The Great Ejaculator: A Tribute to Oderus Urungus
Photo by Chris La Putt
Gross things are funny because they bring everyone down to a common level. As human beings, we take the things we have created with our versatile minds very seriously. Concepts like art, science, and technology are regarded as sacred, and sometimes impossible to penetrate. But even the most elevated of human beings is made of stinky awkward meat, and seeing them subject to their own grossness and the grossness of others is hilarious, as it reminds us that all of our civilized snobbishness means nothing in the presence of ugliness. You may be Albert Einstein or Michael Jordan or Justin Timberlake or Ronnie James Dio, but if you eat bad shellfish you’re a pukey, sweaty, diarrhea-spewing mess like everyone else. What’s never impossible to penetrate is a butthole.
I’m super gross. All humanity is disgusting, but I’d like to consider myself in the higher echelons of physical grossness. My sweating is the stuff of legends. My heels are Ichi The Killer-style sharp with jagged layers of calluses. My sensitive skin is constantly plagued by pustules, blotches, and flaky patches; in college, I developed impetigo in my fulcrum and nostril, making every smile a deluge of pus. The foods I prefer are mass-produced and hideous, and the shits they give me are acts of biological warfare. My favorite type of cheese is sauce. And that’s not even taking sex into account. My nethers and the things that excite them to rigidity are unspeakably vile and deeply disturbing. My pen name is funny because it’s true.
Around the time I got into GWAR, I was entering the grossest period in anyone’s life, puberty, and I was bathing myself in perfumed chemicals and foaming cleansers in an attempt to keep women my age from knowing just what a cesspool my body actually was. I’d heard of GWAR before — who hadn’t watched Empire Records, much less played the Beavis & Butthead video game? — but it wasn’t until my buddy David played me Rendezvous With Ragnarok that I became interested in their music. Soon after, I bought This Toilet Earth, and I was hooked. It wasn’t as though I’d never heard gross music before; this was after I’d gotten into Cannibal Corpse. But death metal bands were singing about being gross and evil, about the horror of anatomy. GWAR were cackling as they told tales of Mexican snuff magazines, smoking crack rocks the size of fists, and spraying the world with jizz from the back of a giant interstellar maggot. It felt more like my life.
Oderus Urungus, Antarctica’s most famous musical celebrity, was the champion of GWAR’s janky genius. With vocals that undulated between thrash metal barks, country sneers, and faux-classical Briticisms, Urungus was anything but your typical metal frontman. On top of that, he was an eight-foot tall horned zombie monster with a Lovecraftian blood-spewing phallus dangling between his legs. Most guys who look like a fearsome sex-addicted whargoul would bellow demonic guttural vocals. Urungus, meanwhile, with a punk rock lack of Fucks Given, seemed to sing like either an unhinged hardcore frontman or an emotionally-imbalanced drag queen. His lyrics never seemed concerned with pressing his brand of disgusting ridiculousness, but did so effortlessly, and still managed to resonate with those of us who felt like violent lumbering deviant monsters. (Except “Tick Tits”; those lyrics are so gross they make even me grimace.)
Behind Oderus Urungus was Dave Brockie, a man whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. Loved by some and hated by others (including certain former GWAR bandmates), Brockie was always ready to speak publicly about his love of music, including his appearance in the film American Hardcore and the occasional interview he would do with his own spike-and-mutant-cock-clad alter ego. (To be fair, Brockie wasn’t just some grinning clown; he was also ready to chew out metal stars like Kerry King and Dave Mustaine for acting like greedy shitheads within a genre based on being genuine.) Throughout the years, he has been the only human constant in GWAR's line-up. While many men have played the roles of other GWAR personnel like Beefcake The Mighty and Flattus Maximus (whose run ended with the demise of guitarist Corey Smoot in 2011), the idea of any other person donning the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu and claiming to be Oderus Urungus is simply repellant. Brockie and Urungus are indivisible.
Discovering that Brockie died this week at age fifty left me devastated. Unlike the passing of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, which I wrote about in December, Brockie’s death has not been surrounded by dread silent language concerning its cause, though GWAR's music does hint at one or two ideas (“Medical examiners believe constant smoking of crack and sex with dinosaurs contributed to Mr. Brockie’s untimely demise”). What was most crushing, though, was that metal had lost someone who took things to extremes and did so while laughing about it, someone who had made me feel comfortable with how gross I was by showing me just how gross everything could be.
Too often, we take metal too seriously. There’s a reason for that — many of us were lost before we found metal, so to laugh at the thing that made us complete seems like blasphemy. For many, the best metal is defined by how true-ness, by stern beliefs and hard limits held by musicians concerning everything from politics to production values. On top of that, good metal is created through hard work by ultra-dedicated musicians, which is no joke if your music of choice is incredibly technical and atmospheric. But metal is also gross. The majority of us are boozy, eczema-riddled, semi-literate jackasses, even those legendary figures we like to idolize. Cliff Burton took rank shits and Euronymous jacked off on his mother’s sheets. GWAR were honest about all that, even under a hundred pounds of foam rubber. They were the KISS of the '90s, when things like KISS had been recognized as totally silly, even if they were also totally awesome. GWAR expressed their politics by beheading Ronald Reagan onstage. They didn’t invite you into the GWAR Army, they threw you into the Slave Pit or fed you to the alien. Their songs contained traces of grunge, funk, alternative, and even hip-hop, because why not? Nothing is sacred, everything is awful, let’s have fun.
Without Dave Brockie, there is no Oderus Urungus; without Oderus, there is no GWAR. With Brockie’s death, we have lost a stalwart of Not Taking One’s Self Too Seriously within metal. In honor of his memory, let us drop a deuce on our darlings. Let Satan piss in a soda bottle on a long drive; let Cthulhu be trapped in an elevator heading down to R’lyeh right after someone farted in it; let the Grim Reaper bust an oily nut onto the obituary pages in his bathroom. Look at everything that is metal, all its grandiosity and drama and violence, and accept it with a throaty guffaw. And drool on yourself while doing it. Because, face it, pal, you’re fucking gross.