F the VIP Section | Chicago Antisocial | Chicago Reader

F the VIP Section 

Really important people never let themselves get roped off.

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I used to imagine the VIP section was filled with all the glamorous people I never saw at a party. Now that I get invited to that exclusive, roped-off area, I know the truth: if the glamorous people aren't on the dance floor, they're not at the party. The VIP section hides only insecure people with a little wealth or a little fame who like to flash their money around, buying bottles of booze at inflated prices without having to interact with other human beings. More than anything, VIP is a way of making everyone else think an event is more exciting than it actually is--it gives people something to want. People want to want.

Last Tuesday night at Funky Buddha was a little different, but not much. JD Samson of Le Tigre fame--more recently in the spotlight for her "Lesbian Utopia" RV tour, in which she and five friends drove around the south for ten days looking for a queer haven--was DJing, and the place was packed elbow to ass. I jostled my way through a thicket of drag queens and androgynes, wishing I was wearing a mouth guard to protect my teeth from stray limbs and cocktail glasses, and sought solace in the roped-off section next to the bar, kitty-corner from the DJ booth, where I could enjoy my drink without worrying it'd spill all over me.

The first thing I noticed in the VIP section was that there were two king-size packages of Reese's peanut butter cups and three Chiquita bananas up for grabs on the table, next to some promotional tropical-fruit-flavored vodka to be mixed with canned energy drinks--the combination tasted like Hi-C mixed with a Flintstones vitamin.

Unlike the rest of the place, the VIP section was devoid of cute flat-chested girls in tank tops and sassy fey men with overstyled hair. There were no sequins, no glitter, no rippling biceps. All the Very Important Women were safely ensconced in bras and the men wore slacks. Everyone was white. We were, by a long shot, the lamest people in the club. The cool people were on the dance floor, grinding against other cool people.

The difference between this and any other VIP section was that none of us was rich, and our conversations were a little more lowbrow. Erica Corniel, drummer and singer for Office, talked about her band's success at South by Southwest (yawn), taking Paxil (slightly interesting), and dingleberries (gross).

I had to get out of there. I pushed my way through the crowd until I found a dreamy, six-foot-five, long-haired sissy named George with an enormous bull ring through his septum. While dancing to Madonna's "Sorry" he told me he enjoys designing clothing and shopping for cosmetics. When he busted out a warp-speed giddyap move, a big, beautiful diva named Stormy got up and joined him. I watched them dance and slowly backed away, knowing I was out of my league--they belonged on the dance floor and I belonged with the other nerds in VIP.

Last Thursday the Chicago Sound, a band made up of jackasses from other bands--mostly 7000 Dying Rats--came together at the Beat Kitchen for a reunion show, their first performance since honcho Weasel Walter left town for Oakland three years ago.

Weasel--who was my boyfriend for a couple years, a close friend for several more--was supposed to be my bad example, my don't-let-this-happen-to-you life warning. When we met in 1999 he'd already earned himself a reputation as an unapologetic bridge burner, leaving a wrapped gift of baby laxatives on the doorstep of a prominent local music writer, for instance. He dressed in jodhpurs and riding boots and styled his hair in two tiny antennae that stuck straight up out of his head, making him look like a TV. He was extremely loud and he rarely held back an opinion, which was usually devastatingly insulting. I, meanwhile, was a surly 22-year-old who dressed like a slutty mall rat. I thought he was the king. When we got together, eyes rolled.

In 2001 he holed himself up in his room and worked on music, very rarely going to parties or shows unless he was performing with his band the Flying Luttenbachers. Now in Oakland he mostly does the same, hanging out at home with his smart, hot girlfriend and their two cats.

Onstage Weasel's an animal though, especially in the Chicago Sound. The only rule for the band is that there's no practicing, ever, and tuning your instrument is strongly discouraged. They make a CD of classic butt-rock jams--the Who's "Baba O'Riley," the J. Giles Band's "Centerfold," etc--and play it through the monitors so only they can hear it. What the audience hears is a bunch of dudes and one lady whacking off, trying to play along with the music.

There's nothing redemptive about the Chicago Sound. They're just living out their 14-year-old fantasies of being in a band. The beauty of the gimmick is the way the audience gets involved, chugging the band's beer, collectively singing louder than whoever has the mike, doing hesher karate kicks. The point of being a fan is imagining you're the person onstage, and if the person onstage is imagining he's the person onstage, you get this glorious loss of identity that culminates in a grand mindfuck.

Before he left Chicago, Weasel gave me advice on how not to alienate myself from the world like he did. I can't for the life of me remember any of it, but I probably wouldn't listen to him anyway. Weasel is one of my heroes. If I ever hightail it out of here, I want to do it like he did, on an empty tank.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Bauer.

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