In which I manage to NOT make an ass of myself in front of Peter Murphy


I have spent decades now listening to Peter Murphy.  Bauhaus, and his solo material, was the absolute PERFECT soundtrack for a theatre major with gloomy tendencies.  I would listen to “The Three Shadows” (from The Sky’s Gone Out) and giggle with the glee that only comes from someone who’s been raised on a steady diet of old horror movies (thanks, Ma).  I immediately related to the inherent humor of the Bauhaus catalog, as well as to the aesthetic.  And in Peter Murphy I saw nearly every Shakespeare protagonist AND antagonist.  He was Richard III, prowling menacingly.  He was Puck, mischievous and mincing.  I was completely and totally enamored of the whole thing.

I bought a huge Bauhaus poster which was kind of a centerpiece for my dorm room.  I still own it; it’s a bit battered but holds a similar place of honor in my band’s practice space.  It has amused my bandmates for a while now.


I’ve seen him countless times since 1990.  He brings that command every single time.  And that voice.  My God.  Sonorous and deep and unbelievable.  I never get tired of it, ever.  And so when I learned of his Stripped tour, and the Boston date, I immediately bought tickets.  Like, no question.  BUT.  I also learned that for an extra bit of cash, one could arrange to meet Mr. Murphy, talk to him, have his undivided attention for a bit of time.

I felt a little squicky about paying extra for the “VIP” thing.  Part of me thinks it’s sort of pretentious, and part of me just wishes that I could talk to someone like Peter Murphy based on my own achievements.  You know, if I’d done something more with music or my writing so I could be a celebrity in my own right or something.  Which is also pretentious.

Ultimately I had to ask myself: “If you have both the means and the opportunity, why WOULDN’T you do it?”  And I also thought about David Bowie, and how he was now unavailable in human form, and – again – if you are presented with an opportunity to THANK someone for helping you navigate through all manner of problems AND causes for celebration, wouldn’t you do it?  I decided I would.

Now, the big problem that faced me once I made that decision was how I was going to hold it together when meeting him.  We ALL know about the Howard Jones Fiasco Of 2015 by now (and if you don’t, you can read all about it here).  If I erupted into uncontrollable sobbing while meeting Howard Jones, what would possibly transpire while meeting Peter Murphy, a much larger influence?  I consulted friends, particularly those who knew me when I was at Peak Freakishness (’88-’92).  A sampling of responses:

John W.:  You will need valium.
Katie D.:   Dude. If you don’t cough up the $$ to look God Himself in the face and touch His splendor, Acid Puppet* will be very disappointed.

I was bound and determined to NOT explode into alternating paroxysms of sobbing and giggling.  I was going to try and be my Usual Charming Self™ and hope for the best.

Unless he was mean to me.  Would he be mean to me?  I’m not as committed a goth as I used to be.  I’m 45.  I work as a database administrator.  I dress in what would probably be described as a fruit salad of vintage, business, and art teacher attire.  My complexion is just as pale as ever, though, so there’s that.  But would he just eye me up and down and decide I was some sort of old-ass poseur?  I fretted and obsessed to the point where Coombsie said, “Peter Murphy poops like everyone else.  Also – you’re paying money to meet him.  HE’S GOING TO BE NICE TO YOU.”

The show itself was, of course, fantastic.  In fact, I think this was the best I’ve seen him.  But as it got closer and closer to the end of the show, I started kind of squirming.  It didn’t help that there were a couple of Committed Goths™ behind me snarking about how so many people in the audience looked like “they were social workers and shit.”  Well, database administrator actually, but I suppose that’s just as dull.  And I was going to Peter Murphy shows before you were even born, so…eat my (not black velvet) shorts.  I guess.  I’m feeling bad enough, ladies.

But in the end, I got to go upstairs with the tour manager, and two other women who paid for VIP passes (Anne and Gwen).  Anne very much looked the part of Committed Goth™, and Gwen looked like someone I would work with.  The manager instructed us to have a seat in this little…balcony alcove thing, and that Peter would “be with you shortly.”

Peter will be with you.  Amen.

I pulled out my vinyl copy of Peter’s first solo album.  Gwen’s eyes widened.  “Oh my God, where did you get THAT?”

“I, um, bought it.  When I was a teenager.”

Anne turned to us.  “So let me ask you – how did you know about this?  The VIP thing, I mean.”

“Oh, um, well…I saw it on his Facebook page.  I actually agonized over whether or not to do it.”

Anne said, “I only found out about it TODAY.  And I was like…okay…this is going to sound crazy, but the David Bowie dying thing made me realize – and not that I’m saying Peter’s gonna die soon – that I should do this.”

“Oh, my God, yes….I thought the SAME THING.”

And then there he was.  Peter Murphy.  “HELLOOOOO.  Let me kiss you all!”

What.  WHAT.  I…

He embraced Anne, kissing both cheeks.  Then it was my turn.  OH GOD.  Then he kissed and hugged Gwen.

Anne gave him some artwork she’d made for him.  He seemed pleased.  I put my album on the table for him to sign.


He assessed me, my outfit.  “LOOK at you, darling!  Look at this TWEED!  Fantastic!”

From there it was babbling.  But good babbling, and a lot of it from him.  “How did it sound out there?  Oh, this place is wonderful.  It sounded wonderful onstage.  They’re great here.  You’re Irish, aren’t you?  My father was Irish. You have an Irish face.”  He then began speaking in a fake brogue to me.  “Are ye married?  Have ye any babbies?”

“Um, no.”

“AH, well, you’re young still, ye are.”

“I’m in my forties, though.”

“WELL NOW, you could STILL have ‘em.  I mean, it would be HARD, but…” he trailed off.  It was exactly the sort of weird improvised conversation I would have had with my theatre major friends.  It was amazing.

“Your hair, though.  I’ve been admiring it.  The color.  Take off the hat, would you?”  I obliged, even though I knew I would have hat hair, because PETER FUCKING MURPHY.  “Oh, that’s lovely.  I wanted to do just that, you know.  The two-tone.  But it washed me out, you know?  I would have to wear twice as much base because I was so pale.”  He patted my head.  “Beautiful.  Love it.  Love your whole look.  Now then – pictures!  I want a picture with all of you beautiful ladies.  I’m married.  I live like a monk, you know.”


And then it was nearly over.  I gave him a big hug, and said, “Thank you…for everything.”

I DIDN’T CRY.  I DIDN’T PEE.  I’m terribly proud of myself.  It more than made up for the Howard Jones thing.




* – “Acid Puppet” was this weird art puppet thing that my roommate Katie and I bought at the Rattlesnake Festival one year. It was so freaky that we named it, well, Acid Puppet, and whenever I’d go to Katie’s parents’ house in Orlando, I’d bring it along just to torment her little sister:  “SUUUUUUUUSSSSANNNN.  It’s AAAAACID PUPPET.”  I was 20 years old, btdubs.

Dear Friends I Saw Play Last Night –


What a great show. Seriously. You all transported me for roughly an hour back to a place where music was pretty much the only friend who’d never abandon me. Sometimes you forget how important certain artists/albums/songs were in your formative years. Last night was a nice reminder.

But when I saw you after you’d finished playing, I was stiff and awkward and not as animated as I usually am.

I feel bad about this, so this morning I’m going to try and explain.

You all know I’m sober, and have been for a number of years now. Even with that amount of time under my belt, I have to make difficult decisions when it comes to being social. I have learned that if I’m feeling even a little bit like I’m going to be uncomfortable, it’s usually best for me to stay home. I ignored that niggling little feeling last night, because I really, REALLY wanted to see you play.

I won’t say I made a mistake, because I didn’t. You all delivered, and then some. But as the tiny club filled up, I felt myself shrinking up against the wall, trying to find a little elbow room for myself, trying to ignore the smell of everyone’s drinks, praying that something wouldn’t get spilled on me. I kept imagining that happening, and wondering what I’d do about it. It didn’t even happen, and yet I found myself as tense and miserable as if it HAD.

I won’t lie; I very much wanted to bolt. I was ready to tell my husband that I’d take the T home. I hadn’t felt that uncomfortable in a long time, and it scared me.

Fortunately, my husband can read me astonishingly well. He found a table for us further back, not so far away that we couldn’t see and hear you, but enough away so that I could breathe without smelling beer/whiskey/fruity alcoholic concoctions. Enough away so I could feel a little better and in less danger of being jostled. So I got to watch your show, and it made me really happy.

But I still felt bad. I felt bad that people have to make concessions for me, the non-drinker with considerable anxiety issues who doesn’t want to be a drag, truly. I feel bad that sometimes I have to ask people not to drink around me. And I get tired – really tired – of feeling like I have to explain myself.

So by the end of the night I was exhausted from – as needlessly DRAMATIC as this sounds – just trying to keep it together for the few hours we were there. Resenting every glass of beer sloshing in front of me. Not wanting to hug people because they had drinks in their hands and on their breath. Feeling stupid and infantile for feeling resentful and wary. Knowing that I can’t expect everyone around me to change the way they live to suit me, just because I can’t drink. Not understanding why, after 13 years of not drinking, this shit still sometimes GETS TO ME. Well, understanding WHY, but being mad that it has to be this way. I’ve always said that I never wanted to be a “normal drinker.” I always wanted oblivion. But last night I really wanted to be normal. I wanted to be normal so badly I could taste it. Not just so I could drink. So that I could feel like not wanting to crawl out of my skin.

And so I wasn’t particularly effusive after your set. I could tell how happy you were to see me, and I felt like I couldn’t muster half of your enthusiasm. Please know, friends: I love you. I love the work you do and the passion with which you play. For an hour or so, I was transported. But I crashed hard. And so you guys got a tepid hug and a wan smile when I should have been jumping up and down and squealing. You didn’t deserve that.

The next time I see you I will jump up and down and squeal. Because what you all did last night was incredible. I mean – spot fucking ON. I love you guys so much and am so grateful that you’re my friends.

This is me, usually. I swear: