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Huntress @ Les Deux

It’s too perfect.

I’m in Hollywood, and I’m hearing Guns ‘n’ Roses outside a club. It’s some stripper anthem from Appetite for Destruction. Which one, I forget. That whole record is stripper anthems. The bouncer takes his sweet time checking ID’s. Girls keep rolling up to the velvet rope. When they get to it, they immediately whip out one of two things: cell phone or cigarette. Cancer either way. It’s the Hollywood way.

The next song is even more perfect: Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls”. I discover I still know all the words. Evidently, the Jersey Shore-looking guys ahead of me are Armenian. The bouncer whistles at their ID’s. He talks about “some heavy-duty Armenian gangster shit” he’s privy to. He’s a house of a man, hair tied back, slightly burned out. Could have been a glam metal god back in the day. Now he’s checking ID’s.

The door girls try to shake me down for five bucks. It’s for the bands, they say. They’re probably right, but I’m most certainly poor. I was also promised I’d get in for free. Says who, they ask. The band and their publicist, I say. Evidently that’s the magic word. I get in for free.

Right when I walk in, I see a famous pornstar. I’ve never seen a pornstar in person (or wearing clothes, for that matter). I think she’s a pornstar, anyway. Half the people here look like pornstars. The other half look like they wish they were pornstars. There’s a lot of that spiky, Rod Stewart-looking hair on guys. It doesn’t look good if you’re young. It looks worse if you’re old. The DJ is playing The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a bad scene.

. . .

. . .

I’m here to see Huntress. I wrote about them recently, and now I’m seeing their first show. Their shtick is this: big-breasted blonde bombshell fronts heavy metal band. She’s a DJ at this very club. One night she books this band, Professor. They knock her socks off, so she convinces them to be her backing band. They’ll go farther, she says. We’ll go farther, she says. She’s probably right.

The room is red and kind of elegant. It has chandeliers and moldings befitting of an upscale whorehouse. The room is packed with a wild assortment of people. There’s the straight white cowboy, the gay black cowboy, some fratboys, and a Josh Homme-looking dude. I get the feeling they’re not here to “see the band”. They’re here to “see bands”. Who does that on a Monday night? I guess I do.

Huntress go on. It’s confusing, because there’s another woman in the dominatrix outfit that the singer wore in a promo shoot. She’s standing off to the side. Since she’s wearing next to nothing, she gets a lot of attention. She doesn’t dance or anything, so I wonder why she’s there. I also wonder why the singer would share the spotlight with another woman. She comes out wearing a leather jacket and a mask. She looks like a fencer in a Givenchy ad.

. . .

. . .

The band is good. So is the singer. Her voice is a little thin, but she’s hitting most of the notes. She’s hitting some tough notes, too, really going high at times. After several songs, the mask and jacket come off. I’m shocked at how thin she is. But she’s keeping her boobs caged, and she’s focusing on singing. I’m impressed.

Behind me are the fratboys. They’re too perfect: white baseball caps, flannel shirts, the works. They’re liquored up, and they’ve homed in on the singer. It takes them a few songs to get that she’s singing heavy metal. They decide that’s OK. One of them, a heavyset fellow, starts dancing all around. He’s pumping his fists, trying to get the singer’s attention. His elbows keep grazing my face. I resist the urge to murder him.

The band must have planned hard for this show. They have no dead time between songs. A projector flashes images behind them: pentagrams, magickal sigils, sinister shit. This is not the “shlubs + bosom” deal I expected. The singer’s eyes are wide open. She’s singing lines that coil and uncoil like snakes. I rack my brain trying to figure out which King Diamond song the band is covering. As it turns out, it’s a new song by the band.

. . .

. . .

That’s when it hits me. King Diamond. That’s what the singer is going for. At one point, she disappears offstage, and Professor play one of their own songs. The dude can really sing. His only fault is that he’s not as pretty as the bombshell. That’s fine, though, because when she reappears, she’s wearing a robe like Little Red Riding Hood, but white. It’s funny but scary. The heavyset fellow stops dancing. She climbs up on a speaker and serenades the crowd, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”-style. It’s demented. It’s great.

The robe comes off. She gets down from the speaker. By now, the band is hot, and it knows it. The singer is feeling it. She starts putting muscle into her twiggy-armed gestures. No sex, all witch. The fratboys don’t know what to think. “I’ve got Heavy Metal music in my blood… And I’d like to give it to you if I could!” It’s a Holocaust cover. She’s howling it. And she’s setting the original alight. “Rock ‘n’ roll is far too slow!” Amen! Ave! Tora! Tora! Tora!

House lights come on. The set ends. “What the fuck kind of music was that?” someone says. “Everyone get wasted!” Queen Diamond says. It doesn’t fit. Five minutes ago she was channeling Metal Gods. Now she’s telling us to drink vodka. Rookie mistake. It happens. First show. Only gets better from here.

— Cosmo Lee

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