A Fixx Encounter: One Drink Leads To Another
A True Story of 80’s New Wave Rivalry and Retribution
The Fixx: another English new wave bunch lost in the big-haired, and shoulder-padded 80’s, right? Maybe if you had a normal school life and weren’t hounded by a couple of crazed groupies. At first, the Fixx had been just one of the many U.K. bands my sister and I had come to love when the British Music Invasion hit in the early 80’s, but after a chance meeting with a new wave nympho named Vicki, they came to represent the purest form of high school hell. They would incite hallway shouting matches and bad imitations of Terri Nunn from Berlin singing “Now It’s My Turn” in the bathroom mirror before school each morning. They would inspire nightmares involving Vicki and her spiky-haired fellow-groupie friend named Cherie chasing me down the school halls. Additionally, they would drum up a lot of bad poetry, and revenge plots. It would end, however, triumphantly years later, nearly 3,000 miles across the country in a ramshackle bar named “The Rock” over beers with the Fixx.
It all started in 1985, on a relatively normal school day at the bus stop. That morning as I talked to a fellow eleventh grader named Denise, a blue sedan pulled up and a very tall girl dressed in a get-up that would make Pamela Anderson blush, climbed out. She nodded knowingly to Denise as she walked over, nonchalantly snapping a wad of gum between her choppers. Tall and wiry, with frosted hair swooped to the sides, she wore a snake skin dress big enough for a Barbie doll and matching stockings, garter belt, and high heels.
“My father says I look like a slut,” she said to Denise. Then, without warning, she turned to me and asked, “Do you think I look like a slut?”
What was I supposed to say? She was nearly six feet tall and looked like she could bowl me over with her wicked stare alone. Besides, I was one of THOSE kids, dressed trashy myself in a short black skirt, ripped fishnet stockings, and high-top Converse All Stars. I wasn’t about to agree with her father.
“Not at all,” I said coolly.
Just as she and Denise began their conversation, she suddenly stopped, her squinty eyes settling on the pins stuck all over my jean jacket, and made a know-it-all sound like “hmph.”
“You like the Cure?” she asked.
“ Yeah, I love Robert Smith,” I said. I must have gushed because I could feel my face catch fire. I had a very unhealthy crush on him at the time.
She nodded, looking like she’d just swallowed a fistful of thumb tacks. “You like Simon Le Bon, too?”
“Yeah, from Duran Duran.”
She scoffed, “Yeah, I know what band he’s in.”
Suddenly her eyes became even more fierce, fixed right above my left breast pocket. For a minute, I thought they’d squint shut, but then they widened. “You like the Fixx?”
I realized she was absorbed with my “Reach the Beach” pin. I nodded.
“Cy’s miiiiiine,” she replied in a haughty tone, flipping her hair. “I love Cy Curnin. He’s miiiine.” And then she reached into her own jean jacket (they were big in those days) and pulled out a stack of photos. As she began handing them to me, I realized each one showed her and a miniscule blonde with hair like Billy Idol’s posed on the laps of various rock stars including INXS and of course, The Fixx. “We have the best time with them,” she said and then turned to Denise, giving her a knowing laugh, “if you know what I mean.”
I was impressed, but I didn’t show it, at least I didn’t gush like she wanted me to. I think this miffed her and as she folded the pictures back into her pocket and the bus rolled up to the stop, she sneered at me before turning around and boarding.
From that day forward, she and her friend Cherie – the diminutive blonde with the hair like Billy Idol’s and the sneer to match - made it their high school careers to harass me. “I just looooove Robert Smith of the Cure!!” Cherie would shout whenever she saw me in the hallway. They came up with a nickname for me also: “Bugs” as in Bugs Bunny. Apparently, my two front teeth are large enough to warrant such a moniker. Whatever. I just referred to them as the “Groupie Bitches from Hell”.
Soon after our encounter at the bus stop, Vicki stopped taking the bus and began riding to and from school in the mornings and afternoons with Cherie in her blue Volkswagen Gulf. The car was small, like Cherie, and just as annoying. It seemed that she and Vicki were always driving right ahead or behind the bus and whenever I got off or boarded, they were sure to shout something out the window like, “I just loooove Robert Smith of the Cure!” (I never said it like that, by the way) or “Hey Bugs!” while blasting “Saved By Zero?” or some other tune by the Fixx.
A worst-case scenario occurred one day when I found myself stuck in a car with Vicki. It happened while taking driving lessons. Because we lived in adjacent neighborhoods, one day Vicki and I had to share the same Driver’s Ed car. You can imagine my horror when I walked out my front door and saw Vicki sitting behind the wheel of the red automobile with the “Student Driver” sign plastered across the top. The instructor, who was seated in the passenger seat, didn’t seem to notice the abrupt way she backed out of my driveway once I was in the car. He seemed absorbed in her uh. . . outfit.
“Okay, Vicki,” he said, eyeing her low cut shirt. “We’ll just have you drive to your house now and then Jennifer can get in the driver’s seat.”
Without hesitation, she turned to the instructor and referred to the inevitable. “Do you mind if I play a tape?” she asked, holding up a cassette. The instructor nodded as she slipped it into the tape deck. They’re called the Fixx and they’re really good friends of mine,” she said, narrowing her eyes at mine in the rearview mirror. As she proceeded to turn up “Red Skies”, she pressed her foot on the gas and was soon driving us top speed to her driveway where she ejected the tape, gave me one last nasty look, and kicked the door closed.
All this time I wanted so badly to get some type of revenge. Pitiably enough, the only thing that I did to ease my anger was blast and lip sync “retaliation” songs like “Now It’s My Turn” by Berlin or “Revenge” by Ministry (back when they were New Wavers). Once I got my license, I also started driving by Cherie’s and shouting, “BITCH!!” at the top of my lungs out the window as I passed, sure to have The Fixx playing as loud as possible. She probably never even heard me, but in my mind, she was getting payback.
Luckily, something would finally happen to ease my strife.
Fast forward 13 years. The year: 1998. The place: Tucson, Arizona in a dive called “The Rock” where the Fixx were set to play. I didn’t know it then, but I was about to get my revenge. Well, not actually revenge, but just a little something that would make me feel a whole lot better about that year of high school drama I endured because I wore a “Reach the Beach” pin to school one day.
Because the show was practically in my friend Bill’s back yard, Bill, my sister and I, and our friend John decided to check it out, all having been Fixx fans at one time or another. The show was packed with loads of Tucson partying types. Let’s just say the Bud Lite was flowing and the once-hot 80’s rock mamas were still wearing their acid washed denim. We hung out on the back porch, sucking down brews and checking out the various hairstyles. I particularly remember one guy decked out like Robert Smith and being momentarily traumatized with the memory of Cherie’s voice ringing through the halls, “I just loooooove Robert Smith of the Cure”.
When it was time, we made our way up to the front of the stage and waited for the band to make their entrance. I had seen them play once before, back in 1987, after their careers had hit the skids. Their performance hadn’t made much of am impression on me at the time apart from the fear that I might run into Vicki and Cherie. Even though I hadn’t seen them anywhere, I had imagined they were watching from backstage. This time I was free and clear of any Fixx groupies, but once the band took the stage, I imagined that Vicki and Cherie had ceased swooning over Cy and company a long time ago. Let’s just say I was shocked to see the once new wave teen dream, Cy Curnin, decked out in a pair of tight white jeans and a Converse All Star wife beater. I remembered him sporting that scrawny British rock star look back in the day, but now he looked notably buff as if he’d been working out every day since 1985. As the show commenced, he proved to be as theatrical as ever, but I just couldn’t get used to his new look. I was, however, half-surprised to see that the keyboard player, Rupert Greenall, looked exactly the same. He even wore the identical black angular hairstyle that he had donned in the 80’s and something that resembled a black kimono. Momentarily, I was glad to see some things had remained the same.
After the show, we hung around in the bar area outside, putting away more beer. We had gotten pretty loaded and were sitting around one of the patio tables when Cy Curnin walked by. Immediately my sister said something to him like, “My sister suffered all through her junior year in high school because of you”. He stopped and looked at me where I sat turning five shades of red and said, “I’m terribly sorry.” I waved away his apology and laughed, telling him it was no big deal and changed the subject. I asked him how he liked Tucson and he said something about doing mushrooms out in the desert. I noticed that he had changed into those Nike slide-ons that all the fraternity boys wore around town and he suddenly looked like a Tucsonan. Weirdly enough, after our short conversation, he took a seat at an adjacent table alone while people filed past him, completely unaware of or indifferent to his presence.
A little while later, the drummer, Adam Woods, came out and ordered a beer. I don’t remember exactly how we started conversing with him, but soon he was sitting at our table, joining us over several pints. It didn’t take long for me to delve into the Vicki and Cherie story. As I was rambling on about Vicki’s claims on Cy, he suddenly held up a finger. “Where was this?” he asked earnestly.
“Back in Connecticut, on the East Coast,” I said. Suddenly his eyes lit with recognition. “I know whom you’re talking about,” he said. “I believe I have a photo of those two somewhere in my flat in London.”
“You’re serious?” I asked, slightly stunned. I thought he would just scoff and think I was making the whole thing up. Instead, he seemed intrigued.
“What else did these two do?” he wanted to know, crossing his legs and resting his chin on his fist.
I had his complete attention and the whole story came pouring out of me. I went into lengthy detail about the hallway fiascos and my nickname “Bugs” while he laughed along, seemingly very entertained. I think he was getting off on knowing he and his band mates had had such an effect on teenage girls living half way across the world. When I got to the part about driving past Cherie’s house and screaming “Bitch!!!”, he made me stop and retell it. He chuckled hardily asking me to do the imitation several times before he was satisfied.
It was around this time that he turned to Cy, still sitting nearby all alone, and said, “Cy, do you remember those two girls that used to hang around all the time, Cherie and Vicki?”
I was astonished when Cy nodded knowingly. We moved to his table and when I told him the way Vicki had said, “Cy’s miiiiiiiiiine”, he seemed embarrassed, took my hand, and apologized once more about the harassment I had received because he “belonged to” her.
Soon enough it was time to go. As the lights were being lowered and we were saying our good byes, I noticed lead guitarist, Jamie West-Oram, exiting what looked like a camper. It had been parked right next to the patio the whole time, but I hadn’t noticed it until just then. The sight struck a chord of sympathy in me. One minute a band can be playing on stage with Tina Turner, and the next they can be swilling beers with losers like us at “The Rock”.
Despite this minor set back, I felt a sense of closure for being able to share my tale of woe with the band who had inspired a year of teenage torment. Every meeting with a rock band should be this cathartic. Now if I could just get a hold of Simon LeBon and Robert Smith and chew them out them for all the money they made me spend on posters, tee-shirts, and issues of Smash Hits.
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