Circus - January 1974 (USA)

(January 1974)

Originally Published: January 1974

Alice Cooper's 'Muscle of Love' - A Shocking Course in Pop Sex

Author: Steven Gaines

"As long as nobody gets pregnant or hurt," Alice told Circus, "Sex is healthy." 'Muscle of Love' will tell millions of people all about it!

Alice Cooper was sitting in the living room of his Malibu beach house surrounded by empty beer cans and five press agents. A woman reporter from Newsweek sat next to him on a couch and asked him questions while he sipped beer and watched a sports program on TV. Yet as people swarmed in and out of the house, everyone was careful to keep an eye on one of the female dogs who was in heat. In the middle of the interview, a male mutt rushed into the room, and there in front of Alice, the lady reporter, and a throng of Cooper-helpers, he sired a litter of puppies.

"That's just what I'm taking about," Alice said happily as the rest of the crowd cheered the male dog on his conquest. "Sex openness is really healthy." Alice continued. "In two years it's not going to be bi, homo, or lesbian sex. Sex is just going to be sex, and I'm preparing the kids for future shock."

That was the motivation behind Alice's latest and most shocking LP ever, Muscle of Love (on Warner Brothers). When the plain brown corrugated box the album is packed in is opened in millions of homes around the world, Cooper fans will get a short course in Pop Sex from Alice.

Wandering sexperts: Since the end of his last, legendary tour, which covered 60 cities in 56 days, Alice hasn't exactly been loafing. Promotional work and preperation for the future have kept him jet hopping all over the United States, His constant cross-continent travels didn't just keep him busy, though, they also put him in touch with teenagers all over America, and allowed Alice to become an on-the-spot observer of his own fans. (Alice may have actually been in your midst. He disguises himself by tucking his hair into a baseball cap and wearing dark glasses. If he is spotted, and people ask if he's Alice, he always says "No. But I wish I was!")

When Alice isn't working at night, he spends a great deal of his time carousing in famous bars with the rest of the Cooper troup, usually consisting of his girlfriend, manager Shep Gordon, society bodyguard Ashley Pandel, and assorted members of the band. It was after Alice had watched the patrons of several notorious rock bars that the idea for Muscle of Love was born.

Nestling himself in the corner of a couch as the Pacific surf broke against the beach, Alice explained his sex theories in terms of his two favorite hangouts, The Rainbow Bar in Los Angeles, and Max's Kansas City in New York. At the Rainbow, Alice sits in a private room upstairs, known as "Over the Rainbow." There is always a seat reserved for him at a little balcony overlooking the dance floor. As he sits and sips his drink, groupies, fans and other stars are all on the make for each other - and for Alice. The back room of Max's, which seems to be permeated by the light from a four-piece red neon sculpture, is much cooler. Very few heads turn and stare at the constant stream of rock stars in the room, but Alice often sits in a large round booth in a corner so he can better watch the proceedings. While at the Rainbow he felt the sex come-on was coy, sensual and slow, but the back of Max's had a "come-on-and-let's-go-do-it" blatant shock to it. It was in New York that Alice took two days off to write all the lyrics to Muscle of Love.

"We really don't come up with a concept," Alice told Circus, gazing out two huge windows at the Pacific. "The concept just develops while we are recording the album."

"We did School's Out as a nostalgic look at the '50's. When I got the idea for Billion Dollar Babies it was just a series of songs. I wrote all those lyrics in one day, and the concept was right there in the lyric content.

"Billion Dollar Babies was interested in 16-year-old American kids driving Rolls Royces. It's neat to see a rich kid, and there's nothing wrong with that. It was just a sign of an affluent society to the nth degree."

"Muscle of Love is interested in urban sex habits, but it doesn't particulary state that. It just points towards it, and it doesn't have one particular statement that says this is what's happening. It just says, isn't this funny and that this is happening."

Sex at sunset: Later the same evening as Alice relaxed at Malibu, Michael Bruce was recording by himself in a studio at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. On the other side of a sound-proofed glass wall sat producer Jack Richardson. Richardson, an enormous man dressed in a tight Banlon shirt, slax and sandals, constantly fiddled with hundreds of dials on a huge board. Michael was just finishing off the basic tracks on a song called "Never Been Sold Before," which is about a prostitute back-talking to the man she supports. After a few hours' grueling work, he stepped outside the doors of the studio into a small enclosed garden. A ping-pong table had been set up especially for the Cooper band. While Michael and an assistant engineer shot the ball back and forth over the tiny net, he explained the musical philosophy behind the album.

"This is more rock and roll than we've done in a long time. The tunes are catchier. They can be danced to, and I'm having more fun with this album than any other."

Did he write all the music? "Most of it, he said, "except for a song that Neal Smith wrote. But I don't think we want to use it." The assistant engineer and Michael laughed.

Back to the big apple: A week later, Alice Cooper, still dressed in a Malibu T-shirt and torn white shorts, was standing before a microphone in the plushness of the Record Plant studios on West 44th Street in Manhattan. Along the studio's cork-lined walls, next to Edgar Winter's gold LP's, was the Cooper gold album for School's Out.

Sitting on a stall just in front of Alice was an open can of beer. He was in the middle of a song called "Man with the Golden Gun," which hadn't been given publicity because Alice wanted it to be a surprise to the James Bond people. "I think James Bond movies are the best entertainment around," Alice had said in California. "Man with the Golden Gun" was written as a tribute to the hours of entertainment the Bond movies have given him.

Later that evening, Alice did the vocals for "Woman Machine." As he explains it, "'Woman Machine' is basically a chauvinistic song. It's about a female robot, like Julie Newmar was on that TV program with Bob Cummings. If we had women robots, they could do anything, even sexual things, just by changing their tubes."

She'll do your work in half the time
Never sick, can't go blind (oh woman machine)
Brains of tape that fills her head
She knows more than all the dead (oh woman machine)

When the lyrics were completed, producer Jack Richardson, who had followed the Cooper gang to New York, walked into the studio from the control booth and handed Alice a manual for Ampex tape recorders. As the vocalist read from a technical section, they put his voice through a phaser, and when it came out of the giant speakers in the control booth, Alice sounded like a robot delivering instructions. If you listen carefully to the end of that cut on the album, you can make out all the technical data.

But Alice seeemed to have the most fun recording the title song, "Muscle of Love." The "muscle" in question, Alice told Circus, is a heart, but then he went on to reminisce back to the the days when he was a kid, and he realized, "Hey, this thing isn't just for going to the bathroom." said Alice of the title cut, "The song is about sexual awakenings. It's about the kid who just learned how to masturbate, and what all those dirty books his father used to hide are all about."

I must have come to that crazy age
Where everything is hot
Cause I don't know if the things I'm thinking
Are normal or not

Too dirty for words: There was one song that Alice wrote that never made it to the recording studios though. It was about a lady who falls in love with her dishwasher detergent. "She is a lonely housewife and her husband's at work. She squeezes the bottle and white stuff comes out the top and goes into her dishpan," Alice said. "That's how Madison Avenue designed it. It's real sexual. Unknowingly, the lady falls in love with the bottle and sleeps with it."

A song that did make it on the album in full bloom is "Teenage Lament '74" and in it Alice pays homage to the millions of teenagers across the globe who are caught in the trap of being hip, doing things everybody else is doing, and not enjoying it much.

What a drag it is in these gold lame jeans.
Is this the coolest way of getting through your teens?
Well, I cut my hair weird.
I read that it was in,
I looked like a rooster that was drowned and raised again

Why sex at this point in Alice's career? "Sex seemed like a natural thing," he said at a table in the back room of Max's Kansas City after his evening in the studio. "I see America reflected in TV. It's the only true medium, and the album isn't any dirtier than what you see on TV."

Real life sex joints: Even the inside album photos, Alice stressed, are taken from real life. "That nude wrestling emporium - they're all over Santa Monica Boulavard." The inside photos were taken in front of Pacific Eye and Ear studios, the company that has done all the fabulous Cooper covers in the past. In order to take the shot, two full days were spent redecorating the front of the store to look like a nude wrestling parlor. Then a Hollywood make-up man was hired to bloody up the band for the "before and after" photographs. It took a full four hours to get the band ready for the shots. Also, for days afterward, Pacific Eye and Ear didn't get any mail delivered - the postman thought they had moved away and a real nude wrestling joint had opened!

"Sex isn't a sign of moral decadence," Alice continued under the red lights of Max's. "The kids can flow with it and not get ulcers like their parents. That's the problem. Once you think sex is sick - then it is."

There are several songs on the album that aren't about sex. Some of the good old Cooper violence songs emerge, like "Crazy Little Child," where Alice tells the depressing tale of a kid who becomes a criminal and meets a bloody end while cracking a safe.

Crazy little child, never got to see
All the pretty things in life
We buried him today
There's nothing we could say
Could never make the pieces fit

Inside Alice: There's also a song Alice wrote for himself, called "Hard Hearted Alice." "It's not complaining," Alice told Circus, "but it's less of a spoof than the other songs and much more serious. Being Alice Cooper isn't always the most fun thing in the world. There are a lot of points when you want to scream and get it out."

Hard hearted Alice is what we want to be.
Hard hearted Alice is what you want to see.

"Love and sex are part of each other," Alice pilosophized, "but they're as different as black and white. Sex is just a thing to do - like running a mile."

Is Alice sure that sex is what his fans want to hear about? "Of course. When I was younger that's all I thought about!"

Cooper's the Best Medicine

Michael Bruce and an assistant engineer were playing ping-pong in the garden of Sunset Sound studios one evening when a platinum blond, six-year-old boy walked into the garden with his parents. A huge smile of recognition crossed his face when he saw Michael.

Four months before, this little boy, Kevin Herriman, had been dying of congential heart disease. An artery that lead to his heart, that should have been the size of a straw, was only the width of a pin. As he lay in a hospital bed in Houston, Texas, being prepared for the most dangerous of all open heart surgery, his parents asked him what he wanted most in the world. "To speak to Alice Cooper," he answered.

The next morning, while he wavered between life and death in his hospital bed, his father put a call through to the local representative of Warner Brothers Records. That representative in turn called Alice's publicity company, The Image Makers. Less than five hours later, a phone was put to the tiny boy's ear. "This is Alice Cooper," a voice told him.

Now it was four months later, and for the first time in his short life, Kevin was up and around. As a very special treat he was allowed into the closed-session recording of the new Cooper LP, and Michael was there to greet him.

Geishas Peel For Alice In Japan

When Alice Cooper arrived in Tokyo, Japan recently for a promotional visit and TV special, he was greeted at the airport by a reception of 5000 Nipponese fans who tore at his hair and clothes. One particularly loyal fan presented Alice with a 9-foot boa constrictor named "Moische, Moische," which means "Hello, Hello." Two hundred journalists gathered at the Akasaka Prince Hotel the next day for the largest press conference ever held for an entertaining personality in Tokyo. During the conference Alice received as a present several Geisha girls who attended him for the entirety of his five-day stay in Japan. The Geishas performed such tasks as peeling grapes and feeding them on toothpicks to the Muscleman of Love and entertaining him with little stories and dances which are supposed to make the listener mellow and ready for an evening's pleasure.

The Record Plant, popular recording studio for superstars in New York, was recently the scene of a bit of a beer blast. While belting out the vocals for his latest sex-orientated album, Muscle Of Love, the American phenomen Alice Cooper noticed a tall blond man enter the studio. It was none other than Edgar Winter. "I just stopped by to have a beer with you, Alice" - and so they did.