Your soul is a dog about 2 inches tall that sits in the cavernous space between your eyes and the back of your head. He watches your life go by. Your eyes are the windshield through which he looks, and your thoughts are a walkie-talkie that the dog listens to all day and night. That small dog is the real you. The you who's there when no one else is around. The you who dances alone in your room. Sometimes when you're too wrapped up in balancing your checkbook, Armor All- ing your tires, and getting to work on time, he steps in. He'll pick up the walkie-talkie and bark that you're forgetting to have fun. Unfortunately, he's often ignored.
Thirty years ago, a baby boy named Quinn Luke came to Earth, to Davis, Calif. Born to Mormon parents, Quinn wasn't like the other Mormon kids. The dog inside his head was horribly overgrown and was wearing a miniature glitter suit with ice cream cones painted on it. He was always clawing for the little boy to let him out. As hard as Quinn tried to pay attention in school, the dog in his head was blasting Earth, Wind & Fire records, smoking ciggies, and humping bitches. But now Quinn Luke has let the doggy take over his body. He has transformed himself into the soul singer known as Bing Ji Ling.
Bing's latest album, Doodle Loot Doot Doodle a Doo, is not what I was expecting. From the looks of the CD's cover art -- 10 Bing Ji Lings surrounding an innocent ice cream parlor -- it appears to be a tripped-out soul record made by long-hairs. But no. From the first note, it explodes with pent-up libido. There aren't any Curtis Mayfield- derived riffs or stolen Roy Ayers melodies. It is a schizophrenic concoction that could only fit between George Michael, New Edition, and a bootleg VHS tape of Soul Train. Is there even a section in your local music store for something like that?
Bing calls his music "blue-eyed soul," but my CD player had never tasted that kind of shit. At first, when I put on Doodle Loot, I couldn't believe I was listening to it. But after two rotations and a glass of red wine, I realized that Bing had struck gold. Every song is either about makin' it with the ladies, thinking about makin' it with the ladies, or the feeling you get after makin' it with the ladies. This is the kind of album that's best when the lights are low and your skin is shimmering from too much baby oil. It's a love record. In the words of Bing Ji Ling himself, "This CD will get you laid."
As I walk up to our chosen meeting spot, the St. Francis Ice Cream Parlor on 24th Street, I notice a mammoth 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark 5 -- Bing's mammoth 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark 5 -- parked in the front three spots. It turns out that this whip is a special Cartier edition, made in limited quantities for the watch and leather goods manufacturer. Smooth.
I sit at a table with Bing and we share a strawberry milkshake. I can clearly see his eyes through his imported gold-rimmed glasses, the very same eyes that sex up dozens of women each night. I decide I need a real drink. We walk down the block, enter a tiny bar, and begin to delve deeper into Bing Ji Ling's soul-inspired life.
The name "Bing Ji Ling" is the Mandarin expression for ice cream. Bing acquired the name when he lived in Shanghai and was the featured performer in a jazz and blues nightclub. He got the nickname because of a miscommunication while talking with a lovely Asian lady after his show. She thought that he introduced himself as "Cream." He was actually saying his birth name, "Quinn." She decided to call him "Cream" anyway.
It takes a special sense of style to be Bing Ji Ling. It means sporting all the freshest gear all the time. It means snakeskin boots instead of sneakers. It means keeping your hair conditioned and your eyes peeled for ice cream cone accessories. During a recent trip to Tokyo, Bing spotted a store that carried ice cream cone medallions. Fifty different kinds of ice cream cone medallions. How many do you think he bought? One? Two? No. He bought them all. But to Bing, fashion is not serious business; he calls fashion "fun" and "damn sexy," but never serious.
One thing Bing does take seriously, however, is a nutritious protein-rich breakfast. If you ladies are thinking of stepping to Bing, you best bring some omelet supplies and a swim cap. He wakes every morning after a mandated minimum eight hours of sleep and makes a goat cheese, spinach, and egg scrambler. Afterward, he swims his morning laps. Then and only then will he begin his day.
After Bing chooses his jewelry and clothes, the rest of that day is dedicated to making music. Bing has a recording studio in Potrero Hill, where he runs his Kreme Kul record label and is already working on his next album. If that album sounds anything like his last, it'll be as polished and smooth as silk panties. Although his musical influences range from Stevie Wonder to Luther Vandross to the Thompson Twins, Bing says his next record is "some Hall & Oates shit."
In the studio, Bing is a one-man wrecking machine, playing every instrument and singing every vocal part. When he plays shows, he collaborates with a group of musicians. For his album release party here in San Francisco, his band consisted of Tommy Guerrero on bass, No Doubt's Adrian Young on drums, Jan from the German funk band Poets of Rhythm on guitar, and Bing's longtime collaborator Merkley??? on keyboards. Bing's backup singers are sequenced in via laptop, but he hopes to someday have a trio of real singers.
Each Bing Ji Ling show is an event featuring the band in head-to-toe soda fountain uniforms, multiple gallons of ice cream, and enough vintage parfait glasses to accommodate both Bing's giant swarm of women and all the concertgoers. If you attend a Bing Ji Ling show, come prepared: Expect to hit the dance floor, have a luscious scoop of cream, and head home to work off the calories with a sweaty romp.
A guy who sings about so much sexy love must get lots of sexy love himself, right? Yes. His current romantic setup is pretty steamy: He has a girlfriend and a flock of women that he likes to "always be surrounded by." When it comes to making whoopee, Bing has got the goods. He always incorporates ice cream and condiments into his late-night bang-a-thons. The ice cream he mostly likes to use during foreplay. All right! He believes that with ice cream you are constantly "working against the clock," trying to balance the creaminess against the heat from a lady's steaming body. Sometimes the scoop melts. Sometimes Bing has seen it "dry up." That's why Bing feels that condiments are superior for actual intercourse. He prefers the control that chocolate sauce, cherries, whipped cream, sprinkles, and sugar cones give him during the intense moments of lovemaking.
Your mattress may not be able to handle Bing Ji Ling's creamy lifestyle, but your stereo can probably withstand his music, which is one of the most original sounds out there; that is why his particular brand of "blue-eyed soul" is a challenge to categorize. He's found his own style. That's all too rare these days as American Idol tells the world what performers should look and act like if they want to be successful. For the love of God, ignore Paula Abdul and the fat guy who sits next to her. Listen to the little dog in your head. Bing Ji Ling listened to his doggy, and now he plays fantastic soulful music and has sex with women while eating ice cream off their breasts. I rest my case.