CITY OF ANGELS: Rick Wilder

CITY OF ANGELS: Rick Wilder

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, RICK WILDER TALKS BERLIN BRATS, THE EARLY DAYS OF GLITTER, AND GETTING KICKED OUT OF THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, RICK WILDER TALKS BERLIN BRATS, THE EARLY DAYS OF GLITTER, AND GETTING KICKED OUT OF THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL

Photography: Hedi Slimane

Text: Patrik Sandberg

What was the first band you were ever in?

Well, I had my kiddie band. It was called the Berlin Brats and we were part of that whole initial kind of glam, or glitter. It was when Rodney had a club, Rodney Bingenheimer, and it was pre-punk. It was before that. And I was still going to school. And I was just about to graduate and we had this band on campus and you know, at first, I was sort of the original pseudo-Jagger-esque person. Later on I found out about the Dolls, but we didn’t know. There was no Internet! Then I showed up and Rodney came to my third floor apartment at the Havenhurst on Franklin and Whitley Avenues in Hollywood proper. It was that street where J.J. Newberry was and they had the Coke sign right at the top, across the street from the Ardmore, which always looked like one of those cruise ships to me. I lived with my mom at that time. We had to look out at that sign and it looked like it was sailing or something! I moved out of my mom’s at 13 and moved into a place on Las Palmas where we got into it proper with real amps and real guitars instead of just a little amp.

Rodney Bingenheimer is in this portfolio actually. Ariel [Pink] is in it too. I’m wondering what sort of stories you remember about that scene with Rodney.

We used to have this thing at the Riot House, because the punk scene started in Hollywood. It was like Ground Zero of that particular scene. The Riot House was like the meeting place of everybody after Rodney’s, after the Rainbow, after wherever you were hanging out. And we would go there and dine and dash because everybody got separate checks. We would go there, and then we had our own little place too: the Tea Party. Rodney was totally shocked when he came up to the third floor bedroom because we were chugging down what I call canisters—the green death—cans of Rainier Ale. We weren’t old enough yet! I was like 13 years old. Rodney was amazed at that. And then we rehearsed at this kids’ school. There we were chugging away, thinking we’re going to be the next big thing. The Berlin Brats thought I was too big for my britches. They thought I was little Alex from A Clockwork Orange and I was pushing them around. They fired me after I got with Matt’s girlfriend Jane. He used to beat her up, so she was looking for a friend. There was this big closet she would sleep in. One day she wanted me to climb in with her and that’s how I lost my virginity. It turns out she got killed by the Hillside Strangler two months later. They called me and Matt in and they thought we had some sort of weird sex thing going—me, Jane, and him…like a threesome? Oh God! It was so weird. Burger Records, do you know who they are?

Yeah.

They’re re-releasing and they’ve already sold out all of the cassettes of this Berlin Brats album with all of those songs on it, plus several live that were made at the Cabaret on La Cienega and at The Whiskey, The Roxy. We played over Van Halen. We played over that guy that killed himself...Elliott Smith? Of course, Kim Fowley smelled money so when he got the Runaways together he decided to have us [The Berlin Brats] as the little boy punk band and the Runaways as the little girl punk band. I actually had a conquest with Marie, who was Cherie’s twin sister. Then the next time I saw them I had a threesome with them. So that was weird. You know Kim came onto me so hard. He looked good then…he had hair, for one thing. It was before The Ramones. It was before punk. I’m so sorry about David Bowie. Did you like him?

Yeah of course, but being my age, I grew up with him being the most famous rock and roll icon in the world so it’s a weird association.

Oh man, I haven’t gotten over it yet.

What is your craziest memory from playing music in that time period?

I have to say the riot at the semi-annual Halloween shows that we would do at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. We played Halloween night in 1978 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It was haunted of course, by Marilyn Monroe and others. We rented her room upstairs and to get in you had to say, ‘Use a gun, go to prison.’ I remember Black Randy and Kickboy Face from Slash magazine were up there and I had my little heels on. The show lineup was Michael Sinatra opening up, then the Go-Gos, then it was us [the Mau Maus], and then it was supposed to be Darby Crash as a special guest. But by that time, the riot had happened: the cops came in and stormed the place. It was after we had already played, but not before Darby had started a fire on the curtains because he didn’t want to get out. And then Black Randy started a fire in the room upstairs! We got disinvited of course, but the next year we did it again only under a different name. Too wild! The weirdest show with the Berlin Brats was the riot we had. When we got back from San Francisco, we were amazed by the change in the entire crowd of people with their new shorn haircuts and sunglasses on at night, and they were standing side by side at the Whiskey. We didn’t know anything about this short haircut thing. This was the problem: everyone was trying to imitate Britain rather than New York. It was like everyone in L.A. was aligned with Britain, and New York was aligned with New York, of course! I would say my act as a Brat was half Patti Smith, half Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger meets the sperm of Iggy Pop. Anyway, we were playing with Exene of X and Darby of the Germs. They kept gobbing at us to be like Britain (and gobbing is a word for spitting in England). They were throwing beer cans; they were throwing water. I don’t know how we weren’t electrocuted at that show—or any of the other bands after us, because it was ankle-deep. I’m telling you, I was amazed. Oh my god, I have so many stories, man.

Credits: PRODUCTION KIM POLLOCK AND YANN RZEPKA DIGITAL TECHNICIAN ALEX THEMISTOCLEOUS (MILK STUDIOS)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS FRANK TERRY, MATT HARTZ, JAMES PERRY RETOUCHING DTOUCH  EQUIPMENT MILK STUDIOS  LOCATION QUIXOTE STUDIOS  CATERING FOOD LAB

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