It’s the Sex Pistols!!!!

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Jul 082020
 

It’s the Sex Pistols!!


A bold, contentious exposition of the meaning of the
Sex Pistols rendered in high Shakespearean style.

GREGG GLORY

GREGG G. BROWN




In the beautiful world, you have to respond.
                             --J. Lydon

 JOHN LYDON       the Young Bastard
 SID VISCIOUS        the Lover Boy
 PAUL COOK        the Whiner
 STEVE        the Bullshitter
 and MALCOLM MCLAREN        the Old Fuck



Top^

["Anarchy in the U.K." plays as the narrator ascends the stage.]


 PROLOGUE

[To be spoken by Lester Bangs, Richard Hell, or Griel Marcus.]

We gather here some summers past his death;
The air near us bears its sweet fragrance yet
As in the dim past it was accustomed
To have borne. We come to document a trial
Of youth, and speed, and the chase of fire
That edges young veins anxious yet to burst
The bare confinement of the body.
Ambitions churned in mills of desperate hope,
And clear vision upreared from smoky tenements
Crouch within our subject's city-bounds as well.
Everything not incidental
To a prince's birth in loathed ashes
Shall be told in what we are about to speak:
Mire costuming here a spirit as rare
As any that went naked in greater ages
Whose philosophers, incidents, and strange tales
Whisper still in books passed down to us.
He was one-- I cannot speak it-- but let
Him show; he was one to tumble Jove
Or put into the gestures of his peers
Antics to mimic truth out of hiding
And mock empty vaunt with its own faces.
He was as Michaelangelo's god of boys, set down
In despite of time, vaunting, vague,
A fishing rod as able in his white fist
As any furling sling to draw tyrants down.
Now I before your gentle selves appear
And ask you reconstruct from rended memory
This man, whose trim vitality works wonders
In us yet; who, as though king among those ghosts
We are yet to join, he captains our resolve
And sails us, briefly parted, to those parts
And kingdoms of ourselves we quail to glance at.
Let one summer stand for millions,
And let a universe of lives be exampled by
One life, one death. It is fair enough.
Let not identity struggle besmirched in the mass
Or roil in the crowding roll of oceans
Of limbs-- so like a war is any hived
Metropolis. Instead let concentration fall
From our high heaven of observation
Into the single life and particular fate
Of our chosen hero. Let him be unveiled:
     [Spotlight comes up on Sid, biting a hangnail.]
You see he fits the mold, but not how well;
That is the office of our tale to unfold
--And, if you will but tailor your wide
Imaginations to our narrow telling,
Refining in mind what our rush of detail
Must leave gross, and fitting yourselves
Into the garment of our object here
As if the skin of the protagonist
Himself, flushing round what was left in need
By the author's drying pen, we shall succeed.
Let us, and him, find what name will fit him best:


SCENE ONE



PAUL
Sid! Sidley...!

STEVE
Boredom blows bright the dull grey sparks
Of his eyes, until all the yellow charge
Of coward youth in love with nothing else
But mirrors to sigh the sick hours past
Is burned, burned quite away, and nothing left
But still that same desire fuming there
Simple as a flame.

PAUL
Oi! It's hot enough as it is.

ROTTEN
He meditates too much
On the particular cause and instance
Of his private hurt, which cannot be made
To answer the general injury.

STEVE
Fucking Sid!
What can you do with a boy like that, hey?

PAUL
He nurses an inward wound with wayward looks.

STEVE
He's been talking a lot of trash lately.

PAUL
His winning spirit's spiralling in
For the incinerator again. Last time... Gaw!

STEVE
"Hangin' up me spurs," he says. "Gonna shove
It in and liv' w' me mum." Suicide!

ROTTEN
Each man's civil temper's his own to keep.
That coolness lost, by the heat of events
Fired aside, or from the burning steeple
Of a towering grief thrown down sparklike
In a roaring wash of rainbow flames
Deep into the hellish mass of circumstance
And all deportment, measure, surity,
And freezing reason that should coldly show
The icy signature of a man
Is lost and damned, hotly dispersed, in anger
Or any other rage of fuming ruin
Past individual recovery.

PAUL
By that harsh measure
Every man, like a matchstick, at a single strike
Of his fiery righteousness would be
Trashed to ashes.

STEVE
Aye, then were we ashes all.
Stoked by a too stern lightning to nothingness.

ROTTEN
Stoke up!

PAUL

[Pleading.]

 Let's keep Sid civil.

ROTTEN

[Relenting.]

 All right then; we'll show him how
To raise his sad laughs again amidst our howls.

[Attention shifts to Sid, who opens with soliliquy as others approach.]


SID
 And indeed, as you can see, my shirt reads me:
'I hate.'
Plastic holds itself as natural, warm
And capable to my raw ass and hand
As any hippie love of heaven, sea
Or indian soil would cause here an inch
Of father's affection. Their stench is ripe.
They chant in a ring for heaven's dear love
But disdain the fight that gets it.
All's struggle. How out of turmoil to pry
The clear and lucent love, that's the question.
To deny the struggle is to confound
The chance; and they're liars. Rather close up
Those affable gates that let in the stench
Of rankest hypocrisy as though it were
Light and air-- damn them up, I say, damn them--
Than leave them lax to such vicissitudes
Waiting for a thrilling whiff of the best
To enter out of pardonable hope.

PAUL
Hey, Sid.

SID
 Yeah, I'm against it. I waz jest
Tellin meself how bad it all waz.

ROTTEN
Horrible! Yer a degredation, Sid.
Cold, isn't it?

SID
 Sure, sure. I'm cold.

STEVE
 C'mon, Sid. Cheer up.

[Steve sings, to the tune of 'London Bridge:']

Margaret Thather's a dry old hole, dry old hole;
Because of her we're broke and bored, that ho' ho' ho'.
We've got no jobs; we're on the dole, on the dole.

SID
 My fair lady. Haw haw haw.

PAUL
Let's do something.

ROTTEN
What is there to do?

SID
 I'm cold. [Rotten throws lumber at Sid.]

ROTTEN
How boring!

STEVE
Nothing to do.

PAUL
Oh, I don't know.

[Sid has been gathering debris, pulls out lighter fluid and sets all ablaze. Smiles.]


ROTTEN

How boring! It's hotter than Satan's arsehole out here, and you go starting fires.


[Enter McLaren.]

MCLAREN

Hallo, boys. I've seen you lads moping about. My name's McLaren. Malcolm McLaren. What's your names?


PAUL
John.

STEVE
John.

ROTTEN
John.

SID
I'm hot.

MCLAREN
C'mon then. Follow me. My kool Sex shop's cold.
Ever seen the drafty rafters there? Mannikins,
Naked like us to the world's dicked stare,
Hanging in aerial abandon; skinney limbs
At fleshtone dangled rest above my loitering
Patrons' guessing heads. Keep them guessing,
I says. "No dead time," etc.
     [They reach the SEX shop]
My puppets-- for what's man but
A stick that sings?-- my thoughts have swelled on fire
Before this cold hour from spiteful breaths enough
To ash the cordwood. I'll ask your service now
To douse my substance before its drowned in flames:
The unadoring world must be made to pay.
Too long unloved, a man begins to fray.

ROTTEN
Are you proposing something, McLaren?

SID
Let's hear; let's hear what there's for us to do.

MCLAREN
Time's persecution pursues us all
And the grave levity of his law
Allows no trick of escape to flaunt his cause
But like the paitient bailiff waits beside
Until old and infirm we cannot stray away
From the impaitient leash curling at his waist
But all are from the judge to judgement brought.
And since this guilt of birth we may not shake
Until we have shaken off our lives themselves
But must under the sentence chase our lives
Like ill dogs to their predetermined ends
Sniffing for chances, in shivvered packs secure
And yet insecure-- remember still the end--

PAUL
A dog's life.

MCLAREN
Then let us be such dogs as roam in wild pride
Barking with horrors, redeyed fiends each one
Basking in bloods when the hunt is done.
Let's own such shocks as lesser men run from
Founding nations damned to breath a day
Past us-- and no further-- for believe me
Caesar was one such dog as we are
And his terrors have hounded his renown
Round the globe, as if it were a single ear
And he the sweet lover whispering in it.
We have such voices too, believe me all--
And this world is such a place of fjiords and flaws
As they shall find deep receipt within it.
Now, to choose the script and paint our faces.
Come, my hangdogs, have pleasure while you may;
Ridiculous age should find us sated.

ROTTEN
What is it exactly you are proposing?

MCLAREN
What has ten times the voice of modest men
Declaring their hearts in modest, fervent tones?
Who crouches in the ear of active youth
And shouts invective to an empty brain
So like a stone it may stoop to fondle--
So like, yet one cannot shout stones at faces--
Yet one may shout stoned men to action, eh?
So like the one the other is, stones, brains, all
Grey and servicable rounds, rounds for fire:
Ready from the cannons of your neck to bolt
And deliver destruction of this place,
My word the lynchpin.

ROTTEN
What? What does have that voice?

MCLAREN
Have you not seen the boy bent to memorize,
All studious torment in his crinkled brow,
Stiff as any anxious lieutenant
To catch the letter of his instructions
Above the wolving howl of bursting war?
There, down by the speaker in his own room
He listens for the news. Whose news, though, whose?
Beatles, Stones, Byrds, why should these objects talk
And we have no voice at all?

SID
 Let's start a band!

ROTTEN
We'll need instruments.

MCLAREN
Instruments I have.
Pour your liquid essences forth, let voices
Cry your rain of judgement loose on this world!
Flood hypocrisy from its dobber's holes,
Rape the senator's wife, confound floated bills,
Let Pigs drown before they fly at us
All unable with billyclubs awry.
Pour forth, and in the turbulent judge
Of heaven, who squints from the hurricane's eye
Laugh for all the terror of his wet,
Dishevelled reign.

SID
 Cry Anarchy at last!

ROTTEN
I'll undertake some study of this part.

MCLAREN
Boys, be rascals to my jiving knave
And to all this long-haired world we'll give a shave.

["Seventeen" plays cheerfully. We hear the chorus: "I'm a lazy sod."]


Top^



SCENE

[Rotten and Sid’s bedsit. They are playing the prison game of Chicken where the forearms of each contestant touch side by side, cradling a lit cigarette between them. Whoever pulls their arm away from the 2,000 degree heat of the lit cigarette first, loses.]

ROTTEN
So what do you think of the band notion?

SID
I think I wanna vomit what I’ve eaten; [Sid farts.] But it may be too late.

ROTTEN
I already have a few lyrics in my head.

SID
Yeah?

ROTTEN
This could be something.

SID
Death or glory? It’s just another story.

ROTTEN
Rehersal space is there for us, Malcolm was saying. Equipment. Couldn’t you learn to play something besides ingenue?

SID
Yeah, I could learn things. I got pretty big hands.

ROTTEN
Well, it seems like a chance. Twenty-five quid a week from McLaren, guarenteed.

SID
It’s gonna be a lot of work.

ROTTEN
Alright! All we haveta do is stand up and say something. And we have to stand up.

SID
I don’t want to work.

ROTTEN
You know, make a noise. Be something.

SID
I’m not going to work.

ROTTEN
A man must do something.

SID
No work.

ROTTEN
Alright!

[ROTTEN jumps up abruptly, losing the contest.]
It’s gonna be something, Sid. We will.

SID
Ahh, yes. No doubt. I win.

ROTTEN
First rehersal is around seven o’clock.

SID
I won, Johnny.

ROTTEN
Won. Won? Oh, yeah, the game.
And your wrong, Sid. I won. I definately won.

SID
The bass is a must.

ROTTEN
Everybody can pick out an instrument at the rehersal
And figure out what they want to play. [Exit Rotten]

SID
It’s with our dark lives we lightly play.
And contrast, being the one instruction men know
Who cannot learn a difference twixt likes
Unless the one is all of violentest white
And the other black as blood; how then teach
Tender love, which is but a difference as soft
As silk enwounding down, where dreams may slip
As silent as breath held to their fantastic births.
So that the all-enduing white may seem
Itself, and love as love stand and not yeild
To any onslaught of ignorances
Here I’ll be a blot all black as death
Which shall by my mocking homage be overthrown
In the minds to which my meaning does appear.
So that some may love truly, and without false looks
Betray a need in giving, I shall hate.
O such a hate as makes mad dogs appear tame
And the hot blood freeze up of those who on it glance
Be their fairenheit and celcius doubled
By war-rage raised to the boiling point of stars
To burn a blank in heaven, they shall stare
And turn cold inward stares upon their hearts
To witness in his heat the casque of a man
Glowing radient with so fierce a hate!
So wrought with a furor shall my mind bend
Upon bloody thoughts enough to swell the earth
And fish for a burning glory baptised there
That should in Hell hold honor against the devil.
How many then shall suffer to simply look
On this distemperate visage panting here
That has shaken off its particular face
To stand consumed all with flames of hate
And pure as any visionary ghost
Commit its aetherial offices of fire
To action.

Top^

SCENE

[ROTTEN resolved to be a completely honest human being. TV is on in the room.]

ROTTEN
I’ve told McLaren that Sid’s up for it,
The experimental apparatus is jacked into place,
Wires spouting from his forehead.
Being an apparatchik for the Individual has its perks.
No ghost of guilt puts its sweat-sheath
Of indecision on me. I out-face my sheeted semblables,
Mirror-pale in witness of their parents’ chimplike diminishment.
Each man’s diminished, or dismantled
From the sacred whimper of his intent, when he lets
This blistering world scissor him apart:
Once into “son,” twice as “man, husband,”
Or “citizen.” Never let them tell you what you are!
How NOT TO trust the fissioning essence in us,
Burning each unencumberd nerve alive
As a toothache– a cascade of blisses
As likely as any other fretted thrust or touch
Of this chummy, glum globe’s impingement
On the imminent individual by his
Sang-froid “oi!” from his fetters freed!
But to be yourself without the rolling
Fear of eyes, individual, alive, and free… what else
Is there? I am resolved, renewed, now, here,
A completely honest human being I’ll be
And nothing fear.

[SID from next room, booming] I think I got this riff kicked!


ROTTEN
This finniky generation is gonna get a kick!
Loud as a wacked statistic I hear my nothingness proclaimed,
My name erased and flinching face razed
From the knowing scroll of society's adornments.
This pithy bit of wickedness I will unwill,
And make the glossy ad-assed tabloids shout my name.
The queen will roll my name with curses in her sleep
And recite me in her ernest prayers to God
That we be stopped.
One week to the first gig, and then
Let that dread which thumbs other men down
Rapsodise as my tom-tom. Be my troubled, thudding beat
As if all war in your electric hollows rolled!

["Holiday in the Sun" plays, the bit about "this is the Berlin Wall."]

Top^


SCENE

[Outside first gig]

SID
Hallo.

NANCY
Hiaw.

SID
Oi, my bass is broke, and that ain't good, ay?

NANCY

You in a band? I came over to London from New York with my boyfriend's band. But he won't give me any of his stash, so I gotta do tricks for whatever I can get.


SID
Tha' wanker! He doesn't play the bass, does he?

NANCY
What's it to you.

SID
What's yer name?

NANCY

Who cares? [Softening.] Nancy Spungeon. And my boyfriend jerks off with his guitar; musicians are so testosterone-sick..


SID
I wuvs ya.

NANCY
Fuck off.

SID
Why? I got a few quid.

NANCY
Oh?

SID
C'mon, yer good. Let's have a shag.

NANCY
OK. Gimmie what y' got.

SID
[Obviously stone broke.] Uh....

NANCY
 What the fuck. You cheap asshole. I'm worth it.

[SID sees a way to divert attention from his poverty.]
SID
Prove it, cunt.

NANCY
All right. Down with your slacks.

SID
Uh.... Y'know, I gotta play me bass in a minute....

NANCY

[All business.]

 C'mon, c'mon.

[SID drops 'em; we see he has on his leopard-skin or red swastika underwear. SID busts open his bottle of Bass Ale and does a cheap sexual grind display with beer-bottle-as-penis.]


NANCY
Wow.
[Off comes NANCY's shirt.]

SID
[Going to his knees.] Gaw, yer beautiful. So fackin' beautiful.

NANCY
Really?

SID
Yeah.

NANCY
Be my dog.

[SID drops from kneeling to all fours. NANCY puts a chain necklace with a padlock on it around Sid's neck.]


NANCY
Now your mine.

SID
I can't fink a nuffin' finer.

NANCY
Are you holding?

SID
[Rising to his full height, feet spraddled wide apart.]
Yeah. [SID grabs his crotch.] All four inches of weenie glory.

NANCY

Ugggh. No, you fucker.-- You got any DRUGS? Any heroin, horse, H, smack, anything?


SID
Uh, yeah.

NANCY
Where?

SID
[Obviously not holding anything besides his dick.] Uh....

NANCY
WHERE!

SID
What's this? Da third degree?

NANCY
Shit. Nobody tells me the truth, whatever there is of it to be told.

SID
Yer really beautiful, Nancy. I mean it. Really.

NANCY
I don't know what's really real anymore.

SID
What's real is the way you feel! And fuck the rest of it.


NANCY
[Trying out the concept.]
What's real is how I feel. If I ever figure that out...

SID
[Aside.]                 Sere, sere
The tragic countentance you show obscured,
Displaying griefs, hiding harsher substances
Veiled within. It's a face to break saints.

NANCY
...I'll let you know.

SID
                         It is a cold allure,
Burning without touching; faint fire, faint fire
Within me chalks the haloed outline of your face.

NANCY
I am untouched and soiled, corrupt and pure,
The virgin whore Greek slavemasters adored;
Compounded of clay by dirty fingers,
Still a shapely vessel for holy water!
Tongued and speechless, dumb and breathless,
This girl's variable soul put to the test
By no man's flame as yet.

SID
                         'As yet'? Put your hand
Against this heart and it must withdraw gold
Purified by fire.

[She reaches out, leans against him a moment. A voice off stage shouts: Sid! Sidly! Bass solo's up! Sid exits]


NANCY
Something good in him.
I think I might like him. The shy white chest.

[Sid stands with his bass, thinking aloud while he mimes playing, as usual.]


SID
And if I were to die upon this instant
It were in a dream I'd die-- and there
Death has not taking but is a sweet addition
Of time and dark to lead the dreamer on.
Where's the harm if this picture that I live
Returned to curtained obscurity, from where
Nancy's hand now draws it like a lamp?
If it were to suffer no measled spot
Of corruption but endure the same as now
Even into that memory of perfection
None has joyed to have since the fall of man?
If from the disintegration of critics
This resolve itself still inviolable?
What harm, if on this patched imperfect globe,
Perfection seal perfection once from our own
Too-invading touch? If petty habit,
Or the all-ravaging, time-incensing blade
Of injured wit, which longs to enter
The innocent ears of those it apprehends
Have injured it, and rend there the brains
Of guiltless mouths with ravings; for no sooner
Does the sunday preacher speak hellfire
Than we, our apprehensions so aroused
By the word-- waiting alive within us
As it were-- begin to feel our own skins
Peel and burn, were themselves-- justly and for once--
To die and cease in this?

[The chords of "Pretty Vacant" strike up.]
Top^

SCENE

[Famous “fuck” TV interview plays on in a working class flat with man and wife watching. At the end of the interview, the man cries out :”Oi!” and tosses a brick or his chair through the TV set. Dialog below should be used if a videotape of the interview cannot be obtained.]
GRUNDY

Twenty million pairs of eyes are on you now. So tell us what all this atonal noise and dressing up is all about, if you can. I mean, it seems pretty downright silly to most of the rest of us.

ROTTEN
[To himself.] Shit.

GRUNDY
Pardon me, what did you say?

ROTTEN
Nothing. A dirty word. Next question.

GRUNDY
No, no. I’m really very curious. I insist. What was that word?

STEVE
[To himself.]Dirty sod.

ROTTEN
Shit.

GRUNDY
Well, that’s not really very intelligent, is it?

STEVE
And I say your a dirty old bastard.

GRUNDY
[Spluttering.] What? What?

STEVE
You keep looking at Susie like you wanna shag her right here on the couch.

SUSIE
Do ya?

GRUNDY
Well, I never.

STEVE
Go on, say it ain’t true. Fucking rotter.

[Sid laughs. Rotten sees it all going down the tubes.]

ROTTEN
Bloody fuck. We’ve ruined everything. Again.

[“EMI” plays up to “too many people have the suss/ too many people support us.”]


Top^

SCENE

[McLaren and Viv’s apartment.]

VIV
I can’t believe it! Are you all packed yet?

MCLAREN
Almost.

VIV
An American Tour. It all popped together pretty quick, didn’t it?

MCLAREN
I suppose.

VIV
The first two record signings completely blown. And you got to keep the cash advance. Quite a deal.

MCLAREN
Dodgy at best.

VIV
And then a third signing for even more money up front! Well, that’s a lovely irony, isn’t it? And an international tour arrangement thrown in! Not bad for a kinky old buzzard like you.

MCLAREN
I suppose not.

VIV
Oh, that flotilla on the Thames. Having them play in the middle of the bloody river. Going straight up the the Queen’s Jubilee! Brilliant! Bobbies and everybody having to wait until you pulled ashore before they could even try to arrest you.

MCLAREN
A real swipe at Authority.

VIV
And getting them to sign their record contract on the steps of Buckingham Palace, no less. And Sid with his stiff quiff. I was pretty impressed, I can tell you.

MCLAREN
Rebels without a pause.

VIV
Rebels with menopause?

MCLAREN
Eventually. One day.

VIV
Hand me that hair iron, will you? Thanks. I’ll be downstairs; the taxi’s due any second. What do you suppose this rush of publicity really means? I mean, the papers make it sound as if we’re about to organize some sort of international anti-everything movement.

MCLAREN
People do it all themselves. All that beautiful political crap.

VIV
What do you think you might make this into, anyway? How much harm or hurt can four beastly boys zipped up in rubber goods do, anyway? What will you make out of them? The way the papers write about it all! As if we were terrorists. Or a sharp-edged Danger Mouse flailing away with a fully-loaded automatic guitar. “Oh God no, they’re plugging in. There goes the country.” ZZZapp!!

MCLAREN
A real amplified re-fleshing of the old anarchy bivouacs.

VIV
Cells of resistance, and all that.

MCLAREN
Sounds very biological, don’t you think?

VIV
As if we were an infection in the body of Mother England. [Laughs] What do you want, anyway?

MCLAREN
Just another commercial venture, darling.

VIV
America… I might have a chance to hunt up some fresh fashion ideas, mightn’t I? [Exits.]

MCLAREN
I'll have all a chaos. When effect meets not
The cause, and old age crawls to the baby's cradle
And there bawls its second weak infancy to the sheets
My wry smile shall widen to an earth-engulfing gash
Ingesting in toothy winces a wrong world
The intensest squints could not correct.
With this intent, I shall in America with my protege club prevail!
For years, Teddy Boys squeezed into my ripe Sex shop
Pear-pale, peach-sweet, thin and slinky in their kinked clothes
And now my charmed boys in their ragtag come marching out!
A decade of manipulation's not enough.
Sensible extirpation is my willing wish against sin,
To FEEL free is the only free there is, a sweet
Release from the clapped weight of intent
From which clapping hands raise and praise the supplicant.
How many jiggers of winning did I need to drink?
I won against my lolling generation, and then beat myself.
John may be a bit of a sticker, the prick.
Sid will give and give, docile as a housewife.
Why look you, once his mind's made over, his body
Follows adoringly, even to the precipice.
So all-of-a-kind is his nature that intent
And action have no more division between them
Than wind and wave. What one directs, the other
Slavishly obeys; its a virtue that may serve
My turning of it. After this, I'll burn as if
The indued lust was in me, firing all my thoughts.
They dress in the fagged-out rags of my harrassing dreams,
Hold a face I've pancaked against the furnace of light,
Wink at my blinkered insistence, chime to my timing
And let their voices uncork the change something in ME demanded.
All chaos unleashed in a stabbing minute unrehearsed....
These youths I shall to my alarming purpose bend,
Give voice to the vortex I feelingly live within.

[McLaren closes suitcase and wheels out of the room.]

["Anarchy in the UK," plays as we go to America.]
Top^


ACT II (America)

SCENE

[At the Homesick Cafe, Ark.]

[Boys on tour bus reading their "shocker" headlines out loud to each other. Except Rotten, who glares.]


Various: The Foul-Mouthed Yobs!
WHO ARE THESE PUNKS?
The Filth and the Fury!
Rock Group start a 4-Letter TV storm
Just because Steve called him a fucking rotter?
Grandmum Furious at Filthy TV Chat
Viewers in big protest over shock outburst
More Uproar as viewers jam phones
Grundy Goaded Punk Boys Says Record Chief.
Nufin goaded me, you old load.
Worthless, decidedly inferior, displeasing...
All: Yes!
The ragged face of Punk Rock
The Punks-- Rotten and proud of it!
Obnoxious, arrogant, outrageous... the new pop kings

SID
 Hey, Johnny, here's what they call you: The Ragged Rebel.
 Haw. The Ragged Rebel.

ROTTEN
Oh, Sid, you're so bawring!

SID

O, look you now what an unworthy thing you make of me! Should my concentration on this point of debate be anything less than tyrrannical, or dominate me less than the oppressive sky, then I, an erratic flicker of breath between unbreathing birth and breathless death as all men are, should lose my own weight of conscience, and disperse the only quality of mind that gives men effect or worth.


ROTTEN
Yeah, well, y'know.

PAUL
Food, food, food.

STEVE

[Taking up the chant:]

 Food, food, food!

ROTTEN
No luxuries cramp my stomach like the queen's packed larder,
Fat-back pork lolling between the ice-green truffles...
Knowing your 70 minutes' hunger each hour defines you is harder:
Spirit is trash, and god the garbage man is still on strike,
Uneaten piles of human flesh foul the bright air
Strangling the wayfarer who's forgotten how to die.
Dry heaves reassure me; my white neck's too knotted
For the hangman still. Watch my stumbling tongue,
B-S-ing to the hissing end! It's all just so much sass
I learned to spit at Grampa's deafened, wrinkled stump
Pearled with old, oil-red, oiled eyes.... Hssshahh, hssashah, snap!

PAUL
Hossannah, hossannah. All eat now of Johnny's manna;

STEVE
That'll choke us quicker than any hangman's yank.

PAUL
What makes you so fucking blessed right anyway?

SID
 We're all as hungry as you are, John.

ROTTEN
Yeah. But you're all wrong, ain't yeh?

[Bus pulls up to diner.]

TIBERI
OK, OK. Everybody off the bus!

[Inside diner.]

TIBERI
Eggs and butter for the British brats here.
Eggs to settle their stomachs from a hen's ass,
Butter for all the gold they'll get paid.

ROTTEN
Sincere pain, sincere joy, what else is there?
Nothing's in us, and less is in our stars.
Did we ever tell you about the time we met
That asshole ---

PAUL
Anecdotal violence! Anecdotal violence!
I love anecdotes.

SID
 We tol' ol' Bill Harris to shove it up
His withered cunt---

ROTTEN
Back at the Playpen
Where we'd lean into our drinks, and drink, and think.
Sid was ashamed of Bill's being so dull
And tried to save him with a slash; "a bash
On his ripe noggin'll straighten him out"
He'd said: and wham went the theatrics, Wham!

SID
 You gotta live and bleed to be, ya see?

ROTTEN
Fuck dental floss: who's gonna live that long?

SID
 Operational utility, see,
Is the only ungimmicked gauge of success.
And when I cut him, he was free, free,
And let loose against me as if I lived,
Not in the papers or on the TV,
But there in the room with him, within reach.
His knuckle was my suckle: haw haw haw.

ROTTEN
Bill was a cop who knew the Bandits well.
Well, what of that? I'd gotten clobbered plenty
By the cincured cops I'd grown up near.

SID
 It's true enough. Authority buys its face with pain.
Fear in weak eyes can paint a popinjay
Above the status of an eagle's stare.

Top^



SCENE

[Hotel room]

MCLAREN
Tiberi, my boy, listen up. Item:
International image. The permanence
Of celluloid fantasy. Item:
Cash advance for everybody.
Who can we call?

TIBERI
MGM.

MCLAREN
Columbia.

TIBERI
Paramount.

MCLAREN
Calling the 20th century!

TIBERI
Warner Brothers.

MCLAREN
Warner brothers. Brothers in arms!
It sounds tasty and correct in a flat, unleavened way.

TIBERI
They're already paying for this tour.

MCLAREN
So they are. Why not?

[Mclaren reaches for phone.]

Top^

SCENE

[The auditorium in San Francisco. Tiberi greeted at the door by a stage-hand.]

COHEN
Who do you serve?

TIBERI
Why, one that’s better than myself.

COHEN
Why do you serve him?

TIBERI
Because he is better.

COHEN
Many men in their various disciplines have a superior touch. You cannot serve them all. Men must serve themselves, or else this divided loyalty would allow but very little sleep.

TIBERI
He’s better than me. If I would not serve him willingly, then he, being better, could make me. If I werte to contrive for distance between my master and myself, his farsightedness would foreshorten the leagues of my leavetaking, and I would be as good as by his side even still.

COHEN
Perhaps you could serve him well, but hold aside your heart and keep it secret and alone.

TIBERI
If I were to so withhold, and in myself keep that affection owed outwardly, then he, knowing my measure, even to its height and pitch, and exceeding that measure as much as a whale does an inchworm, would discern the shortfall in my affections. Yeah, if I were to withhold even one particle of all my mind from service, he, whose mind encompasses and surpasses it, would percieve the debit and hold me owing. And such owing to such encompassment, I would not feel.

COHEN
And you serve in hope to better yourself by such example?

TIBERI
I serve because the worser obeys the better part of man, or else all is chaos. There’s many tragadies that have played on that.

COHEN
But is there no improvement in your scheme? No profit that may be had by you from your master?

TIBERI
I serve one who never shall be as bad as myself. There’s a profit of trust and confidence for a man in that.

COHEN
Self-treachery! Never have I heard it so bluntly put. Who can know the doings of another’s heart? The change and expanses hidden there? Why each man’s a walking maze or undeciphered rebus, save to gods or madmen. A madman makes no udse of it because he is mad. The gods game with such insights to while away eternity, showing man a riddle to himself. Gads! Think on it.

TIBERI
My pledge is a matter of honor in myself, not to swerve from it. It is a constant in myself that I most do guess at, not in him I serve.

COHEN
And yet, here you are, pledging service to– to a blank stone! Hell, one might do better thus: the stone will keep its qualities, a man may not. You say that he’s a better by viewing of his past acts, which are as much the charge of accident and chance as deportment, and by that view squint into tomorrow. For all service pledged today is but a guess at constancy tomorrow, that the pledge may be returned or paid in kind or still find honor in its subject. Yet you plegde a riddle, and hold it as it were a star above your head, changeless and remote. Do this and disserve yourself.

TIBERI
It’s honesty.

COHEN
Who’s the nearer gainer?

TIBERI
Just help me lug this shit onstage, ay? I thought San Francisco was supposed to be a friendly city.

[Stage Hand helps with equipment.]
[“Schools are Prisons” plays us to the radio station, where BONNIE turns it down to speak.]

Top^

SCENE

[Radio Interview at K L A M, as in ‘My Lamb,’ the lamb of christ, on the lam, as in (lowercase) 1[one] am, as in Clam, as in money, as in female sexual organs]

TIBERI
You boys have GOT TO do this interview right. Understand?

ROTTEN
Oh? What if we don’t?

SID
I don’t give a fig about you.

BONNIE
On the air in five…. Welcome to San Francisco. This is Bonnie Bonfires, and we’re talking to the Sex Pistols, the outrageous punk band from England who’ll be playing the Geffin Concert Hall tonight. Well boys, have you been having fun?

SID
More fun than ever. So much more room over here to be fun in. You can spit across Britain.

ROTTEN
NO FUN. NO FUN. NO FUN. NO FUN.

BONNIE
Should I play another cut from your album.

SID
Who cares about the music?

ROTTEN
The music was never it.

BONNIE
Well, OK. Here we go. [Plays another cut from their album]

Sid and ROTTEN
Blah blah blah.

TIBERI
You treat this little lady nice.

Sid and ROTTEN
Blah blah blah.

TIBERI
Lemme make it easy for you. You do good, and you each get a leather jacket.

SID
Nobody tells us what ta do.

ROTTEN
Oh yes they do. I’d sell my soul for a leather jacket.

BONNIE
Any new material?

SID
Got a song about God.

ROTTEN
And all the pretty angels…

SID
It’s a real attack. A death march.

BONNIE
Really.

SID
Got one about South Africa. How the niggahs gonna rise up.

BONNIE
What kind of school did you go to, Johnny? Parochial?

ROTTEN
Schools are just another prong in your conformist machine.

BONNIE
I have to do a radio ID. This is K-L-A-M, San Francisco, transmitting on….

Sid and ROTTEN
Blah blah blah blah.

SID
I want to talk, to say something.

BONNIE
Go ahead.

SID
Hallo? Is DeeDee Ramone out there? Just hallo. Hallo!

BONNIE
Do you like the Ramones?

SID
I love the Ramones.

ROTTEN
I hate the Ramones. I hate them I hate them. They’re boring and mundane.

SID
[Sings.] Nothing to do, nowhere to go oh… I wanna be sedated!

ROTTEN
I don’t want to be sedated. Absolutely not. And neither should you.

BONNIE
Well then who do you like?

ROTTEN
Me.

BONNIE
I would hope so. Anybody else?

ROTTEN
Not really, no. Not at all. I don’t like rock music. I don’t even know why I’m in it. It’s just the only way I can destroy things. It’s the best way.

BONNIE
Tell me about your song ‘New York.’

ROTTEN
It’s about imposters from New York, all those cheap assholes who call themselves poets and take themselves seriously and all they’re doing is destroying music in a trivial way. It’s like they’re serious. At least we’re destroying it practically. I just want to ruin everything. Have I earned my leather jacket yet? This is so tedious.

TIBERI
Two sleeves.

BONNIE
This is hard, isn’t it?

ROTTEN
Yes. For a young man like me.
[Pause.]

ROTTEN
I am the defeat of your social engineering plan,
And the timid victory of the individual.
My annihilating mind reduces every other one
Back to zero cause it can and that way I
Can really get started and exist. In a world of mirrors
Every one of you becomes just another face.
I must spurn the temptations of the marketplace,
And not sell the shards of what I've gathered here.
The nihilist in me shouts you up against the wall
And then, I shoot until there's nothing left;
My lesson plan includes an ineradicable I, which then
Can say I'm everything, or anything, or what
I want to be. In a universe of ciphers I,
I am the only one. And then, when that becomes clear
and (the atmosphere in here is damp) all
Of you get sick of being so erased, and scream
"I exist!" in your sickened state, well then
Maybe I'll have done something to unleash
The little man inside of you at last.

BONNIE
Are you going home after tonight's show?

SID
Our visa's expired.

BONNIE
Do you think its different here than in England?

ROTTEN
You've really got no idea how stupid you are.

BONNIE
What do you want out of us 'Yanks'?

ROTTEN
MOREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
Complaisant slugs, gumming up the air with your foul breaths.

SID
Nothing here but dirty cowboys and sore-thighed wives.

ROTTEN
Gimme a fix of the pure, the real, the clean LUCRE
That spic-and-span life commands. A toast to the country
With the least. Drink up Sidney! We've earned our
Leathers by now. Gimme the free bleed
Anarchy asks. Out of each man ranges free free free
The dispelling shadow of his own unowned soul.

SID
Hee hee hee. [They Exit.]

BONNIE
Thanks. And good luck on your show here in San Francisco tonight. [To mike:] Well, I think they heard me.

[“Problem” plays briefly as we head toward utter disaster.]
Top^

SCENE

[Last Engagement, San Francisco.]

MARCUS
I'm Griel Marcus, bald-faced punk's
Rueful, truthful rock-critic supreme;
Whatever I say becomes whatever I see.

BYSTANDER
[Bumping Marcus] Fuck off!

MARCUS
Drunk in the cockpit of this moment's corse sussurations
I hear hippie history's dismissing 'brava!' in the floor-boards' squeal.
Johnny's spinning skull must fly off its spitting spike next,
His rare form magnetic, a showboat on fire.
Watch the wicked, watched world grind itself down
To his loose, hissing tooth. Tonight, tonight! Now.
I've watched. The hysterical, real saint-Just
Wishing hysterical happiness to everyone he couldn't kill.

ROTTEN
Bang into the flopped heart of America I flapped,
My long, grimed tooth my instrument! Catch fire
From this piss-stream of lip-jizz; I say fire
To make Carthage blush, and the pillaged babe
Don her habitable virginity
Fresh as any haight-ashbury herb cure.
We'll make such faces! Breed on tiger-milk
You who wish to finger what we offer...
We'll make such faces, turn to ack-ack hue
Our enlarged gourds til teeth burst: such smiles lick
As respected age will treble tremble---
Fathers curse inheritence, and stones yeowl
To be whittled into junior pebbles
Out of so grave a bulk. Mothers curse sons
Whelped by nursing pains to urgent manlings
Of size to whine into this hissing mike
That scatters truth into dumb fertile ears
And like seeds of lice or liscence perk there
The bandaged arms of Anarchy! Rise, lice!
And overwhelm the blinded head of state...
Take what wisdom would not give. It's time!
Crawl into every margin of the law
And breed upset. With perpetual strife
Upbraid laced dignities, and cause small wars
To fruit the earth with disrespect, make change
Frequent and large, dash reason, and with blood
Let each man's Caesar's freedoms be regained!
O royal hue! To convey the marrow
And very essence of a life. By pulse
Revealing to the stale outward intant
Time's constant arrow moving forward still.
Blood in my toothpaste dish makes me sick
To think on time's waste. Hear the moment's beat
In your stagnant ears? Listen now to blood;
Lift a gun or tongue; swim in such instants---
Freedom is a minute you can't forget,
Nothing more. Texarkana's next this tour?
We are many in the dark. My sneer's a bombshell.
Let's bludgeon our faces against the light...
Blot all torches. We'll make such faces...!

MARCUS
There they go, fabulous at last.
The fabled anger fated for parade.
See how blind John stares and stares.
The black, quickened eye disabling
A head trapped in history.
When will we unleash ourselves and die free?
What man believes the stories he tells himself?
You can overhear a dozen prophets at any bar
Betting their dreamed guesses into oblivion...
Sauced, sleepy, slurred unhurried drears.
How many hunches have I discovered and doubted,
Telling myself I'll live forever on the sly
Drenched in wrenching death-prayers by the score...
Something tells me that the boot is braver
Than the twitching man who kicks me with it.
How many other minutes will singe and sing like this?
The annihilating sound, the screaming face alive
Retelling a dream interred. Interred and true.
Convinced and cynical in my writer's chair
Perched on some desert telephone pole
Like an eagle's quartered nest, I reach
For my blue, explaining pen as my foot hits the wire!
Knowing what I know, I think its the crash.
Unfullfilled desire leaves it debt in dreck;
Dada's marched-on heart is beating still.
Those fulfilled? Even more so. History keeps
Repeating its minutes, a bum that mumbles
His mantra to a swigged glass.

ROTTEN
Is this exceeding blessing, this individual
Excellence extempore, merely a receding grace,
A backwash of wish, naked in bare sincerity,
Made supremely visible by withdrawl alone?

MARCUS
What gain inheres? Nothing forgotten's real.
        Everything's forgotten.
Johnny's ribald face is burning the spotlight back to black.
His voice an echo without a source;
My dull feet are sore, I've been standing here since birth.
The theiving minutes pinch my imagined halo to ash,
St. Catastrophe without a wish to incinerate my sins,
I stammer on the moment's agile surf and glide
Fishing for a reprieve I haven't faxed myself.
Why can't I kill whatever I see? Asleep in his stitches,
Frankenstein mumbled love for the blind flower-girl
       Chaplin wooed.
Why can't I sleep and speak? The terrible dreams
Rise in the visionary nullity of Rotten's ripe rant,
Blaming the logjam of time every infancy invents;
What choice of fathers does a chilled begetting undermine?
My drugged druthers always centering on the whispered
       "Not I, Not I."
The nascent NA NA NA that ripped Elvis to the top!
How much more must I incinerate and disclaim? All's mine.
Mine mine mine! Disbelief's the easiest wish to insist on.
Its the hard, current, Jabberwocky of the damned
I can't understand, their bleating insinuations of reprieve
Manufactured and patented up-your-sleeve!
My dyslexic eye precedes the Lettrist revolt,
My dubbing ear Dada Ball's crunching balungo-beerhall putsch!
Decapitated atop my careening pile of crooked books,
I fix on the age's marginalia, squinting for a clue;
Haphazard history's gimmick's fixed by tricks
I engineer from here with a wink and a lisp. Follow close!
Cops are burning my wicker house to the holy ground.
The heat's in me still that put their finnicky indignation
To the torch! I hold a copy of commie Combat rolled,
Batting all comers with its tickle-whip of scholarly love.
It is history's Rosanante that I must skewer and cure,
Ferrying imagination's master-men to their mooted doom;
The mute ashes lash and flabbergast me as I stand
Winsome and sinewy at St. Joan's last barbeque.
No matter how poor in spirit you are, there is always
Desire. Desire unfulfilled, as it appears. A cinema wish
Snapping in the projector and evaporating, each
White, slaved, delectable evocation revoked.
Have you seen the serene mistress of this wish?
She rides all times as if swished backwash,
The sea retreating to the sea's indecipherable source.
Always there is the sweet reverse of the siren's chorus,
Less promising less and less, a minmalist's urge
Sanding away the unallowed surges our bodies offer.
Wolman with a silent, blanking screen at his command
Knew what the humdrumming camera's oceanic whirr allowed
Knew each lived minute demanded its hour,
Each hour, eternity. That girl Liberty
Kept her witching watch alert night by night,
Stik-on stars spangling her showbiz brow
As she danced down the photographed Paris streets,
A weeping illuminati with nothing on! So it goes.
Today she's done her promomade of Nos, the void
Loosed from her solo vowels and the crashed, done, down,
Flair of Petey-boy's Wall of Sound, ennunciating Void;
From this announced denial a scintillating permission slips,
My hands reduced to crabbed claws can fasten still....
Destruction on this rash scale proves creation's true!!!
My neon feelers tremble in the black box of night,
My undone heart moves its inchworm rounds renewed.
Nothing demands its consequence, I am the world I rue!

ROTTEN
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
Top^

SCENE

[Hotel room, San Francisco. Annie Leibovitz is trying to gather the boys in the shower for a group portrait. Rotten is on the phone.]

ROTTEN
Bloody fucking spanking wanker! [Hangs up]

TIBERI
Well, what do you know? San Francisco today, Brazil tomorrow.

ROTTEN
What?

TIBERI
You’re going to Brazil tomorrow.

ROTTEN
What?

TIBERI
Don’t you understand what I’m talking about?

ROTTEN
What?

TIBERI
You’re going down there to cut a film with the Great Train Robber holed up in Rio de Janero.

ROTTEN
That’s pathetic.

TIBERI
[Tiberi shrugs] He wants to call it ‘The Swindle.’

ROTTEN
He wants to make a mooovie; 'The Swindle!'
That would tuck us away all tidy and dead. Oooouuu!
What a sensation. They made my nerves tingle once,
But now I know it was all a game. How fun! Bloody...
I'm calling McLaren. That arse. What a circus.

[Sid stumbles out of the shower.]

SID
What's going on?

ANNIE
Just like that. Hold that sneer.

SID
[Throwing his towel over the camera] You whore.

ROTTEN
Malcolm's trying to kidnap us to South America, that's all.

SID
 Don't they have those naked parties down there?

ROTTEN
That’s not the point, Sid. He’s trying to pervert the entire experiment.

SID
Oh. Well…

ANNIE
C’mon everybody, back in the shower. Really good light glares off of the fixtures.

SID
Jam it.

ROTTEN
[Picks up the phone]> What’s Malcolms number? Anybody! What the frizz is the number where Malcolm’s at? Do I have to wait for that wanker to call here again? Anybody! What’s his bleeding number?

ANNIE
Click, click, click.

ROTTEN
Oh, that’s it. That’s too much. I’m out. I’m smoke. I’m dead to you from now on, OK? This is simply far too degrading, being paraded around like this. Malcolm McPuppet can go hang!
[Exits]

[“Belsen was a Gas” plays as we go to the next scene. Maybe show some clips of the boys in Brazil from “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle.”]
Top^

SCENE

[Hotel room, San Francisco]

TIBERI
He’s quit. John’s no longer with the band. With anything. He says he’s gone to Jamaica and fuck you.

MCLAREN
Ah, shiit! Slaying betrayer. Crimped infidel.
When he comes back I’ll have to say something nice to him.
I like his asshole. Or something. Shiit!

[Phone rings, Tiberi picks it up]

TIBERI
Hey, well, whatever. You better take this.

[McLaren on the speakerphone, talking to the movie guy.]

MCLAREN
Yes. Yes. I understand.

MOVIE GUY
The project is untouchable without Johnny’s drawing buzz.

MCLAREN
I understand. [aside] Ideas aren’t honey enough for the vixen flies. Attention in this blitzed world is a game of one-upsmanship. And I’m too persona-poor to play my own part. [aloud] I understand.

MOVIE GUY
Get Johnny Rotten back on the set, or my interests will witdraw all funding for this film.

MCLAREN
I understand THAT. [Hang up.] Look, Tiberi, we’ve got a revolution going on here. I’ve got a movie contract. This band is blistering the world’s thin skin, and they’ll pay anything to feel the pain. They want the illusion that they’re alive. But, there’s a problem, the face man has escaped. Johnny’s popped off to Jamaica. He’s sick-unto-death of us. Tired. He’s just a lad, after all. But he is needed. The mask of fantasy through which every heaven-drugged voice was pumped is getting a sunburn in the coral-mauve Carribean. Not good. The movie may be behind schedule already! And it’s the celluloid that’ll last, and not our wearisome noise. I must have that frittery inch of stained-glass church windowpane for my mile-high history.

TIBERI
So what are you going to do?

MCLAREN
Yes. What am I going to do?

TIBERI
Yes, what are you going to do?

MCLAREN
I’m going to talk to him. If I convince him, I convince him. If not…. I want you to go to Jamaica– an island of indecisive breezes– and try to convice him. If you convince him, you convince him. You won’t go unprepared. Hand me those blank pages over there.

TIBERI
These?

MCLAREN
Yes. Those.

[McLaren takes five of six blank pages and carefully puts his signature at the foot of each, then hands them back to Tiberi.]

TIBERI
What’re these for?

MCLAREN
Exigencies. If I cannot convince him, and your voice is dust in his ears, then note what complaints he makes, and note whatever his own desire may speak of. Note them. Note them on these pages as my own true intent. Whatever he wants [aside]let him think he’ll get.

TIBERI
All right. You really want to put him in the driver’s seat though? This could mean that he’d be tellin everybody else what to do.

MCLAREN
He already put himself there with his big star-biz ego-fetish GOOD-BYE fuck-off.

TIBERI
Is there anything else?

MCLAREN
I’ll tell you more of my intents after the phone call. Now you may get out.

[Exit Tiberi.]

MCLAREN
[punches a number on the speaker phone]
Hallo, Johnny?
What have we to fear, enmansioned, founded
Here where highest joys a trembling earth
Disposes, waiter to our wants even as she
Mimics and points them to their setting on.
The crypt of night is draped with jewels
And sick want, pale with wan fear,
Is fattened by our expectation to join those dear
Who have left us laughing departing hence.
God as king, worm or fool
Can knock us about no more than chance
Whose jaded tigers jab at us pinned to earth.
This being so, as indeed it is,
Lets talk among us as if we were dead
And loss and gain a game played
By those abandoned above our roof of turf.
This done, our new talk will range
In absolutes as freely as a kitten
Moves his mates among. Then shall we be,
As our abilities all have chance to turn flesh
Corporal spirits diamonded by tongues
And turn in flashing sequences of ourselves
As once the deciphered pages of a book.
O then what gainers will we be!
To know all ourselves, entongued here
As ages heretofore dreamed only
The provenence of heaven! To hold
Castled in the keep of teeth our very selves
And have their essence printed in the air
What fingers may fan! O secret bliss!
Uncased before time and times are done
And all the world's expansive 'Ah'
Constricted to a noose's tiny 'o'
To be drunk while still fresh in every sense
And our each little gate of perception
Overwhelmed with joy! Come, come,
Let's talk while we've tongues to lavish us.

["New York" plays as we fly to that black basalt city.]
Top^

ACT III (New York)

SCENE

[Sid 'N' Nancy's apartment.]

SID
What there is left of me that love would put
A hand to, hew down, and let drugs eat up
The surplus, even as they already have
Your hollow eyes consumed.

NANCY
                       Stop it Sid. Stop!
I do not have to dredge my heart for drams
But have love enough to wet you to the core
And send the efflux and semblance of your ghost
Drenched to heaven.

SID
There's no comfort in it.
But chilly do I move through these spare rooms
Turning visions and nightmares over in my fist
Like a restless paper, which tells more
In its rough square of life than I ever,
Ever shall do myself. Does it not
Astound?

NANCY
Do not, do not love me, and then
Draw a sour face over bitten fruit.

SID
Hmm. Yes. If I cannot prove out one image
With my entire life, and take this page
And append myself-- but momentarily!--
To its whirlwind, then what is't to've lived?

NANCY
Well, you're going to that gig I set up at
Max's Kansas City next week ain't ya? Ain't that
Something more 'n  a footnote? I'm in bad way,
Sid. Don't I always tell you you're the only star?
I set that gig up for you, honey. Ain't that
Worth a little sumthin', sumthin'?

SID
Is the carryover of existence
No more than the monumental footnote
Of an obituary? I think
It cannot be-- and yet, what is it to live?

NANCY
Aw, Sid, fuck off! I'm going to Richard's
For my fix. Give me the money, honey.

[NANCY grabs money from SID and exits.]

SID
Is there, in that drugged beast's look of hers
Love to expiate misery of self
Or is self all-too tangled in beastly briars
For any look of hers to burn by fires
Back to unencumbering phoenix' ash
From which some tired I might at last arise?

Top^



SCENE

[Richard Hell’s apartment. He is alone, reading Baudelaire’s Last Poems. He looks up.]

HELL
I feel blank.
[Knock at door.]

HELL
Oh yes.
[NANCY enters.]

NANCY
Gosh, who’d’ve thought you’d stayed so cute?

HELL
I didn’t think I needed anyone to tell me that.

NANCY
Hi y’er. [She leans up close against him]

HELL
I don’t mind givin’, but you have got to want.

[Nancy throws Baudelaire book at Hell’s head]

HELL
What? Don’t! [He tackles her] That’s my Baudelaire.
[pause]

NANCY
You hurt me, I hurt you. What the fuck?

HELL
What, the fuck?

NANCY
What we had was real.

HELL
I don’t know….

NANCY
FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK.
[Pause]

NANCY
You don’t have any smack, do you?

HELL
Not that I can lend.

NANCY
Any I could get?

HELL
Well, I don’t know….
[Nancy crawls into his lap]

HELL
I do know someone who’s holding. Do you remember Rockets?

NANCY
Rockets Redglare? That skeevy little shrimp?

HELL
He’s probably at his place.

NANCY
On Houston Street?

HELL
Probably.

NANCY
SEE YA.

HELL
Hey, Sweetheart.

[Nancy exits. Hell sets up the Baudelaire book and addresses the picture on the front jacket]

HELL
Tell me if this is finished:
[sings]
Desperation takes us in its feral cue
as luxury lights installed upon a losted view
and terror tricked shadow in pitiless devotion--
imploring furious mirrors of singular commotion
     its true... its true...!

Animate angel fumes her retinue of dreams
Stabbing azure parodies and rending elixive schemes
with no respite for my insensate senses
enslaved in velvet dawns and sonorous tenses
     oh no... oh no...!!

Spirit exhales divine perils in exquisite quivers
dyed her in defiance and cool lipstick shivers,
like flatterers dissembling demented agitation
or tears falling like the loveless jewels of contemplation!!
     my-self...! myself...!!!

Top^

SCENE

[Sid ‘N’ Nancy’s apartment. Nancy returns, gives herself a fix on the bed, relaxes. Sid goes over to her and picks up the works with the following line:]

SID
Gimmie.

[Sid takes the ‘works’ to the bathroom, hunches up against the toilet and injects himself.]

SID
This rearing horse has neighed my veins alive;
It turns their slothful flowing to more rapid pace,
Spilling armies of antagonistic thoughts
From their safe haven and compeerless view
In the appointed temple of the brain
To those waiting slopes and mountain-arms
That tumble to our bowels, then stretch out to feet
And, like the volcano in his roaring, the body
Once aroused, rests not till all the landscape
Burns laved with that fire the brain compels
Out in a rain of fuming ashes over it.
Drugs are argent against a low self-conceit,
The beggar's into a tyrant's riches thrown
And chatters at the rats, his councillors.
High into his eye each purviewed object is excerpted,
Finding there its aptest use and valuation;
Be it less than a poor scrap of scrambled print
Tugging his ankle like a wet hand, or some dull word
Imagined in the wind, his altered state,
Being so high-enhanced and tragic-excited,
Seizes the wayward syllable, which trumpets in his ear
Of vast ambitions trashed, kingdoms undone,
The long low note of doom resounding soundless
In his brain alone, the subtle drum
That had urged him on, til cavalries entire
That had so newly charged in victory-seeking pride
Stand again in-reigned in sudden defeat.

[P.I.L.'s "Albatross" plays briefly, annoying us.]

Top^

SCENE

[Jamaica, Rotten's cabana. Poolside]

GIRL
Why did you leave?

ROTTEN
How could I stay?

GIRL
There's nothing here.

ROTTEN
There's nothing anywhere.

GIRL
Yeah, right..?

ROTTEN
It's only ourselves... It was The End!

GIRL
Our faces and our fears. Our freedoms, right?

ROTTEN
Our inhibited pissings, more like.

[Sound of rustling shubbery. Rotten pulls Tiberi from behind a bush at poolside]

ROTTEN
Shadow of vengeance! Tiberi, what’re you doing here?

TIBERI
Oh nothing. Nothing. really.

[Rotten pulls at camera strap on Tiberi’s neck:]

ROTTEN
What’s this? Eh?

TIBERI
It’s just a camera, you know, to get a few snaps.

ROTTEN
Slippery as a condottieri, Tiberi. Probably been sliming up the bush you dragged through to get a geeky peek at me.

TIBERI
All we wanted was your picture for the movie.

ROTTEN
My picture! all I own is my image. The intimidation of a shameless face.

TIBERI
Yeah, well, your story’s a lot of what we’ve been trying to put together.

ROTTEN
[grabbing papers out of Tiberi’s coat] What’s this? Well, what is it? [examining papers] McLaren’s reduced to selling his autograph, is he?

TIBERI
No. They were left blank so that I could fill them in. With promises. You know, like McLaren’s been talking about. You’re in charge. You can do what you want, make what you want. Any project. Anything– so long as I got you to come back to the group.

ROTTEN
Christ, I gave all that up. I don’t need any shit from the past. All that’s dead.

TIBERI
Everyone I know just wants to see you guys back up there again.

ROTTEN
Christ, Tiberi! Humping the friggin bushes to get me friggin picture…

TIBERI
McLaren figured you’d be pretty much pissed. Guess he was right. But he still wants the project to go forward. So, you know, whatever I could get…. And now you guys are so big. Now you could actually cash in on it a little. You know, make some money and be free to do whatever you want.

ROTTEN
Except quit. So now you’re going to steal my freedom from me too. McLaren’s holding up my money. Sid had my friendship. And now– for the best of reasons, to be a verbal martyr and fixed tidbit in kid’s dreams— I’m supposed to dive back into that mire? Can’t you see from the way they’ve got you crawling around behind bushes that self-determination is the LAST thing that they’re interested in?

TIBERI
Well, how about a line for the movie then at least? Its a mythological documentary of sorts—

ROTTEN
The Demise of the Never Beens? Dreamy. Fuck off.

TIBERI
Just say: “Who killed Bambi?” They can edit it in ok. Ok?

[As Tiberi holds up the camera to film, Rotten takes the lens in his hand and shoves him backwards into the pool]

ROTTEN
Zed, Hector! Kick his highness’ ass. [Enter two thugs who pull Tiberi out of the water and start beating him] That’s all the picture of me you’ll glom onto.

TIBERI
Ow. Ah, fuck. Hands off! Damn. Damn you.

ROTTEN
Watch how the image in your cracked skull, Johnny Rotten Magnificat, melts from the stiff indifference your wrong wish imposed; a posed, inverted, evangelical, shouting and strident gimmick for your gimcrack Hollywood picture,— back to the wavering and real, loving negation of a single man. Let my NO now hollow out my image where your false wish reigned.

TIBERI
Not even an instamatic fragment? Your anger’s really photogenic, you know.

ROTTEN
NOOOOOOOO! I’ll kick your ass myself.

[They punch Tiberi offstage.]
[“Liar” plays ironically as TIBERI is beaten.]
Top^

SCENE

[New York, Suicide Promise. Sid N' Nancy's apartment.]

SID
The soul of man to its true object is miscreant.
Smeared with fecal farce is our smooth wall of love
That upheld only projections of sweet heaven
Between us, once. Where has our strength of dreaming fled?
How gone, that which from the daily air drew in
Sweet opiate clouds? Our imagination's cancered over,
My heart a tumor lugging up my throat! I cannot swallow.
My dry eyes, empty of tender tears, ache to weep,
And must hang aching still, deprived of that
Visionary flood that lifts the animal in us to man,
The twitch of sympathy that had bound us as brothers
Knotted no less than pearls on the trim wire
Of our cause, has lapsed us now to this estate
A degredation even to the uncombining sand.
So far have we fallen, who thought to rise forever
Alert in the hilarity of spirits,
A pairs of perfect angels, turning higher
With each god-send of wind, until clouds themselves
Shrank dazzlingly beneath us, the lost sea a rumor
Of unendurable light. And are we now, even now,
Descended to this? O human liberty!
Let us scrape the dirty earth for our bones,
And charge our jellied flesh with treason,
For bones have abandoned us if we cannot stand against this.
Let us lose the hair that marks and mocks us even as a beast,
Rend sight from our sockets, sniff the absent crypt,
Stab hearing from our ears, cut the tongue
Howling from our mouths that can make no speech
Innocent of betrayal, and so convert ourselves
To ragged bleeding brawls of detested elements
All in a chaos so confused with themselves
That the least drear piece of life-- be it
As miserly as a toad!--- will take no stain
Of comparison from us, to say we share
Any quality convertible with itself.
     [Nancy sits up in bed, clear from her high and depressed.]
All charmed intent of tenderness has abandoned us.

NANCY
Let’s do it.

SID
Aw God, not again.

NANCY
C’mon Sid; for real this time.

SID
Why do you always wanna talk like this?

NANCY
C’mon, Sid. For real.

SID
Ahh, Nanc.

NANCY
Sid, Sid. I– I don’t want ta die.

SID
Too late. We’ve been born, and now we’ve GOT TO die.

NANCY
I know all that. I was just expressing myself.

SID
Funny way you’ve got about it, wailing with no one to hear but these blank walls.

NANCY
I always thought you were listening.

SID
Well, I guess so; not that THAT counts for anything.

NANCY
So much suffering on my part, and nothing to show for it.

SID
I forget half the things you say as soon as you say ’em.

NANCY
What’s this been but unendurable misery? Swallowing your kisses like pills….

SID
Love’s gone bust for you. Your heart was never in it.

NANCY
Strange days, skittering on the knifeedge. Strange, strange. And so long….

SID
Well, then, what’s left?

NANCY
Christ! Always asking that question, ain’t you? What’s next, what’s next?

SID
Well?

NANCY
Always pushing past the minute we’re fixed in. You think something great’s gonna happen out of all THIS mess? [He gives her a look] Well, well… I know. But can’t you just quit it for an instant? I can’t tell what’ll come no more than you until it comes hurling down and smashes us ta bits.

[Silence]

NANCY
Let’s do it. C’mon, Sid. C’mon. For real this time. For real. [She presses the knife into his hand] You have to kill me. You promised.

SID
What promise do you have to extract from me
To know the thrust and tenor of my resolve?
Does the thrush promise miraculous song
To the listening air, or does it merely sing?
Does the babe swear his mother's milk to drink
Or does its small mouth simply incline to drink?
Does the putrid corpse disclose its white ribs
To fulfill some deeded oath to the earth?
No more shall I then our agreement break
Than my face and body may my name avoid;
Call me liar, and perjure your enterprise.
I shall none of it, but instead be true
As these bones may not this frame abandon,
Which indeed they do stretch and define thus,
Stiffening frail flesh with determination.
I'll be true. So saying, know me thus said.
For what I am, I cannot be other.

[Lights go down with the knife in Sid's hand.]

[Lights fade up in Sid N Nancy’s apartment. Sid lies in bed next to dead Nancy.]

SID
 Leave off life awhile, it's overrated.
Nancy, your blue eyes toward death, as if toward
Another shore whose beating sands were war-drums
Marching you out of life and sense-- and love;
For I had loved you. Together we'd poured
Each hourglass with centuries-- to the crest!

[Sid falls asleep.]

[Rockets Redglare begins pounding on the door, opens it on its chain, eventually sees Nancy.]

ROCKETS
Hey hey! Sid, Nancy, I was able to score a little more stuff on the cheap. Come on, open up. It’s me, Rockets Redglare. I got some good horse. Premium grade. Sid? Sid, you there? Hey Nancy how about a little yankee doodle dandy on the meat-flute while Sid’s off? Oh, oh there you are Sid. Well, you gonna let me in? You…. Oh man oh man oh gad oh god. Nancy…. bloody bitch. Um, you guys are gonna have to deal with this yourself. Sid, Sid, this is some serious shit, Sid. This is way deep. I gotta crawl on out, pal. Sid, man, you’re damned for this one. Serious, serious.

[“No Future” plays briefly as we go to the recovery room.]
Top^

SCENE


[NYC Hospital]

SID
Blue and ruined in my hospital bed, the dredged
And unending canyon-cut of history chopping my heart
To chasm-splinters, I wait for the explicit lisp
And white-noise hiss of dawn's razoring entrance
To wake me like the guillotine's scissor-whisper
Wakes the aching head it drops back to sleep.
Raw dawn infects my eyelids. Spider-light
Creeps against my strung-out skin. Creeps, creeps.
The fabulous crash and disaster of being alive
One more time! How many times, time times time,
Have I hunched into my skin to face the skulled annihilation?
How many grins unhinged from that skull of grins?

[Phone rings]

MCLAREN
Hallo, Sidney?

[SID mumbles; a bludgeoned “Yeah?” emitted]

MCLAREN
Is anything left alive on that end, Sidney? Anything still in pain, any victim alert and hurting?

SID
Yeah, yeah. Whadda yew want?

MCLAREN
Only what’s best and most dangerous, as always, boy.

SID
I’m so sorry Nancy’s dead.

MCLAREN
You must come back and play for me, changeling. The film’s in the can; you’re a gonna be a movie star, boy. But first you must come back to me. You must guard the carnival.

SID
I’m so sorry Nancy’s dead.

MCLAREN
Everything's irreversible. You know that.

SID
I don't think I know anything. I'm just so sorry.
I want to touch her. I want, I want everything.

MCLAREN
Oh, I see. You want a cure. A salve, a taste
Of the bliss salvation. A pope's denoumont.
How christian of you, Sidney. How lovely and protestant.

SID
Why can I still see her as if she's here,
Standing by my bed, her hair all haloed in the light?

MCLAREN
You need to beg forgiveness, Sid. A dram of baptizing
And all that. It'll do you a world of good. A whirl
Of the condemning waters almost snatching you under now.

SID
In atonement velvet as the dust I'll
Bear myself through the inscence-shrouded dark
Into the very corner of ministry
Where peace of conscience like a nerve-wracked mouse
Shivers in self-captivity; I'll palm
The prize, and bear it like a beating heart
Back against my bosom and into the light
Of common day.

MCLAREN
You see how easy's said;
Its easier done. Forgiveness is a game.

SID
[absolutely trapped]
What do I have to do. What do you say.

MCLAREN
You shall kneel and I shall bless your low head.

SID
Yes, yes. Bless me. Yes.
I wanted to escape, but I can't.

MCLAREN
Crowns of more vested rank than your's have done it;
When the impious impetuous Henry wet
His knees in the snow at high Canossa
The Pope unbent that king, stood him up,
And blessed him. So I bless you now my boy.
   [Sid kneels, holding the telephone receiver above his head.]
Return to your kingdom of the TV.

["Bodies" plays, up to the repeat: "I am not an animal."]

Top^

SCENE

[SID in a taxi, going home from the Max’s gig after NANCY’s death.]

DRIVER
Boiy, dat Max’s Kansas City sure is some wild joint, mistah. Was you plain’ in dere wit’ dat raggedy bass guitar on yer lap? You’re a braver man than I am, that’s fer sure.

SID
Keep yer bleedin’ hole shut, old man.

DRIVER
Youse younsters. I ain’t seen one a youse who….

[SID whams the plastic divider ferociously. DRIVER shuts his hole.]

SID
And now, insensible and languid
As any milky tear, I watch awash
These blank solemnities and joyless vigours
Strut their little glittering while before me,
Prating: I am life! I am alive! Alive,--
Has not a salamander's tail, disjoined
From the sleek head, and fidgeting in the hard palm
Like threads of fire, as much claim upon
The grounds of self-animation as these
Who clamor ecstacies? The quiet nun
Or quaker staring walls down in her church
Commands vibrant meditations in a breath
Unbreathed; voiceless, and without even
So much as an eyelid's unconscious stir
That might annoy a flea, the devotee
Whirls the cosmos round her like a cloak
Invisible, and the kneeling stars in choir
Warm her hush contemplation, those white maids
Stirred to comfort an unmoving central calm.
And so, to cut short the dogs' whining yip
And defoliate the grievy wreath of death
Before its planted, blackly ribboned,
Above my Nancy's unuttering grave
And avoid the choked yodeling condolences
(Almost worse than the shrived chastisement
Of my sense!) and dolorous crowds of mourners
Stamping passports out of my private grief
For a photo-op of mourning stardom,
I'll pack myself into a holy cloister,
Eschew the tasteless ornaments of this world,
Revile in silence the thousand hands
Excited to touch, or anxious to please,
Holding nothing but their wanting of me,
Discard the thin sensuality of flesh
Poor in variety, lost in having,
And in saving spent, whereby we each
Mock ourselves in choosing one above another,
Exiled from all this aping mockery
And saved in being lost, found in being saved,
I'll quit this exchange of jibes, this commerce,
This weary commerce of weak weary souls,
Primping worn attitudes in new attire
And withdraw as the widowed spider
To her pall, mourning-gorged, defeat inflicted,
Damaged in spirit and in sense maligned,
Grim in prayer to the godless absolutes,
Nature's cheating majesty that cannot cease with us
And that way pay love. Drive on, drive on.

[They stop a moment later. ROCKETS REDGLARE gets in the taxi.]

SID
Yeh holdin’?

[“Bodies,” continues, repeats on the chorus: “bodies… bodies….”]
Top^

SCENE


[Three Cops pulling OD'd Sid from his squalid squat]

1ST COP
Here's one who's dead; and he shall not come again.

2ND COP
What use has life for the dead interred?
What function, purpose or fair proportion
Not disfigured by the rashness of their laying-in?

1ST COP
There's no flaw in nature great enough
To let imperfect man twice suspire within.

2ND COP
The bloods that did afflict him while he lived,
Beating like a sea within him, now curdle
In calm sourness by the broken body.

1ST COP
Passion's a curse.
The more passionate a man, the more cursed.

2ND COP
If we could only take dear note of how
These fluid essences betray our ends
We should not let their reigning tides
Overwhelm us whiles we live.

1ST COP
Temperate should be our conduct on this globe
Assessing every substance to its portion
Dull and wisely as a baker; no rush
Or pell-mell hurricanes of the brain
To shake and spice the doughty dough we knead.

2ND COP
Man may live by bread alone; I've seen it.
The whey-face never stricken, never overjoyed,
All novelty of expressive form forced
To obey the median.

3RD COP
No no no,
You deal rough justice to so abuse the dead.
Out of their icy Elysium they shed cold looks
Down on past faults, faded deficits,
And all that troubled their brief lives on earth.

[SID's version of "(I Did it) My Way" plays us to oblivion.]
Top^

SCENE


[Johnny Rotten, 1996, deciding to go on Reunion tour.]

ROTTEN
Sid's dead. What's it to me,
Twenty years on, far from those black barbs
That pulled his blackened heart apart.
Twenty years on, now look at me: a beer-bellied,
One-man extravaganza in my mansion by the sea.
The prick, the needle, of my amphetamined
And recorded voice has been homoginized for the mass;
Living Billie Joe, rinky-dink Rancid, and dead,
Disbanded Nirvana, the name Cobain
As common on the tongue as Coca-Cola,
Reduce perforce my infinite freedoms
To a moron's capering elegy in damp Seattle---
Everything I did undone to one scrunge of grunge....
I still won't be sold. Or told what to say!
What I've said, I've said. And what done, done.
They've murdered what was simple and living once,
       the whores,
Spray-painting their corporate logo door to door,
Hissing out their little As in purchased reds
And circling it with an easy, sleepy, unthinking O.
Oh, Sid's skinney skull must be puking in the grave!
One more mess you've left, ay, Sid?
All these minor worms from the record company
Keep wanting me and the oi boys to get back together,
Grandads of punk and all that crap;
I'm way too intelligent for that....
Once, slipped in the rubber vestments holyman
       McLaren prepared,
I was the Jah Rastifari, my slicked head in heaven
While sweet Sid and I matched wrists against cigarettes
In our burnt-out London bedsit, the window a faint frame
Of Athens trashed. The sun's an atombomb
Against my teenage-angst zapped blue brain.
I was that which danced above the dust,
All water and suavity, now crushed
By history's bronzed boot: here. Twenty years on,
What a bitter P. I. L. I've had to eat,
And swill it down with my cheap, American beer.
Nothing good can last. Every sweet memory frazzles,
Each blurry detail fading from reality-hard
To some dream-softness; the dream soaking the sheets
      like drool.
God knows, if he dared exist, I'm nobody's fool.
But maybe, maybe I could take it all apart again,
Destroy the whole rock n' roll world to its glittery,
Hackneyed core again; eviscerate its essence
Of copycat do-nothingness, slam the sham, again;
Zero it all back down filthy zilch, again.
We're still valid, those three piggyback hacks, and me.
Maybe. Maybe.... Oh Hell.......  why NOT???

[Tag lyric from B-Side of “Revolution in Classroom” plays, ending abruptly with an echo on the words, “In the beautiful world, you have to respond….”]
Top^

SCENE

[Johnny Rotten in Jamaica. 1977. “Sid’s dead” speech. This is an alternate ending to the play, and may be used instead of the 1996 ending above, or in conjunction with it. If used with it, the 1977 speech should be used first, and redundant lines duplicated in the 1996 speech sould be eliminated from the 1996 speech.]

ROTTEN
Sid's dead. What's it to me, ensconced by malice
Safe in Jamaica, far from those black barbs
That pulled his blackened heart apart. Apart
I'll stay for this eccentric while and follow
The quirk of my inner query
Until I learn in cold painful detail
The lesson and resolution of his death.
Once, slipped in the rubber vestments holyman McLaren prepared,
I was the Jah Rastifari, my slicked head in heaven
While sweet Sid and I matched wrists against cigarettes
In our burnt-out London bedsit, the window a faint frame
Of Athens trashed. The sun's an atombomb
Against my teenage-angst zapped blue brain.
I was that which danced above the dust,
All water and suavity, now crushed
By history's bronzed boot here: wingless, weird,
Stuck in the fat maggoty swamp at Bataan.
     [watching a large chameleon sliding on its rock]
I am like him whose mincing tongue
Scents the unsaying air, a jaded dragon
Unfurling in the sun, hissing its dissatisfaction
To warm palms in slow sounds---
Such a green ruin of sleep as myself
Is incapable to act.
   [pause]
Is this excellence extempore a receding grace
Made supremely visible by withdrawl alone?





EXTRANEOUS BITS

MCLAREN
I'll have all a chaos. All chaos
Unleashed in a stabbing minute unrehearsed....
With this intent, I shall in America with my protégé club prevail!
For years, Teddy Boys squeezed into my ripe Sex shop
Pear-pale, peach-sweet, thin and slinky in their kinked clothes
And now my charmed boys in their ragtag come marching out!
They dress in the fagged-out rags of my harassing dreams,
Hold a face I've pancaked against the furnace of light,
Wink at my blinkered insistence, chime to my timing
And let their voices uncork the change something in ME demanded.
A decade of manipulation's not enough.
To FEEL free is the only free there is, a sweet
Release from the clapped weight of intent
From which clapping hands raise and praise the supplicant.
John may be a bit of a sticker, the prick.
Sid will give and give, docile as a housewife.
Why look you, once his mind's made over, his body
Follows adoringly, even to the precipice.
So all-of-a-kind is his nature that intent
And action have no more division between them
Than wind and wave. What one directs, the other
Slavishly obeys; its a virtue that may serve
My turning of it.
These youths I shall to my alarming purpose bend,
Give voice to the vortex I feelingly live within.

[McLaren closes suitcase and wheels out of the room.]
["Anarchy in the UK," plays as we go to America.]
Top^