How I Laid Out GG Allin, or Junkies Can’t Fight
Once upon a time there was a performance artist named GG Allin. GG was a heroin addict and punk rock icon in that order. I’m certain he thought of himself as a “singer” or a “rock star” but he was terrible at both of those jobs. He was really only known for literally eating shit on stage. Among other, awful things.
In November of 1991 I worked two jobs. Most nights I spun records at Gumby’s, the local alternative nightclub. Other nights I was on-air radio talent at WMUL FM, the college radio station, where I was also a producer (think “music director” for a single format). It is the intersection of these two jobs that put me in the position to lay out GG Allin.
I would often use my position at one place to help out the other. Mostly this took the form of doing on-air interviews with bands that were playing in town. We would record the interviews, edit them for profanity and time, and then broadcast them a few hours before the show. This was a win for everyone: the station got a listener bump, the club got an attendance bump, and I often got to party with rock stars. I did a lot of interviews. Most of them were boring but every now and then I’d land a gem.
On a Wednesday evening in November, 1991, GG Allin and his band the Murder Junkies were going to play at Gumby’s. I had no interest in seeing them perform which was good because I worked radio on Wednesday nights. However, like the dutiful music nerd that I was, I agreed to set up an interview with GG and to broadcast it. We were to meet at Davidson’s Records, a store ran by my friend Dave, which was across the street from the radio offices.
GG was late to arrive, of course. He was alone (no entourage) and he was thin and twitchy and clearly not doing well at all. He had sunglasses on and a hoodie and looked more than a little like the wanted posters for Ted Kaczynski, back when we only knew him as the Unibomber. He stank like a homeless person in summertime.
Every third word out of GG’s mouth was “fuck”, “fucking”, or “motherfucker”. I do not wilt from exposure to foul language but the Federal Communications Commission was pretty keen on not letting words like that over the airwaves. Keen enough that I would end up facing some pretty serious fines if I knowingly broadcast them.
We talked for a bit, the three of us: Me, Dave, and GG. It comes to light that GG thought the interview was going to be broadcast live. When I corrected his confusion, he went absolutely apeshit as if a switch had been thrown inside of his tiny junkie mind. He called me a coward and a “Tool of the Man” who carried water for the censors. Little flecks of spit and/or hopefully chicken kept flying out of his mouth while he ranted. At this point I am getting a little heated as well but I’m trying to be cool because it’s my friend’s record store.
Finally, he said, “Well, if the interview isn’t going to be live, then I’m not fucking doing it, you fucking coward.” To this I replied, cold as ice: “Then we are not fucking doing the fucking interview. Motherfucker.”
This was his last straw, apparently. It doesn’t matter what he said to me, about me, about my family, about my friends, about my jobs – it mattered that I called him a “motherfucker”.
So he took a swing at me.
If you’ve ever been in a fist fight with a junkie, you already know how this ends. Fist fights are always tricky: you never know who can fight and who just shows. I’m from West Virginia. We used to get into fist fights for fun. Because we were bored.
He made a feeble feint with his left before trying to land a haymaker with his right. By and large, heroin addicts are slow and transparent, so I saw all of this coming for a country mile. It was like he had spent a long time thinking about how to throw a punch like that but had never actually done it. He lifted his left fist and then tried to swing his right.
I took a step forward, into his zone, and connected. Hard. He fell backwards into a CD rack
and he went down, legs splayed out, and all the compact discs fell down on his head like out of a cartoon or a shitty romantic comedy.
I stood over him, really angry, and shouted down, “Okay, motherfucker. You want to go outside with me? I will knock out your remaining teeth.”
GG did not want to go outside with me.
He sat on the floor, confused, as if he were not sure how (or why) he found himself on the ground. I wasn’t sure if he was high or not but it was suddenly like a spell had been lifted and I could see him for what he truly was and I was disgusted by it. If anything he started smelling worse.
Dave kicked him out of the record store. “Get the fuck out before I call the cops!” GG picked himself up as best he could and slunk out the door. I helped Dave pick up the CDs and put them back on the rack and when I left I half-expected that I’d have a junkie with renewed courage to deal with but no: GG had hot-footed it back to the club.
That night he would shove one of the club’s microphones up his own asshole. There is not one moment that I regret being absent from that spectacle.
A year and a half later, GG would die as he lived: pointlessly and on heroin.