American Scream by Cynthia True

American Scream by Cynthia True

Author:Cynthia True [True, Cynthia]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pan Books


Beep. Okay, that’s real cute but today’s Monday and change your fuckin’ message. This is Willy, where are you? Where’s my friend when I need him? Okay. All right. All right. All right.

‘Drugs is so bad! Drugs is so bad!’ Bill whined one night a few months later, pacing the stage of the Bottom Line in Manhattan’s West Village with a burning half-cigarette dangling from the fingers of his left hand. He was closing Mike’s Talent Show, a hip variety showcase that booked performers like Eric Bogosian and Ann Magnuson.

‘Yeah, yeah. Well, how come Keith Richards still walks? Explain that Mr Surgeon General. You never hear the Surgeon General mention Keith, do you? Little hole in the theory there.’ The club gave him the light, the warning to wrap things up, and Bill ignored it. Keith, he said, defied that stupid commercial with the egg in the skillet. ‘Here’s Keith’s brain. SSSSSSSSSssssssss. Here’s Keith’s brain on drugs.’ Bill tore into his air guitar, belting out the opening riff to ‘Satisfaction’.

‘It’s not a war on drugs. It’s a war on personal freedom. Keep that in mind at all times.’

Peter Casperson and Steven Saporta, two music industry vets who together headed a management company and an indie label, Invasion Records, turned to look at each other. ‘He was that striking,’ Casperson said. ‘I mean, Mike’s Talent Show was this very regimented deal where everyone got ten minutes, but Bill just came out and disregarded all the rules. He was on for thirty, forty minutes, dressed all in black, and he’s doing the smoking bit and the Keith Richards bit and some of the bits that are now on his first record. But the thing that stood out was his Keith Richards-on-drugs bit – Bill was really more like an alternative rock act than a comic, and his urock references were so much more meaningful to him than to most people in comedy. They sort of reflected his passion for music. We saw him as this rock guy and that nailed it.’

The minute the show finished, Casperson and Saporta headed backstage and found Allan Pepper, owner of the Bottom Line. Upon finding out that Hicks not only had representation but a decade of stand-up under his belt, Casperson and Saporta took another tack. ‘Hey, you were great,’ they said, introducing themselves to Bill. What would he think of making a comedy record with them?

In short order, Casperson and Saporta got in touch with Jack and struck a multi-album deal with Bill. He would receive a $2,000 advance for each record, with each new record renegotiated according to past sales.

It wasn’t that Casperson or Saporta thought comedy CDs were going to break Bill Hicks. Comedy just didn’t sell that big anymore, but Bill Hicks was going to break and when he did they would be there with the goods.

Casperson and Saporta talked to Bill and Jack about a plan to separate Bill from the pack and exploit his edge. The two loved Bill’s all-black


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