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Originally Published: September 1974
Author: Alice Cooper
It all began when I was born a month too soon -
My ma was frightened by a runaway saloon!
Well, that's not exactly true, but it sure is an eye-grabbing opener, isn't it? Actually, those are the first lines of a song by Danny Kaye called Anatole Of Paris - it's about a madman who designs women's hats, and I've always felt sort of close to other madmen, no matter what they did.
As it happened, I was born neither too soon or too late, but right on time. I was the second and last child, and the first son, to be born to Mickey and Ellen Furnier, and I came along two years after my older sister, Nickie. I was christened Vincent Damon Furnier.
The day I was born, February 4, 1948, it was very cold in Detroit. I never liked the weather there much from that point on. As an infant, I understand I was quite attractive and precocious, and a little bit sly. My father was, and still is, a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ, which is kind of an offshoot of the Mormon church, but very different from it. Anyhow, we were what you might call middle-middle class. There was never a lot of money, but we weren't hungry either. Everyone else I knew at the time was pretty much in the same circumstances.
My first taste of the big time came when I was seven. My parents, my sister and I went to California to live with an aunt and uncle who had a house in the San Fernando Valley with a swimming pool. I had never seen a swimming pool before, and I was very impressed. I made up my mind there and then that one day I would have a swimming pool of my very own, and I knew that I would. "I'm gonna be big," I would say to myself, as I stood in my uncle's back yard, looking at that gorgeous and desirable water-filled excavation.
I was skinny then, not painfully so, but skinny nevertheless, and my face was narrow, with slightly irregular - but not unpleasant - features. My parents were of French ancestry, and if you every go to a museum and look at paintings by medieval French artists, you'll see that kind of look on the faces of the people that I always thought of as looking French. Lots of people in America don't think there's such a thing as looking French, but there is - you can check it out yourself.
Well, my father had to keep moving around because of his work for the church, and after two years in California, we moved to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, near the church headquarters, and we lived there for another two years. Then, when I was eleven, we moved to Arizona, then back to California, and then back to Arizona again, in time for me to start high school.
I lost one whole school year because of illness though, so in high school I was a year older than most of the other kids in my class. What happened was I had gotten appendicitis, and it had seemed pretty simple and clear cut until complications set in. I developed a bad case of peritonitis, which you can die from a not-bad case of - and I almost died. I needed an emergency operation, and when I came out of the operating room the doctor told my mother that he didn't know whether or not I'd survive. I was given less than a 50-50 chance of pulling through. Well, I did live - through many might argue the point - but I was in the hospital for a month and a half, and when I returned home I had to take it real easy for several months afterwards. If you saw the Taboo Poster of me in the July SPEC and noticed those weird scars just above my... er, just below my belly button, that's what they're from. The doctors took enough poison out of me to flatten an army - four and a half quarts of it! I wish someone had though to save it - I could have used it in my show.
As I said, I was a precocious child, and something of a little devil. Conniving and trickery, I am distressed to admit, were among my favorite pastimes when I was about eight to eleven years old, and the unfortunate victim of most of my scheming was my older sister. I was so cunning! For example, if I needed a quarter to get something I wanted, I would steal a dollar from my mother's purse, spend the quarter, and put the change in my sister's dresser drawer where my mother was sure to find it. Pretty ingenious, huh? I wasn't so stupid as to spend the whole dollar â€“ I made sure there was money left over so my sister would be incriminated!
To this day, whenever I see my sister or talk to her, I always tell her about these awful things I did that she got blamed for. But I just bought her a car, so she can't be mad at me. She's teaching at Yale now, by the way - she's a mathematical genius, always got straight A's in everything.
My main hobby when I was a kid was building models. I must have built thousands of car and airplane models. Now that I think back on it, I must have been obsessed with the damn things, but I suppose kids are like that when they get into something. My other big activity was long-distance running, and I stuck with that all the way through high school.
I was a good student, and I did well at school. The teachers liked me a lot, and I went out of my way to be charming and funny in the classroom. Not wise-guy funny, but nice funny. And I was known as a great diplomat - I could talk my way out of any fight, and I could talk my way out of just about any situation that came up. But, as I was saying about school, the teachers always loved me. I used to keep the classes laughing. Even if I didn't know the answer to a question, I could come up with something that was at least entertaining. I had pretty progressive teachers - if I deserved a C they'd give me a B for my extra-curricular entertainment value. Maybe I was lucky, but I enjoyed school. I'm naturally competitive and I like performing, and I always found a way to work those qualities into my everyday routine. Those were some of the best years of my life.
This is as good a place as any to stop now, but I'll be picking up this sensational saga in the October issue of SPEC, so I hope you'll join me then. Next time, I'll get into the real hot stuff - Between The Sheets, The Girl Next Door, and all of that. Love you Alice and see you later!
Alice Cooper: "Hello! This is Alice Cooper. Of all the way to get off these days, hard drugs are not the best choice. In fact, they're a stupid one! I can only tell you this: If I ever catch any of you using hard drugs, I'll come over to your house and slit your puppy's throat"
(Originally published in Spec magazine in the September 1974 issue, and is the first part of multi-part feature. There is also a 2-page pictorial on the "Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper" film)