Paramount Theatre, Huntington LI NY, December 2, 2011

Ho, Ho , Ho my babies!

The roadies are donning their tights, the SMFs are full of holiday cheer, the truck is full of gas, and I’m full of Ibuprofen. So you know that it can only mean one thing…. that’s right, my Twisted brothers and sisters…

It’s time…here now….for your reading enjoyment…the elated, the infatuated, often emulated, occasionally constipated and highly overrated….the one…the only…
Official Armadillo Road Report: The Paramount, Huntington, NY, December 2, 2011

I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely ecstatic I was to hear the news that not only do we have one Christmas show this year, but to fend off the holiday blues and the dreaded post-show depression, we have a second one as well. The last time I made the long trek to Long Island, it was for our boys as Bent Brother, playing the now-closed Crazy Donkey. (rest in peace, O’ Metal Mule!). I was quite excited to be back in Strong Island, and this time I planned accordingly—the drive took just under 6 hours in Friday traffic.

Huntington is a wonderful, quaint and scenic little town with a lovely main street area. I enjoyed chatting it up with some friendly locals and their odd assortment of pedigree dogs, and sat on the bench outside the paramount with a cup of hot cocoa and a warm chocolate chip cookie as I listened to the sound check. I only heard bits of two songs for the sound check…”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Heavy Metal Christmas” but the sound was remarkably good on the outside, which meant we were in for some outstanding sound quality on the inside.

The theater itself was quite attractive inside and out—the exterior reminded me of the art deco era, and I guessed the age to be somewhere between 1920 and 1930—a highly loquacious local informed me that it used to be a movie theatre when he went there as a boy many years ago. [inside, one of the staff guestimated the theatre was built in 1929—so glad my art schooling wasn’t a complete waste!] A trolley shuttled guests from the parking areas to the theatre, completing the Norman Rockwell Christmas illusion.

Standing in line, I met up with fellow slamboarders: SMF Kathy, SMF Chris (aka Captain Howdy), SMF Cyndi, SMF Brian (aka MetalNY) and a new and fine local chap, Jerry, who was quite understanding as the five us chatted away at our mini-reunion. The tickets and signage stated that doors would open at 5 p.m., but alas, it was almost a chilly quarter til’ 6 when we were let inside…..only to find that once inside, there was a large, 360-degree cocktail bar, and a mysterious black curtain that was protected by an army of fluorescent yellow clad security officers. I imagine the goal was to keep us warm…and rack up a nice bar tab while we waited. Since our entourage doesn’t really drink, it was simply… a long wait staring at a black velvet curtain. I felt like a horse in the starting gate at The Preakness. I just wanted to bolt out as quickly as possible to secure a prime spot in the front row.

Gracious thanks again to Santa’s little helpers….and one of Santa’s little managers —who noticed this time around, I was on three legs—that is, due to a back sprain, I was hobbling about with a cane—and they gave me a 2 minute head start on the crowd, which was just enough time as I could see the sprinting SMFs right on my heels. But it was Armadillo by a nose, and the happy slamboarders five took our places and settled in for what the giant glowing marquee outside hailed as “Twisted Sister Christmas EXTRAVAGANZA!”

Inside the theater, it was an extremely high, vaulted ceiling [think: good sound!], exposed brick all around, large exposed industrial steel beams above, two large LED jumbo-screens stage right and left, bars the full length of the theater on both sides [read: no waiting!}, and balcony seating all the way around, with a few cocktail tables in the rear. A great area for merch, coatcheck and restrooms that didn’t require a GPS to find them—I really LOVE this theater! The place was aglow with red and green lights and it was beginning to feel a lot like Twisted Christmas!

Our show began at 7:05pm, with J.Rad taking the stage. The theater was rather empty still, and that always makes it a challenge for a warm-up band. You’ve got to give J.Rad some props—they played hard, fast and with as much energy as they could muster to a crowd still shaking off the cold. I was temporarily distracted by the photographer in the pit who was dressed like Dee in full makeup & sporting the pink and black—but more on him, later.

J.Rad did an excellent job overall….they played a very decent set, and I appreciated that they were a band that was just about the music. No frills, just rock and roll. They had a truly outstanding drummer (even if he was wearing argyle socks. Drummers are a peculiar lot, aren’t they?) Extra bonus points to the bassist who played the intro of one of their songs using a violin bow—very rich, deep sound. The lead singer reminded me (visually) of a young Freddie Mercury (with better teeth).

Musically—take a listen for yourselves at their website:

Good job gents—tough crowd but you played a great opener. My only two beefs? Too much bass—not enough vocals. We think it was likely just a sound board issue—but we often found the lead singer competing (and losing) to his bassist. Other beef: the lighting—they were backlit almost the entire time, and it would have been nice to see them a little better.

In the interlude, Twisted’s own manager extraordinaire , Mr. Danny Stanton, emerged wearing Grinch gloves and introduced a familiar face to many in attendance—Fingers, from WBAB, who in turn, brought out our very own, Mr. Mark Mendoza. Animal introduced some special friends of theirs who were next up—and the curtain opened to our next act, Jac and Jill.

Jac and Jill—named for the two sisters in the band, the guitarist and lead vocalist—came onstage with a dramatic entrance and an electric violinist. (called “Viper Violin—7 strings!) and played an opener a la Silver Bells that could have passed the muster for the transiberian orchestra. This band is a treat—not only musically, but visually as well. Let me first speak to the ear candy.

One of the toughest things for a band to do—is play to a half-empty theater as an opener. Even tougher…play a genre of music that is a bit different from the headliner. Then….add the third challenge: the lead singer, guitarist and violinist are all women. And by challenge, I am referring to the bias that some people still hold against women rockers. In spite of these obstacles, I thought Jac and Jill really rocked the house. I didn’t catch the name of the song, but the refrain was “This is me, without you”. [oh the story of my life, sing it, sister!] A decent rock and roll riff.

The lead singer and her guitarist sister showed off not only their vocal chops (which were impressive ) but also their other talents as they played keyboards and percussion. They did a cover of the Foo Fighter’s “Best of You” that was definitely a crowd favorite, and seriously—that viper violin!

I know what you’re thinking, yes, I do. Violin you say? That ain’t metal! But I will argue to disagree on this one. The Viper Violin added a really rich bass line—it was like having two basses—actually, more like one bass and one baritone. The result was a delightful robust sound…and it looked really neat too—like a little sparkly purple flying-V guitar….perched on the shoulder of a strikingly beautiful woman.

And that leads to the eye candy part of this. I want to be careful and respectful here—too often, women rockers get overlooked or dismissed in spite of their talent, by those who can only focus on their looks. So I want to be clear—this band definitely has talent—and….they are all absolutely gorgeous. All three of them! And fashionable too–the lead singer, Jac lyn Quatela, was decked out in a stunning white fur-line peacoat and later stripped down to something a bit more revealing….and then changed outfits to something a bit more festively inspired.

Her sister played a wicked guitar and percussion (decked out with Christmas lights, no less) as they played an homage to the “Nutcracker Suite”—I mean, seriously—Tchaikovsky! How many metal shows give you that?! I was so inspired—I did a ‘plié! (oh, look it up…) All I needed was a pink and black tutu. Uh, on second thought…..let’s deep six that idea.

Animal came back onstage and joined them on vocals for a special Christmas song—he certainly looked quite happy—and for a Christmas song, it really kicked ass! Kudos to Jill Winter (guitarist) and Brigid Bibbens (Viper)—fantastic job.
What amazed me the most? I *swear* they did not sweat one ounce. No, they didn’t perspire either. When they left the stage, they looked as stunning as the first moment they set on stage. A pleasure to listen to….and a pleasure to watch. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing them again in Times Square in two weeks.

And for the ladies, their bassist is called “Pretty boy”—their keyboardist and drummer are a handsome lot as well. (even if their drummer did play for “The Wiggles”)
So folks…. Come out and come early! Don’t be too cool for school, and meander in right before our boys in black and pink take the stage. Come a bit earlier, have an extra cocktail, and be sure to catch Jac and Jill live onstage. Here’s their website:

And I don’t know if Jac…and Jill…and Brigid..have any other sisters….but, uh…. Call me! I’m single!

We did have a brief moment of auditions for the “Douchebag of the Night” awards as SMFCyndi and some other young ladies were baptized by beer. Kudos to a very attentive security staff at the Paramount who escorted the inebriated attendee and her very apologetic boyfriend to the exit, stage right.

It was roughly 9:30 pm when “Long Way to the Top” finally gave us the old familiar cue that it was time to get wild. The curtains opened once more to reveal that over-the-top Christmas set (that you can also see in the latest Twisted Christmas in Vegas CD, available now!) and there were Twisted elves a plenty! I don’t ever remember seeing so many elves frolicking onstage. Including a pink and black adorned elf that looked remarkably like Twisted roadie and guitar technician Keith, who flashed us his jingle balls….I mean, bells….well, his balls were bells…. Well….whatever they were, they were jingly and green. {I have a urologist who can help you with that, my fine elfin friend.}

Atop the giant Christmas mechanical assembly line, an elf dropped a Diet Coke and a pair of sticks into the grinder, and the machine produced….A.J. Pero! Voila! A large animal print pelt…a turn of the wheel…and out struts the one and only, Mark “Animal” Mendoza.

A small purple guitar dropped into the mix…and out strolls….get ready for it… Mr. Jay Jay French in a tuxedo, with slicked back coifed hair, you might have heard my jaw drop except it was drowned out by the squeals of delight coming from the ladies around me! He was quite the sharp dressed man—very dapper and I was just waiting to hear him say, in his best Sean Connery:
“French. James French. Twisted, not stirred.”
He explained that the band was conflicted over the evening dress code—and then he explained his own internal conflicts, being a Jew in a Christmas show. We were again treated to his festive Christmas wreath on one side—menorah on the other—custom guitar. Sounds as good as it looks, I might add.

Eddie arrived onstage with his “gift wrap guitar”—fully adorned with working LED Christmas lights.

And of course, the one…the only….Dee Snider in his Santa suit….pulled onstage in his totally tricked out muscle car sleigh, powered by three very attractive, scantily-clad lovelies…and best of all? Santa Dee was wearing his war paint! He reached into his sack…..(uh, his SANTA sack) and tossed us candy and condoms. (For some reason, every year, everyone gives me their condoms. …do I look that lucky? Or just desperate? Don’t answer that, please.)

You’ve seen the setlist—we were treated to something off of their earlier albums as well as the Twisted Christmas. Even if you don’t like holiday music, there is no doubt that Twisted Christmas will absolutely knock your Christmas stockings off! Dee did comment that the last time they played Long Island, they claimed that it would be their last show there….and the last Christmas show he announced it was his last show in makeup…. so now they join the ranks of KISS and Ozzy…of doing the routine of “it’s our last show….NOT!” And believe me, Dee. We are GRATEFUL!

After a thunderous opener of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, they launched into a perfect rendition of “The Kids Are Back” and the sound was top notch from the first note. Fantastic– a few adjustments made early on and even in the front row, which can be hit or miss, we heard every part, every note. The vocals were flawlessly balanced and loud– I don’t know if it was the high ceilings, a good system or just the sheer expertise of George, the Twisted soundman, but the acoustics were perfect.

“White Christmas” treated us to a galloping guitar line…and two very naughty elves that were having entirely too much fun with the artificial snow maker. Those of you who live in snow climates are familiar with the expression: “Little flakes, big snow….big flakes, little snow.” Those were some damn big flakes. I inhaled enough soap snowflakes to clean my system out for a week. I must have coughed up Palmolive for an hour afterwards…. I think I was farting soap bubbles ! The photographer in front of me seemed to get the brunt of the flakes—she didn’t look very happy, but it amused the elf (and me) to no end!

The boys launched into “Destroyer” and if you have not heard that bass line played live, it shakes every bone in your body. I always expect all the glasses to start shattering back by the bar—the place damn near vibrates from the foundation up From there, we were treated to the now obligatory R-rated version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” In light of the all ages audience, Dee assured the parents in the audience, that “if your kid knows what fellatio means, you’ve got bigger problems…”

Eddie sported a new guitar—bright red with a huge mouth (teeth and tongue included) painted on it—so you can really say that his solos had some bite! Ugh. Sorry about that.

“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” sounded absolutely flawless—it’s one of my favorite songs to hear live—I just love the guitar riffs—and as we lifted our hands in praise—SMF Cyndi pointed out that in the front row, stage left, was an ASL signer. I didn’t recognize the fan as the rabbi who came to the show last Spring, but let me just say—you KNOW you’re good when even the deaf rock out to your music!

As the band played the opener to “The Price”, the fans began singing it a bar early as we traditionally do, prompting Dee to exclaim: ‘What am I? Vince Neil? I can sing it!” A perfect rendition, and the crowd actually had a few LIGHTERS…yes, Lighters! That’s old school, baby. Afterward, Dee gave some props to all the SMFs who brought kids, commenting, “They allow you people to procreate?!!”

He further explained that he was caught up in the Christmas spirit, “The spirit of giving was upon [him]” and that prompted the return of the Heavy Metal Maybelline because he “don’t wear this [shit] for anyone any more…” He did a few shameless plugs for some reality shows coming up. He couldn’t say the name but since I’m not under contract and the cats already out of the bag on YouTube…. Watch for Dee on Celebrity Apprentice. {I don’t know how Donald Trump will handle someone on his show who has better hair than him…] and we can expect to see Dee in the Celebrity Wife Swap as Dee and Flavor Flav swap families. Mr. Flav better behave, or I suspect Mrs. Snider will give him a whole new meaning to “Fight The Power”.

Jay Jay finally slipped into something more comfortable—I was getting a little worried seeing him in that tuxedo—I thought maybe he had to play at the Bar Mitzvah that I was attending the following day—and Eddie donned the familiar pink bullseye guitar—and their rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was absolutely fantastic. Eddie and A.J. sang the solos this year, and I can honestly say that I definitely preferred this version over any of their previous guests—with the exception of Lita Ford, of course. (You can never have too much Lita!) Both Eddie and A.J. have terrific voices, and it is always a special treat to hear them sing solo.

As they played the last verse, Dee jumped on Jay Jay’s shoulders…and launched himself right onto the floor as they erupted into the intro for “Burn In Hell.”
The lighting for the show was absolutely fantastic—and “Burn In Hell” gave us our spooky red glow with a demonic Dee growling out the opening line. There’s something about Dee in those red lights….in his makeup…. It just screams: “Scary clowns are coming to eat me in my sleep!” A.J. did his drum solo with drum medley—and I again put the challenge out to see if any SMF can name all the songs he did a few bars of.

“Silver Bells” has become my favorite Twisted tune to hear live—you have GOT to hear (and see) Animal’s bass solo. It is BEYOND phenomenal—it’s heavy metal jazz—beautiful and precise, yet at the same time, improvisational and brilliant. One hand skillfully plays while the other….how do I poetically put this? Pounds the living shit out of the instrument! He was playing a bass I’d never seen before—a deep red starburst—absolutely gorgeous bass and a sound that was powerful and deep.

Dee then announced that it was time for a special moment…… and then had to look around because the rest of the band was in absentia….but the doors opened and ….
Out came Santa Claus! Unlike the previous years, this Santa Claus was not only SOBER, he was wearing PANTS! We were very, very grateful. He had a real beard….traditional long regal red coat…and you know, I think that may have been the REAL Santa from the North Pole! Or as Dee explained…kidnapped from the Salvation Army!

The gentle, soft-spoken Santa asked the band what they wanted this year. Animal got his Christmas wish as Santa had his elves bring onstage, a truly Mendoza –sized handgun—this Luger was about 6 feet by 10-feet—someone’s got a photo of it I hope! Animal even exclaimed—finally he had a gun that would fit in his holster!

A.J. explained that his motorcycle hit a deer recently (good grief AJ! Be careful out there brother!), and so he asked Santa for a new bike. The elves then ushered onstage, a rather large bicycle made out of a taxidermied deer! AJ wondered aloud if that was the deer he crashed into—I certainly hope not—because judging from the nose, I’d say that Santa won’t have Rudolph guiding his sleigh this year!

Eddie couldn’t decide what he wanted for Christmas, so he asked Santa to surprise him. Santa gave Eddie a special holiday gift—a condom—not just any condom, but an Eddie-sized condom. In fact, you have probably fit Eddie inside the damn thing! It was huge—I wish I could tell you Eddie’s response, but we were laughing so loud we missed what he said!

Jay Jay told Santa that he wanted tickets to the Broadway show, War Horse. Leave it to Jay Jay to ask for something that even Santa couldn’t get…..but this Santa was no slouch, he had his elfs drag out a ten foot toy Trojan horse (PUH-LEASE tell me someone has a photo of this!) with elf roadie Keith riding atop it!
And finally….Dee.

Dee shared with the crowd that he already received a Christmas gift—a beautiful second grandchild–a new bundle of joy, his grandson, Cassidy! (Congratulations again to the entire Snider family) But when he motioned Santa close….and got ready to whisper in his ear…”you see, Santa…what I want…” then screamed:

I thought poor Santa was gonna have the big one! I saw the two elves carrying poor St. Nick off the stage.
When it came time for the audience participation portion of “I Wanna Rock,.” I’ve got to give my disclaimer first. There were SO many funny Dee-isms, so many good one-liners, as fast as I could jot down in my shorthand, he was zinging them out left and right. It was so damn hilarious and fast, that SMF Cyndi and I were like taking your parents to the movies… “what did he say?” “Did you hear that last line? Eh?”

He commented that the audience participation part of this song is easy… “So easy a trained DOG could do it… I know….I’ve seen it on YouTube…”
At one point, Dee looked down at the Dee look-alike photographer in the pit and exclaimed:
“You’re a good looking guy….. I thought I was looking at a reflective surface…until I realized, OH! There’s two of us!”
He launched into a killer version of “I Wanna Rock” and noticed that the crowd in the upper balcony was still sitting down. He commented: “I know you’re OLDER….I know…you’re SAVING it for later… THERE’S NO SAVING IN HEAVY METAL!!!”
And then….
“And THIS guy’s taking notes…are you taking notes?”
And it took a full minute to realize….oh shit….he’s talking to me. Due to my back (which I might add, was in absolute agony at this point) I was putting all my weight on the front barricade, and because the light made it hard to see, I had to lean forward to scribble my notes instead of doing it discreetly as I try to do….
“You didn’t get enough in Finland?”
I swear, I had a moment where I though he might snatch my notepad out of my hands and shove it where the sun don’t shine….and I ain’t talkin’ about Finland in the Wintertime, either….
Then he turned the house lights up, got the audience to get up on their feet….rock out to “I Wanna Rock”, except they started to sit back down again, prompting an absolutely classic Dee rant of:
“No, No….Don’t sit DOWN again…. Christ, go get a frickin’ gurney for that guy…” and as he got the crowd to scream rock and clap, he said “See….You can do two things at once….spit out the gum…”
And then…
“Are you STILL taking notes? What are you, a freakin’ reporter?”
Uh. Well. Yes. Sort of.
“Here….. I …..WANNA….ROCK…… write that down!”
And….I did.

And I almost wet my pants.

I hope you all appreciate the danger and risks I face as your road reporter.

The band closed with two encores—the hilarious Heavy Metal Christmas…introduced as “Premature singulation” The elves onstage were frolicking so much with the band that they almost missed the entrance to the song. At least now they don’t need those cue cards to get through all twelve days of Christmas.

Dee introduced the boys in the band—the sounds of Christmas Thunder, A.J Pero……Eddie”Fingers” Ojeda from Da Bronx….Mark “Animal” Mendoza, who is also from Strong Island…and…
“the man who was born and raised in that rent-controlled apartment…his kid’s kids will die in that rent controlled apartment….they’ll need a roach bomb to get his ass out of that rent controlled apartment..” yes, the one, the only…the man who cleans up quite well…Jay Jay French.

And of course, our lovable (and sometimes terrifying) but always entertaining and hardworking Dee Snider, the man whose look has been stolen by Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga….and the British press described as “Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid”….which Dee added, “was a real insult to Sarah Jessica Parker…..”

They brought out Kevin– the brilliant set designer, his band of merry stagehands and all of the road crew, including manager Danny Stanton, to get the accolades they all so rightly deserve—the hardest working crew in the business.

The closer of the night was “We’re Not Gonna Take it”….which I confess, always feels a bit déjà vu at these Christmas shows after hearing “Oh Come O’ Ye Faithful”, but even so, it just brings the house down. Kudos to a very well behaved crowd, an excellent and attentive staff at the Paramount, and a shout out to all of the slamboard folks in attendance.

There is one Christmas show left this season….the Best Buy in Times Square is a fantastic theatre…you will HATE yourself if you miss Twisted Christmas on Broadway. There was great merch to be had—CDs and DVDs autographed by the entire band, autographed posters, limited edition Twisted Christmas concert tees, TS santa hats—all sorts of goodies for you to buy for the SMFs on your Christmas list. Please folks—catch the bus, catch a train, catch anything but a cold…..and come on out to join us on December 17th!

And with that, this is your faithful road reporter, trotting off to have some more pain relievers and rest up for the 17th! See you on the road, my babies!


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