Surreal. That’s how this day has felt. Last night I went to bed blissfully unaware of the irony of attending a theatrical seance of Aleister Crowley around the same time as the most occult person I’ve ever known (besides my grandfather) passed on to the great
beyond. I woke this morning to a couple direct messages, checking my phone as I took my morning dump. Just the way Skuzzy would want me to find out the news. “The Wickedest Man in the World” is something I think our recently departed aspired to.
I suppose there are so many varying opinions about the man because he had very unique relationships with every person he came into contact with. He was charismatic as fuck, and a lot of people liked him. Some people even loved him. Other people hated him. Some people still feel that way. Others have changed their opinion after his passing. I have, like many of us, complicated feelings about him. Always have.
I firmly believe that people come into and out of your life for a reason. I was trapped in a pretty fucked up relationship (as in, only boyfriend I’ve had to call the cops on) and he introduced me to Gabe. Evil Ed was a deranged fuck, and he knew weird people. Back then DJ Skuzzy had been doing house parties and finally moved into a venue, the Way Out Club, for Contagion, a night of obscure and awesome music…just because. It attracted even more weird people, and as a lot of folks know, grew into Subversion. It was raw, punk rock, weird shit. I was super into the vibe and hung around. I’d been going to goth night, in its various incarnations, since I became of legal age. There were a lot of familiar faces there. I also was definitely a fan girl of a lot of performers before I ever became one.
His shows were an accessible way for a lot of new performers to get into nightlife entertainment. In fact, many people over the years have credited him with giving them their first gig. The burlesque scene here was still so underground, he had no idea he’d scheduled the one-year-anniversary show on the same night as the first Show Me Burlesque Festival . I was still a groupie at that point, and equally unaware of the festival, so I was one of like four people in the audience that night. Sorry to anyone who’s offended that I have a profound attachment to Subversion, by the way. I have strong opinions, and this is just one of them. If you’ll notice, Skuzzy surrounded himself with women with strong opinions.
He also talked a lot of women into sleeping with him. Though sometimes, he didn’t so much ask as just nonchalantly expect sex. I was not a fan of any of that after a couple times very early on in our friendship. But we still hung out a lot anyway, and he became my best friend. We had a ton of fun on our adventures, even if it was just running to the dollar store to stock up on duct tape, tarps, and jello to make fake blood. I could talk about all the little things he did over the years that made me angry, but I think I can sum that up like this: I loved who he was when he was sober, but I hated who he was when he wasn’t. I grew up with alcoholics, and I am a co-dependent enabler. He made it really difficult to be his friend a lot of times. I don’t have all the patience in the world, but I have a lot. It finally ran out around the time I found out he’d been straight up lying to my face about being clean again. This was a couple of years ago now. I tried to distance myself, because I needed all my emotional energy to deal with everything happening with my mom, and being laid off from my day job. But he kept reeling me back in, because his life was in constant crisis, and I was still trying to help him keep the dream alive of having an outlet for bizarre, offensive art.
I’ve met so many amazing, brilliant people over the years, and Gabe was definitely one of them. So many were because of him. He attracted all kinds of folks though. Some were very unsavory people. He, himself, could be considered unsavory people by some. However, there is plenty of time to talk about all the terrible things he did. Mostly in hushed circles among those who knew him well. We’re all mourning the loss of a brilliant, tortured man who preferred his reality on a different frequency than those around him, and tensions regarding that are high. Hardly anyone is surprised by his passing. He cheated death so many times with his Hunter S. Thompson levels of imbibing, it was really a matter of inevitability. I’ve been preemptively mourning him for years. I told someone that earlier this week, though I had no idea how he was actually doing. Self-preservation was to keep my heart protected from getting close to him again after having it broken by his actions so many times. So while I’m not at all shocked, I am sad and numb at the same time. I’ve already shed a lot of tears, and more are on the way. There’s so much more to say, but I have an early, long day tomorrow and I am out of energy tonight. This will likely be a series, because I miss writing, and it seems a fitting vehicle to tribute him. Among other ways…
3 thoughts on “Rev. Skuzzy, Church of Subversion”
That all makes a lot of sense. I didn’t know him super well as we only talked a handful of times but I know he was a very intelligent man with a lot of great ideas. I wish he could have won this battle.
Thank you for sharing something so personal.
I both lived and hated Gabe at times. I knew him for a long time and most of it was good. Gabe was a unique kind of person in that he seemed to know a little about just about everything. When I met him at Pat’s we immediately bonded over esoteric music and art. He was weirdly obsessed with religion and occult matters while being staunchly anti-religion and athiest. He was a complicated individual and, like the author, so was my relationship with him. The guy was a fucking legend and he will be missed.