Mike Edison walks alone

Funhouse
By AMY FINCH  |  June 10, 2008


VIDEO: Mike Edison demonstrates the "Bong guitar"

I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World | By Mike Edison | Faber & Faber | 352 pages | $25
On his death bed, Mike Edison probably won’t lament that he didn’t do this or he didn’t go there. His leap-then-look approach to life leaves no time for hemming-and-hawing, and even the title of his new memoir reads like bang-bang-bang. (He’s also just released a ranted-word CD of the same name, with his outfit Edison Rocket Train, and Jon Spencer producing.) Over the past twentysomething years, Edison has written for and edited magazines of varying degrees of ridiculousness and decorum: Wrestling’s Main Event, Screw, Cheri, Hustler, Penthouse, and High Times. What better journalistic outlets for a guy with a refined sense of the absurd and the overblown? The first time he saw the WWF on TV, he wound up in fits of laughter: “It was all so completely insane, so colorful, so out of control, so ridiculous — how could this even be allowed to happen in a civilized country? — I was sold instantly.”

Granted, his neurons weren’t firing straight because of the blotter acid he’d taken that night, but his pro-wrestling revelation endures: “It is the least self-conscious of all art forms. Wrestling never worries about how silly or absurd it looks.” Hence one adult male might bean another adult male with a child’s lawnmower or a plate of nachos, or while eating a meatball sub.

Like pro wrestling, porn often flaunts its phoniness — and whatever its larger societal implications, who would argue that it can’t be ludicrous? Of course, Edison had a blast making up pole/hole stories, until he burned out and started plagiarizing himself. (Tony and Maria became David and Michelle . . . ) Screw magazine, where he eventually became editor-in-chief, was ideal for a guy who cannot stomach self-delusion, pretense, or hypocrisy, and who’s intent on exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.

One of his first Screw assignments was to write a profile of infamous turd-tossing rocker GG Allin. Edison and GG became friends, and Edison played drums and recorded with GG. He also played drums for Sharky’s Machine (named for the Burt Reynolds movie) and the Raunch Hands, and he wrote for a trade magazine called Soft Drinks & Beer. The common thread: all those projects (except GG) satisfied his urge to ramble, sending him to Japan or Europe to drum and take drugs or to drink beer and write about breweries.

Not everybody would quit a decent-paying job (at Screw) to go drumming in Japan with a proudly sleazy garage band (the Raunch Hands). But Edison is game for anything that yanks him out of his comfort zone. That’s why he once moved with the Raunch Hands to Madrid, though none of them could speak Spanish and he had only $1000 in his pocket. He stayed for three years, joining a Spanish band called the Pleasure Fuckers, zooming around Europe with a jarful of recreational drugs, and playing about 100 shows each year.

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