Nothing's Shocking: Thank You, Iggy Pop
Cyberspace was all abuzz on Monday, thanks to Lady Gaga's "shocking" VMA performance of "You and I" dressed as a young Ralph Macchio, or at least that's what it looked like from here. It was creative and bold, and definitely entertaining - but shocking? Eh. Then again, a second look is out of the question as the generous folks at MTV promptly scrubbed the Web of any footage in an attempt to sell the awards show in its entirety to every preteen with a PayPal account. But that's beside the point.
singinglamb.ca A young Iggy Pop has his way with a microphone stand c. 1968
Cross-dressing is hardly a novel concept, for an entertainer at least. The music industry is filled with gender-benders like David Bowie and Prince, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Boy George and Robert Smith. Even Kurt Cobain sang a song in a floral frock now and then. The irony is that amid all the tweet and talk of Man-Gaga on Monday, the anniversary of a truly jaw-dropping onstage act quietly passed: It's now been more than 42 years since the first time Iggy Pop cut himself onstage on August 29, 1969.
Shock is right at home in the sweat-stained, grimy foundations of punk rock, with crude rhythms and equally primal live performances ripe with sex, violence, and, in the case of G.G. Allin, airborne shit (read the arrest report here, you won't regret it).
It was an era of "absurdity and desperation," all marching to the throbbing, primordial drumbeat of James Newell Osterberg, Jr, better known as Stooges front man Iggy Pop. Hailed "The Godfather of Punk," Pop was one of the most physical, and physically destructive, stage performers of all time. He would cut himself with glass, claw at himself until he bled, smear himself with peanut butter or meat products, and dive into the crowd.
In case you had't noticed, Rocks Off has been a little gory this week, so instead of a rundown of Iggy's most gruesome self-inflicted injuries (honestly, too numerous to count), we've decided instead to rattle off a few of our favorite Iggy Pop-inspired contributions to the world of music, aside from, you know, spearheading the whole punk-rock thing, and desensitizing us to pretty much anything that happens onstage. (Almost anything.)