Mr. Kevin M. Allin: Better Off Dead?
Depending on your point of view, the songs that rock nihilist GG Allin sang were a direct reflection of just how screwed up or revolutionary he was – “Bite It You Scum,” “I Wanna Kill You,” “Expose Yourself to Kids.” But a more fitting GG theme might have been a punk anthem written in the late 70’s by Boston’s Peter Dayton: “Better Off Dead.”
GG Allin’s death last summer of a drug and rock ‘n’ roll overdose made the front page of the New York Press (his debut there, we assume). And it certainly adds some topical interest to “Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies,” the new, hour-long Todd Phillips’ documentary on Allin’s quest to break barriers – whether they needed to be broken or not. Unrated but easily an NC-17, “Hated” is playing late shows at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Moviehouse, where at a recent screening a lustful young fan yelled, “Take me here, take me now,” to GG’s brother Merle. The film, perfect for snuggling up with the special someone, has been released on video by Film Threat Video (PO Box 3170, LA CA 90078).
Born Jesus Christ Allin, August 29, 1956 (thusly named because his father had “visions” before his birth), his mom changed it to Kevin Michael before GG (brother Merle’s phonetic nickname for him) started school. Merle says GG took after his recluse dad, who wanted to commit suicide and take his family with him. Small wonder that GG later said, “If it wasn’t for what I do on stage, I’d probably be a mass murderer or something.”
Arrested over 50 times, the Concord, NH-bred Allin toured in between prison terms. He broke parole for a Michigan felony assault charge to take advantage of Phillips’ offer of a one-way bus ticket to New York. Talking to Phillips camera, Allin seems no more disturbed than your average angry rocker.
But on stage, where he usually performed naked, bodily fluids, defecation, rolling in glass and fights with the crowd were a big part of GG’s bloody and bruised punk rock. “My body is a rock ‘n’ roll temple, and my flesh, blood and body fluids are a communion to the people, whether they like it or not,” he says during a “Geraldo” appearance.
Though he expired alone in a Lower East Side room, Allin had long promised to kill himself on Halloween on stage for all to see. One scene in “Hated” shows Allin setting fire to a copy of the Boston Herald after your’s truly questioned his commitment to self-snuffing. But who’s to say he wouldn’t have done it; after all, he was a hero to serial killer John Wayne Gacy. (Phillips sold art by Gacy to help finance the film.)
Audiences will be fascinated by “Hated” despite themselves. The film steers between satire and tragedy as it examines Allin’s attempts to bring danger back to rock ‘n’ roll, and Phillips remains surprisingly neutral throughout the interviews, live footage, and television excerpts, neither lionizing GG’s social commentary and nor passing him off as a self-destructive degenerate jerk.
Credits roll as Allin asks Phillips to accept his collect call, one of many Allin placed from prison to friends, journalists, and Boston Rock. Does anybody know what Sprint’s long distance rates to the netherworld are these days?
— Tristram Lozaw