Twenty years after first falling in love with the Bad Seeds, Amy Haben talks with the man himself
“C’mere sister,” the lanky crooner says in the microphone while grabbing my hand and pulling me closer to the stage.
“The king of the goths” is what some writers have called Nick Cave, and though I wouldn’t classify any of his bands as goth music, the crowd seems to be made up of a lot of black-haired fans. A cute, punk boy next to me in a black leather jacket with some form of an eighties spiked cut and tattoos on his hands seemed as excited as the gaggle of women around me in the pit. Possibly, slightly embarrassed if his friends were present, but that’s the kind of artist Nick is, men want to be him and women want to be with him. As for me, I’ve loved everything he has ever put out, from his books to his music, so I would classify myself as wanting to be him, in a creative sense. I’ve always been one of the boys though, letting my girlfriends hook up with the musicians while I talked shop with them.
“His pheromones and brooding stare caused the aging blonde with fake tits next to me to throw up her arm towards him begging for an embrace. I thought, “What the hell,” and followed suit.”
The Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds show at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn in late May was the best I’d ever seen them. Nick seemed to be more relaxed, having fun with the audience as opposed to performing as a perfectionist. He laughed between songs, talked to people in the microphone and even brought one lucky gal onstage, dancing with her sweetly and handing her a flower. He kissed her on the lips before sending her offstage. Two weeks later at the Beacon Theatre, he let at least thirty people jump onstage. Chaos at the Beacon!
Thirteen years after first hearing Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, I went to a Grinderman show in 2009. It was standing room only in the hall, but I made my way up to the railing near stage right in front of the huge stacks of amps. Nick’s skinny haunches swaggered back and forth like John Travolta in a vampiric Saturday Night Fever, cock first – feet last. His pheromones and brooding stare caused the aging blonde with fake tits next to me to throw up her arm towards him begging for an embrace. I thought, “What the hell,” and followed suit. He locked eyes with me and strutted up, grabbing my hand while gesturing for me to move back. He took a step onto the railing with daredevil bravado and sang down to me. His bushy eyebrows overtook his face as I gazed up in awe. I tried to kiss his hand but I was holding it from too far away. I think he noticed and pinched my rosy colored cheek as he climbed back to the stage. I turned back to my date and said, “Sorry Pete,” as my lust for Nick was overwhelmingly apparent. He just laughed.
I bought a pit ticket for the Bad Seeds at King’s Theater, hoping to interact with him again. The energy is so much more vibrant from the front. Connecting on a physical level with a performer that you admire is intoxicating. Plus the photos are better. I usually watch shows from a seat, where you might as well be across the street. So I threw on my loudest polka-dot dress and heels, making me six feet tall. They played, “Stagger Lee,” which I can’t remember seeing live before, with the famous line, “I’d crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boys asshole!”
After the show, the gentle giant and drummer of the Bad Seeds, Jim Sclavunos and his lovely wife Sarah granted me an after party pass where I met Nick Cave for the first time. Chloë Sevigny, Nick Zinner of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Boris and Eugene of Gogol Bordello, and Jon Spencer, among other industry insiders, were hanging out drinking cocktails. I made friends with a serpentine goddess in black and gold who worked in film production. Her other-worldly coolness I hacked up partly to her Parisian roots. Chloë took a cheeky photo with Nick while hanging off his thigh, sort of an ode to the film Black Snake Moan, with Christina Ricci.
“I never thought I’d show you this,” I laughed. Luckily, he stared at it and smiled while saying, “It looks exactly like me… me when I was young and handsome!”
About an hour later, after making my rounds introducing myself to people I didn’t know, I asked a beautiful raven-haired dancer to take a photo of Nick and I. He felt me trying to catch his eye and very humbly stuck his plastic cup and book under his arm and held out his hand. I introduced myself and asked for a photo as he hugged me. I kissed his cheek and moving back noticed his sweet eyes looking exhausted. Right about then the security started forcing everyone to leave. I said to him, “I just have to show you something,” and lifted up my skirt to show off my 1980’s Nick Cave portrait tattoo that my pal Alisha over at Sacred Tattoo had done years ago.
“I never thought I’d show you this,” I laughed. Luckily, he stared at it and smiled while saying, “It looks exactly like me… me when I was young and handsome!” Cute since Cave, who turns sixty this year, is still very attractive. His friends even commented that it was well done as his assistant Molly took a photo. The tattoo was only the second portrait my friend had laid on skin. I remember her boss leaning over it saying,”You fucked that part up,” as I looked back terrified.
I stupidly muttered to Nick, “It was my tattoo artist’s idea and it was free,” probably because I didn’t want to seem like a creep. He looked confused by my comment and said, “Well, you don’t want to have something on you for life that’s….” I backtracked, “But I do LOVE YOU.” (Shit!) The words hung in the air like a guillotine’s blade waiting to be released. We stared at each other for a moment awkwardly, then breaking the silence he turned to his assistant and said, “Time to go,” as he rubbed her shoulders and walked away.
Years earlier, I purchased tickets to the Nick Cave documentary, 20,000 Days On Earth at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. This particular screening was followed by a Q & A session with Nick. My friend Skye urged me get up and ask a question, so I went for it. I stood up and with microphone in hand, said “I have your name tattooed on me inside a heart. Do you think that’s creepy?” The audience roared and Nick laughed so hard he could barely answer the question. In his best sexy frontman persona, he gave a flirty answer, “No, I think that’s quite good. Where is it tattooed?” I raised my arm up in the air while answering, “On my arm!” He quipped, “Oh, I think it should’ve been somewhere else…”
I don’t think I’ll be getting any more Cave-related tattoos, but it’s been a trip revealing them to him.