“Are you sick, or just a lesbian?” pried the USC sorority girl washing her hands next to me, upon first glance at my newly shaved head. This was a whole bunch of years ago, but when I’m back in the vicinity of my alma mater for the sold out Lana Del Rey show at The Shrine Auditorium, it all comes back to me. Perfect tens and misfits are still the theme of the night.
The line for admission zig-zags way around the corner, and everyone in it looks like my college classmates or someone my college classmates would point at. It’s a sea of blondes guzzling water bottles full of clear liquids that are not water while shrieking into cell phones, “Becky, where the fuck are you. The line’s moving! Did you bring the coke?”
As soon as we get inside and Lana takes the stage, none of that blabbing matters. I’m transported back to a time of warm purple lights in a piano bar and Becky’s annoying friends are gone.
Our heroine saunters into the spotlight and instead of hello we are greeted with the line, “My Pussy Tastes Like Pepsi Cola.” She croons and the crowd echoes, “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you.”
The sultry starlet has this way of making you feel good about wanting bad things, which is a nice thing for pouty girls with bad habits. Low rider cars, thorny roses, teardrop tattoos, glamorous wardrobes spilling over with silk dressing gowns and pearls, a dimly lit bedroom with a daybed still warm from the sun – this is a game called Lana Del Rey word association.
I duck down so that the nice tattooed gentleman in a wife-beater, who is using his phone to film “Video Games” for his heina, has a better vantage point. His other hand, the one that isn’t recording, is squeezing his girl’s ass real tight. Just the right combo of romantic/raunchy for a Lana Del Rey concert.
Like all good bombshells, Lana Del Rey is raw talent enhanced by a pride parade’s worth of image consultants. Born Elizabeth Grant, she definitely didn’t wake up like this: with swingin’ jazz curls and creamy vocals. Vinyl snobs with music blogs have called her out for being a manufactured fraud. Newsflash: In this era of Instagram celebrity and the rise of the personal brand, I’d like to know who isn’t.
Real or fake or more likely some kind of hybrid, Lana’s love isn’t for the faint of heart. What fuels her appeal aren’t her vocal skills (which waver) or even her live performances (during which she announces with a DGAF candor that something sounds like shit when it does). Lana’s draw is about a flirtation with the dark side, about riding into the sunset with bearded outlaw guys, about indulging taboos and not playing by the rules and definitely about making out in a dingy pool hall. So deal with it.
To quote my 19-year-old intern, “She just makes me feel like I’m blossoming all the time.” And this is why, love it or hate it, Lana Del Reyns.
Miss Del Rey’s birthday is tomorrow, June 20, and I for one will be celebrating by listening to Ultraviolence all day long.