When I asked my friend Bob what he remembered most from The Crackhaus days, he said, “anytime we’d say, Mike, it’ll be a great idea for you to get naked, you always agreed and dropped your pants.”
Probably nothing prepared me better to become a writer than standing on the front porch of The Crackhaus just after my band, The Gas Hawgs, had finished playing an off-key, off-rhythm, mumbled rendition of our opener “Girl On Down the Road.” I was holding my dick in my hand and waving it like a lasso, screaming, “Ya’ll are just afraid of my penis,” at the hoard of deserters—including one of my two best friends, Nathan—who’d walked outside to the gravel driveway, just off the porch, when I’d stripped down to nothing but my Gibson Epiphone bass guitar, a pair of electric-blue Converse All-Stars, and a cheap mass-manufactured digital wrist watch. Then, there were further preparations for my later craft when I returned to the stage, which was nothing more than the front half of an emptied living room in a condemned house with a PA system set up on a cart next to the mantle over the fireplace, which was just behind the drum kit. There were a couple of microphones, speakers, and amplifiers forming a sort of boundary between the band and the crowd, but when the crowd got too rowdy, often our equipment as well as the band members would fall victim to the clotheslines of drunken circle pitters when this invisible boundary between the stage and the floor would blur in the foggy Lone Star beer goggles everyone was wearing. That night, when I returned to the stage, there was only a crowd of about ten left in the room—the key witnesses to what wasn’t my first instance of public nudity, but certainly my most epic one.
Bob was there, of course, standing front and center, facing us, laughing a little harder than most because he was the one who had goaded me into it. There was also Sideshow Bob—nicknamed after his long frizzy hair that made him resemble a drunken Mexican version of our favorite Television show’s most heinous villain—pouring beer on the top of my head as I shook my ass left sending my cock swaying to the right. Bob and Sideshow Bob composed the guitar playing and vocal section of 24 Hour Garage Sale, a party punk band who had played earlier on that night and were known for their anthem, “I Like Your Butt and Your Tits.” There was the members of the other band who had opened for us, The Picts, a sort of blend between hardcore and street punk from Louisiana, who were also laughing while throwing fists in the air and yelling catcalls at me. Later, I would decide it was partly their fault what had happened with me because we had argued over the headlining spot. The Picts said they didn’t want to play last because they were from Louisiana and very few in attendance knew who they were. They were worried people would leave after the hometown band had played. I didn’t want to play last because I had started drinking at six and would be way too drunk by midnight to play a coherent show. And, quite prophetically, I was wasted before ten. In my drunken reasoning, helped along by my aforementioned asshole friend Bob, who kept saying, “Mike, drop your pants. Mike, drop your pants,” I decided the only way to keep the audience entertained was to be outrageous, and so as I tried to tune my bass, I undid my belt.
There was also Jackie—our landlord, my roommate, the overall den mother, show promoter extraordinaire, and dubbed as the first female President of our country of Awesome when we later seceded from the Union—moving through the crowd of amped up boys, camera in hand, making sure to capture a whole roll of me in full glory, in black-and-white film. The pictures actually came out looking sort of artsy, but really, she was just making sure I’d never live it down. What she didn’t capture on film, my other best friend and roommate Zack, would remember for me at parties in front of strangers. He had also stayed inside when I put on my birthday suit, and was among the crowd of those kicking me every time I stumbled too close, and because of the dirt on the floor being muddied in the sprayed and spilled alcohol, I had footprints all over me. In fact, the most telling photo of the sparsely attended closing act, was one of me chugging a beer with my backside to the camera standing in between Jay, The Gas Hawg’s guitarist, and Peter, our drummer who were both wearing only boxer shorts—a half-assed attempt at solidarity—during our performance, which looked more like full sweat suits next to the flash’s bright reflection off the pale white skin of my ass, which had a quite noticeable boot print all the way across it. Well, and there’s also the one where I’m performing some sort of motion pulling my bass high up in the air, which in the photo draws a bunch of attention to a manhood which is swaying, directly in the center of the frame, in the free breeze.
Like I said, it wasn’t the first time I got naked in a room full of people. To me, ideally, public nakedness was punk rock because punk rock was anarchy, and naturally, anarchy was freedom. Public nakedness was a statement that I was comfortable with my body, and it was an argument against those who felt we should cover our private areas. Public nakedness was a demonstration of beauty not in the airbrushed super models wearing the latest designer’s most elegant dress or most revealing swim suit but in the fat sweaty alcohol soaked naked drunk guy screaming into a microphone over distorted guitars grinding at deafening decibels. Public nakedness was a stand against the rules, and it was birthed out of anger even if its intentions were aimed at doing something good.
And even though, at that point, in my then nineteen years here, I had not yet composed any words that weren’t in a radical political zine or in the lyrics to a punk rock anthem about girls, hating cops, or drinking beer, this is why it prepared me to become a writer. Because writing is an act of whipping my dick out in a room full of strangers. Both in its bravado and in its vulnerability. Look at my cock. Does it scare you? Does it make you laugh? Does it not move you at all? Is it repulsive? Is it beautiful? Is it big? Is it small? Do you want to touch it? Will you?