The Midwest probably has no fucking clue what to expect when their teenage daughters start to silently listen to Mickey Avalon’s debut on their iPod and put up glossy images of a shirtless Avalon on their bedroom walls. But I guarantee that once they get an earful of Avalon’s shtick (smacked-out former male prostitute turned white Hollywood rapper) they will freak.
Add a few rap-rock purists to the mix, and you may be watching one of the most divisive performers in recent memory join in on the condemnation; while Hollywood has always been ground-zero for decadent behavior, Mickey Avalon manages to make some of the most socially unacceptable norms into a marketable art form.
And who’s the market for Avalon’s music? Teenage girls, sexually confused teenage boys, and those that find junkie/bohemian lifestyle a curiously appealing.
Blame MySpace: Avalon’s hugely popular “friends” number around a quarter-million now which paved the way for the online community’s first foray into music with the added benefit of a major label distribution deal through Interscope. The entire thing is fairly admirable if you can get past the stunning fact that drug abusers can become the cover stars of Tiger Beat.
There’s no better example of this surreal fame than with Avalon’s appearance on Tom Green’s internet show late last year. With liters of Stoli and bottles of Jagermeister littering Green’s desk, the “studio” is filled with young ladies trying to get the attention of Avalon. During the times he did perform (typically the song “My Dick,” which was repeated three or for times during the hour long broadcast), the girls did the obligatory grinds with their friends, blankly reciting Avalon’s lyrics with him (“Your dick / Got the HIV”) while secretly hoping their efforts may result in some real up-close encounters later on. Green, in one of the best examples of clusterfuck entertainment I have seen since Steve-O appeared on his show, was reduced to interviewing some of the hanger-ons (many of whom, couldn’t even be pried away from their cell phones while he attempted to speak with them on camera) after Avalon slipped outside to smoke pot with some groupies.
But enough about the peripherals; what about the music?
To call it embarrassing is just as embarrassing as me admitting to enjoying parts of it, which I do. Cheap beats, white-on-rice rapping and barely passable rhymes, one can imagine Avalon’s ultimate decline from stardom will be just as quick as his assured rise to it. Face it: an artist this polarizing and intentionally ugly is bound to find a larger base beyond the Sunset Strip and, when he does, watch the pundits crucify him just as quickly as the press scrambles to explain how he got to be so naughty.
I’m not talking about “naughty” in the Prince sense either, I’m talking about an artist who raps about “buck rap(ing) your brother” almost as frequently as he does about fucking your sister. The sex is not pretty: the people who Avalon beds (in the loosest sense of the word, since the act would probably take place in the bathroom stall of The Roxy instead of a proper bed) are coke-snorting bulimics who share just as many character flaws as he does.
Underneath the posturing about penis size, prowess and romanticizing of his aptitude at hustling, lies a fairly austere character. The Mickey Avalon we’re witnessing essentially has no redeeming qualities and there’s very little about the man to feel sorry, but the little girls understand because they’ve read about his history on the “About Me” section of his MySpace page.
Given Avalon’s blatant lack of talent, what is it about him that generates any semblance of appeal? Plain and simple: the guy is a depressive street-rat that exudes sexuality. Every performance seems to find him drinking anything put in front of him (and then pouring it back into the crowd), making out with any 18 year-old girl in the front row who beckons with an open mouth and rocking the house the entire time. At least that’s what I’ve read; there’s no indication of sex appeal anywhere to be found in the grooves of his debut release, just aural reminders until the next club date.
So why do I keep spinning this fucking thing? I’m clearly out of its intended demographic (which is frighteningly young), conscious of its technical and creative limitations, and well aware that Avalon’s shelf life may be over quicker than a truck stop hand job. But the entire thing has infected me to the point where I’m fascinated with the “how” and “why” of his draw. From the dismal “Waiting To Die” (“For $20 you get Chachi / For $40 you get Fonzie”), the 80’s electronic trash of “So Rich, So Pretty” (“She thinks it’s really funny / When her nose goes bloody”), to the gutter character study “Roll The Dice” (“If you’ve got the syringe / Follow me and I’ll share”), Avalon’s nasally monotone seldom changes throughout the album and his themes are far from didactic. While his approach provides a consistency to the recurring decadence of his persona, it doesn’t provide any glimpse that he can go beyond it and deliver an album beyond the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
Avalon presents a distressing document of the Sunset Strip underbelly that it would be a therapist’s dream to fully understand why he’s found such resonance among SoCal’s apathetic youth. The only thing I know is that Avalon’s probably desensitized listeners with his debut to the point where he might have shot his metaphoric wad too soon just trying to get your attention.
Mickey Avalon – “My Dick” (live on Tom Green)
Mickey Avalon – “Roll Up Your Sleeves”
Mickey Avalon – “Jane Fonda” video