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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Feb 5 1997
Slap and Tickle Punk rock is fast approaching middle age. It was only a matter of time before spikey-haired yobs were touting the benefits of air bags and morning freshness, but somewhere between DIY and Subaru endorsements there was bound to be a more natural pairing. Punk and porn, for one. After decades of cheesy wah-wah pedals, it's about time someone endowed a suck-and-fuck flick with a bit of attitude, don't you think? And who better to supply it than our very own Swingin' Utters? As far as we can tell, Utters songs adorn at least two porn soundtracks, both put out by Heatwave Entertainment. However, which songs appear on which videos seems to be anyone's guess. Bassist Kevin Wickersham thinks that "Windspitting Punk" may accompany a beach scene in Planet X, starring Candy Apples and Nena Cherry (the porn star, not the singer), but he is not entirely sure (he has never seen the video himself). A publicist at the Utters' label, Fat Wreck Chords, could neither confirm nor deny this, since all the in-office copies of the video have, um, disappeared; and Fat Mike, Fat Wreck president and NOFX frontman, says that he's not sure because he didn't pick the songs -- he just gave copies of all his artists' recordings to porn director Jim Powers and that was the end of it. But as Mike says, "It doesn't really matter, porn and punk go together." The Utters don't seem to mind, anyway. As Wickersham says, "Porn's cool." "It doesn't sell records," explains Mike, "but anyone who wants to put one of my bands in a movie is OK with me." Though Fat Mike is not a devout fan of pornography, he does not hedge on its marketability. Fat Wreck Chords, along with a number of other small punk labels, often advertises its bands in New Rave, a punkcentric skin mag. "Porn's like anything else," says Mike. "There's good porn and there's bad porn." In related news, the Utters, who are currently on tour with Social Distortion, are awaiting their opportunity to pose for Hustler later this year. "Originally NOFX were going to stand in as the backup band while the [Hustler] girls sang," says Mike, "but Hustler wanted to make the shoot more interactive. Our wives found out and were not too happy." The Utters will be filling in. Some guys get all the luck. For information about Heatwave Entertainment write: 7750 Burnet Ave., Van Nuys, CA 94105-1007. (Silke Tudor)

Underkill Like toting a flamethrower to the carnival duck shoot, when you set out to torch rock journalism you're automatically loaded with excess ammunition. So there's plenty of grist for BAAM, Nervous Laughter's lampoon of the Bay Area's pulp-and-polish biweekly music magazine. But here the yuks come too easy. It's like another stand-up rant lamenting inedible airplane food. Let's see, there's the idiotic rock star ("He looks like he's dead, but he's not"), the absurd Q&A interview ("Celebrity" Mickey Rourke [?] vs. the devil), and record reviews that no one will ever read (Pretentious TV, The Pyschick Sound of Fartz). Perhaps the comedy troupe, which produces limited-run zines to promote upcoming shows (past screeds include spoofs of Variety and military mag Yank), held back for fear of negative reappraisal. Founding member of Nervous Laughter Kurt Weitzmann says "it was hard to [parody BAM] because they gave us a great review. One member said, 'Why do we want to cut the throat of the only people who like us?' " Still, no hard feelings, says BAM Bay Area Editor Bill Crandall. He was flattered by the effort. "They were having fun not with BAM, but with rock journalism in general, poking fun at how rock journalists try to impress rather than write for an audience." With obscurity in mind, "Riff Raff" recommends Motorbooty to those looking for a vehement snarl at rock music and writing. (Sorry, no umlauts.) (Jeff Stark)

Critic's Corner Local writer Rob Levine is moving to New York. His new job is associate editor at, where he'll be editing and writing daily music news. Of late Levine had been the music editor of HotWired; he left around Thanksgiving, shortly before the service abandoned entertainment coverage. He's also been contributing to the Chronicle, and indeed had been rumored to be in the running for the open rock-critic position there. True? Levine declined to say, but noted he'd probably continue to write for the paper from New York. "I'm pretty psyched," he said of the new gig. "I'm happy about what's happening." He leaves town midmonth. (Bill Wyman)

Selvin Watch So while the Chron continues to dither on hiring a new critic, we're left with Joel Selvin, who was typically haphazard in his obit on Col. Tom Parker, manager of Elvis Presley. Parker's an interesting figure -- he was, after all, responsible for the debauching of the 20th century's greatest naive artist. Selvin's superficial, dashed-off paragraphs contained no hint of this. Instead, he trumpeted Parker as "rock 'n' roll's first great impresario." "Impresario" isn't exactly what Parker was -- Presley did that job for himself. Parker's epochal role was as the careful milker of an immense cash cow. And Alan Freed was starting riots in Cleveland years before Parker met Presley. Selvin doesn't pretend to follow modern music; this is the stuff he's supposed to be good on. (B.W.)

Can You Feel the Love in This Room? With the usual array of good intentions, the earplug pushers known as H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) bring an unusual approach to their upcoming Valentine's Day benefit concert at the International Center Ballroom (50 Oak St.). Seems a lineup including the Mermen, the Mo'fessionals, Puzzlefish, the White Trash Debutantes, Vktms, Budderball, and Sex Is a Witch will perform at low volume through a special floor-vibrating sound system called a Tactile Sound Transducer. The resulting microquake, according to H.E.A.R. Executive Director Kathy Peck, will only "feel" loud. Touchy-feely sentiment, touchy-feely holiday, touchy-feely sound system. For optimal effect, "Riff Raff" recommends going naked. Tickets are $12 the night of the show (Feb. 14), and are available in advance through, or by calling (510) 594-1400. Proceeds benefit H.E.A.R., which will continue to raise awareness as long as ignorance exists, or until they go broke. Whichever comes first. (Michael Batty)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.


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