Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Once There Was This Band

File Under: Musical Roots

First of all, I'll warn you that this post is freakishly long, but it's the story of a band that Heatherton and I were once in. This was originally our publicity bio but became our Rolling Stone article and interview. We were supposed to be on the cover, but New Kids on the Block won the honor. Anyway, hopefully you'll find this somewhat entertaining and you'll wish you had seen us in our prime.

(yes, this is fiction...but it could have happened...)

So who is Chastity’s Bitch?

“Who aren’t we,” is how lead singer H-Bomb answered that question. “We’re family and friends and lovers and fighters. This was our destiny.”

H-Bomb and brother Jim met in July 1995 while visiting a timeshare in Butte, MT. “It was fucking horrible” said Jim, who is shaking his head in disgust. “I can’t believe they tried to sell us that crap. The carpeting in the living room was astroturf!” H-Bomb laughs and punches her brother in the arm. Yes, they are brother and sister. Twins, no less. And they didn’t know it at the time. “Fate brought us together” they both say at once. “No, it was my toxic farts” shouts Doug from across the room. The entire group laughs.

It seems that the 60’s were a very busy time for Jim and H-Bomb’s parents. “Nobody believes us when we tell them that we are the children of Martha Stewart and Elvis Presley!” said H-Bomb. The only way they can explain it is to go back to their east coast roots. Martha, caught the eye of Elvis during his ’68 tour and let him show her “little Elvis.” Embarrassed that she had become pregnant, she built her craft and catering empire as an elaborate disguise to hide her ever-growing stomach. She baked grand cakes and pies to distract people, and she hid behind cleverly placed flower arrangements. Martha gave birth, put the babies up for adoption, and discovered that she had a knack for “good things.” H-Bomb ended up the child of circus clowns and traveled from city to city with her parents. “It was fun, driving around in that little car. We had the coolest pets, and the bearded lady made the best cookies you ever tasted.” Eventually her family settled in southern California. H-Bomb became interested in music and dance and took the leading role in “Barbarella – The Musical” in Junior High.

Brother Jim had been thrown out of three orphanages by the time he was 10 months old. “They couldn’t keep up with me. I kept climbing out of my crib in search of the TV room. I couldn’t get enough of “Love American Style” and they didn’t approve of it at St. Eleanore’s Orphanage, so out I went. I was also caught smoking, and allegedly, they said I was making threatening hand gestures at the other babies.” As luck would have it, a family from Chicago adopted Jim and he grew up perfectly content, but knowing that show business was in his future.

Flash forward to July 1995. “The day that Jim and I met, I just knew that we had a lot in common.” The soft spoken Miss V chimes in “Just look at their chipped teeth.” Both H-Bomb and Jim flash a toothy smile, revealing a rather distinct chip in one bottom tooth. After the timeshare sales pitch, the two got to talking. They ended up having dinner at Bob’s Big Boy, and they started to compare their past. By the time the Jello was served, they knew they were related. Both carried with them an item that had been given to them by their adopted parents on their 13th birthday. At the same time they reached into their pocket and produced a # 8 pastry tip.

Both had to return home but kept in touch, sometimes talking three times in one day. H-Bomb was working on some songs that were inspired by the aging cast of Beverly Hills 90210 and late night infomercials.

“The songs that she was writing, well they were just so warped and beautiful, and just needed to be heard. We had fun tossing things back and forth but we needed someone to collaborate with us. Then one night I was at this cabaret show at the Romaine Room in Chicago and there was this woman playing her clarinet. The crowd was captivated. I was too and had to meet this person.” That person was Vahona. She and Jim talked for three hours and at the end, felt like life-long friends. “He’s got such a demented side, but he makes you think he’s really nice. I think he is, and he’s really caring, but hell, I don’t ever want to be on his bad side.”

Vahona’s a free spirit. It’s evident in her eyes. “I just knew when I met her, there was more to her than this lounge act.” “Yeah, a crappy day job” she replies.

This free spirit attitude comes from her unusual upbringing. Raised by a family of petty thieves, V learned at an early age the fine art of the five-finger discount, but managed to endear herself to people instantly. “For my 10th birthday, my family went on a trip to Los Angeles. We stayed in this dive hotel off of Sunset Boulevard. Mom and Dad went up to the Hollywood hills to fool around under the “Hollywood” sign, while I stayed in the area. I snuck onto a bus with these five women with all these musical instruments. One of them had the coolest purse, so I took it. Damn thing had only 14 cents and some cheap rubbers in it. A couple of the women saw me and began talking to me, inviting me to their rehearsal. Boy did they stink. But they were having fun. Later that evening, they asked me if I would help them carry their gear. They were performing at a club, so I hung out to watch. After their set, the bass player walks up to the mic and screamed “who stole my purse?” She was so pissed. I just laughed because I knew well that it wasn’t worth all the yelling she was doing. Over the 10 day period I followed them around, I got 8 purses out of that one. It wasn’t for the money, really. I think I cleared about $1.63 in total, but there were all these really pretty pills.”

Vahona had a friend named DeDe, whom she met a couple years earlier at an “Up With People” retreat in Topeka Kansas. “Work sent a bunch of us as one of those team building events, but while everyone was scaling mountains, catching each other, and playing Kumbaya by the campfire, I was smoking and writing letters to Simon LeBon. DeDe found me and I thought she was going to turn me in. Instead she sat down, we talked and found out that we had a lot in common.” DeDe adds “Yeah, Marie Osmond.” Well as it turns out, DeDe was the area president of the Marie Osmond Fan Club, and Vahona was Marie Osmond for Halloween when she was 7 years old. “We still laugh about that,” says DeDe.

DeDe got a call from Vahona soon after Vahona met Jim because she knew that DeDe wrote music with a partner, but as luck would have it, they had no lyrics. “Doug and I would write and write and write, but it was just music. Great melodies, really kick-ass tunes, but no words.” DeDe and Doug met at a Salt-n-Pepa concert. DeDe’s roots take her back to San Jose, CA where she grew up in a strictly Amish family. “It was rough, because all my friends were listening to records and got to wear cool clothes. I, on the other hand, had to wear clothes made by my mom and aunts, and for fun I got to help churn butter. Yes, it was difficult. People would honk at our horse and buggy when Father dropped my twin brothers Jebbadiah and Ezekiel and me off at school. When I was 15, my life was transformed by the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy. I spent 3 months mowing lawns and doing chores for neighbors across town and managed to raise enough money to buy clothes, get my hair cut and declare my independence. It turns out I didn’t have to do much because Dad ran off with the woman who demonstrated appliances at the local department store, and out of rage, Mom began smoking pot and wearing mini skirts.” Doug laughs while DeDe tells her story. “That always makes me laugh so hard I nearly piss my pants!” DeDe reminds him that his past is just as funny.

Doug was adopted by cold, heartless millionaires, and 10 months out of the year he was raised by a nanny named Hattie. At the age of 5, he was sent to boarding school, where he was made to wear itchy school uniforms. His first couple years of schooling were tumultuous, and he ended up being asked not to return at the end of the season. Hattie home schooled Doug and took him to her church every Sunday. Doug was the only white person at an all black Baptist church. “I just loved the singing and dancing. The Preacher let me lead the sermon once a month and I became very popular. I knew I needed to be on stage.” Years later, after Hattie died he became the sole heir of her fortunes. Her family fought Doug for the inheritance and it went to court. Eventually he won but seeing how money created greed, he donated all of his money to inner city schools and set up music scholarships for children. One of those kids was Raven Symone from The Cosby Show. She was very excited to attend a Salt-N-Pepa concert and Doug agreed to take her. DeDe says “So I’m sitting in my seat and I see this tall white guy walk in with this little black girl. She looked familiar but I wasn’t sure from where I knew her. They were both dancing and singing along. I offered Doug some Raisinettes and we began to talk. We just clicked and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Flash forward to October 1995 when Jim, Vahona, Doug, and DeDe traveled to southern California to visit Heatherton. Vahona and Heatherton hit it off immediately, both noting their love for Corn Nuts and old Barbara Walters interviews. Within a matter of minutes, they penned the song “If You Were A Tree.” Doug and Jim sat around critiquing porn and DeDe took apart Heatherton’s toaster. “That’s right, bitch, you broke my toaster.” DeDe replied “The piece of crap was already broken, I couldn’t get an evenly browned piece of toast out of it!” Everyone laughs. Later, while drinking screwdrivers and watching episodes of “The Sonny and Cher Show,” Heatherton mentions that she once roller skated with Chastity Bono. Doug was amazed by that and told Heatherton that had she remained friends with her, she could have been Chastity’s bitch. DeDe and Vahona both decided that we should all be in a band together and our name should be “Chastity’s Bitch.” Everybody decided that it was the perfect band name and the band was born.

Where on earth do you come up with those songs?

DeDe – “Many things inspire us. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s something in the news, sometimes I’ll be watching an infomercial on TV and feel a song coming on.

Jim – “I’ve always hated clowns and it felt like therapy writing “Don’t Let The Clowns (Eat Me).”

Doug – “A doctor’s appointment I had became our song “Turn Your Head and Cough.” We love playing that song in concert. It’s a crowd favorite.”

Vahona – “When I was in eighth grade, there was this girl who lived down the street who always had boys visiting her. I was telling the story to Jim and in no time, we had the basic premise for “Slut On My Block.” Of course, we changed the name of the slut in the song, to protect the actual slut’s identity.”

Heatherton – “I had just finished filming the “Love Boat” reunion movie, in which I played the casino girl and I brought a couple friends to the wrap party. It was a big affair. Heather Locklear was there, Jane Seymour, JM J. Bullock and Tammy Faye Bakker, Donna Douglas, Tori Spelling, Tony Danza, Ricky Schroeder…gosh I could go on. Anyway there was this really odd girl wandering around. She was totally out of place, in jeans and a vest, curly hair, ugly glasses. She kept licking her teeth and mumbling. She had this big back pack. I thought maybe she was the entertainment for the evening. She was, as a matter of fact. She kept mumbling “Charrrrrrloootte…Charrrrrloootte!!” She went digging into her fanny pack that she was wearing and I thought she was going to pull a gun and try to take out Mr. Spelling’s kids, so I threw my drink in her face. Turns out she was just fishing for a sanitary napkin. I thought she was some trigger happy party girl. She inspired a song of that same name.”

Have any of you had any musical training?

Jim: I play tambourine and cymbals. One doesn’t need much training for that. I’m too lazy to really learn anything else. DeDe learned to play drums when she left home. Vahona learned to play clarinet in high school and was first chair in the school orchestra. Doug picked up the bassoon at a young age and plays with his band when CB isn’t touring. Heatherton’s always learning something new, but has been playing guitar since she was nine.

Heatherton: DeDe, Doug, and Vahona are great. It’s fun playing with them. Jim can’t read music so it’s all about words. If he has an idea for a melody, he hums it.

What’s been your favorite gig to play?

Vahona: Mine was an early gig, the time we won the Battle of the Bands competition at the Thirsty Whale in Chicago. All these local favorites were playing that night. It was the finals and we were up after Evil Beaver. Doug surprised us and brought props out on stage. During “Douche” he threw kazoos to the crowd and had them play along. I think I was blowing bubbles at some point, and Jim was tossing gummy bears at the audience. It was a close race and we won. Evil Beaver was so much fun and we’ve since toured with them twice.

Jim: I really had a blast when we played “Chacko’s ‘Boppin’ Bindi Fest” on BBC6 in the UK. It was like playing Dick Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” except it was for broadcast in Bombay. The host was a pervert. He kept trying to stick his face between Vahona’s tits and I swear he grabbed my ass once. We did three songs and those kids went nuts. I think that was the first time we played our song “Kama Sutra” in front of an audience.

Heatherton: Shit! We played this one gig at the sports and RV show in Kenosha Wisconsin. It was outdoors and next to us was the “Twiggy, The Water Skiing Squirrel” exhibit. I swear, this little freaking squirrel was water skiing. It was the coolest thing. So we’re on stage, doing our thing and the squirrel got away and ended up sitting on the drum riser during our set. He loved it. Doug sat down and was feeding him granola. We were really on fire that day. We’ve played so many gigs but that one was really fun!

DeDe: We went to Greece and played three shows at the Acropolis. We were Yanni’s opening act. Doug had just recovered from his surgery and his hair had not grown back so he took to wearing turbans. So we went on stage and I looked over and Doug’s in his turban but he’s also wearing what looks to be a white tablecloth. He looked like he was ready for a toga party. It was hot. During the song “Dolly’s Dirty Butterfly” Doug takes out this basket and pretends he’s charming a snake. The crowd went wild. Linda Evans was so turned on and was backstage talking to Doug for at least an hour. She kept saying something about wanting to see the snake. Yanni was not amused. We returned home the next day.

Doug: I like all the gigs we’ve played. I can’t think of any one that stands out as a favorite. I enjoyed the night that Jim fell off the stage and was caught by the crowd and body surfed all around the venue. The look of fear in his face was priceless. Only later did I find out that the show we played was a manicure convention and he had been surfed back to the part of the room where all the acrylic nail tip ladies were standing. I think he still has the scars on his ass. I guess if I had to pick out one favorite show, it would have to be Nudestock. We spent nearly 80 minutes on stage, doing our thing, completely naked.

What’s next for Chastity’s Bitch?

Heatherton: Well, we have been very lucky. We’ve been trying out different things. Vahona has a foot controlled bubble machine. Doug throws Jello out to the crowd. DeDe flings Ritz Crackers into the audience. Our CDs have sold well. We’ve got a great fan base and most of our shows have been sellouts. After 4 albums, we were able to release a greatest hits and then the foreign audience (Europe and Asia) demanded a box set, so our overseas label released a repackaged greatest hits with a bunch of our b-sides and some demos. Things that we may release in the US later. A German toy maker wants to make CB dolls but that project is on hold for a bit because none of us like how they’ve sculpted our bodies. Vahona and I want bigger tits, Jim and Doug don’t feel that they’ve been accurately represented either. DeDe doesn’t like her hair. We want instrument and accessories too and we're not sure if the manufacturers are going to commit to the making of all of the accessories.

Jim: We were approached by a producer recently. Apparently they think our lives are interesting enough to make into a movie. I’m not sure I agree and I know that it would have to carry a rating of NC-17. I mean, none of us are saints. I wouldn’t be comfortable if our story wasn’t accurately and truthfully told. It wouldn’t be fair to our fans or to the public.

Creatively, we’ve been writing together and look forward to going back into the studio sometime this fall. H and I already started on some songs. I think my favorite of the new batch is “Who’s Got A Pussy (Here Kitty Kitty)” which we plan to begin playing when we do some shows later this summer.

Individually we’ve all got something going on. I’m experimenting with faux finishes and have been reorganizing my socks and underwear drawer, as well as working in my topiary garden. Heatherton’s been taking riding classes and trying to figure out the Colonel’s blend of 14 herbs and spices. Doug’s kept busy doing home dentistry and animal husbandry. Vahona’s been doing voiceover work for a local TV station and singing radio jingles. DeDe landed a gig as the lottery girl and can be seen four nights a week on TV pulling balls out of a drum. She’s also produced the debut album for a local band who just got signed to a major label. Lastly, DeDe, Heatherton, and Vahona did some post production work on Madonna’s last album.

Any parting words?

Doug: Don’t take your eyes off of the bitch. Live it, love it.

Heatherton: And don’t chew with your mouth full.

Note: The band never reunited. Our record label dropped us, or management team went to work for Sheryl Crow, and we decided to just call it a day. We're all still good friends.

1 comment:

DeDe said...

OMG..I just revisited this! I was in tears! LMAO! You guys are funny as shit. Thanks for including me in the band! lol