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Yes, Heavy Metal Band GWAR has a Rye Whiskey and It’s Good

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When I was in the first half of my twenties I lived in Richmond, Virginia, where I was finishing college at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and cooking on the line at The Village Cafe. I have never known another place like The Village. The booths were filled with tattoo artists, professors, hustlers—it was a Lou Reed song come to life in the South.

It’s hot in Richmond, and The Village was aggressively air conditioned. Pitchers of iced coffee were cheap, and Dika Newlin, one of the last living students of composer Arnold Schoenberg, would come in and drink a Stinger next to Blind John (three eggs soft scrambled with extra cheddar, double bacon and rye toast).

I cooked French toast for Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys there. More often than not, someone connected to the heavy metal band GWAR was around. Hillary (the best manager I ever had) was engaged to the tour manager, I think, and the band’s singer Slymenstra Hymen (AKA Danielle Stampe) was a good friend of hers.

GWAR was, at the time, inescapable. I was more of a Kepone guy, myself, which was GWAR adjacent, closer to indie rock and punk than GWAR. GWAR was over the top. A GWAR show is like a heavy metal wrestling tournament. Real Grand Guignol fantasmagoria with double kick drums, stag horns, enormous prosthetic phalli and fountains of fake blood soaking the crowd. GWAR took the tongue in cheek Thanatos driven performances of bands like Iron Maiden all the way to the edge. At GWAR shows, members of the audience are fed into a gigantic meat grinder set up in front of the drum risers. (I’ve always wondered if there’s a green room down there—after you are lowered through the molded foam teeth of the grinder are you greeted with a PBR and some merch?)

During the two decades I spent up in New York before moving back to Virginia, GWAR........

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