, in the world’s shortest dress, stockings, and suspenders, blithely placing one foot up on one of her monitors while singing. Oh, to have been that monitor!

“I'd get down on my knees. I'd do anything for you.” Schwing!

What a very awful thing it is when your friends start to die off — and your lust objects. Amphlett died two years ago at 53, from breast cancer, for which she’d been unable to receive chemotherapy because she also had multiple sclerosis. God can be such a motherfucker.


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