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JK – Tell me about the Liberation Dance, which one article described as the first openly gay dance in the southeast.  That got a lot of press coverage when the band headlined the event.

 

MS – Some gay students wanted to hold a dance in the Memorial Hall Ballroom on campus and have Diamond Lil, a female impersonator, perform, but permission was revoked by the Dean of Student Affairs on the grounds that the University could be charged with aiding and abetting a felony -– sodomy. 

 

JK - It sounds like the Dean thought the students were going to have an orgy not a dance.

 

MS - The students took the case to court. It ended up in Clark County Superior Court, which was the same court that two years before had refused to protect peaceful black and white civil rights marchers from clubbings by police and mass arrests.

 

JK – What happened?

 

MS - When the Dean testified the defense lawyers cut him up like bait in a tackle shop.  The judge reluctantly issued an order forcing the University to allow the dance at 5pm the day of the event.

 

JK – I understand that other bands were asked to play and refused. You guys weren’t afraid to get involved in such a volatile situation?

 

MS: The committee sponsoring the dance asked us if we'd perform. They were trying to broaden student attendance to the event beyond the gay and lesbian community. We were warned that there could be trouble at the dance.

People asked us at the time why heterosexual guys would play a gay dance. Our answer was "why wouldn't we?" For us it wasn't about sexual orientation. It was a human rights issue. Why shouldn't everyone be allowed to dance? It sounds pretty silly now but at the time, there were actually those who thought some people shouldn't be allowed to.

So we headlined the bill with Diamond Lil who put on a great show. As I recall, we donated our fee back to the committee to help pay for their legal costs so we performed for free.

 

JK – This was the dance where the band was harassed by the Klan?

 

MS – That night, just before we performed, an older white man came up and said the Klan was unhappy about the dance and we should watch ourselves if we knew what was good for us.  Some silly shit like that.  He then said that they knew where we lived.  I think at the time I sort of laughed it off.  Then he described the car my girlfriend was driving. It didn’t seem as funny then.  After the concert, we went outside to discover that the event security had curiously disappeared early. We found a card from the Klan on the windshield of our bus. 

 

JK – A card?

 

MS – A printed card with the Klan symbol on it.  It was their way of trying to intimidate us. I remember Jimmy Ellison, our roadie, got kind of spooked about it.  He was from a place in Georgia where the Klan still painted their symbol across the roads at the county line.  Ralph kept the card as a souvenir.  He still has it.

 

JK – The photo of you on-stage wearing a shirt with the letters 666 on it.  When was that taken?

 

MS – A concert at Memorial Hall in ’71.

 

JK – Some people claim that’s the numerical name of the Anti-Christ.

 

MS – I know that 666 and the whole “mark of the beast” thing became synonymous with metal bands later on.  However, when I did it in the early 70s it was really more about making a statement about the difference between religion and spirituality.

 

JK – What’s the difference?

 

MS – For me, religion is essentially symbols and dogmas created by man and that much of the world’s strife is a result of the fanaticism attached to those artifacts and belief systems.  That’s my personal opinion.  I’m not speaking for the band.

 

Spirituality, on the other hand is, for me, about Kirkegaard’s “Leap of Faith.”  Communing with the Unknowable.

 

JK – The Unknowable?

 

MS - The Universal Creator that I sense as being both a noun and a verb. In other words, an on-going, active experience.

 

JK – I notice you don’t use the word “God.”

 

MS – It’s an overused and under appreciated word, one that’s often linked with disparate man-made symbols and dogmas in many people’s minds.  However, you can use it if you wish.

 

JK – How does this relate to the number 666?

 

MS - The point I was making at the time is that the number 666 is just that, a number. A man-made symbol. Anything else about the number is just something some person later injected or infused into it. The number has no power unless you give it power. Some religious scholars and theologians believe that the number was a code that stood for Nero, the Roman Emperor. There's even an argument about whether the number is actually 666, since 616 and 665 also appeared in ancient versions of the text. I actually have a cell phone number with 666 as the prefix. I'm sure some people would get all goosey about that but it doesn't bother me in the least.

 

JK – The shirt in the photo also had an upside down cross, which some people associate with Satanism.

 

MS – That’s another good example of how a symbol can mean different things to different people. In Christian tradition, one of the disciples, Peter, asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ.  In that tradition, the upside down cross is an apostolic symbol representing Peter as the holder of the keys of Heaven.  So you can see, again, it depends on your point of view and what power you decide to give the symbol.

 

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