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Rock Anatomy. Sphynkster’s true Story.

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Christopher Allan Kirkpatrick shows his press pass to the huge bodyguard in front of the backstage door, and waits patiently to being allowed in. It isn’t something he was looking forward. In fact, he is pretty much wishing he could be anywhere but there, seconds before Sphynkter’s latest concert, getting ready to interview the band.

It isn’t that he doesn’t like his job at Rolling Stone’s magazine, he loves it, but he had been expecting to work on the more social side of the magazine, the articles about drugs, about censorship. Not about one more band who said ‘Say no to drugs’ ten minutes after sniffing coke on their dressing rooms.

Outside, Chris can hear the audience go wild as the drum beat began. Sphynkter’s is a five man band, who has six platinum albums, and the reputation of being one of the wildest bands in the country. Still, they haven’t given an interview since the beginning of their career in 1977 so most of their lives are a mystery to everyone.

Later he can go and pester his editor to get better assignments. As long as he doesn’t fuck up this one.

* * *

From A Rock anatomy. Sphynkter’s true story. Rolling Stone magazine, #145.
By C.A.K.

“It was all Tongue’s idea,” Gene ‘Lick’ Carter says, as he lounges in the chair after the concert. “We were just a garage band back then, nothing serious. But Tongue, he just made us rehearse, and rehearse, until we were good enough. He’s a drill sergeant.”

Lick is the youngest in the group, recently turned 21. As every fan knows, he got the nickname because he likes to lick his female fans during the most passionate of their songs, but what most fans don’t know is that he started singing for the band when he was only 13. When asked about that, the usually secure singer bit his lip, and for a moment, is easy to imagine him as a young kid, being thrilled at spending his time with the older, cooler guys.

“My family life wasn’t exactly perfect. Dad had just left us, mom had her hands full with the twins and my younger sister, so I simply… slip through the cracks. Is no secret I haven’t talked to her since our second album, because I honestly feel like she was to blame for a lot of my troubles at the time.”

Troubles like his short lived marriage when he was just 17 to singer Janet Jackson, just one year younger than he, and later his divorce, and his second, even shorter marriage to actress Michelle Pfeiffer, both still sore subjects for the young singer.
* * *

The first song of the concert is their most known ballad, Just Want you to Know. Chris tries to ignore it, but he has to admit that it’s one of the catchiest songs he’s heard in a long time. Above everything, the music is good, and he can’t hate the group for it.

Lick, the lead singer, is called sex on two legs, and it’s easy to see why. He walks very close to the edge of the stage, and the fans try to catch him, grab his leather pants, or catch his eyes just for that one second when he’ll do his signature move: Licking the nearest fan’s face.

But Chris isn’t paying attention to him or to the bras that the fans are throwing his way. He’s seen a lot of pictures of Gene Carter in the last week, and seeing the transformation of gangly 13 year old into a rock sex god is not something he wants to have in his mind while interviewing the band. So he looks at the other members, trying to figure out what is it that the fans love so much of their live shows.

Besides the nudity, Chris muses, as he spots yet another girl on the first row who has managed to get free of her blouse.

It is then when he catches the eye of Tongue, the band leader, who winks at him as he keeps playing. During all the concert, he keeps an eye on the corner where Chris is taking notes.

* * *

From A Rock anatomy. Sphynkter’s true story. Rolling Stone magazine, #145. By C.A.K.
“The one thing we would like people to remember is that we’re not on this for the money, or the fame. We do this for the music. And the message we can send through our music,” Alejandro says, speaking for the first time since the interview began. He’s the drummer for the band, and while people tend to think that drummers are usually ignored, but Alex Mc Lean is, for many, the most recognizable of Sphynkter’s members. Born in 1961, he was raised by his single mother, Denisse, in Orlando California, and ever since the band began recording, he’s been a loud promoter of immigrant’s rights.

“They all see the parties, the money, and the awards. It’s easy to forget that we started out at Sour’s family garage. It’s even easier to forget that when we had two best selling albums on the charts, we were living in a one bedroom, cockroach filled apartment because our manager was eating our profit.”

Every Sphynkter’s fan knows what Alejandro is talking about. In 1979, after the huge success of Sphynkter’s Return, the group’s second album, the band filled a lawsuit against Lou Pearlman, their manager, starting a legal battle that is still going on today.

* * *

Brian is on the floor, still playing, when Chris finds his eyes drawn to Tongue again. The lead guitar is practically humping his instrument, and in that moment, he looks up, straight into Chris’s eyes.

Only that this time, Tongue doesn’t smile. Instead, he opens his mouth and shows Chris exactly why he earned his nickname. He pretends to lick the length of his guitar.

Chris swallows. Suddenly, the interview is the last thing on his mind, and he forces himself to look at the other members of the band, Alejandro, behind the drums, and Sour, who is smiling as he sings, while he watches how a couple of guys manage to grab Lick’s leg.

* * *

From A Rock anatomy. Sphynkter’s true story. Rolling Stone magazine, #145. By C.A.K.

“That was a complete misunderstanding.” Brian, the bass player, is a short, blond guy with only three visible tattoos, although according to some fans, he’s got more than twenty hidden under his leather pants and sleeveless vest. He also has a very innocent smile, which is why it’s hard to believe that he was in jail for three weeks in 1981, during an investigation of the Black Mass murders. “I am a Satanist, yes, but I’m a follower of LaVey. A person hears ‘Satanism’ and automatically assumes we do ritual murders and call on demon goats in our basements. I don’t do anything of the sort.”

After the real murder was caught, Brian Littrell was free to play with Sphynkter again. He says that the one thing that kept him sane during his imprisonment was the knowledge that his friends didn’t believe he was guilty, and kept rallying for his freedom. That, and his unshakeable faith it destiny.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he continues, after a little prodding from his bandmates. “If I hadn’t been in jail, we wouldn’t have needed a criminal lawyer, the guys wouldn’t have hired Leighanne, and I wouldn’t be the proud father of two right now. So, no. I’m not bitter at all”

* * *

Unlike other bands, all of Sphynkter’s members sing. That’s one of the things that Chris found most interesting when he listened to their records on his loft, getting ready for the interview. Now, seeing them live, he figures its one of the things that sets them apart.

Lick is the main voice, yes, but the others aren’t back up singers. Sour has, ironically, a very sweet voice, that combined with his piercing eyes make him the second favorite among the female fans. Brian could’ve easily started as a choir boy, if it wasn’t for his beliefs, and Tongue…

Chris forces himself not to think of Tongue’s voice, because the musician keeps winking at him, between songs. Watching Tongue sing is torture. The man looks as if he was giving a blowjob to his microphone.

Like many others of his generation, Chris has done practically everything when it comes to sex. Even so, he considers himself mostly straight.

Mostly. Which is why the next time Tongue winks at him, Chris lets himself be unprofessional for a second, and answers by sticking his tongue, and licking his own lips as if in invitation.

Chris, however, doesn’t know what he will do if Tongue accepts that invitation.

* * *

From A Rock anatomy. Sphynkter’s true story. Rolling Stone magazine, #145. By C.A.K.

Probably the most mysterious of Sphynkter’s members is Howard “Sour” Dorough, better known for his bad temperament against press and overzealous fans. Although Brian was the one member who did jail time, Sour has been sued by seven photographers after the second guitar of the band destroyed their cameras when they tried to photograph him and his girlfriend at Sour’s house in New York.

But after two hours in the band’s dressing room, hearing Lick’s jokes and Brian’s quiet, but thoughtful remarks, Sour finally raises his hand. The others have mentioned a couple of times that Sour rarely calls attention to himself in those quiet, only band members allowed moments. It’s a stark contrast to the way in which everyone seems to gravitate towards him during the concerts of the band.

“It’s not that I have anger issues,” he says, when Alex is finishing telling the story of the reporter who ended up with a broken nose and a restraining order against Sour when Brian was freed. “I have privacy issues. I give all I can give on the stage, the rest of the time is for me.”

That’s all he says during the whole interview, but it’s enough to see that definitely, Sour is not in the band for the fame and fans.

* * *

The concert ends, like most of Sphynkster’s concerts, with violence. A group of fans manages to get on the stage and have to be subdued by security. Chris scribbles a note to remember to see if he can get the name of the guys who, despite their bloodied noses and half-shut eyes, look as if they had been having the time of their lives.

Taking his recorder, he enters the band’s dressing room. It is just like many other dressing rooms Chris has seen in his career. However, there is a distinctive lack of groupies. Given the reputation of the band, Chris can’t stop himself from asking if they were trying to keep a good image for the magazine.

“We don’t let girls in here anymore,” Alex explains. When he’s not singing, he has a thick accent, product of only speaking Spanish in his house. “Not since Brian’s wedding.”

“Is Mrs. Littrell a jealous woman?” Chris asks, immediately in his reporter mode. It wasn’t the question he planned to start the interview with, but it’s a good opening.

“Not really,” Brian answers, sitting as he grabs a towel for his sweat. “We’re just tired of losing stuff because our fans want souvenirs.”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t invite friend to our hotel rooms.” Tongue comes from behind Chris, towering over him. Chris tries very hard not to shiver at the contact of the man’s chest with his back. “But here? This is band space.”

* * *

From A Rock anatomy. Sphynkter’s true story. Rolling Stone magazine, #145. By C.A.K.

“We’re just like everyone else. The money just makes it harder to see. We’ve got families, friends, we work hard. We have desires. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary about us. Except that we rock.”

Outside and on the stage, Kevin “The Tongue” Richardson, is a commanding presence. The 30 year old lead guitar is also the new manager of the group, responsible for practically everything that happens around the group. It didn’t happen overnight, it was a long and hard process that began with the group third album, Larger than yours, the first album than the group co-produced.

Controversy has followed Tongue since the band’s debut, when Jane Carter, Gene’s mother, accused him of molesting her son. At the time Richardson was 23, ten year older than the singer, and responded to the accusations calmly and countering with a libel lawsuit. He not only won that lawsuit, he also helped Gene to emancipate from his mother when he turned 16.

But because of those accusations, Tongue’s sexuality and private life are still subject of constant speculation from the media and the fans. Rumors about his backstage hookups are heard from both men and women, and to date, he’s received three paternity suits, all of them proved false.
When asked about the truth behind the rumors, Tongue smiles.

“Would you like to know?”


* * *

Chris wakes up with a hangover, feeling as if he had just had the best sex of his life. He blinks, and smiles at he still sleeping Tongue. The singer had promised a night he wouldn’t forget, and as far as Chris was concerned, he kept his promise.

Of course, there won’t be a second time, something that Chris already regrets. But it was just a one night stand for both, and there is discretion to be had. Kevin can deal with the rumors, he has been doing it all his career, but if word got out that Chris is bisexual, his own career could’ve over. There’s a lot of fear against gay people now, and they both know it.

Chris dresses quickly, careful not to wake Kevin. Its better this way, and Chris tries not to think why Kevin is Kevin in his mind now and not Tongue. One night stand, not feelings involved, not for Kevin at least.

Chris closes the door. The last twelve hours won’t appear in his article, but it will be a long time before he forgets, no matter how much he tries.