I was visiting friends out of town last weekend and talk went to Klaus Nomi, who my friend Elisa really liked. Well, what’s not to like? Anyone who has heard or seen the eccentric German performer, would walk away with a strong opinion, one way or another! I first encountered him, as did many outside of NYC, on the soundtrack to “Urgh! A Music War.” The album itself was arresting. When I saw the film a couple of years later, the image of a Bauhaus inspired German pixie singing operatic pop to a dance-rock backing is one that can instill its way into your skull for good. Nomi only released two albums before tragically succumbing to AIDS in 1983. I remember some time that year the magazine Trouser Press received a letter asking what had happened to Klaus Nomi and they reported that he died of “an overdose of Ayds diet candy!” It’s hard to remember a time when gay people were dying and no one knew why, but at that time, no one knew much of anything. Yet.
At any rate, she began singing the song “Rubberband Lazer” and I began to accompany her vocally with hoofbeat rhythm clicks as in the manner of a “western song” with added coconut percussion. This was my first exposure to this song, which I had not heard previously. She went to the web and quickly found a clip of the song that some fan had posted. Sure enough, the fadeout brought to prominence the exact “hoofbeat” rhythm I had added to the song. We broke out into “Rubberband Lazer” the rest of the weekend! It sure was fun trilling those Rs in “lazerrrrrr!”
And now I can’t get the song out of my head! The song can be traced back to his second album, “Simple Man.” Apart from “Urgh! A Music War” there is sadly no Nomimusik in the Monk’s Record Cell. I vow that this must change with all due haste! I’ve always enjoyed Nomi and yet I’d never crossed the line to purchase. The Spring before last, I was vacationing in Athens, GA with a group of friends and one astute pal had brought along the amazing biofilm “Nomi Song” along for groovy-movie watching so we were all enraptured by the singular talent and vision of the former Klaus Sperber. My wife had not seen Nomi before and since I [tragically] didn’t have any of his albums, had not heard him either. She was amazed at the guy and still wonders why wasn’t this man huge. Well, he certainly should have been! The trouble was, almost as soon as he started he was cut down by AIDS. Many of his circle of friends came out of the NYC arts demimonde of that period and they did become famous [Ann Manguson, Joey Arias, Kenny Scharf]. All that’s left of Klaus’ legacy are his handful of albums, and those need to be getting in the collection as quickly as possible.
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