The House of Tudor

Only a few months ago, the Crosstops -- four no-nonsense rednecks with tacky cop shades and a penchant for truck-drivin' themes -- made their first appearance on a San Francisco stage. The hard rock 'n' roll, straight up, seemed simple enough. The gigs were more puzzling: No one knew these boys or where they had come from, so how was it that they were headlining at the Paradise Lounge and "Stinky's Peepshow" within days of their arrival? Suspicious, to say the least, especially when most local white-trash outfits would cut off their pinkie fingers just to get a call back from a member of the "Angeli Mafia" that runs "Stinky's."

The House of Tudor investigated.
In the following account, the legal names have been withheld to protect the not-so-innocent. The drummer, known ironically as Chatty, was a semi-well-known Baptist-born child evangelist who had an accidental encounter with an unknown narcotic substance that caused him to fall mute and turn his back on the Good Book. He fled the small Southern town of his birth and took to the freeways as a big-rig driver. On the road, Chatty met a rhythm guitarist named Eyeball. Eyeball was a delinquent, if dashing, high school dropout who made a modest name for himself as a numbers runner in Vegas. Sadly, Eyeball's charm couldn't overcome his gambling debts. He, too, took on the freewheelin' anonymity of trucker life. Beercan was a prig, an offspring of silver spoons, Ivy Leagues, and a street named Wall. Still, sometimes even money and a young family can't shout down the call of the open road or the shriek of pre-midlife crisis. (Beercan might not have much in common with the others, but he's making up for lost Schlitz-drinking time: His standout bass playing is the core of the Crosstops' sound.) This brings us to the lead guitarist, Wooper, a man with pain and prison on his side. He is a product of one of many conjugal visits to state penitentiaries. His mother, it seems, was a hobbyist of a sort who had fallen for the Manson Family's Tex Watson. Growing up around prisons -- the exact facility depending on his mother's proclivity -- gave Wooper a nasty temperament that conflicted with his minstrel heart. It wasn't long before he found himself a ward of the state. Still, while all the boys in the band sing lead (minus Chatty, of course), it is the rambling baritone of Wooper that puts the Folsom Prison Blues in the diesel-charged dementia of the Crosstops' new EP, Drinkin', Fightin', Fuckin' & Truckin' -- even if he is singing a song called "Big Fanny."

No sources would confirm whether Wooper used prison-style persuasion to land those first gigs at the beginning of the year, but one listen to the band's fine EP proves he didn't need to. The Crosstops celebrate their new CD release with three shows: at the Covered Wagon on Thursday, Dec. 18, with the Hellbillies opening at 11 p.m. ($5; call 974-1585); at the Cat's Alley Club on Friday, Dec. 19, with Slender and Glamour Pussy opening at 10 p.m. ($5; call 431-3332); and at the Tip Top Inn on Saturday, Dec. 20, with Los Cerveceros and Stellar opening at 9:30 p.m. ($3; call 824-6486).

Adventurous spoken-word supporters can don their gay apparel and strike an introspective pose at the "How WordFuck Stole Christmas" party, which will include words by Carol Queen, Beth Lisick, Hank Hyena, Sister Spit, m.i. blue, Noelle B., Thea Hillman, and many more; music by XSX and Clive Worsley; and a performance by Monique and her Boner (with a capital B); as well as films, poisonous cookies, nudity, mistletoe, dogs, profanity, and green eggs. "WordFuck" will be held at the Cocodrie on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $3.33 (the Number of the Beast, half-price); call 986-6678.

Annabella Lwin was every new-wave boy's wet dream; just hearing the sexpot name of the Bow Wow Wow vocalist sends shivers down some spines. Nothing captures the '80s quite like the story of Bow Wow Wow. In 1980, impresario Malcolm McLaren decided that Adam & the Ants had run their course -- and that lead singer Adam Ant, at 25, was over the hill. So with the musicians from the band he founded a new aggregation, fronted by the 14-year-old Lwin, then a nymphet they had spotted in a dry cleaners. Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" went Top 10 in the U.K. with little effort. For many, it remains the definitive new wave epigram: short, sweet, catchy, and none too challenging. Fifteen years later, Lwin isn't even middle-aged, which means that she probably still looks better than Adam Ant in a miniskirt. Bow Wow Wow perform at Slim's on Tuesday, Dec. 23, with Critical Mass opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.50-17; call 522-0333.

-- Silke Tudor

 
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