I love Jesus Christ. That souped-up martyrdom in mildly Shakespearean prose is almost enough to make me believe. Really. Naturally, I bought into the hippy musical glut in the '70s. There I was all rag-tag clapping along to the choreographed resurrections of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Godspell" while trying to grow my hair out.
Sebastian Bach is Jesus these days. He's currently on the road with the pyrotechnic, morality-play version of "Superstar," living down Skid Row in the name of Our Father Who Art in Heaven. I love Sebastian Bach.
On the horn from his hotel in Miami, he isn't the asshole everybody promised he would be. He's just a regular guy, man.
"Yo! Hey man!" he charms. "Can I just get a refill on my coffee here?"
Only if there's booze in it. "How does it feel to be such a pretty Jesus?"
"Great. It's just grueling, you know," he touches my soul. "It's a lot more work than any rock and roller has ever done!"
"That being the case, why forego the glamour of post-celebrity long hairdom and VH-1 specials for real work? Whose idea was Sebastian on Broadway?"
"Um, basically, the guy that signed me when I was, like, 19 years old, was the president of Lava Records," he way-backs. "He signed everybody from Skid Row to Twisted Sister to Kid Rock to Sugar Ray to matchbox twenty to Tori Amos, fuckin' everybody"
Wow, that is everybody.
"They also put out Broadway CDs and "Jeckyll and Hyde" was on Broadway for four years, and Jack Wagner from "Melrose Place" did the role, and he was leaving," he chases the ambulance. "So they called me and said, 'Dude, we think you can be Jeckyll and Hyde.' And I was like, 'Um, I know.' And they were like, 'No, no. We're talking about the play on Broadway!' And I was like, 'Dude! Did you hit the right numbers?'"
"Dude! You don't even look like Jack Wagner! And he only had one hit record. You had two!"
"Uh-huh-huh-heh-huh," he Bevis and Buttheads. "I went and saw the play, and I just held my head in my hands. I mean, coming from rock 'n' roll, I went to a Broadway show and just saw how classy, how top-of-the-line everything was. It was so cool, like another world."
Or General Hospital. "So considering your coffee-and-heroin work ethic, is it fun to crucify yourself in musical squalor in small-town theaters nationwide?
"I can't call playing Jesus Christ fun," he believes himself. "That's not the word I would use. The thing is, I die. And it's like a very emotional death eight times a week. I had to say to myself, 'How the fuck can I emotionally put myself through this every week?' Carl Andersen, who plays Judas, told me, 'You don't get it, do you? When Jesus dies, his spirit is being born, and it's the birth of Jesus Christ. And I was like, 'Oh, OK.'"
"Ooooh. Do you love the baby Jesus? Are you wearing a Bible belt?"
"Well, I don't really know how to define that. I believe in God, and music and spirituality have always been closely intertwined," he intertwines. "I was the lead soprano in my church choir. That's where I started, when I was 8, 9, 10. Like, my first tour I ever did was when I was in the church choir."
Omigod. I once toured the southeastern small-church circuit in a rousing rendition of "Godspell." I am Sebastian Bach. "You must know that people are coming out to watch you fail."
"This play gets the people with blue hair and also the people who die their hair blue! Ha!" he cracks himself up. "I mean, it gets a different reaction everywhere we go."
"But there must be pressure."
"Yep," he pains his gain. "I just think of this as part of my body of work. If you look at 'I Remember You' or '18 and Life,' I mean 'Gethsemane' is like God's power ballad."
"Like, are you incorporating the schmaltz into your rock star muse?"
"Oh, yeah. If I do a Broadway song in a set and some guy with 'Ozzy' tattooed to his forehead doesn't get it, then, you know, maybe he will someday. It bores me to do what people expect."
"Big girls in 15-year-old Skid Row shirts must still prevail."
"Some people never forget about Skid Row, and what are you supposed to do?"
"They call you problem child, you are the youth gone wild."
"I'm 34, dude!"
"What about the infamous 'AIDS KILLS FAGS DEAD' T-shirt?"
"Here's how I put that in perspective. I wore a T-shirt in 1989, for like 30 minutes one night backstage at an L.A. Guns concert, with a homophobic message." He turns me on. "That was really stupid and wrong for me to wear that for one-half hour in my life. What nobody brings up is in 2000, when I was in "Jeckyll and Hyde," and at an auction for Broadway Cares, I donated $12,000 of my own money to fight AIDS."
"Besides, you are very sexy. Nobody can hate you for too long."
"I don't know, dude. I come out in a loin cloth," he Christs. "You wanna come see Sebastian Bach, you're gonna see a LOT of Sebastian Bach. There's not much more for you to see, unless you wanna come back to the hotel!"
I'll see you there.