THE TIJUANA BIBLES with WHITE COWBELL OKLAHOMA at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (December 20). $10. 416-532-1598. Also at Rancho Relaxo (300 College), Tuesday, December 31. $10. 416-920-0366. Rating: NNNNN
i'm standing in an old ware-house way out in west-end buttfuck nowhere. Bluish smoke casts a ghoulish haze over the cavernous space, and wacky circus-freak posters dangle precariously from the miles-high ceiling. There's a giant wrestling ring in the centre of the room, and dungeonesque paraphernalia. It's a creepy, sadistic carny nightmare. It's business as usual for the cartoonish Mexican-wrestling-mask-sporting surf-garage superheroes in local rock spectacle outfit the Tijuana Bibles.
Well, not quite. The costume-clad quintet have invited me to this remote carny hell because they're turning in a guest appearance on the set of a hilarious B-movie that centres around a garish zombie beach party. (The plot's something about drinking water tainted with zombie blood.)
It's the first feature film by local Super-8 wunderkind Stacey Case, the man who helped found the Bibles back in 1998 to provide campy soundtracks for his infamous Parkdale Wrestler flicks. As the story goes, the Bibles and Case had a falling out when the wannabe Svengali tried to assert too much creative control over the group.
So, superheroes, what's the deal with lending a hand on this new film?
"We saw the cash offer, stopped working for free and got the dough," growls Super Destroyer, the cane-toting so-called oldest drummer in the world (who bears a striking resemblance to the mysterious Mr. Case). "Case learned his lesson. The Crippler did put the Instantaneous Death Touch on him, but it didn't quite take. Some time in the hospital did him good, and he had to rethink his strategy. And we're getting a lot out of it, too. Like copious amounts of booze."
"We'll basically put up with just about anything if you give us enough money," chimes in Blue Demon, the small, snazzy-suited bassist.
Shooting the shit with the Tijuana Bibles is decidedly surreal. Drawing inspiration from the outlandish antics of traditional Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling (hence the masks), the Bibles -- along with Super Destroyer and the Blue Demon, there's sultry cat-masked multi-instrumentalist La Felina Negra, frontman the Crippler and guitarist Sonny-Boy Liston -- whip crowds into a frenzy with their over-the-top personae and bizarre stunts. Shows, like the one at Lee's tomorrow (Friday, December 20), can include big dudes in gorilla suits and sexy burlesque babes.
Their musical chops are dead on, all go-go dancing rave-ups and snaky, shimmery surfscapes.
And there's method in their madness. Ask 'em about their impressive popularity in Europe, and the Crippler looks thoughtful.
"They're just not as inundated with trends and advertising over there. Here, everything blew up -- surf rock, garage rock -- and then there was a big backlash against it. There, it just hung on. I don't think the backlash really came.
"Especially somewhere like Toronto we're all "That's so last week.'"
These cats are primed to rumble. They don't just dress like wrestlers -- they're well-versed on life in the ring.
"There's a unity between rock and wrestling," offers the Crippler. "It's the show element, the glamour and the concept of walking into the ring or hitting the stage with a beaming confidence. There's more of an excuse to dress up and develop a persona."
Adds Super Destroyer, "When people watch wrestling, they'll wait patiently during the fights and all of a sudden something amazing happens -- an amazing hold or an amazing flying body press executed perfectly or a five-star frog press or something, and you can see everybody's got the juice.
"With a lot of music now, it's just straight-ahead technical prowess. You don't really get the "Holy fuck! That was cool!' factor. But with our band, you get that. I'll set my cane on fire, and nobody ever knows what the fuck Sonny's doing. We come out swingin' right outta the gate, rock 'em sock 'em the whole way. Kick their heads right off and get the fuck outta Dodge!"firstname.lastname@example.org