Edited in green, because - duh.
On March 28, 2013, I'm adding a link to this post because it is a remarkable (LONG) piece very much taking us to the time around Peter's death. For those who were fans, it's a gut-punching trip into Pete's friends/bandmates' and sister's loss. For those who weren't, and have half an hour or so to burn reading, it's a trip to our own loss. An in-depth slice of verisimilitude - the scenes of mourning, of death.
This post, for good or ill, has for years been one of the most-read on my blog, and seems to stay reasonably well-ranked in searches (on all engines) for people wanting to read about Pete's groupie-ing ways. To all of you finding this site this way - my apologies. This post will almost certainly disappoint (it's not a sexual brag - indeed, TON never played my town again after Pete met me ...).
To the fans - I just hope I did a little justice. I can't believe we'll never see TON again. Just like the guys. RIP, Pete.
I've thought a number of times, since starting this blog, about whether or not to post certain things, and perhaps the number one story I find questionable for publishing is the one about the time I met Peter Steele.
This isn't because I did anything embarrassing (I'm the one woman who probably ever turned him down flat ... and Type O Negative never played this town again - for which I've always secretly taken "credit"). It's more because the situation, no matter my comportment in it, sounds pretty iffy - particularly given the reputation of Mr. Steele. You do a Google image search on the guy and it comes up with a whole lot of bad stuff (so do not do a Google image search, even if you try to add "-Playgirl" because you don't need that aggravation).
And yes: the word Playgirl appears up there.
Steele was a guy known far and wide for his sex, drugs, and rock and roll schtick. His attention to women was arrested both in terms of his focus and in terms of his mature ability to *deal* with women, and if he had a bedpost at all, one supposes it was pretty seriously serrated with the notches.
So it's not with any great measure of feminine pride I cast myself as a groupie, and admit that I got on the tour bus.
In the late 90s what I knew about anything remotely goth-like began and ended with The Cure. I was aware of some band called Bauhaus, but if asked I could not even have named for you "Bela Lugosi's Dead" nor identified its members in a lineup. I had cut my teeth on having (actual) punk rock in the house, but the relationship now so frequently alleged between punk and goth would have been mystifying to me. The idea of heavy goth would have been a surprise.
But I had friends, and at least a couple of them were big old Type O Negative fans. K, who is still my friend, pretty much just liked them. It wasn't about macking on the pretty, tall, long-haired man, it was just - that was her style of music. She dug 'em. Another friend, long since lost to that role for me, was WAYY into the angsty frontman. She kept that notorious magazine on her coffee table. She thought he had written "Cinnamon Girl" for her (which is ... just so funny, on just so many levels). She claimed to have been one of his inestimable notches.
So when they invited me to a show (it was April, I remember), I went for it. I liked going out with my friends.
I also liked going out early, for good parking, and maximum opportunity for bar seating.
So I stood outside The Floodzone on a soft April evening, not a friend in sight, and I positioned myself on the corner of the main street ("No, really, I'm not a slutty groupie - and I totally stood on that street corner to prove it!" ... uhm ...) so as to be not so close to the bus rather prominently positioned right in front of the venue.
I got a good view when he got off the bus. The guy was a SLAB. Six foot eight, and astoundingly well worked-out. He had on an army cap and his ubiquitous green wifebeater and black jeans, and even without my "friend's" eagerness to show me pictures of the guy, he'd have been hard not to peg for who he was.
And he started walking toward me.
As would NOT be featured in what I imagine are the hundreds or even thousands of pages of fanfic focusing on Our Hero, my response to realizing he was heading my way was to bite my lips REALLY hard, because I was about to laugh. I didn't think he was so pathetic as to be amusing; I'm not that self-superior. But I DID think it was kind of hilariously early for him to be scamming. And I am also, deep down, a shy little girl with no clue I'm visible to other humans, so there was a certain amount of reaction to getting approached by the bargain basement rockstar of other people's dreams.
He said, "Does it bodda you dat I'm talking to you?", misunderstanding my expression, and I came up with "I think I'll survive."
And the hitting began.
When he asked me to get on the bus, I did. More because I thought it would be kind of awesome to be able to stick my head out of the bus and beckon my buddies over when they did arrive than much of anything else; but also (I swear this is the truth) because I felt like, with friends who were such fans, I'd be doing them a favor if I could get "in" with the band this easily.
So we get on the bus, and the lines are coming thick and fast, and none of them are landing, and the guy is not yet quite confused; I think he might have been intrigued, like "this is a good gambit" and thinking I'd come up with a good game to play on him. He didn't do anything gross, and even most of the lines weren't all that horrifying, though never let it be said Peter Steele was a subtle one when he wanted to get in a short skirt. He poured me a (devastatingly POWERFUL) drink, and told me I looked like a gypsy, and when I told him about my "friend" he asked me, "Does she say dat I slept wid huh?"
I said yes, frankly, she did. And he shrugged, and said, "I don't know. It's possible."
If that doesn't get the ladies lining up around the block to hop in a guy's bed, I don't know what will.
Except the bed being located on a touring band's idling bus ...
The thing about it is: I never found him physically attractive.
I like 'em tall. I like 'em with long hair. I like them brunette. But this guy didn't for a second appeal to me. And that went beyond the personality or the inability he had to relate to me except as a ... let's say "prospect" and leave it there. I was off-and-on at the time with a guy I found immeasurably more attractive - which is funny, because: six-four, long wiry black hair. In sum, there are those who'd have found "my" guy at the time very similar to Pete.
Except that, to me, the one I liked was delightful, and Peter Steeled was a giant with a heavy brow and a cranium full of teeth that reminded me of Ren when he gets angry. He looked like a nutcracker (if anyone ever wondered why he never smiled in photos - there was more to it than his morose Image, absolutely). He was too big, too much, overwhelming, and not in the good way.
He was also ...
(and, here, we come to the POINT of this post, at very long last)
... terribly, genuinely, charismatic.
For all the girl-hound thing he had going, Peter Steele was a man with a sense of humor.
The night I am talking about was my very first experience of Type O - and when I went to see them the times that I did after this, it was not to recapture the magic of my night as a groupie, but to see a really good band I enjoyed a lot. And I have come, over time, to enjoy them more and more.
Pete was a smart person. Nowhere near as intelligent as he palpably *yearned* to seem to people. But sharp, endowed with a massive and very dark sense of humor, and talented to boot.
He was a great performer, he was dedicated to his band and his fans and to doing what he did well (I never saw him perform poorly, that we can say for him), and he was every bit as palpably grateful for the success he had as he was palpaply insecure and girl-fixated.
Over the past year, since he died, I have spent so much more time listening - really listening - to TON, and of course, particularly to Pete. I've long regretted that it was an impossibility for me, as a remotely attractive female, to spend time with this person with any genuineness. As I once said: I was interested in his brainmeats, not his pantmeats. And it is true.
The guy wasn't Einstein, but his conflicts, his ebbing and flowing relationship to his Church (the Catholic - the one my novel's main character helped to set on the world stage so firmly), his fear and obvious adoration of women, his prominent and terrorizing inadequacy, and his aspiration make him a compelling character in my mind. And it's obvious a lot of people feel this way, and much more deeply than I ever have. In one breath, he sings, "am I good enough for you" and in the next track down the line, he sings about his girlfriend flying away from him to go to college, and the intensity of his admiration for the objects of his affection is EVERY bit as powerful as all the misogyny and sexism he's more famously written about for.
There aren't a lot of chauvanists who come at their hatred by way of understanding and respect, and Pete's fear drove his loud mouth to every bit as much ill-advised hollering as the next moron on a driveby screaming "WHORE" out the window of a car at the girl who *doesn't* turn around when he hoots at her.
But I'm a feminist with a backstory, and it's simply impossible for me to look at the opaque image of Peter Steele and not see what is so plain beneath the surface.
And to sympathize, or at least, nod and move on, to consider him more deeply.
I met this person for one single night - and let's not pretend I haven't quoted some of his more inimitable lines for their hilarity (... seriously - I look like a gypsy? Becuase I wore hoop earrings, I suppose? Because the blazing tan and FRECKLES on my insanely Anglo-genic face are your ethnic giveaways to Romani blood ... or something) - but he's had a presence in my life, and when I heard he had died 363 days ago, I was sorry to hear it. For the loss of a performer, for the loss of someone still finding his direction, for all he missed out on, and for the fact I'll never see him again. X and I have talked many times about how we always thought TON shows would be in our future.
Pete had a literally massive presence, and it enhanced his role as a rock star, but that very thing, and even his charisma (he did have it), have overtaken consideration of his work and his performing. He had a soaring voice at times, and a sensibility which infused this massive creature with something a lot more than rockstar bluster. He was remarkably capable of a light touch, vocally, and the intelligence he had, along with that inestimable - inescapable - sense of humor leavened what might have been sheer dirge rock with an enormous amount of personality.
TON's music isn't for everybody - it's not even for *many* - but, being a person who grew up with the Dead Kennedys in the house, it's impossible for me to be sensitive about in-your-face artists. I can't be offended by sarcasm, or even sexism, when it's so plain to see what informs and underlies it ... and when the humor is so very present. And TON, as seriously as some of the people like my ex "friend" actually mange to take them, were and are as absolutely tongue in cheek as any band I have ever heard. They paid tribute to a lot (their love of the Beatles actually garnered them the perfectly awesome band nickname, The Drab Four) - but they refused entirely to take themselves seriously.
Which is why Pete's death is the shame it is - because, as sad a man as he was, and as blundering and conflicted, he was also, strangely, loaded with hope. I think he always imagined a "someday" was possible - where he would feel love, have a family, find fulfillment in relationships with people and with G-d. He talked of his expectations in interviews in a way which sometimes beggared description and belief, and was capable of the delusions we all harbor and nurture for ourselves and our self images. He was frankly a mess - with the sex and the drugs, and the abuses to his body. But I think, even at 48, even as a dark-obsessed rock idol, and even as the depressed and often angry person he was ... I don't think he actually expected to die. I'm don't even think he probably wanted to. (Note to those not in the know: though Peter Steele's heart failure must have owed some debt to his history of substance abuse, it was not the direct result of an overdose or self-harm.) He'd certainly indulged suicidal tendencies, and his mercurial emotional state didn't tend to top out in bliss on any regular basis.
But there is a sense of "BUT WAIT" to his death. I feel it as a fan, as someone who spent what I think was, if not entirely unique, at least an exceptional night with him, as a woman. I feel it with X, who has followed TON for longer than I, and probably counts as more of a fan than I was. I feel it with ANY death that seems needless and heedless, that wastes and leaves unfinished, that cheats possibility, and leaves someone so far from fulfillment.
A year (almost) later, and I felt, at last, I just had to say something about "knowing" Peter Steele. I always felt a bit "but wait" myself, about the chance of my exposure to this person, and how squandered the time was on wasted effort toward seduction. And so I have said something.
And tomorrow morning, I think I'll listen to Summer Breeze, and be sad it'll never be live ever again. Not the way he did it. Not like Peedah did.
9 hours ago