Tales of Rock – 15 Insane Stories of Rock Stars Causing Mayhem

One of the most interesting things about rock stars is their larger than life personalities. Many of them entertain us on stage with their dynamic, show stopping presence, entrancing voices, and mind-blowing talents. For some, when they leave the stage the show is over, but others let their leather clad persona leak into their personal lives and are unable to separate themselves from the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll image, taking the volume of excess from zero to eleven, every, single, day.

They play their music loudly, but they live even bigger, often partaking in over-the-top and dangerous pastimes, with beyond bad behaviour captured by fans, roadies, groupies, and the paparazzi. Some of these stars live in a perpetual state of adolescence, many suffering from full blown and dangerous addictions. Sure, these stories make excellent stories for rock bios, or episodes of Behind the Music, but they’re also activities not safe for anyone, even though their antics are the stuff that rock legends are made of.

Not many tabloids publish stories about the band who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sipped on tea after each show on a world tour, because it isn’t all that interesting. However, readers can’t wait to read about the celebrity who was wildly out of control and decided to go on a lengthy cocaine binge with their significant other or where they kidnapped people (Rick James actually did this twice). Nonetheless, here are 15 stories of legendary rock and roll debauchery at its best (or worst); you be the judge.

15. Keith Moon – Banned From Every Major Hotel

via innocentwords.com

Some would say that Keith Moon, the former drummer for The Who, was the grandfather of bad rock star behavior. It would appear he made it his own personal mission to promote deranged antics that would now be considered pretty cliché. He trashed hotel rooms, ate horse tranquilizers like they were candy, and had nude cake fights. He truly believed it was his sole job to behave badly. One time, after leaving a hotel, he was convinced he’d forgotten something and insisted that the driver turn around and go back. When he returned, he raced into his room, picked up the television, and chucked it out the window and into the pool below. What he had “forgot” was that he needed to leave his signature path of destruction before moving on to his next location. The drummer also used to hit the road with a large supply of cherry bombs and other explosives, using them to destroy toilets pretty much everywhere he went. He was eventually on a permanent ban from the Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton for his toilet bombs.

14. Nikki Sixx – Came Back From The Dead

That popular Mötley Crüe song, Kickstart My Heart, is based on a real story of when Nikki Sixx died. Mötley Crüe embraced every possible stereotype of hard-rocking, metal stars imaginable, including their penchant for Girls, Girls, Girls and drugs, drugs, drugs. On December 23, 1987, after a night of partying hard with members of Guns n’ Roses and Ratt, Nikki Sixx took a fatal dose of heroin. He was revived from a heroin overdose after two minutes of clinical death, just like that infamous scene in Pulp Fiction, when two shots of adrenaline were stabbed directly into his heart. Instead of spending some time in the hospital recovering, or even at rehab reflecting on poor life choices, he left the hospital and hitchhiked back home. Sixx has said of the experience, “There was a cop asking me questions, so I told him to go f— himself. I ripped out my tubes and staggered in just my leather pants into the parking lot, where two teenage girls were sitting crying around a candle. They had heard on the radio that I was dead and looked kind of surprised to see me.” The girls gave him a ride home and a lecture on giving up drugs. He celebrated not dying that night with some more heroin.

13. Keith Richards – Snorted His Dad

There are endless jokes about Keith Richards being an undead, pickled, and smoked version of himself from the endless amounts of booze, drugs, and God knows what he’s ingested over the years. A number of years ago, Richards made headlines because of a response to a journalist’s question about what the most peculiar thing he’d ever snorted was. Keith’s answer was simple, “My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared. It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.” His manager insisted this was a joke. Odds are Richards wasn’t joking, after all this is the same man who mistook police raiding a party in his house in 1967 with uniformed dwarves and welcomed them with hugs because he was tripping on LSD. Richards also commented on being on a list of celebrities most likely to die for a decade. He was rather disappointed when he no longer topped the list.

12. Dave Navarro – Blood, Orgies, And The Playboy Mansion

Anyone who believes that it’s impossible to be too extreme for the Playboy Mansion is wrong. Dave Navarro, guitarist from the band Jane’s Addiction, managed to get himself banned from Hef’s place. In his book Don’t Try This At Home, Dave describes the incident that saw him chucked. It all took place in “the orgy room” with three female “friends.” Dave decided it was a good idea to shoot up in the middle of intercourse and then wrote on the wall with the syringe and his own blood. He tried to clean off the evidence, but they had the whole thing on video. Later, security guards were waiting for him outside of the room to permanently escort him from the property and asked him to never come back. Dave wrote, “All my life I’d wondered what it was like and here I was, at 30, squirting blood on the walls with 3 naked girls at my feet.” Party fails Dave, party fail.

11. Rod Stewart – Put Drugs In His Butt

Rod Stewart probably doesn’t seem like a bad boy rock star, particularly since now most of us see him hanging out in mom’s music collection with his feathered hair and come-hither expression. He certainly doesn’t seem dangerous when he’s played on the easy listening radio stations at the dentist’s office either. Back in his heyday, specifically the 1970’s, the Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? the singer had it pretty bad for cocaine. Here’s the thing about his cocaine addiction: he knew the damage the drug could do to his nose and wanted to protect it from the negative side effects of snorting (mostly septal perforations or holes, chronic infections, nosebleeds, and nasal deformity). That’s why he selected another method to ingest the drug. The star would purchase anti-cold capsules, replaced the regular medicine with cocaine, and then inserted them where the sun doesn’t shine, “enjoying” the effects of the drug as it dissolved in his rectum. Hopefully, by now he’s kicked that habit in the butt.

10. Boy George – Whipped A Fan With A Chain

For anyone who’s spent a good deal of time watching or reading rock bios, it’s probably no surprise that the Karma ChameleonBoy George, has had his share of struggles with drug addiction. Unfortunately, Boy George didn’t leave his addiction in the 1980s with his chart-topping hits; he took them all the way into the 2000s. In 2007, a Norwegian escort named Auden Carlsen believed he was going back to The Culture Club’s lead singer’s home to participate in a nude photoshoot. To his surprise, Boy George really wanted to hurt him and he ended up handcuffed to a wall and beaten with a chain. A trial following the incident confirmed that both parties had ingested cocaine that evening. Boy George, presumably due to some cocaine paranoia, believed that Carlsen had hacked into his personal computer and decided the escort was going to “get what (he) deserve(d)” whether he liked it or not.

9. Duff McKagan – His Pancreas Exploded

This list would be entirely incomplete without explicit details of the escapades of members of Guns N’ Roses. In fact, one-time bass player Duff McKagan took this bad boy image to explosive ends. One day, he drank so much alcohol that his pancreas exploded because it was combined with his steady daily regimen of cocaine, proving to himself that his body can only take so much. When it burst, it swelled to “the size of a rugby ball” and then ruptured, leaking a lot of acidic fluids meant to remain within the pancreas. The acid was so potent it caused third-degree burns inside McKagan’s body. Duff miraculously survived saying, “It was a real, real wake-up call. It was a gentle relapse off the alcohol. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and it gave me time to really think about how I got there.”  A word to the wise, don’t let your pancreas explode.

8. Peter Buck – Fought Flight Attendants

via thatericalper.com

Some bands are better known for their sound than for their antics, and that makes it even more embarrassing when someone in the band acts like a crazy rock diva. REM is known for its philanthropy surrounding human rights, AIDS & HIV, and disaster relief; not for being bad boys. In 2001, about a week before the band was scheduled to perform at a concert promoting peace, lead guitarist Peter Buck got into some trouble on a flight to London. Apparently, Buck had been drinking on the flight and didn’t like the idea of being cut off. The guitarist fought two flight attendants over a yogurt cup, which exploded everywhere and shoved a CD into a snack cart (believing it would play music). He even tore up the yellow warning card the crew of the flight issued for his poor behavior while saying, “I AM R.E.M.” The pilot eventually air radioed the authorities. Later, Buck apologized profusely blaming a poor reaction between the wine he consumed on the flight and some sleeping medication saying, “I am very sorry for the incident, and, by course, very embarrassed about the whole thing.”

7. Ozzy Osbourne – Snorted Fire Ants

There are probably enough stories about Ozzy Osbourne’s hard-partying ways to fill a book. He started off his solo career in 1981 by biting a head off a dove, and in a 1982 Iowa concert, he bit the head off of a bat (although he thought it was plastic at the time). When you mix Ozzy and Mötley Crüe together for a 1984 tour, there is bound to be a whole lot of trouble. This tour was rightfully called, “The craziest drug- and alcohol-fueled tour in the history of rock and roll.” In something that cartoon parodies and rock legends are made of, Ozzy and Nikki Sixx decided to hold a contest to see who could be the most balling rocker. In the event that was highlighted in a bio penned by Ozzy’s wife, Sharon, Sixx set himself on fire, so Ozzy responded by snorting a line of ants (some of which came out of his mouth). There is some debate as to whether or not the ants were fire ants. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

6. Steven Page – Squeaky Clean Rocker…Coke In The Car

via culture.org

The Barenaked Ladies are a family-friendly band who was just about to release a children’s album when lead singer, Steven Page, literally went off the rails at the worst possible time. Back in 2008, officers were called to investigate a car oddly parked in a small town just outside of Syracuse, New York. The car was Page’s Prius and the driver’s side door was allegedly left wide open. While investigating, the officers spotted a man and woman at a kitchen table with cocaine in front of them. Turns out the drugging duos were Page and a friend (who he later married). The apartment was searched, more cocaine and marijuana was found, and the If I had a Million Dollars singer was arrested, but released on $10,000 bail. Page quietly left the band in the months that followed and has since pursued a solo career. Page says, “Once somebody gets caught with drugs, everybody brands them a junkie. Somebody gets kicked out of a bar for being drunk and people don’t automatically say they’re an alcoholic. I’m not making excuses.” Page says he’s grown up since then but has no plans to rejoin BNL.

5. Chris Robinson – Spit On A 7-Eleven Customer

A lot of stuff that we read about Chris Robinson (no matter how nice Kate Hudson claims the father of their son is) doesn’t paint him in the best light. A lot of it is more childish than rock and roll, including a bizarre incident at a convenience store. In 1991, following a concert in Denver, Colorado, the Black Crowes singer was livid when a clerk at 7-Eleven wouldn’t bend the rules and sell him alcohol after midnight. As he had his tantrum, another customer announced, “There’s the lead singer of the Black Crowes!” Another customer indicated she didn’t know who that was only to have a petulant Robinson insult her by saying she’d know who he was if she didn’t spend so much time eating Twinkies. Next, the rocker spat on the customer before storming out with two cases of beer under his arms. The singer was charged and pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.

4. The Toxic Twins – Held Shooting Practice In An Abandoned Convent

via popsugar.com
They look like a couple of old ladies…

There’s a reason why Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler have been affectionately nicknamed the “Toxic Twins.” They were always side by side and totally believed that anything worth doing, was also really worth overdoing. Known for racking up $100,000 hotel bills, they entertained groupies, trashed rooms, and gorged themselves on copious substances, again and again. In 1976, they worked on an album in a renovated convent in upstate New York. During this time they crashed their brand new sports cars, did a lot of drugs, and decided it was a great idea to hold firing practice; shooting guns in the attic, all simply because they could. Tyler once told Rolling Stone Magazine: “Jerry Garcia says that we were the druggiest bunch of guys the Grateful Dead ever saw. They were worried about us, so that gives you some idea of how f–ked up and crazy we were.”

3. Slash – Shadowboxed Monsters All Night Long

via hattershostels.com

Slash’s autobiography reveals some pretty explicit details of his hard-partying ways. It was 1989, and he’d just returned home after two years of touring for the Appetite for Destruction album. He was bored, feeling out of place, and partying hard. He felt like his addiction was getting out of control, and decided to join Steven Adler in Arizona while he tried to scale back his habit. The amount of drugs Slash had brought himself to last four days was quickly gone. Soon, he spotted monsters on the other side of the curtains of his room, which he shadowboxed, all night long. By morning, he decided to have another line before hopping in the shower, only he saw another monster, and when he attempted to punch it, he put his fist through a glass shower door and completely shattered it. Next, he saw evil Predator-like creatures entering his room, and decided it was time to flee, dripping blood and was stark naked. He went into another room, hid behind a maid, ran into the lobby, and eventually hid in a shed on the fairway of a golf course behind a lawnmower. He wasn’t seeing monsters anymore by the time the cops arrived, and he gave his testimony, but he still told the story about the creatures that were trying to kill him. Steven Adler finally arrived and handed the naked Slash a pair of sweatpants.

2. Phil Spector – Habit Of Using Guns Against Other Rockers

via nbcnewyork.com

A lot of people are probably thinking, “Who’s Phil Spector, and what does he have to do with Rock and Roll?” Phil is a songwriter and producer, who is the legend responsible for “the Wall of Sound” approach to rock and roll. He’s also certifiable. One time, he put a loaded gun to rock poet Leonard Cohen’s neck, and another time he fired a gun in the control room nearly taking off Beatle John Lennon’s ear. The most epic of his all fired up incidents would have to be when he held The Ramones hostage when they were working on the album End of the Century. Apparently, Dee Dee went looking for Joey and Phil and found them in a stairwell where Phil was waving around a pistol. Dee Dee announced he didn’t like having a gun pulled on him and that he was going to leave when Spector pointed the gun directly at Dee Dee’s chest and indicated that everyone was to return to the piano room. Spector locked the room and made the entire band listen to him sing, Baby, I Love You, over and over again, until 4:30 AM, when we assume he got bored and decided to wave his gun elsewhere. Phil Spector’s wild ways finally caught up with him and he was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

1. Def Leppard – They Coined A Sex Move

via mtv.com

Some people are rock legends, others border on urban legends and warrant their own page in the Urban Dictionary. This is the case for rockers Def Leppard. Apparently, there is a sexual expression coined as “having a Def Leppard,” and this is meant to describe threesomes where two members of the group experience are a mother and daughter. Apparently, exploits with two generations were (or still is) a popular pastime of rock legends Def Leppard. The boys who brought you such musical lines as, “I’m hot sticky sweet from my head to my feet, yeah!” also, apparently, like to help mothers and daughters to come close together. Supposedly, they experienced so many of these “family affairs” that Def Leppard fans decided to turn their love for willing participants into a sex move. Seriously, who (and their mother) would actually say yes to this insanity?  Regardless, they found enough people to turn this weird fantasy into a reality.

 

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How to Successfully Get A Date on Tinder: Learn How Tinder Actually Works and Put a Check Mark on Your List

Believe it or not, gentleman’s rules actually apply to Tinder! Even though you may think that Tinder is just another form of social media, it is better to think of Tinder as an actual dating platform instead of a cyber-connection between two strangers with the use of a simple app. Well, women are the same either way, but they tend to be able to put a little more thought into whom they would want to be on Tinder since they aren’t under any pressure of the environment. If men think that the majority of women on Tinder are easy, it may be best to think again!

Here are a few tips to get women on Tinder:

Make sure to be eye-catching

Do not forget that you get to pick as well, which is why your profile should be given a little more thought instead, and instead of putting up a picture of you chilling with your bros, why not put a picture that attracts your type of woman? If the type of woman you like is adventurous, put pictures of you doing crazy stuff like mountain climbing, swimming, or whatever it may be that you enjoy. If you are more into the conversational type of women, try to make your picture a little bit more melancholic and minimalistic to spark conversation regarding the mystery of your profile.

Put some thought into your photo choices

It would be nice to have an eye-catching first picture, and as the women try to search your other photos, they unravel different parts of your personality. The best way for you to get your ideal girl is to know what your ideal girl wants! Attraction begets attraction, so find some tips to make your photos stand out a little more. Limit yourself to at least four or five photos to avoid being a showoff. If ever you want to show your other pictures, link your Tinder profile to your Instagram profile.

Watch your description

Once again, your description should attract the type of women you want, which is why putting up the right description can increase the chances of you getting the girl that you want to swipe right! Tinder limits the number of characters you see unless you click the picture to view the full profile. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase what kind of person you are. Stop introducing yourself as blah blah blah with this height, working at this job, enjoying these kinds of things, and etc. Try to think of something ecstatic and something that sparks a discussion.

Be a catch at first glance.

A great example of this would be “Apples are better than oranges, prove me wrong,” something that invites conversation is always a good description as it allows you to take control of the conversation and put a check mark on the list of things you have to prepare yourself for. The entire conversation is up to you now! Have fun on Tinder!

 

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Stabbing Westward

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stabbing_Westward

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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What Happens When Your Girlfriend Finds Out You’re into Trans Women

When cis women find out the men they love are also attracted to trans women, their reactions can be devastating.

Wen’s girlfriend never expected to see transgender porn on his phone. No one knew he’d been hiding his attraction to trans women since middle school. Despite the discretion, deep down, Owen optimistically hoped his fear was unfounded; “I always figured she’d find out and be so accepting that I’d feel like I never should have hidden it,” he said. He was wrong.

Instead, Owen’s girlfriend was devastated, the 22-year-old recalled. At first, she cried and interrogated him: Was he gay? Was she just a prop for him to look straight? Why did he hide this from her? Then, she got mean. Over the course of a month, Owen said she used his sexuality as a weapon against him. According to Owen, she pitilessly mocked him, remarking on how disappointed he must be that she doesn’t have a dick. He obviously “wanted to be a bottom,” he recalled her saying; to “get a good fucking.” Sometimes, when they were intimate, Owen said that she would climb on top of him and mockingly simulate fucking him in the ass.

She ended the relationship in March. Though she didn’t say, Owen knows why: “What did my attraction to trans women have to do with my attraction to her, a cis woman?”

Owen lives in Upstate New York, and was taught to respect trans people from an early age, he said. But the shame he received from his girlfriend made him question himself. “I immediately tried to change, [after] six-plus years of loving myself,” he said. “I unfollowed all the trans girls on Instagram and Twitter.” He stopped watching trans porn, too.

But abstinence was ineffective. “It just made me desire trans women more,” Owen said. “I couldn’t go back.”

He’d love to have a healthy, public relationship with a trans woman. But it feels unlikely. He doesn’t really know where to meet trans women, and if his next girlfriend is a cis woman, he expects to keep this secret from her. The trauma of being shamed by his ex has marked him with paranoia. If found out again, he’s afraid he’d be ostracized completely, “scarlet letter style.”

Owen is one of the countless men who are attracted to trans women but are too afraid to say so publicly. I’ve reported on this for years, but the coverage rarely draws these men out of hiding. In July, though, an interview I conducted with four straight guys inspired many such men to speak up, across the internet, onto countless social media timelines, and in emails to me. Their reasons for hiding may seem obvious, a blend of homophobia and a fear of being stripped of their masculinity.

But there is another source of pressure to conceal trans-amorous desire that may be even more powerful, yet has long gone unspoken. I have seen it myself many times over since I first transitioned—and I saw it again quite recently, wrapped up in many of the notes men wrote after reading my article. They had all been impaired by the same, devastating rejection by cis women in their lives.

Owen’s story is the most typical example of this rejection, and perhaps the most damaging, but the stigma against trans amory is much more complex than that story alone. The rejection doesn’t always come in the form of transphobia. Sometimes, it’s a matter of misguided advocacy.

Allie, a 31-year-old cisgender woman in London, was in an open relationship when she learned her boyfriend was attracted to trans women. At first, she wasn’t upset. Allie has many trans friends and considers herself an ally. But her commitment to that alliance began to disrupt her understanding of her partner’s sexuality. Allie began to worry that her partner was a fetishist, dehumanizing trans women as sexual objects—what’s known in the LGBTQ community as a “chaser.”

That’s shorthand for “tranny chaser,” a term referring to men who secretly fuck trans women, and fetishize us as pornographic fantasy objects: chicks with dicks self-created for male consumption. This is how we’re typically treated by men, and have been for decades. Understandably, many trans people reject empathy for them. We’re forced to endure expansive social assault every day, while they literally hide from it. Trans culture is defined by resilience, theirs is defined by fear and a pattern of sexual discretion that at best breeds mutual loneliness, and at worst violence.

“I was really concerned that having a specific attraction to trans femininity meant essentially disqualifying trans women from total womanhood,” Allie said. “An attitude I saw on the internet a lot was that anyone who was specifically attracted to transness or trans people was a chaser and that chasers are gross and horrible and objectifying.”

[If you’re a cisgender man who is attracted to trans women and want to share your story, contact diana.tourjee@vice.com (you can keep your story anonymous).]

Rather than outright, angry rejection, Allie told me that her failure to her partner was quieter, spread over time. “This little internal conflict I was having was actually on a path to destroying my relationship,” she said.

This is the danger in stereotyping all trans amorous men as chasers. Many are just discovering their sexuality, or finally, want to be honest about who they are. They may well be living with severe anxiety or depression due to their reasonable fear. So the outright rejection of all men expressly interested in trans women ultimately alienates whatever a number of trans amorous men are capable of, or actively are trying to overcome that fear. The men in this article are not chasers. They’re an example of people who desire an authentic, fulfilling connection with trans women; rejecting them has only caused harm.

Allie finally realized the unfairness of her position. “Like a lot of imperfect people who want to improve the world, I am imbued with a sense of moral outrage that sometimes inadvertently motivates me to speak over the people I’d want to advocate for.” People like the trans woman that her partner is currently dating: “If she feels loved for who she is in every way, including for her transness, and doesn’t mind that my partner likes that about her—then how the fuck is it my business?”

Although well-meaning, Allie said she now realizes that her thinking was flawed and based on the idea that anyone who loves trans women is abnormal—an idea nearly as harmful as thinking that trans women themselves are abnormal.

“They’re two sides of a coin,” Allie said, “the total value of which is that transfeminine people have a desire for them negated completely.”

Whatever the motivation behind the rejection, it’s clear that the shaming can have deeply harmful, lasting, and violent effects—for both men, and for trans women.

For Lucas, a 40-year-old man from Brazil, the consequence has been a lifetime of depression. He’s been attracted to, and dated, trans women since he was a teenager, but, neither friends nor family knew or know about it, he said. In 2011, he began experiencing depression, which he attributes to “a long time hiding and not having anyone to speak about my attraction and involvement with trans women.” At that point, though, it was manageable.

Then, in 2013, Lucas fell in love with a trans woman named Natasha. “At the time we met, she was in prostitution, and I was a client,” he said. “We became friends and went to the movies, bars—just regular things every couple does.” It was the happiest time of his life.

After a year of dating Natasha, Lucas was tired of hiding and felt it necessary to finally share this increasingly important part of his life with another woman he loved: his sister. Like Owen with his girlfriend, Lucas optimistically hoped that his sister would accept him. Instead, she went into a rage. She said she couldn’t understand why he was “doing this to her and to the family,” he recalled. She threatened him, promising that his “life would be ruined” and that his whole family would turn their backs on him if he didn’t end his relationship with Natasha. He believed her. “I thought I was the worst person in the world because of what my sister said.”

Horrified at the thought that his sister’s promise of ruin would come to pass, Lucas set fire to his life. In the days and weeks that followed, he slowly removed himself from Natasha’s life. But Natasha, he says, was obviously the one, and pushing her away tore him apart. He began thinking about suicide and has continued contemplating it ever since. “I could not carry on,” he said. “[My sister’s] words marked me for life.” His sister never mentioned it again. “I regret the day I spoke to her about it.”

Today, Lucas has a son and fears that openly dating a trans woman would negatively impact his son’s life. He says he’s shared his attraction to trans women three times in his life and has received a negative reaction every time. “So it just feels like you are alone, and will have to deal with it yourself for the rest of your life.”

Lucas used to be a relatively healthy, happy, handsome man in love. While his sister has spent six years forgetting what she said, he has struggled with the desire to end his life. “I take medicine to get out of bed, and to go to sleep,” he said. “I really wish the world was different. I feel like I am an actor living a soap opera in which I hate my character, and what he represents.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Karate Lessons

Philadelphia, PA – 1975-1976

I was picked on and bullied in Fel’s Junior High School. I never experienced this in grade school. It just didn’t happen there. Maybe all the disfunction in families comes to a head when kids reach the age of puberty, but I just don’t know.

It was hell for me for much of the whole 3 years I spent at Fel’s Junior High school. It felt more like a juvenile detention center than any sort of educational facility. When I think back on my life my memories are pretty sharp and I have great recall and detail. But when I think back to Fel’s, there isn’t much info. It’s as if during those formative years my mind blocked out much of that horrific pain to save me from mental illness later in life.

There was a show on TV at that time called Kung Fu. My parents used to watch it and my dad loved it. I remember watching a few episodes and although I never saw the pilot, I knew what the show was about. It seemed that this Chinese/American guy wanders around the American west and gets into these different situations. Normally there would be some bad guys who would get their butts kicked by the main character each week.

I thought it was all very cool, and Kung Fu and Karate were hot back in the 70s. There were lots of movies about the subject. Even the Green Hornet had a chauffeur named Kato that could do karate. It was Bruce Lee, who sadly died back in 1973, but he had already established himself as a bonafide star in his short time in show biz. He was the real deal.

I figured if I learned kung fu or karate, I could defend myself from all of the animals at school and in my neighborhood. I remember I had gotten a book about Judo and was reading about some simple moves, and I guess maybe I put it to my parents one day that I’d like to take karate lessons. It just seemed practical, cool and I liked the idea and philosophy behind it all. You have this amazing fighting skill but you only use it for the forces of good. You never pick a fight, you only use it to defend yourself and your loved ones. That’s like some superhero stuff right there. I figured that would be perfect for me since I loved comic books and the dudes that were in them defending the world against evil.

So, my parents signed me up for karate lessons. I remember it was $10 a week and back then and my father thinking that it was kind of expensive.

They sent me off to American Karate Studios in Rockledge Pa. That sounds far away, but it was just a bus ride away from my house. I would go there I think a few times a week. For my dad’s money, I would get 2 group classes and 1 private lesson per week.

I would finish school and then walk north on Oakley street to Martin’s Mill Road and hop on the N bus. Which I think either doesn’t exist anymore or they’ve simply changed the name of the bus route. I googled it looking for any old photos online and came up with this:

https://www.yellowpages.com/philadelphia-pa/mip/american-karate-studios-464769411

https://businessfinder.pennlive.com/1977929/American-Karate-Studios-Philadelphia-PA

Could that place still be open?

I would carry a plastic bag that had my Gi in it. That’s the white outfit the karate guys wear. I thought it was super cool and felt like a real kung fu dude when I wore it. It really allows the freedom of movement when you’re doing your moves.

Here’s a couple of old photos my sister dug out of me wearing my karate Gi doing some moves. Future Kung Fu Dragon!

A photo on the wall of my mother on her wedding day hangs on the wall behind me. Check out that ancient vacuum cleaner in the corner!

Anyway, I remember there being a series of belts you had to earn to move up to be a kung fu master.

Everybody started out as a white belt. That’s the beginner level Then you moved on to an orange belt. Then a purple belt. Followed by blue and then green. There were 3 degrees of brown, and 8 degrees of black.

The dream was obviously to become a black belt karate master. That would take years and years to achieve and I didn’t see myself ever getting there. But if I could learn enough moves, maybe I could defend myself against the minions in the neighborhood who picked on me.

There were a couple of kids that were already members and they wore some of the higher level belts. There was a little guy who had a green belt and he was really fast and had killer moves. I figured if that kid could do it, so could I. There was also this girl who was older than me who had a purple belt. She was really cute and always wore her hair back in a thick braid. The only way I ever saw her was with her hair back and in her Gi. I kind of had a thing for her, but I basically didn’t exist in her world and would never have a chance to get to know her. At least in some way, I was invisible to her… like a ninja!

The group classes were rigorous and filled with a bunch of skinny kids like me. We would exercise the moves that had taught us, like snap kicks and punches. It was fun to play/spar with the other boys because it was like we were fighting but no one really hit anyone else.

Once the instructor made us put a smaller kid on our shoulders and we had to do a series of front snap kicks. So while there is this kid sitting upon your shoulders you had to kick to the knee, midsection, and face to an imaginary adversary in front of you. This all had to be done without putting your kicking leg back down. It felt like some real next-level kung fu stuff!

Another time during the exercise and strength training portion of the class, we had to all lie on our backs on the mat and lift our feet up 6 inches off the floor. This was a great way to strengthen the muscles in our core. But the crazy thing was, they would make you hold it up until it was nearly unbearable. Then the instructor would walk through us and step on our stomachs. It didn’t hurt because our stomach muscles were so tense but it was wild. You wouldn’t think that would work but it did. He stepped on everybody. No pain. Future kung fu dragon!

My favorite part of attending karate lessons was the private lesson with my teacher. That’s where you learned all of the new moves and skills associated with your belt level. It was really cool. Like, if someone grabbed you by the lapels there were a series of moves you could perform to immobilize and destroy your opponent in seconds. I love this!

There’s also a dance you learn along with your training. It’s called a kata. It’s a series of punches and kicks you do in a formation and you have to memorize it and be able to perform it. It included many of the basic techniques that you were being taught for your belt level.

(I just got up from my desk to see if I still remembered any of that kata. Guess what? I went right into the routine like it was yesterday. Wow!)

Thank you, Sensei!

I even ordered some cool patches for my jacket. I had a round patch on the back of my jacket with the American Karate Studios logo on it. I also had a tiger and a dragon patch on each one of my sleeves. I was going to be like Kwai Chang Cain in the Kung Fu show on TV!

By the time the semester ended and I was supposed to go to the shore for the Summer I took my test, with one of the owners, (who was a black belt) and I passed! I earned my orange belt!

Of course, my dad said, “They better give you that belt after all the money I gave them for those lessons!”

I should have drop-kicked him.

Karate lessons were a welcome little repose in my tortured life back then. I think it really helped me. I never used any kung fu moves on anybody, but it did feel good learning something new, get some exercise, and be with other kids like myself.

Thank you American Karate Studios and to all of the staff who were kind to me and taught me some cool fighting skills!

 

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