By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
In January of this year, Carroll played a bullying police officer in the Sister Send Off scavenger hunt concert event put on by Michael Gaughan and his sibling, Katie Gaughan; and Faggot rocked an audience in the recently decommissioned Scott County jail—covering Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak," naturally. The band has hosted a "Friday Faggot Fish Fry," and written on another poster, "Dress up like your favorite Mexican food!"
In a way, Faggot signal just how far the music scene and gay punk rock have come since the "don't advertise, don't worry" days of Hüsker Dü in the 1980s. Faggot's emergence last year coincided with the revival of Homocore Minneapolis, the DIY concert-booking organization started in the '90s by transgender punk fan Ed Varga. "It's a really queer-positive scene now," says Jim Ass, the screaming young frontman of the bands Ganglion and Ass, who dresses in drag onstage and performs songs about bashing back. "I'll have songs about abstract gender boundaries, and stuff like that, and kids will be singing along.
"Kids are also into Faggot," he adds. "There's more silliness now, and Faggot's part of that."
Faggot's playfulness can be cavalier. They once organized a "Dress to Get Raped" party at the legendary underground music venue MALA. And even allies, such as Michael Gaughan, are uneasy about the band's use of "AIDS" as a cheerful slogan. "I guess the joke is that, look at what AIDS has become, and how nothing has really stopped it," says Carroll. "I lost countless scores of friends in Chicago and L.A. and Phoenix and San Francisco to AIDS. I mean countless."
Faggot lack the maliciousness to make even a tasteless song such as "Mongolian Beef" sting, and claim that there's sympathy in their devilishness. "I used to be in a band with a person that was retarded," says Wade, remembering a female singer of one of his Rapid City bands, Kill Mosh Fuck Destroy. More recently, he says, he worked in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. He says he was let go after one of his clients, a 50-year-old Elvis fan whom he taught to play guitar, asked other employees if he could start painting his fingernails black. "I still miss Bob," says Wade.
The guitarist doesn't worry about going too far. "I think people understand what's going on," he says. "How do you get too mad about something that's coming out of people that are wearing taco underwear? If anybody wanted to think that we were any of these '-ists,' that would be fine, because we would be making those prejudiced people look pretty stupid."
The story of the tattoos, which Carroll wanted me to hear, is that three of the four members of Faggot have gotten a tattoo of male genitals—with wings (taken from the Judas Priest logo) and one teardrop of semen. The only band member who hasn't gotten his tattoo is Carroll. "For Tim, it's an alter ego," says Gaughan. "Because he dresses really conservatively, and like a professional, and then he comes on dressed in ridiculous spandex outfits and stuff. But when you hang out with Jason or Saira, that's how they always look. I think that's really funny, that it's kind of this superhero transition for Tim."
The next day, at Gaughan's "Rock 'n' Roll Escape from Summer School" event, Carroll pulls me aside and apologizes for the night before. "I think I blacked out halfway through," he says.
In fact, after we came down from the roof and the band started practicing, Carroll had pulled his pants down and began shaking his penis to the music, his eyes closed, his body moving in spiral motion, possessed by the beat.
I tell him don't worry about it. Nothing seems to cause disharmony within Faggot besides the possibility of alienating the first reporter to take an interest in the band. At rehearsal, Nielsen forgot the microphones, yet instead of complaining at all, Carroll went ahead like a joyfully committed mime. Today, after smooth sets by Nielsen's two other bands during the mostly outdoors "Summer School" scavenger hunt (see "Highlights from Rock 'n' Roll Escape from Summer School," City Pages 6/14/06, in the article archive at citypages.com), Faggot face more than one logistical glitch.
The band is scheduled to play at a construction site under an I-394 overpass at 5:00 p.m., and Huff has designed special skimpy construction worker uniforms for the group and a number of dancers. At a distance, however, scavenger hunters mistake the orange helmets for the real thing, and a mass of hipster bicyclists passes right by the site until Wade, in his cowboy boots and white sideburns, runs their way waving a shovel over his head and shouting.
"This is the way all city workers are going to dress now," announces Carroll, modeling his new gear for the gathering audience—a yellow helmet that says "hot" on one side and "guys" on the other in red; "fag" written on the back of his top, and blue jean shorts so thin, they could be a belt. ("It looks like the Village People," says one onlooker.)