Night Crawler

Lying prone in the middle of the dressing-room floor, arms and legs raised slightly, pale bald head shining, Moby looked more like a turtle stuck on its back than a techno guru. But this curious routine is how he prepares himself for the rigorous stage antics customary to his power-packed shows. Despite a strained back and a less-than-capacity house at the Trocadero last week, Moby had every intention of delivering something unexpected.

A wash of purple light spread out over the crowd, giving the air a tangible quality. People thrust their hands into it, tried to manipulate it. They anticipated a deep house groove, something with a bass line that would make chests pound and feet move, but instead they got “Purple Haze” complete with growling guitars and vocal angst. Fans shifted nervously on their feet. “Well, that was interesting,” said a bald Moby look-alike, sounding somewhat relieved to hear a heavy dance rhythm pick up where the rock beat left off.

“OK, let's play some disco,” Moby yelled. The lights flashed with a steady beat and the audience whistled, moving en masse like a single-celled animal. Standing in the center of four multicolored lights that framed his insubstantial form, Moby manipulated the beams with upraised arms like the disco messiah returned. The crowd lapped it up; this was the sound and imagery they wanted. But then the show took on an almost schizophrenic nature.

Immediately following a high-NRG techno number that had Moby bouncing off the rafters, he stopped, donned a cowboy hat, and delved straight into a countrified version of “Purple Rain,” which he dedicated to an “ex-ex-ex-girlfriend” who broke his heart. Moments later, he was beating on bongo drums, eyes closed, techno reins firmly in hand once again.

Moby's stage persona morphed as often as the music. One moment he was crucifying himself on spears of light, the next he was telling “white-trash” jokes and singing “Sweet Home Alabama”; throughout the show, he laughed and bounced around with a relentless, contagious energy. Showcasing the talents of his bassist/manager Ali McMordie, formerly of the punk band Stiff Little Fingers, he dipped into an array of raucous tunes before he overwhelmed the technophiles with “Thousand,” a song that reaches a thousand beats per minute. Throughout the show, he burned.

On the way out, a raver sitting on the sidewalk asked if I knew where the Moby after-party was. “It's gotta be better than the show,” he sneered. Hey, if he had just wanted a sound system, he should've gone to see the Orb.

From the king of techno to the queen of disco: Expectations ran high as club bunnies, stargazers, and flamboyant nellies gathered at A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books last Wednesday to anxiously await the arrival of the one, the only, RuPaul. One petite, well-manicured woman worried, “What if she comes as a man?” “Don't be silly,” replied her leopard-skin-clad partner. “We're all here to see Ru. She wouldn't let us down.” Certainly not. Her highness slinked into the room with a high-wattage smile and a wave that would make the queen of England proud. Decked out in a black cocktail dress, with legs that stretch into infinity tottering above 6-inch heels, RuPaul made it difficult for photographers to fit her all into the frame. (RuPaul is quick to admonish photographers who try to take pictures of queens from a low angle — exposes the double chin, you know.)

Every inch the glamour gal, RuPaul turned her “Passionate Platinum” head to her adoring public. “I drove 2,500 miles just to see you,” cried out one overaroused fan. RuPaul stopped. “And I drink water out of my ass,” she retorted with a sultry, red-lipped smile. Always the proper hostess, she introduced her family members to the crowd as she flashed great white teeth at the press photographers. To everyone's amazement, she pointed out the individual faces she recognized from her last visit.

“So, what part of the book did you all like the best?” she asked. “The tuck!” came the unanimous response. “Oh-ho, the tuck … Well, let's get this show on the road then because I am sporting one hell of a tuck tonight!” With a grand turn and a swish of her royal behind, RuPaul took her seat for three hours of arduous book-signing and photo ops for any fan who wanted one. Never a grimace or a hair out of place.

Speaking of hairs out of place, the DJs of New Wave City were forced into a somewhat impromptu display of bad wigs and bad dancing when their scheduled hair fashion show canceled at the last minute. Not wanting to let their patrons down, DJs Shindog, Skip, and Ira V. agreed to good-humoredly suffer the humiliation of parading around in B-52 beehives to the tune of “Wig.” Where's RuPaul when you need her?

By Silke Tudor

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