"With Pitty Towards None"
Boyd Rice, alternately renowned and reviled
in those circles where his name is known, is a noise artist, deejay,
and writer. As the man behind noise band NON, as a collaborator
with the lovely Rose McDowall (formerly of Strawberry Switchblade)
in a surprisingly poppy band called Spell, and as a contributor
to the Re/Search publications book Incredibly Strange Films,
Boyd fears no boundaries of genre or medium.
His latest release as NON is
God & Beast, and Spell's Seasons In The Sun is
still in print. Boyd's the genius behind the inspiring but gloriously
inaccessible "Total War," an anthem for the misanthropic set. He
is intelligent, outspoken and opinionated, but funny and even charming
at the same time. Don't let his intimidating visage fool you: Boyd
Rice won't bite. Well, maybe if you look like Barbie...
Cindy Sites: We've heard that you
don't like to talk about the late Anton LaVey, but we've also heard
that you were next in line to succeed to his office, so to speak.
Boyd Rice: People were asking me that on the very night Anton LaVey
died. They were asking me before they knew he died ... But no, it's
going to be a committee of people. It's going to be the Council
of Nine, of which I am a member - a kind of leadership echelon.
But Christ didn't need to have a successor, Buddha didn't need to
have a successor.
JD: How long have you been a member of the Church of Satan?
BR: About 10 years.
Cindy here, sorry to interrupt.
The interview hits the first of its many lulls, proving that this
was a spur-of-the-moment situation. I'm feeling intimidated, even
though Boyd seems perfectly willing to talk. It's the combined
effect of his reputation (every article I've read about him lately
has called him "the notorious Boyd Rice," including Tangents'
own preview for the show he did with Death In June and friends),
his fierce intelligence (everything about him suggests an amazing
brain power) and the fact that he's just stunning to look at,
on top of everything else. (Sorry to toss that one in there and
seem shallow, but it's true and I won't deny it.)
But Boyd Rice is no monster.
Perhaps sensing my serious case of nerves, he even offers me a
bit of what I guess could be construed as advice...
BR: I do interviews for Seconds magazine. When I do
an interview, I ask people things that I'm curious about. I figure
that if I'm curious about these things, then other people must
be curious about them.
CS: I've got one of the issues you wrote for. It has Nick Cave
on the cover, and there was an article on the lounge music revival,
and there was an interview that you did with lounge music pioneer
Martin Denny. Do you ever do lounge music yourself? I've heard
that you're a deejay also.
BR: Yeah, at a bar on Thursdays, when I'm in Denver. But I did
an album called Music, Martinis and Misanthropy, inspired
by Jackie Gleason and Rod McKuen. [McKuen] did these albums with
beautiful music in the background, and the sound of seagulls,
and he'd just be talking over it. I thought, yeah, this is the
perfect form of music.
JD: How's your son Wolfgang doing?
BR: He's great. He's a chip off the old block, he loves noise.
He had somebody take the smoke detector down off the ceiling for
him, because when I used to visit him, I'd touch the button and
it was so loud, it would scare the hell out of him. He got somebody
to take it down so he could walk around with it and press it whenever
he wanted to, and he slept with it like it was a teddy bear. He's
learned how to take the speakerphone off and get it to feed back;
he's learned that if he gets it feeding back, he can make noises
into it and it'll come out distorted.
JD: He's getting an early start!
BR: Yeah, totally - I could make a whole album of the stuff. [His
mother] was on the phone with a friend once while he was doing
that, and the friend said, "What are you playing in the background?
Is that one of Boyd's records or something?" She said, "No, that's
just Wolf." But the latest thing on him is, he's turned three
and he wants to change his name to Car Alarm. He's kept it up
for about three weeks.
CS: I just heard something pretty interesting to people here
in North Carolina - I heard that your family was somehow involved
in the history of the city of Durham.
BR: Some ancestor of mine got a team of horses and a plow, and
plowed the main road through Durham, NC, and connected it to whatever
roadway was going past at that time. There are supposedly whole
cemeteries of Rices some place around Durham.
CS: I don't want to offend you by mentioning this, but I've
been curious for years. I used to read Sassy magazine
when I was a teenager, and I still have the issue that you're
BR: No, you can mention that. This was about the time that I was
visiting Charlie Manson in prison, and he was really fascinated
by the skinhead movement, and he kind of wanted me to co-opt the
skinhead movement and turn it into a Charlie Manson movement.
I was good friends with that guy Bob Heick from the American Front;
he was a really funny, smart guy. He'd just come into a party
and turn everything topsy-turvy. I really liked him and I really
liked all his friends. I was never really a member of the American
Front. I called him up one day, and he said, "Hey Boyd, how would
you like to be in a teenage fashion magazine for girls?" [laughter]
I said, "That's great! What do I have to do?" He said, "We need
as many cool-looking people as possible, so just dress up in a
uniform, and come along, and you'll get free booze all evening
and a free meal." I said, "THIS sounds like fun!" So I show up,
and it was kind of sprinkling that night, and there were supposed
to be about 20 other guys showing up. I was the only other person
who showed up. So it was me and Bob, and this weird girl reporter
and this weird older woman photographer. That picture [of a leering
Boyd Rice and Bob Heick, brandishing their knives in a tavern]
was the best one in the whole photo spread. [The photo ended up
in a book] and it was the best photo in that book, so it was the
one that was used as a publicity photo. It was blown up huge in
The Los Angeles Times Book Review, in the Sunday edition,
and it was just all over the country ... The article is mostly
centered around Bob, because I kept steering it, bringing in Manson,
and all these other things. This girl [Catherine Gysin, the Sassy
writer] was really into William Butler Yeats, he was her favorite
person on Earth, and I said, "Oh, did you know he was like an
Irish fascist?" He was affiliated with the Blue Shirts, and he
was into all this weird stuff that she had no fuckin' idea about.
The girl had a real crisis of conscience, because we were both
smart, funny guys, and she liked us. Bob was saying, "Admit it!
This is the most fun you've had in a year!" She said, "Well, yeah."
CS: She even said it in the article.
BR: She couldn't get to sleep, and she had to take three showers.
[pause] Everybody says, "If you had that to do over again, would
you not do it?" Because that's just plagued me. Whenever somebody
wants to ban me from playing someplace, they'll fax a photograph
of that. I don't care. I don't think I ever made a wrong move.
The bad stuff is just good. America loves its villains.
JD: We heard you guys were catching some shit out West, is
BR: In Los Angeles, there was one guy who put an ad on the radio
that said to come down and protest this show at the El Rey Theatre.
It was this guy with five other people who didn't even know him;
he couldn't evenget a friend of his to show up. Five people heard
this on the radio; they had no idea who I was. And because of
these five people, a thousand people got denied my show ... I've
been prohibited from playing places before, but this is the first
time I was physically there [and was told I couldn't even walk
onstage and say "Hi, Mom"]. That's like somebody calling up and
saying, "We understand Douglas Pearce might be homosexual. We're
gonna have people down there protesting if you put on degenerates."
The guy would've said, "Fuck you people." If it had been anything
else - "I understand there might be a Jewish person in the band"
- would they say, "You can't go on, people are protesting the
fact that you're Jewish"? ... These people don't know what I think,
they won't even come up and ask me what I think. But in the worst
case scenario, if I was a Jew-hating bastard from hell
- so what? You're free to hate whoever you want or love whoever
you want in the United States. It's nobody's fucking business
but your own. I'm not some Jew-hating bastard from hell, but,
you know - these people don't want to know the truth, because
it's more fun to have a whipping boy, it gives them emotional
CS: On a lighter subject, we also hear that you collect Barbie
BR: Yeah, just because my cousins were all girls, and when I'd
go over to their house to play, we'd play with Barbie dolls. This
was in the early '60s. And I'd look at these dolls and think,
"I can't wait to grow up and have a shot at something like this."
[laughter] I grew up and the world changed on me. There aren't
girls with big ponytails and flip hairdos. So that's kind of my
own fetishism ... I actually met the real Barbie. The Mattel guy's
children were named Barbie and Ken, and that's who he named the
dolls after. I went to a video editing suite [and met the guy]
and he said, "This is Barbie, who [the doll] is named after."
I was so excited, and she was just embarrassed as hell, going
through life named Barbie. Ironically, she kind of looked like
Malibu Barbie, with blond hair and a really dark tan.
A bystander in the dressing
room mentions the controversy over Barbie's supposedly negative
affect on impressionable young girls.
BR: That's total bullshit. I don't think Barbie or Kate Moss
make people feel inadequate; it's because people feel inadequate
to begin with and just blamed it on something else. "I'd feel
great, if I didn't think I should look like Kate Moss." Who wants
to look like Kate Moss? ... It's like all this concentration on
self-esteem these days. Teach people personal responsibility [but]
don't let people feel good about themselves if they're total fuck-ups
and losers. Why should a total fuck-up have good self-esteem?
He should only have good self-esteem if he's done something to
be proud of ... People are getting praised for being victims.
The biggest hero is the person who's the biggest victim, who's
been screwed over more than everybody else. There's a Simpsons
episode where Bart put his walkie-talkie in the well, and everybody
thought there was a boy trapped in the well. The news was saying,
"This boy is a hero!" And Homer's saying, "That boy's a hero!"
Bart asks why, and Homer says, "Because he fell in a well, of
course!" It's like Amelia Earhardt being some national figure.
This is a woman who's a fuck-up! She didn't fly around the world;
she crashed her plane. She disappeared. Why should we still remember
who she is? That's like saying the little girl who crashed her
plane was a hero. She's not a hero. You wouldn't put a little
girl on a city bus and have her drive it around the block. Why
would you put a fucking little girl in an airplane?
Greg the bystander: The mom came out in public and said she
didn't want anyone to feel bad for her daughter, because she died
doing what she loved. I think mommy and daddy put her up to it.
BR: I think so.
Gtb: How would she know what she loved doing? She was so young.
BR: It would've been better if she'd used a little discretion,
[and the girl] could have lived another 60 years to add on to
that age. She could've found a whole bunch more stuff she loved
to do, that wouldn't have been so fucking dangerous.
CS: I normally like to ask people what sort of books they
like to read - do you read very often?
BR: I used to read a whole lot, I've only - I just read a book
called And With Charity Towards None,it's like a history
of misanthropy. It's reeeally good, it's got a lot of stuff about
the secret history of the United States, and all these people
who founded the United States were these really bitter, misanthropic
CS: Would you consider yourself a misanthrope?
BR: Oh yeah.
We went on to talk of misanthropic
books and authors, and Boyd recommended one particularly intriguing
author. "This old guy Gracian, have you heard of him? He influenced
Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. It's really good stuff, he has these
kind of maxims, and ... aphorisms, it's really harsh stuff. Gracian,
I've forgotten what his first name is." (A little research later
revealed his full name to be Balthasar Gracian, author of The
Art of Worldly Wisdom.)
The music of soundcheck
swelled, and then it was time for dinner. Who are we to keep Boyd
Rice from his food?