Get yer ta-ta's out
Matt Zane, director of the new Pimpadelic video, is busy arranging the buttocks of a nubile starlet. After four run-throughs, all body parts seem to be in the right place. Encouraging his cameraman to close in on a tight shot of the female's posterior, the director claps his hands and takes a running dive, landing smack-dab in front of the video monitor. "Now we got got us some cinematography," he leers.
Zane, a wiry young man of about 25 with long, streaked hair and a glam-inspired fashion sense, is a director-producer of pornographic videos. Responsible for such masturbatory fodder as Backstage Sluts and its sequel, Ass Lovers, installments 5-7 of the Depraved Fantasies series, and the inevitable Poke'er Mon, he is for all intents and purposes the right man for the job at hand. Pimpadelic has set up camp inside Trees in Deep Ellum on Sunday evening to shoot the promotional video that will accompany "Caught It From Me," the debut single off their first album for Tommy Boy Records, Southern Devils, a reworked version of the disc of the same name the group released last year. True to form, the video is, of course, X-rated.
Tommy Boy's director of video promotions, Karen Jones, explains that an optically censored version will be released for any broadcast airplay, and an unfiltered version released to DJs to drum up airplay for the band. Jones, petite and dreadlocked, mingles freely amongst the crew and staff of Trees, who are steeling themselves for the 500 or so young fans lined up alongside the pavement outside, waiting patiently to get into the video shoot for their hometown heroes. In between conferences with director Zane, Jones shuttles between an assistant producer and Tommy Boy A&R guru Max Nichols.
Nichols, whose previous acts include the critically acclaimed Prince Paul and the Handsome Boy Modeling School, appears preoccupied. There is a reason for his concern: With shooting well under way, co-frontman and rapper Dirty K has yet to turn up for the shoot. In an effort to smooth things over, he gives the go-ahead to commence production with the hope that Dirty K will show up eventually.
"I'm not wearing any underwear," one of the models informs the crew. "Is that gonna be a problem?" After more than one take is devoted to lovingly capturing her bare crotch, it appears that her question is answered.
"Now, when I say 'action,' I want you to reach up and grab her tits, but don't squeeze," Zane warns MIA. "Then I want you to start licking and stare up at the camera, but no biting."
Tattooed vocalist-guitarist Easy Jesus, himself groping a silicon-enhanced model -- though off camera -- jumps up and lashes out at his DJ for biting. Easy, with his cowboy hat, stringy hair, facial piercings, and bondage/Western get up, has been wandering around the set giving direction himself for the past hour or so. With a plastic cup of booze in one hand and a suspicious-looking bag of white powder in the other, the extroverted singer knows that right now it's his show, and makes no qualms about taking over whenever things don't appear quite right. In an attempt to demonstrate how drummer Madison should handle his woman in a later scene, Easy roughly grabs the hapless female by a bicep and thrusts her forward, narrowly missing the carefully placed lighting setup that Zane had been adjusting for the past several minutes.
"That's how you do it," he points out, "You're a man, not a...a...pussy!"
Max Nichols has just been informed that Dirty K has appeared on the set. Excitedly rushing down the wooden stairway from the lounge area, he greets the improbably muscled Dirty with a hail of oaths before descending upon the young man with a bear hug. K has arrived just in time; after a brief break, it is time for his scene.
In the downstairs women's restroom, the take isn't going as planned. Time and again, Zane redirects his charges, Easy Jesus and Dirty K, to double-time a stripper in one of the stalls, but Easy is getting a little too excited. As the entire staff of Trees cranes its collective neck to get a peek at the video monitor, Zane shouts his instructions through the closed bathroom door.
"What are you doing, Easy? What are you doing?" Zane asks.
Within seconds after what seems like the twentieth take, the door flies open and a tearful young woman flies out, grasping for her top, which at this point is almost around her ankles. Mumbling, she marches upstairs vowing to leave and not come back. Easy saunters out and informs no one in particular that he's never been so horny without fucking something. Max Nichols quickly pulls the vocalist to the side and whispers something in his ear, and the entire crew and band break for a closed, emergency meeting upstairs.
It should come as little surprise to anyone even remotely aware of the group that Pimpadelic is delivering the raunch on its first-ever label-financed video. Their stage shows are already legendary for spontaneous displays of female fans', um, enthusiasm. Onstage breast flashing has given way to the occasional onstage act of fellatio, and the fans wouldn't have it any other way. Long the scourge of the local press and fellow musicians, the Pimps have done things their own way for the past six years and built perhaps the largest and most rabid following of any Dallas-Fort Worth act. Now they're ready to spread their disease to the rest of the world. Social critics who complain about the coarsening of dialogue in our culture may well have something new to carp about when Southern Devils -- which Dirty K refers to later as "ass-fucking, titty-sucking, punk-rocking shit" -- is released on April 18, and the young record buyers who haven't quite cottoned to the syrupy boy-group harmonies of 'N Sync may have a new set of heroes.
"We've been aware of them for quite some time," Nichols says "We've been talking to them over the past couple of years and have always been impressed with their ability to do things themselves, putting out their own CDs and everything. After we got a copy of this last record, we knew they were ready for the big time. They're stars."
The front door of Trees has now opened, and hundreds of fans have streamed through the ID check and onto the floor of the venerable club. Zane informs the crowd, which is pressed tightly against the stage barrier, to save their energy for the actual crowd shot later on in the evening. The band disagrees, and apparently, so does the audience. Initially embarrassed to mime their performance, the band members warm up through several takes and deliver a physical assault so strenuous that Easy Jesus slams his Les Paul to the stage floor, snapping the pricey guitar's neck in two.
"You guys see that? I just sacrificed my prized possession," he says into the live microphone, "Ah fuck it, I got eight more at home."
"Caught It From Me," with its raging chorus and hip-hop flavored verse, confirms that the band is indeed, as Nichols points out, ready for the big time. Gone are the clichéd rhymes and muddled production of the band's debut Statutory Rap. Coupled with a stage persona that comes across like an even more white-trash Kid Rock (!), Dirty K, Easy Jesus, and company deliver a metallic K.O., complete with a memorable hook slathered in reverb and delay, and a rhythm section that's about as tight as a duck's ass. In other words, it's pretty good.
After finishing up the band shots, the assistant producer takes the mike and informs the throng that after Pimpadelic takes a dinner break, the group will be back to play a real set. The sweaty mass, worked up to a boiling point during the lip-synched performance, surprisingly moves politely back away from the stage so the relieved stage hands can change the lighting rigs above the club's floor.
Cornered against the southern end of a large buffet table set up by craft services on the second-floor balcony, I ask Karen Jones about her feelings toward the group's misogyny.
"I don't see [Pimpadelic] as particularly sexist," she says. "I mean, these girls are getting up on stage and stripping on their own accord. That's their prerogative."
Moments later, Easy Jesus, who by this point has requested that he be called G.G. Jesus, rages up to the dinner spread and takes it upon himself to dump the entire contents of the buffet onto the crowd below.
"Dinner is served," he drawls.
Later, the group takes the stage again and dives into a blistering set of covers and old favorites (including "Caught It From Me"), sounding surprisingly faithful to the recording they had been miming to earlier. Picking up a roll that had landed on the floor from his earlier banquet destruction, Easy, uh, G.G. Jesus has a request: "I need a girl to come up here, 'cause I'm gonna shove this up her ass and eat it!"
Within seconds a pretty, post-adolescent young lady ascends the stage with the help of the bouncers and pulls her Adidas trainers down. Sure enough, the guitarist makes good on his promise and the fans explode.
"Now there's something you don't see everyday," Nichols says.
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