A 1995 account of the final chaotic show by notorious punk provocateur GG Allin. From Flipside, a California fanzine documenting the underground music scene from from 1977 to 2000.
GG’s Ride Home
BY AL RIDENOUR
I had nothing to compare it to. Others with the gift of hindsight have said there was a particularly desperate mood building up around this show, that what you saw on stage was clearly a man just hours away from self-destruction. What do I know? This was the first and only time I’d seen him. This was GG Allin. What do you expect to see when you spread the Devil’s cheeks?
Notorious for murder threats and promises of on-stage suicide, doing time, and throwing his shit from the stage, GG Allin was punk’s own public enemy number one. He died of an overdose June 27, hours after this afternoon performance at the Gas Station, an alternative performance space on the eroding edge of New York’s East Village. I bought the tickets as a reward to myself for completing a week-long reunion with my fundamentalist Christian siblings That had been the impetus for a trip to New York, but this show was the payoff, a refreshing excursion into hell.
The staging was almost too Hollywood. No art director could sketch a more fitting environment for the final showdown. The Gas Station is just that, the shell of an abandoned service station in an oil-stained courtyard ringed by a towering wall of old car chassis and other rusted debris, and surmounted by a huge “A” set in a circle. This mass of metal juts out over the sidewalk and rises over the drug-ridden Hispanic neighborhood like a coral reef. Dangerous and beckoning from a mile away, I can see it now. It’s calling out to me. Welcome to Anarchy Island!
My friend and I find ourselves falling in step with an unbelievable mob. Casting call for “Last of the Mohawks” The owner of the corner liquor store must think it’s the Second Coming. Some freak leaning against a fire hydrant is singing and accompanying himself on what looks like an electric dulcimer. Two little girls in white communion dresses stand next to him mouthing the words. I’m so into this scene, that I pour an unheard-of portion of my beer into the passing cup of a friendly parasite.
We pay the man, and head inside, find a spot against a makeshift plywood wall, and begin sizing up the crowd. Pretty much what you’d expect, except this one guy in disposable painters’ coveralls — not a bad investment given the inevitably scatological turn of events. We know we’re in for a real show when GG’s band, the Murder Junkies, arrives and begin taping garbage bags over their gear. Yes sir! The shit is going to hit the fans!
We endure the passing absurdity of a soundcheck, and then it happens. Someone unlatches the cage, and we see him barreling through the crowd — big, round, bald, dog-collared, and practically nude. Rumor says he’d had his cocaine and liquor before the show, and whatever it is in his eyes is making them bulge like pickled eggs. The fans start screaming ” GG! GG!” like it’s the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and he takes off into a song, which seems to be primarily about fucking Christ up the butt.
First song completed without incident, one member of the audience rewards him with a handful of something or other. “Oh great!,” he bellows , “Drugs!” and swipes the offering into his mouth before launching into the second, (and final) song. The slamming gets scarier, and a few pitbulls get bounced back too hard. The crowd packs more tightly against the wall. I begin calculating my escape route.
It only takes a moment. I lose sight of him, and the next thing I smell I recognize from my days working with autistic kids. Yes he’s out of his pants and making chocolate pudding pies on stage. People start to push me toward the door, and over my shoulder I see it flying over the stage — an arc of some evil brown liquid. Yahoo! Run! Even the spikiest haircuts are shoving hard for the door now.
Music stops. He’s screaming. “I’ve heard people in this city think I’m a faggot? Who’s calling me a faggot?”
No one’s calling him anything. Most of us are already out in the courtyard. The band is already packing up. We can’t see, but we can hear the sound of his tantrum — a crash here, a thud there, the sound of shattering glass. He’s getting into some serious remodeling of the gas station’s interior. The wall we moments before were leaning against is now buckling under his blows. Not a load-bearing wall, mind you but enough of a wall to get you thinking about your Old Testament stories of Samson bringing down the house. Even the most desperately drunk at this point evacuate the building. One hardcore fan emerges with blood streaming down around his eye. Band members charge out, swinging their instrument cases like machetes. “Get out my way. Just let me through. I’ll hurt someone! I don’t care if I do,” one of them screams. He leaves a couple of drunks fist fighting in his wake. I notice those little girls in communion dresses stranded atop a pile of rusted chassis. They’re screaming like crazy, and some blue-haired girls are trying to calm them.
The assault on the building’s interior falls silent. The human wrecking ball emerges stark raving nekkid, smeared with shit and blood and waving a chair. Those big pickled eggs have clearly started to fry. Everyone gets going like your worst case fire-drill fuckup. Brutal pushing, shoving, stumbling, and adrenaline laughter. Mr. Showbiz drops the chair and heads for a big aluminum ladder leaning against a wall. It’s obvious he’s got some killing to do, and this ladder happens to be the best tool for the job. A wave of people fly back against the wall. A few desperate souls scramble up onto the junk heap.
Before GG can even put the tool to the test, one of his handlers distracts him. He drops the ladder and disappears into the building only to emerge again with a new weapon — a promotional T-shirt bearing his own vicious likeness. Holding this aloft, he parades though the courtyard screaming, “Buy the T-shirt. See the show!” Get em while they last.” It’s even scarier.
Those on the wall are leaping now, like the crew from a burning ship. Anyone not directly involved in the show has already gotten themselves safely out onto the sidewalk. A girl standing next to me is showing off the bloody consequences of stumbling on broken glass. The T-shirts are not selling.
Round Two. GG charges out the Gas Station, driving the sidewalk crowd into the street. Yes, the big, bad, shit-covered genie is out of the bottle for good. It is generally perceived to be a good time to start throwing bottles and screaming, “Anarchy. It does feel like the beginning of the end, or maybe recess. I recognized this feeling from last year’s riots. We can hear the sound of sirens in the distance, and then there’s a sound like a bell. Death knell for GG He’s hugging the corner lamppost, grinding his hips against it, and smacking his skull against its’ resonant surface, making a sound as musical as anything we’ve heard. GG lets go and lurches across the street, causing a neighborhood Dad-on-errands to slam on his brakes. We’ve filled the street by now, and all the other cars make detours. He’s in the middle of a very wide circle. Whatever direction he takes a step opens a hole in the crowd fifty feet wide. All around me people are saying “It’s just one person. This is ridiculous.” But no one’s moving closer. Every time he charges forward. I keep thinking of that little town in Spain where they let the bulls run the streets. The cops cars pull up and take a couple of bottles right on the hood. Some friends push GG into a alley and hide his uninspiring nakedness in a pair of black lycra hot pants. “Change of venue,” the guy next to me yells.
The cops are clueless. There’s no show to bust or building to clear, just a big scary mob of several hundred spread halfway down the block. They just sit watching the crowd rumble down the street. Only we recognize the Pied Piper. It’s our parade. It’s the real show we paid for. All the danger and unpredictability we crave is right up there in front. Only a handful of close acquaintances are closer than fifty feet. GG is kicking over each and every garbage can along the way. The crowd keeps them rolling like thunder over the street. Trash is blowing everywhere. As we cross the intersection, I remember GG’s suicide threats, and wonder exactly what my stomach could endure. I really don’t know what to expect. He could kill a fan, grab a child or just climb to the top of the Empire State Building.
After about three blocks of following at a safe distance, I notice the crowd is thinning out a bit. Cop cars have nudged up into our midst. Maybe they’ve gotten the story by now. GG and entourage are walking faster as we come to the next intersection. Then begins this weird bit of street theater I call ” GG Hails a Cab.”
You must imagine the scene: confused traffic patterns scrambled by a mob of several hundred punks, everyone honking, flashers from a half dozen patrol cars, and GG out there in the middle of the intersection staggering in front of cabs, his friends waving, pushing him forward, and shooting video of the whole escapade. A couple drivers actually stop long enough to appreciate the streaks of drying blood and shit. “Occupied” lights flash on, and they’re off, tires squealing. One guy actually starts to open his door, then slams it.
The crowd is beginning to disperse. The ratio of cops to punkers is increasing. We remain on the other side of the next intersection as GG turns down an alley, realizing that by now, we’re actually a little bit lost, and the sun’s going down over a bad part of town. That bit of pantomime in the intersection was the last I saw. I guess he caught his cab. Or perhaps he sat across from some office clerk on his subway ride to safety. He escaped somehow. Long enough to get enough drugs in his system to do him in. I heard that he was supposed to be nervous that day about an upcoming visit with his mother. Can’t imagine that family. My own reunion was bad enough. It was pitch dark, by the time we found the subway. I was relieved because I hate taking cabs. They always fuck you over if they see that you’re a stranger.