by Melpomene Whitehead; Photos by Pru PhurSurf Reality Benefit

For some of us, being different was something we felt on the inside, and we chose to represent it externally through weird clothes and hair, tattoos, piercings… for others, the status of outsider was thrust upon us because of the way we looked, who our parents were, where we lived. I don’t know if I’d be the person I am today, a person who really doesn’t give a shit what others think, a person who feels free to follow her own path, if I hadn’t been an outcast from the beginning. My mother is white, my father is hispanic, and while I know that’s no biggie in most of New York, on Staten Island it means you’re weird. Until I was six we lived in the West Brighton Projects, also know as the birthplace of the Wu Tang Clan. There, I learned that the darker your skin was, the more difficult your life was. Brenda told me not to play with Sister because she was "too dark." And even the middle class black kids wanted to be my friend because I was so light. Then we moved to a more suburban part of Shaolin and I learned what it was like to be the one who was too dark.

Michele Carlo, in her show "The Search For My Inner Latina," explores these same issues from another vantage point–one of being the only red-headed, freckled Puerto Rican girl in her North Bronx neighborhood. She and I grew up at the same time, a time when it was almost shameful to be hispanic, a time when good latino parents never spoke a word of Spanish in the house, a time of assimilation. We were Americans, my father would say when we’d beg him to teach us Spanish, we speak English here. But speaking only English was never going to hide the fact that I had nappy hair and big lips and a round nose, chin, and ass, and a weird skin color. I was an auslander in my own town. But poor Michele, she was an auslander in her own house! She could be the kid of any of the other Irish and German families in her North Bronx neighborhood, but she didn’t fit in to her own family. In "The Search for My Inner Latina," Michele delves into how this dichotomy shaped her, and how it motivated her to explore the schism in her soul. Michele is an articulate spokesperson for all of us outsiders. Relating her unique experiences to her audience with humor and passion she starts all of us on our journey to finding out and accepting ourselves as we are. "Inner Latina" is not as silly and riotous as Michele’s other show, The Carmen Mofongo Show, but it is as funny, with a lot more crunchy insights for the audience to chew on.

This month I was privileged to meet and interview a genuine urban legend–Maya Price of Mother Goddess. A few months ago, responding to Rolling Stone’s ludicrous "Women in Rock" issue, Ms. Price wrote an impassioned and provocative letter, lambasting the RS editors for choosing their cover models (Britney, Shakira, and Mary J. Blige) based upon the tightness of their pants as opposed to their credibility as rock musicians. To quote from the letter "Jewel and Mandy friggin' Moore have full page features as Rock Icons...Meanwhile Joan Jett gets one line. ONE LINE." This is precisely the reason I no longer read Rolling Stone–they seem completely clueless and out of touch. It’s not that there ARE no women in rock, it’s that mainstream music press and rock radio ignore them. As Maya eloquently states, "In your own letter from the editor you have the hypocritical balls to say "rock radio won't touch female artists, while the pop factory keeps churning out soundalike clones, and ambitious musicians with something to say find themselves left out in the cold." The pages that follow those words are a blatant display that Rolling Stone magazine is happily working for the factory now too."

Anyway. RS did not publish Maya’s letter, but a lot of her friends and fans forwarded it to their friends. One of her friends happens to be Joan Jett, whose webmaster posted it on Joan’s site. Instant fame! Only somehow people got the idea that Joan wrote the letter. It didn’t take too long for the hysteria to both snow-ball and straighten itself out. Now you can read Maya’s letter on her site (, Joan’s site ( and the clearing house for urban legend research,

Being keen on the speed of information dissemination provided by the internet, and also interested in mistaken identities, hoaxes, and other aspects of urban legends, I jumped at the chance to interview Maya for a local public access show. Tibbie X and I met with Maya in the chilly basement of Don Hill’s, just before her performance at Bitch that night (she did the Alice in Chains song "Man in the Box"), where we discussed real women in rock, who’s good, who sucks, why Maya calls her music Cunt Rock, and her groovy tattoos, all while, at different points, my adorable boyfriend M. David Hornbuckle, and Tibbie’s adorable boyfriend Nico, blew straw wrappers at us. A few nights later I slipped over to Arlene Grocery to see Maya’s full band, Mother Goddess, show the kids downtown what cunt rock means. One of the most noticeable things about Maya, besides her outrageous clothes and her powerful voice, is her remarkable stage presence–Maya’s androgynous sexuality is as commanding as David Bowie’s or Mick Jagger’s. She does not rely on T&A to get the audiences attention–she’s totally beyond that. Instead she uses raw sexual energy that captivates all the audience, not just the guys and the lesbians. Add that to her mighty voice and Mother Goddess’s hard and sexy rock n roll songs, I think even the editors of Rolling Stone will find it difficult to keep her down. Mother Goddess is bloody, raw, hard, and sexy. I’m waiting for that day of retribution, when RS has to come begging to Maya to do a cover shoot.

I’m not the sort who usually hangs at Bitch, but I didn’t feel a bit out of place. I spotted many local rock luminaries well-known to Waste readers–Robert Lund, Frank Wood, George Tabb, along with the women who were there to perform that night, including Militia and Queen V. Also in attendance was film maker and publisher Mr. Creepo! Since he’s also known as Mr. UFO, I proudly told him that I had my New York Fortean Society membership card in my wallet, signed by John Keel, author of "The Mothman Prophecies." He too had been a member of the New York Fortean Society back when they were active. Coincidence? Or synchronicity? Nope, urban legend! No, wait–it’s true. You may want to check out and before you decide.

porno jim and bexJim Graham is back at Chashama with his Porno Jim show, an educational look at porn. I highly recommend this for you dudes trying to get your women to watch porn with you, or just stop harassing you about watching porn. Porno Jim will explain everything to you. There’s a lot of bad porn out there, so you need to sift through it to find the stuff you like. Jim is kind enough to show you some good, hot porn, and he gives you a list or recommended rentals. Burlesque performer and actress Amber Ray ( filled in for the lovely Bex as Jim’s assistant the night I saw it, and Amber revealed–no wait!!!–she revealed what she liked to see in porn–men going down on women, or, as we used to call it on SI, eating out. She also buttoned and unbuttoned her blouse at various points, and fanned herself during the hotter moments, with fans that said "Oh My!" and "Wow!" Porno Jim’s dry, scholarly delivery will have you laughing while watching Ron Jeremy’s jelly belly banging into some random babe’s butt, or while Jenna Jameson, lost in a fairy world, converses with two sexy mystical pixies guiding her on some wacky sex-venture. Jim is truly a porn connoisseur, but he looks like the sweet boy next door so you don’t feel all dirty after the show. You can get more info at

It’s no urban legend that Surf Reality, after 9 years on that street w/ the foam store–what is it? Allen Street. After 9 years on Allen Street, it looks as if Surf will be moving on. The landlord has proposed a rent-hike that would certainly spell financial ruin for the place as it is now. To bring attention to the plight, and raise some much-needed fundage for the move, Ha! hosted a Surf Reality benefit during their comedy festival in January. At the Kraine! It was the first time I got to sit in a comfortable seat Shauna Lanewhile watching Henry Faulkner, Via Satellite with M. David Hornbuckle, St. Reverend Jen Miller, Shauna Lane, et al, do their highly unique performances. Some of these people do comedy that is so edgy, it offends normally libertarian art stars! Now that’s comedy. Jonny McGoverrn, who inexplicably has become a spokesmodel for NY’s gay youth, gyrated in a be-dazzled pair of tight tight jeans while performing his hit "Soccer Practice." Shauna did an outrageously funny dance to "I Need a Hero," in tribute to all the men going off to fight in the middle east for no good reason. Hopefully, Surf’s situation will be resolved soon and we won’t have to wonder where we’re going to see all the peerless and peculiar performances that go on at Surf.

I’ve decided that Don Eng is the Dalai Lama of the LES. He’s in exile from his homeland (New Jersey), faces persecution wherever he goes (well, not really), but still manages to retain his twisted and optimistic outlook. Don will be hosting a Chinese New Year celebration at Collective: Unconscious on February 15, 8 pm. Of course there will be fortune cookies. Don is truly a singular performer–his joy and giddiness infect the audience like a virus of silliness, and in the midst of all the insanity he manages to convey feelings that are so deep and true that you may be moved to tears.

Speaking of religious experiences. I went to see Johnny Marr towards the end of January at the Bowery Ballroom. It decidedly was not a religious experience. Marr showed the exceptionally ugly frat-boy filled audience that while he can write heaven knows marr is miserable nowsongs that sound like Jesus Jones and the Cult, he can’t write like he did when he was the guitarist in the Smiths. It’s sad to see someone who was so hugely influential to a generation drop to a level where he’s doing songs with chords and leads and mundane lyrics about relationships. With the Smiths he wrote so many memorable, intriguing melodies, some silly, some incredibly beautiful, and now he’s reduced to this mainstream faux-alterna-rock? It’ s just pathetic. Marr didn’t seem overly impressed himself, berating the crowd for yelling "We love you Johnny!" I guess he feels unlovable these days. And bitter. I also was suitably unimpressed by the guitar tech coming out handing Johnny a new guitar for every few songs. And one time he played with a capo. I had no idea Marr was such a rock pussy. But you know what? He looked good. I’ll say that in his favor.

And finally, what’s this rumor I hear about certain people being charged more to attend Brer Brian’s Braincell Genocide show at Collective this month? It seems that certain show producers feel that they can charge higher prices to people they don’t like personally. Hmm. Considering the amount of under-attendance at many of the shows at C:U, that policy seems unwise to say the least.

Melpomene Whitehead also writes for email her at