When I dialed lusty glam rapper Mickey Avalon's coveted digits, I assumed I'd catch him in the throes of a coke-fueled orgy with platinum blonde Malibu junkies, and hoarsely be asked to call back later. Instead, he was in the car on the way home from Starbucks. Drinking a Frappucinno. With his long-term girlfriend. And for a man whose seductive diction onstage drops panties in crowds like a slutty version of The Wave, his speaking voice was more a pleasant nasal coo than raunchy pillow talk. I rolled with it, and found that the hustler kamikaze who normally makes me want to tear my clothes off, guzzle Patrón, and bump lines off of hookers' abs, is more of a loving father than a pimp daddy, who's never been sodomized by anyone but Universal Records. Avalon is in town tomorrow to play the "Blazed and Confused" tour with Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid, and Stephen Marley at the Memorial Coliseum. I wonder how they came up with that name...
Mickey Avalon: Hey, I was just about to call you.
WW: Oh great, okay.
So I actually went to Starbucks, that's when you called, right when I got there, and then I forgot my wallet, and then I came home and I got my chick and I was like “you drive,” because I knew you were gonna call back, so we're still in the car. But I'm not driving… we're like 30 seconds from the house, so we're fine. I'm good to go.
Excellent. What'd you guys get a Starbucks?
Well, I get my stuff at Starbucks then she gets from Jamba Juice, but I get a Venti Latte or a Vanilla Bean Frappacino with 4 shots. And then there's usually banana nut loaf but now they've got pumpkin bread because of the season I guess, and then she gets a, like, I don't know, Strawberry Surf Rider, or something, with an immunity boost, and then she had her cheddar tomato twist (uproarious laughter). That's usually breakfast.
Who's your lady?
Uh, her name?
Hey Megan! Yeah she's going on tour as well. We've been together for a long time.
Where are you right now?
Right now? I'm at home.
Yeah, California. I guess it would be like Studio City, I guess? Or North Hollywood… it's right by Universal Studios, and then my record label is Interscope, they're underneath Universal, and that's kind of a pain in my ass right now. My friend was just here and he's like, “look you can see the Universal Building right above you.” I'm like “great, that's the fuckin' thorn in my side.” I just realized that they're towering over me wherever I go.
You're from Hollywood originally, right?
Mmhmm. Well, I was born in County General Hospital in East Los Angeles, cuz my parents lived in Echo Park, and just grew up in like Hollywood, West Hollywood. I lived in Portland for a few years. That's the only other place that I've ever called home, I guess. I got married and had a kid, and her folks lived in Ashland, Oregon, so that's where we got the idea of going to Oregon. We thought people were nicer there, but people pretty much suck everywhere, I think. But it was good for a little bit and I think it was good for my kid to be raised there for some years. When we first moved there we lived in a nice residential area on…I think Vermont was the street. And then when we separated I lived downtown on 11th and Jefferson at the Saint Francis Hotel.
I hear that you were a prostitute while you were in Portland.
Uh, I mean, (laughs) that was a long time ago, but I guess that what you call it (laughs). But it was more of a means to an ends. I got arrested for attempt to possess downtown, and then I met this [male prostitute] in jail. He said he was from Roseburg or something, and he didn't have a place to stay—he and I got out at the same time. So he was like “If I could stay at your house, that'd be cool. For the night.” And so that's what he did. And then he said he'll go out and get us drugs and everything if he could stay there, so I was like “that's cool.” I was pretty stressed because when I got busted they said you're not allowed to go downtown because it's a no-drug area or something. So he came to my place, and then he left for like an hour, and came back with a bunch of dope and candy and stuff, and I was like, “you can stay here as long as you want.” I thought it was a pretty good situation, but then he got weird. I mean, most of the dudes aren't gay, but this one was. And then he just kinda fell in love with me one day—I don't really know how that happens—so I told him he had to leave. But before he left the next day I went with him—I just wanted to watch how it all went down. I just watched him get in the car. So then I saw that, and I thought it was pretty easy. But most of the time I just would pretty much rob people, but near the end I did some stupid stuff. But never took it in the ass or anything like that, or sucked any dudes dicks.
What did you do?
Like I said, most of the time I would rob 'em. I was younger back then and better looking, so you could kind of call the shots more. So uh, you know, jack off in front of the guy or let them touch me or whatever.
What year was that?
Long time ago. It seems like a whole lifetime ago. Probably 10, 12 years.
Would you say that you've changed since then?
Yeah. I've always been pretty comfortable with my sexuality, so I wasn't really too freaked out about that stuff, and like I said the more strung out you get, the more desperate you get. And so when I had my strength, I could just rob them and not really feel bad. I didn't want to rob innocent people or anything, but those guys are creeps, and try to take advantage of young kids. So I would just take a knife and get them to take their pants off and go from there – get the money first, and then run away. In the end if you're not so healthy and you can't run away as fast, then maybe you have to compromise more. But that was definitely a means to an ends—I was supporting my drug habit, I had to pay child support, and I wasn't gonna not do that. My daughter was so young that, you know, it wasn't something she had to see. She was a baby. And as far as the stuff that comes out now, I just tell her that it's not true and it's just a character…it's so far in my past. When I read this stuff it kind of feels like I'm reading a fiction, because things have just changed so much. And my daughter's a lot older now, my life's a lot different. I have a job, I don't need to compromise myself like that. Now I just have to bend over for the record label. They've done a lot worse to me than anything I've ever had to face out there.
Like 5 more minutes, is that cool?
Ok, yeah, no worries. Um, I got therapy, actually (laughs). One of the things having a little bit of money, I can pay for the therapist.
How often do you go to therapy?
Well I was going like twice a week, but that seemed a bit excessive, so once a week. But now I'll go with my daughter and sometimes with my chick or whatever. Just to kind of keep everything good, just make it so there's not problems, you know. And communication and stuff.
You've said that you consider your music to be like a modern version of Bob Dylan's storytelling. Could you elaborate on that?
(laughs) That's speaking a little highly of myself. I mean, I would strive for that. I think I meant is that people think of folk music, they think of acoustic guitar, something like that, and I think really folk music is more music for the people, and talking about what's true and relevant in your life. So people could think that rap music is just about people selling drugs or shooting people, or whatever, that might be with those particular rappers' life is about and they talk about it, and that's their folk music. For me, I don't have that life, so I don't talk about those things, I just talk about what's in my life, so I just think it's like folk music over a drum machine instead of acoustic guitar, you know? And just with instruments we have available. Before, anyone could just get a guitar and play; now kids in high school could do that with like Rock Band—my daughter even has Garage Band and they know how to do all that stuff before they're even teenagers. And back then folk singers were a dime a dozen, and it's kind of the same deal now, everybody raps or makes beats or something like that, so it makes it kind of easy to sift out the good stuff.
Who would you say your biggest influences are? Would you count Bob Dylan as one of them?
Yeah, for sure, I'd say Bob Dylan…I like a lot of country stuff like Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welsh, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis—I mean, all the normal people, but then I did also grow up on rap music, and that was the first music that I kinda found for myself that didn't come from my father. So you know, Too Short, Eazy-E, NWA, Slick Rick. More storytelling stuff, and that's also getting back to the folk thing where they're kind of just telling stories. Now it's gotten kinda funny, a lot of music is just made for the clubs. I mean there's nothing wrong with that either – I don't really go out to the clubs so much, but when I do go the songs that I thought were kinda stupid, when I hear them in their proper setting make more sense. And there's nothing wrong with people working from Monday to Friday, and then you gotta blow some steam off on the weekends and just not really care. Not everything has to have meaning, there's nothing wrong with just dance music. So I mean, I try every once in awhile to make a good dance song.
And I think you do.
Thank you. That's a lot of the time working with the right producer and stuff, like my friend Cisco—well he became a friend through making music—but he's usually pretty good at getting that and at first I used to be a little wary of making what I thought was just kind of stupid, but I could see the place for it. Without those songs, no would really hear your stuff anyhow to even get to the other stuff, so it's all kind of like a trade.
So if you've already rapped about your past experience as a prostitute and addict on your first album, what are your plans for your next album?
Well it's been done for a minute; I've just been trying to get through all the politics to get it out. When I say I don't really talk so much about all that stuff, it's not like I made some big turn, it's still all the same kind of characters, it's just not with me necessarily right in the middle. And even with the first record I would say even talking about real stuff I would do it tongue in cheek, just to kinda make it more funny, like on this record I'm not really talking about selling my body or anything but I still talk about drugs a lot, and other people selling their bodies (laughing), not me. But, I mean, all jobs are one form of prostitution, whether it's selling your body or washing dishes, you're making some compromise. You could be doing something you love for a job but there's always going to be aspects of it that you don't wanna do. Having to feed yourself is always gonna take certain things that you didn't wanna do. So you have to prostitute yourself on some level.
One last question: What's with the “Thank You” tattoo on your lower stomach?
Yeah, that wasn't for when I worked on the streets (laughs). I always liked pretty girls and had to work harder to get ‘em…I mean I had always got the girls I wanted, it just took a lot of work. Now it seems too easy, so it's not really that fun. That was a time that just seemed like a lucky streak, so I just felt gratitude. Plus, I try to be funny with most things I do, so I think it was a sign of gratitude but also just a joke. Some people are like “oh, is that egotistical or something?” and I'm like no, if it said You're Welcome it would've been. Just, you know, you should always be gracious, I guess.
Just minding your manners.
Yeah. Plus, an orgasm is a big deal. So if someone can help you fulfill that you should definitely thank them for it.
Photo courtesy of Mickey Avalon