POISED FOR A COMEBACK Slut in New Orleans.
It's a Thursday around noon, and I'm sitting in the Hi-Ho Lounge, a dimly-lit dive bar on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans.
The Phoenix has sent me to Louisiana to write a story on the BP oil spill and its disastrous impact on the state's culinary culture (see "Report from the Gulf," August 6). And by this time, I've already visited a shucking house on the edge of the French Quarter and a smattering of chefs around the city.
In the morning, I'll take a pre-dawn ride out into the Gulf of Mexico with a father-son team whose family has been plucking oysters from the local waters for eight generations.
But here, amid the torn red leather seats and Velvet Underground tracks, I'm waiting on Dee Slut.
Slut — given name David Turgeon — walks into the bar just a few minutes after the appointed time in a pair of tall white boots. He's wearing a straw cowboy hat with an American flag lapel pin affixed to the brim. Dirty blonde locks tumble down to his shoulders. He's got a crab po'-boy sandwich and he quickly orders the first of what will be several beers.
Turgeon's story is not entirely different from those of the other folks I've met.
Since Hurricane Katrina, he's been selling fish, crabs, and oysters for a small distributor in his hometown of Lafitte, just south of New Orleans. And the fishery closures have sharply limited his income. "Right now, our town, it's when you make your money — and they ain't making money," he says.
But I know, early on, that Dee Slut won't appear in my feature on the spill; that he'll need to show up in some sort of postscript. He's a different sort of fellow, after all, a category unto himself: aging-punk-rocker-cum-fish-slinger.
Turgeon, now 47, was a founding member and lead singer for the Sluts, widely considered New Orleans' first notable hardcore outfit. Assembled in 1981, the group lasted two years and produced a single record, 12" of Sluts.
The 14 songs, split between Side "Fuck" and Side "You," included "Nuke the Whales," "Hey, Hey, We're the Sluts" and, of course, "Fuck You," which featured Dee belting out precisely two words.
During live shows Turgeon spent most of his time in the audience, at the end of a 100-foot microphone cord, yelling indecipherable lyrics. From time to time, he wandered out into the street with mic in hand, stopping traffic with a stray expletive or paying a noisy visit to a bar across the street. If he was on stage, his head could generally be found inside the bass drum.
The group played with all the big acts: the Dicks, the Stains, the Butthole Surfers, the Minutemen. One afternoon, home after a tour, Dee stopped by his mother's house to find that one of the guys from Black Flag — either Greg Ginn or Chuck Dukowski, he can't remember which — had left a message.
Dee called back and found the band, in the midst of recording Damaged, wanted to try him out as lead singer. He got on a plane and flew to New York, where he played a live show with the group and took a stab at recording some tracks. But it didn't work out. "It sounded like Black Sluts," Dee says.