Tuesday, December 14, 2004 

People think I’m nuts. They think that I am a killer, a badass, and a dangerous woman. They think that I am a boot-stomping, man-chomping rock ’n’ roll sex thug with heavy leather straps on my well-notched bedposts and a line around the block of challengers vying for a ride between my crushing thighs, many of whom won’t survive the encounter.

That’s what I like people to think, anyway. Some actually buy it. My manufactured mythology had begun on stage in San Francisco, and was full-on folklore here in Portland. My band, The Balls, had become a wild success over the past three years, and we packed a downtown club called Dante’s once a week, as well as clubs throughout the west coast from Seattle to San Diego. My sex thuggery is reserved for only one man, however. And though we fuck like we just got out of prison, home life is domestic. I help with the care and feeding of my boyfriend’s young son, cutting off crusts, giving back tickles. I even own an apron.

Despite my disenchanting normality, however, I get to sing for a living, drink free most places, and I get laid regularly. Life is good.

And now it’s Christmas time, so I’m all extra everything with good cheer. December in Portland can be a dreary spectacle. Right around Halloween, a big chilly sog plops its fat ass over the Pacific Northwest and stays parked there until Independence Day. Even in the gray, spitting rain, however, I’m all atwinkle, heading to Hawthorne Boulevard to skip through herds of wet hippies to Christmas shop. And even though I find those pube farmers highly irritating, I am humming “In Excelsis Deo” and in love with the world, so fuck ’em.

Hawthorne is a main thoroughfare in southeast Portland where, on one block, you can buy a latte, Indonesian end tables, pants for your cat, a vinyl corset, or a two-hundred-dollar T-shirt. It’s a great place to find perfect gifts for the loved ones in your life, and I am going to buy the greatest Christmas gift ever.

“The Greatest Gift of All”: I hear my little fourth-grade voice trilling in my memory bank. It was in a school Christmas play and was the first solo I ever took on stage. It was also one of the few times my mom saw me sing in front of a real audience.

“The greatest giiift of aaall . . . it can come from aaany wheeere!” I sang the heck out of it, if memory serves.

My mom had started beading and was taking it very seriously. She was selling pieces on eBay—seriously—so I’m headed to a store called Beads Forever to get her some killer imported beads, maybe some semiprecious stones. I have a vision of getting her a badass assortment and putting them in a cool, funky box. It’s the first Christmas gift I will buy for her in maybe ten years, and it will be perfect.

“Per-fect!” I sing in a fake opera voice.

I see the store ahead through my swishing windshield wipers and, “Fuckyouuu!!” I sing in triumph, to no one, as there is a perfect parking space directly in front of the store. “ Rock-star fucking parking!” I pull up, swoosh my wet car into the spot, throw it into park and my phone rings. The little lit-up window reads “BDLarge.”

“Dad? Hey, Dad.”

“Hi, sweetie.” His voice sounds heavy.

“What’s wrong?”

He sighed. Someone must’ve died. My grandmother. Neeny. God, at Christmas we lose Neeny Cat? 

“Dad?” 

“Your mom died last night.”

What?

“Who?” His mom. Neeny. Ninety-four, lost her mind when her husband of sixty-odd years passed.

“Your ma.”

“Who?” More sighing. Why the fuck is he sighing so much? Should I get out of the car? 

“Your ma. Your mom died last night. They don’t know what happened yet sweetie, but . . .”

I’m literally looking into the store where I’m going to get her Christmas gift. Should I still? My hand is on the door, my car is parked . . . rock-star parking and the best gift ever. No. I say no to this. My dad says something about having to call my brothers and will I be okay? He’ll call me back right away. Love you. Bye.

Love you. Bye. 

It’s dark and raining but people can still see into the car, and I must look crazy. I grab the steering wheel with both hands and suddenly I’m sobbing, screaming at the gauges. What the fuck to do?

Where do I go, home? I can’t see. I can’t drive. I call my boyfriend at work. “Hi. Can you come get me? My mom is dead and I’m on Hawthorne.”

She’s gone. 

My first thought. She is gone. Not my first thought. No. Fucking no. I’m thrashing around inside my body. What the fuck do I do? What am I thinking? No. I peel my mind away like a child turning its face from a tablespoon of cough syrup. No. My first thought.

My first? Thank God. Thank God she’s gone. “Thank God she’s gone.”

 

Excerpted from CRAZY ENOUGH: A Memoir by Storm Large. Copyright 2012 by Storm Large. Published by Free Press.

 

What’s your name?!

My name is Storm Large.

 

Let go of my leg. 

No.

 

Okay… When did you realize you were going to write a book?

When I saw someone reading it. They looked up and pointed at me, just like that scene in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and I said, “Oh my god, IT’S ME. I DID THIS. I WROTE A BOOK.”

 

Where are you going?

I thought we were done.

 

You tell stories all the time. Are any of them true?

Yes. Except the Invasion of the Body Snatchers part. Did you know that nutria have nipples on their back?

 

Don’t lie to me!

Sorry. But it’s true.

 

In your book, your mom’s doctor tells you her condition is hereditary; have you experienced symptoms that suggest he might have been right?

Yes. I’m very much like my mother, only taller, and more dangerous, and less coordinated.

 

You wrote and performed a stage show called Crazy Enough before you wrote the book. Seems like a funny reversal of the order. How the hell did that happen? 

My friend, Larry, got some of the script and sent it off. I got shanghaied. Afterward he told me I needed to write the book, for there would be fame and glory for me…but if I didn’t write the book, I would be sent to the outer reaches of society shaved naked and lonely, with no blanket or night vision goggles to help me survive.

 

So this Larry character is to blame?

Yes. Larry Colton, a.k.a. Weasel Shadow.

 

How was the writing process? Did you lose body parts or blood? Kill loved ones? 

Everybody died. And only my favorites were resurrected until they displeased me.

The writing process was brutal, lonely, and not for the faint-of-heart, or for ass-of-clown.

 

Your fan base has a split personality disorder. On the one hand, you have this rock-punk-balls-out history, and fans have followed you since the old days. But now you’re playing in places like the Albert Hall with Pink Martini and full houses playing standards with the Oregon Symphony. You worried about pissing anyone off?

Nah. When I was a kid, none of my punk rock friends ever listened to metal. You were punk rock and that was it…maybe a little goth or industrial could sneak in there, but NO METAL.

Then Metallica came along and fucked that up for everyone, and then Public Enemy turned out to be more punk than anyone.

With me, I’ve never been one thing anyway. I’m sure I have fans who prefer me as my dirty a la carte self, and some who’d rather hear me with Pink. If someone gets mad about diversity, they can suck it and find someone less schizophrenic to listen to.

 

What’s more terrifying, being on stage with an orchestra or being in a bookstore for a reading of Crazy Enough?

Definitely symphony. I stumble and screw up at a reading, very few people will pick up on it. The symphony? Up to eighty musicians hear you hit a shit-clam….THAT’S embarrassing.

 

How’s your dad?

He’s great. He just told me a funny story about going to a Barnes and Noble to buy Crazy Enough.  He asked a little old lady who worked there where to find it. She beamed and said “Oh, YES! There’s a great review in the Globe for the book, and I can’t wait to read it myself.” Then she adds, “Did you know that Storm Large is her real name?”

Dad chuckled and said, “Yeah, that one’s my fault.”

[pause]

Gimme a kiss.

 

Okay, if you let go of my leg.

Do I have to?

 

No. I kind of like it.

Some of you may have become familiar with Storm Large when she was a contestant (and finalist) for lead singer on 2006’s Rockstar Supernova, which, according to Wikipedia, was “a reality television-formed supergroup consisting of drummer Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), bassist Jason Newsted (Voivod and ex-Metallica), and guitarist Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N’ Roses).” As many of you know, Storm has continued to build a name for herself as an independent musician, stage performer, and, soon, as a novelist. Storm’s 2009 one-woman show, Crazy Enough, which featured the song “8 Miles Wide,” was a smash hit, with all shows sold out.

On April 30, 2010, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Storm Large and TNB contributor Quenby Moone at a local taco joint here in Portland. Storm, who showed up in a pair of jeans and a well-worn white hoodie, sans makeup, was gorgeous, gregarious, generous of spirit, foul mouthed like a long-haul trucker, well-spoken, and hilarious. Storm gave me over an hour of her time, answering any question I asked with tremendous honesty peppered with frequent F-bombs. We discussed her music, sex, her recovery from a heroin addiction, growing up with a mentally ill mom, her book, the future of the publishing industry, sexism in the music industry, boob jobs, an amazingly simple recipe for pot candy, and so much more.