Thor with Frank Soda , Feebo and Goathorn at the 360 (326 Queen West), Thursday (March 11). $10. 416-593-0840. Rating: NNNNN
look west, far west. beyond the deserted prairies piled with dust and boredom, beyond the frigid, treacherous snow-capped mountains, deep into the cannabis- and snowboarding- addicted heart of the wildland known as British Columbia. In these darkest recesses, surrounded by hordes of kobolds, goblins, ogres, wolves, werewolves and walking tigers, stands Jon Mikl Thor , nude save for a loincloth, sunglasses, a giant hammer and a goatee.
The majestic strongman, an icon who adorned posters in the 70s and 80s, is also a veteran showman, having acted in several films, including a personal fave of mine, sexy 1986 Police Academy clone Recruits, as well as the cult hit Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare, which Thor says is currently being solicited for licensing and distribution.
Over the phone,the West Coaster is calm, cool and collected as we politic about his newest rock opus, Beastwoman From The Center Of The Earth, a conceptual and musical collaboration with noted fantasy artist Mike "Mick" Hoffman. The release showcases his prog-industrial-metal hybrid, a genre he describes as power rock, and is accompanied by a Hoffman-drawn comic, the second in a planned trilogy.
"I was always interested in concept albums. We tried to get a flow to go with the story of the comic book. It's an adventure, an odyssey," he explains, verbal muscles rippling. "We wanted it to be like Hercules and the Amazons, but also like science fiction - like Invaders From Mars or Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman. It's a combination of a bunch of things I grew up with as a child."
If the Beastwoman comic is any indication, those things in Thor's childhood include topless buxom vixens, shiftlessness and swordplay, all of which makes sense, since Thor spent periods of his youth as both Mr. Universe and a male stripper with perhaps the best burlesque show this side of Paris Hilton's bachelorette party, a scheme that involved stripping backed by a heavy rock band .
"I had some opportunities to do a rock show and be nude. That was another unique concept. I've always been comfortable with sexuality - I was having sex when I was seven years old. I would say there's nothing wrong with a little rock-and-roll nudity. Hey, Arnold's been nude in magazines."
Does the veteran battler of evil have any advice for his bodybuilding-peer-turned-statesman?
"Keep it cool up there. He gets worked up sometimes when they're interviewing him."
Thor goes on to share saucy tales of Arnold's bodybuilding days, which you can ask him about when you go to the show, if you dare.
Thor's famed live performances have kept audiences coming back to see if he really can bend steel. Hoffman is also accompanying Thor on tour as lead guitarist in what Thor says is the first time an artist will perform onstage with the character he illustrated. Beastwoman is also promised.
Also of note is his opener, Frank Soda, a double-guitar-wielding pyromaniac with a TV for a head. His history with Thor goes back to a show at Maple Leaf Gardens where he played the Imp and Thor tossed him into the audience.
But Thor's playing days may be numbered.
"I don't want to bend steel forever. As far as doing live performances, who knows how much longer I'll be doing them?"
Read between the lines: this could be your last chance to see him live.