By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Just because a star was bred in Hollywood doesn't necessarily mean he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Just take Mickey Avalon, the unlikely king of Los Angeles' swanky clubs. He came from beginnings far beyond dubious and well into deranged, a fact he's celebrated in his music. His unique glam-punk take on hip-hop features lyrics forged of the most brutal honesty you've ever been bludgeoned with.
"The easiest way for me to deal with my own shyness has always been just to jump into it," explains Avalon, born Yeshe Perl. "So it's always been easier to show the warts and all."
And show the warts he does, speaking with utter candor about his upbringing. Song subjects have included his deceased father's heroin addiction (he died in an automobile accident), his mother's occupation as a pot dealer, and Avalon's own inevitable trip down that path. He, too, sold drugs and became a junkie, he openly admits.
That's all fair game in his music. So is his former homelessness and his forays into gay prostitution (used to fund his addiction).
"I used to work nights at HotCock.com," he raps in "Waiting to Die," from his 2006 self-titled debut album. "But then I got fired when my mom logged on."
But it's not shock value that fueled Avalon's approach.
"When you try to hide stuff, it seems like that's when people can kind of come after you," he says. "The more you put stuff out there, people can't really do anything, 'cause you take the power away from them."
Avalon's upcoming sophomore release (tentatively titled Electric Gigolo) bears newfound focus, with a high-priced producer (Dr. Luke, who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears and Katy Perry) and the point of view now fixated on a distinctly more normal life. Still, he promises all the edge that fans have come to expect.
"I don't talk about stuff that isn't relevant anymore," he explains. "Like 50 Cent talking about selling crack, and you know he hasn't sold crack in 10 years 'cause now he's a multimillionaire. I don't talk about living on the streets or anything like that. But it's still like a movie, and all the characters are still sordid people, like hookers and drug addicts and pimps and thieves and whatever. So it's still my shit, but just more sonic, I guess."
Mickey Avalon has come a long way from selling himself for his next fix, but grime and grit remain his stock in trade. And his live shows continue to be the notorious displays of debauchery that made him famous (or infamous) in the first place.
And to think, he seems like such a nice, wholesome guy when he speaks.