He dangled it between us like proof of a dirty deed, his face impassive, tape recorder thrust forward, waiting for my response. And then I realized what it was that he was holding.
I choked on my own surprise, hiccuping laughter, spitting and sputtering, wanting to question and answer, interrogate and explain all at once, but all I managed was a strangled... "OH MY GOD!!!"
Oister, that wily motherfucker.
Oister was the theme of our day in Tampa. Talk about one person making a big impression, shit, this guy, all 130 pounds of him, was the talk of the van for days. But in the morning, as we drove, we didn’t even know he existed.
Florida's roads are ripe with little citrus stands. Every 10 minutes we’d pass one, usually a little wooden farmer’s-market like table covered with oranges and grapefruit, sometimes a strange gift shop that resembled the kind of log cabin you’d imagine finding in a swamp- a hodge podge of cheap wood slapped together with dingy windows, decorated with unexpected treasures (treasures?) such as child sized rag dolls. (Nothing says "Florida" like a 4 foot rag doll!) Between the shops were orange groves with short fat trees hung so heavily with oranges that they looked like ornaments put up by overzealous 7 year olds. On the drive to Tampa we were stuck on a toll road and missed all of these strange little stops, but we did stop at a rest stop and... stop. Let me tell you about Pames’ shirt.
In front of the rest stop was a citrus stand captained by a chinless, chicken necked, blond butt-cutted surfer-meets-nascar-fan of about 20 who, as Pames and I walked by, spoke to Pames with a burnout’s deep drawl.
"Yeahhhhh! Ever been to Cali man?"
Pames and I simultaneously followed the dude’s eyes to Pames' shirt which read "Weed, California" over a big pot leaf. Pames replied, smirking, "Naw man."
The dude continued excitedly as if Pames hadn't spoken, "Yeah man, I really wanna go. I’m going to-" he could hardly suppress his glee, "AMSTERDAM later this year." Then he wiggled his eye brows in a ‘know-what-I-mean’ sorta way.
That was our brush with the local culture of whereverthehellwewere, FL. Impressive.
Our show in Tampa was hot and small but fun, as shows in Tampa usually are. We got to play with Axis again which was a huge treat. On the ride to show I read aloud an interview with them in Karim’s zine, Coffin Nail, and our love for them was cemented. Here’s our set from that night:
Oister, whose band VegXAll (a seething political/vegan 2 piece that reminded me of fastcore of years gone by, political clips playing from a sampler and all) opened the show with their first ever performance, asked me if he could interview me for his zine. His zine, Spying On The Scene, had a few issues out which we had already picked up and I agreed. But first came the post-show parking lot hang outs.
I stumbled out of the venue soaked in sweat and out of breath, convinced that we played like shit and I sang like a wheezing bag pipe. I'd say about 3 out of every 5 shows we play I think we've sounded awful. Immediately after the set I become moody (much to my later embarrassment) and have even been banned (by Dave) from talking to band mates because I get so negative. ("We were tight tonight."... "Areyoufuckingkiddingme?!") When people come up to me after we play and say "good job!" I think they're doing it out of sympathy. And I really thought we blew in Tampa. Like, so bad that we shouldn't even be a band. But then I saw the video we took, and thought, "Hey... that sounds good!" and realized that all these years and all these shows we haven't sucked. Huh.
Tom is an old friend of ours and one of the dudes who set up the show. He sang for a band called Gator Bait, runs Significant Records, is a proud father, and a 40 year old straight edge kid. Talk about an impressive hc resume. Last time we played Tampa he brought his daughter, and I, always having my face paints with me on the road (I work as a face painter and one never knows when one may need to become a zebra), painted her up as a leopard. I could wax poetic again about the hardcore community, about growing up and staying true, about family and friendship, about laughter shared... but I shant. Just know that it was a very cool moment during our Straight Edge Revenge cover when our friend Kotu, who had a couple years ago written to me about his disillusionment with hardcore, grabbed the mic, and when Tom sang along with a smile on his face.
(Tom, Dave, Me, Pames, Kotu, Axis, Dustin)
The parking lot slowly emptied and it was time for my interview. Oister and I went around the corner of the building where he pulled out a tape recorder from like, 1985, and a list of questions. It started tame enough, with the usual "What made you go vegan?" type queries, but then came this:
"How do know JP, and what do you think of him?"
A curious question for a zine I thought, but answered. We met him on tour and stayed with him and I think he's a swell guy.
"OK, a couple of weeks ago I was talking to JP about this show and he called your band 'shitty metalcore'. NOW what do you think of him?"
WOAH THERE NOW! After I shouted my disbelief (“He did NOT say that! Really? REALLY?”) and rebuttal to the accusation (where I compared us to all of our influences [which we sound nothing like] while shouting, “Are THEY metalcore?”), he quickly followed the verbal assault (!) with another inquisi-sucker punch.
"I’ve never used a prop for an interview before, but..."
From his bag he pulled a fluffy, blue sponge.
I experienced in the space of about 2 seconds a spectrum of emotions that, were I to explain them by their place on the color scale (and then place that color scale on my cheeks), would start in pink and quickly dive into a deep, burning red. I stammered, “Is it...?!”
Oister held in his hand the infamous LOOFAH.
"I bought it off ebay. I even have the original packaging, and the photos that came with it.”
The story of the loofah is as follows: On tour in 2009 we stayed with our buddy, Mean Pete. We all took showers in his bathroom, and when it was my turn I took my soap and, disliking using my hands to suds (but finding a sponge on tour to be impractical) saw his fluffy, blue sponge hanging on the shower head. I pulled it down, soaped it up, washed myself, rinsed, hung it back in place, toweled off, and went to sleep. The next morning as we were readying to leave, Pete came screaming into the living room,"WHO USED MY LOOFAH?! WHO USED MY LOOFAH?!" After realizing that Pete meant his fluffy blue sponge, I said, "Oh, I did. Why?"
"I'm a fucking germaphobe! Now I have to throw it out and buy a new one! I can't believe you! Fuck you!"
Pete went on and on and on about the unforgivable and disgusting thing I'd done while we all laughed at his distress. I offered him $.99 to buy a new "loofah" (no one would listen to me on that this sponge was NOT a loofah*) and he refused. Then, in the midst of his cootie fit, I could almost see the light bulb pop on above his head. He said, "Actually... fuck you, come here. You're getting me a new loofah."
Pete grabbed his camera, handed me the fluffy blue sponge, and directed me back to the crime scene (bathroom). "Hold that up and smile." I did. He walked off smirking and said, "I'm listing this shit on ebay. 'Loofah rubbed all over the body of Davin from Kingdom' Some creepy dude is gonna buy this. Fuck you." I barely believed him and cared less than I believed, and we packed into the van and left without a thought about the sponge (though the debate on whether or not it is ok to use another person's sponge raged on.)
A few hours later the texts and phone calls from my friends started rolling in asking me what the hell was going on with my loofah. ("It's a sponge!") By the time we got to our show in Atlanta, unbeknown to us, the "loofah" had swept hardcore and practically everyone but us had seen or heard about the listing. No, we didn't know how big it'd gotten, and we didn't find out until we started playing, until the moment I said, "We're Kingdom from-" and was cut off by people shouting, "LOO-FAH! LOO-FAH! LOO-FAH!"
Pete had posted about the fluffy blue sponge's ebay listing EVERYWHERE. Every message board. Every internet outlet. Everywhere. His description was hilarious and insane, the snarky tongue-in-cheek sales pitch of a bitter germaphobe, and the picture of the product was the one of me, grinning as instructed in his bathroom.
Quickly the bids started, and more texts rolled in as we drove from state to state telling me about it. Misinformation spread. People on the internet started talking shit. "Can you believe that girl Davin is selling her own loofah? She's got such an ego!" and "First Colin of Arabia sells his beard, now Davin from Kingdom is selling her loofah... I hate what hardcore's become." I watched this whole thing unfold in the few minutes I could steal away after shows to check online, laughing at the absurdity yet finding myself growing increasingly angry as people wrote things about how me and my loofah "killed hardcore."
The "loofah" sold for $4 to, as Pete told me, "an unknown person." $4 was not a giant sum, but juuuust enough to be weird.
2 years later, in the lot behind the venue in Tampa, I was meeting, nay, getting interviewed, nay, getting verbally assaulted by that unknown... Oister!
"I bought it so that I could ask you for the story in an interview."
I'm not sure how my stuttering and yelling will translate to text, but I hope it was worth it.
After the interview Oister offered me the sponge back, which I considered (so that I could mail it to Pete) but in the end said, "No, it's yours."
We left the show with a new friend named Nick and went to JP's house. JP the shit talker.
We walked in the door and I didn't even make it to the living room before I saw JP and said, "Did you tell a punk kid that we're a "shitty metalcore band" 2 weeks ago?!" JP, in shock, said, "NO! What?" and I told him the story, and awaited the answer. He almost fell over laughing, and Nick, and Ben (JP's roommate) also doubled over in disbelief, everyone gasping, "Oister said that??!!" JP vehemently denied the entire thing, and and everyone laughing, and everyone telling Oister stories, we ate.
JP had a pizza waiting for us (mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, and daiya cheese) which we devoured, then we stayed up well past the point of our eyelid's cooperation, telling our worst ever tour stories- the ones full of crazy people doing things that were at the time terrible, but in the retelling hysterical. In the morning we all went to vegan Vietnamese food (meeting up with other Tampa locals, all of whom almost died hearing the Oister/JP/Loofah story) and talked about our first and most embarrassing screen names (Dustin's Bust-A-Dusta was a fan favorite) and silly hardcore names (like Dave's "Gay Dave".) Then it was back into the van.
*This is a loofah:
This is a fluffy sponge (called a "pouf" to be specific):