By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
A lot of folks have tried to stop Foreskin 500 over the years. Club owners occasionally refused to book the band, guardians of taste frequently dubbed it offensive, and selected police officers seemed determined at times to use the law to stop the music (see Feedback, March 6). But in the end, their efforts were useless. The only people with the power to eliminate Foreskin 500 from the earth's face were the bandmembers themselves--and they've done just that. On Saturday, June 21, Foreskin 500 is headlining a date at the Bluebird Theater that also features recent Westword profile subject Jim Stout ("Stout Stuff," May 29), DJ Vitamin D and the Sugar Twist Kids--and after the show wraps, the combo will officially be no more.
The reasons for the breakup are many, and Mark Brooks, aka Mark "The 3 Kord" Scissor King, obviously views them as mighty serious: Why else would he take a job as art director of the Los Angeles New Times, a sister paper of (gasp) this very publication? "It's a really long, twisted story," Mark admits, but perhaps the biggest kink was last year's collapse of the Priority Records rock division, with which Foreskin 500 was signed. The timing of this closure doomed the commercial prospects of Starbent But Superfreaked, an ultra-strong disc that had been released by the firm a short time earlier. Nonetheless, Mark, who handled most of the band's business matters, was initially confident that he and his fellow Foreskins (Diggie Diamond, Rolo and Fogboy) would emerge from the disaster relatively unscathed. Unlike Magnapop and other outfits on Priority, Foreskin 500 owed relatively little cash to the company--around $6,500. Moreover, a Priority lawyer promised to set the quartet free if that amount was paid. But even though Mark and the boys verbally agreed to do so, Priority never drew up a contract setting down the particulars in print. After months of regular phone calls to the legal types overseeing Priority's gutting (and months of empty pledges from them that the papers would be in the mail "next week"), Mark finally came to the conclusion that the musicians could be tangled in red tape for years to come. "I didn't see it getting resolved anytime soon, and it was tearing us apart," he says. "Getting another record company would probably have been the solution, but I didn't want to do that. I've just spent a year in hell trying to get out of one of them--I didn't want to get into another one."
Equally important in Foreskin 500's dissolution was a certain sense that the group had topped out. "It's the same thing with every band," he notes. "You have a certain momentum and then you plateau and you kind of coast from there--and then no one recognizes you outside of town. It's like, 'You're big in Denver? What does that mean?' And since our label was in L.A. and we only saw them once a year, they never really cared about us. To them we were just some perverts from Colorado. The local fans were totally supportive, but on the national scene, we got fucked. It's the same thing that's happened to the Samples and Spell--it's totally like that."
Diamond concurs, in a manner of speaking. "It just sort of felt like the end," he says. "But I think there's a lot of Denver wrapped up in it as well. I think it's really hard to do what we were trying to do from Denver and have people in the music industry take us seriously."
How seriously Diamond is taking the future is open to question: Rather than directly answering questions about his plans, he chooses to riff on the topic. "I see the music world as a fading thing," he insists. "It's terrible. So I think I'm going to start working on porno movies. I'm going to become a superstar. I'm going to be appearing in magazines like Us and People as opposed to rock-and-roll magazines. I want to be one of the guys who hangs out with Shannon Doherty and Jack Nicholson. That's what's on my agenda."
Mark, too, has plenty on his plate. In addition to his New Times gig, he is determined to go forward with Boom Boom, an imprint he founded (its first release was a vinyl version of Starbent). He'll also be making dance music on his own under the name Le Pimp; he's scheduled to appear under this guise on Tuesday, June 24, at Tracks 2000 alongside San Francisco-based DJ Dan and King Britt, the onetime DJ for Digable Planets who runs Ovum Records with Josh Wink. Also part of his itinerary is Space Mountain Sound System, a project that pairs him with former Warlock Pinchers member King Scratchie, who now responds to the handle Mr. Legendary. "He's still going to live in Denver," Mark says, "but I don't think that'll be a problem. We only get together about once a month anyway, so I think we'll be able to figure it out--as soon as I figure out the rest of my life, that is."
In the meantime, Mark is confident that cutting off Foreskin now is the right thing to do. "I have good feelings about it--but it's time to move on. The last thing I want to see is us playing five years from now and being really shitty. I think people might bum out at first, but in the end, they'll appreciate it. Because there's nothing worse than seeing your favorite band turn into crap. When it's done, it's done, and you go forward."