Mickey Avalon sounds embarrassed.
He chuckles when I note that I’ve just watched three Mickey Avalon music videos in a row and couldn’t help but notice that all three videos feature him being ravaged by mostly-naked women while he raps into the camera like they’re not there. From video to video, it’s the same. There’s different scenery, slightly different lyrics. But every time the babes — skinny and leggy and painted up like hookers — paw at him like starving lionesses in a meat locker.
“First of all, I think the videos are kind of played out, ” he explains over the phone from his Los Angeles home. “I haven’t had much control over a lot of it. I kind of let the director do what they’re going to do.
“The next [video], I don’t want to do that, ” he adds. “Don’t get me wrong, I like hot, half-naked girls. But it gets lame.”
But that’s the imagery with which Mickey Avalon — born Yeshe Perl — has built a career. Since his 2006 self-titled debut record, Avalon has won fans with shock. He writes swaggering, suggestive songs (like “My Dick, ” the musical equivalent of an extended “Yo Mama” joke), performs said songs onstage with backup dancers willing to strip down to bedazzled underwear and raps like he’s just rolled out of bed and coughed down a handful of benzos. Avalon tries hard to be in-your-face — and for a lot of people he is. The man himself — with a pelvic tattoo that tells “Thank You” to any girl going downstairs — is slightly gross and unapologetic. And, it turns out, a lot of people want to soak up a little of his controversy.
Avalon’s backstory makes him legitimately kind of an iffy dude. Raised in Hollywood by his weed-dealing mother and junkie dad, he started selling drugs at a young age. In his 20s, he moved to Portland, Ore., where he acquired a raging heroin addiction — a habit so strong that he resorted to prostitution to support it.
His discovery as an emerging rapper was a fluke. After moving back to L.A., Avalon befriended former MTV veejay Simon Rex — who put Avalon’s songs about life in the gutter in front of record executives. Soon enough, Avalon was singing about his dick to crowds of screaming teenage girls. And though he was clean (“I drink and smoke weed — I’m not Alcoholics Anonymous clean, ” he says), the party life he’d worked so hard to get away from was where he found his strongest fan base.
That’s been a blessing and, simultaneously, his biggest struggle.
“I guess it took me awhile to be able to say no to people after the show, ” he says. “I did my job and I don’t need to hang out later. … I’ll play the show and maybe I’ll go to the meet and greet. I’ll sign their T-shirts or their tits.
“For the people at the show, that’s their big night of the week or the month, whereas I have to do that every night. I can’t do it, ” he says.
It isn’t the only bait-and-switch that Avalon plays on his fans. He laughs when I ask him why so many women like his music — considering its misogynistic content. He admits his lyrics are the thoughts of a man. He’s not sure why women like it, too, but he’s thankful. He doesn’t want to sing to dudes.
“The songs aren’t necessarily written toward women. But I know I perform more towards women, ” he says. “I guess I’m lucky because I don’t know what I would do if there were a bunch of dudes out there. Sometimes I don’t even really like looking at guys in the audience.”
In fact, he says he’d prefer if his crowds were all women. Grown women. At his early all-ages shows, the crowds would be filled with young adolescent girls.
“I used to kiss all the girls in the front row, and it’d be like braces in your mouth, ” he says, sounding disgusted. “It would be like, ‘Oh, f---.’”
At 36, Avalon — who lives alone and spends a lot of time by himself when he’s not on tour — is a bit of a surprise. He’s confident in his music and his image. But the way people interpret him isn’t always right.
Well, except one thing: He gets a lot of ladies.
“I feel like I got the same caliber of girls before this as I do now.”
And that’s one thing he wouldn’t change.
Mickey Avalon with Daethstar and Wildcard • Fri, Nov. 30, at 8:30 pm • Knitting Factory • $17 • All-ages • ticketfly.com • 244-3279