My Sex Pistols Story
As I turned toward the door, so an individual shot passed me like the speed of light. It took me a second or two to get my thoughts together and realize that the person had in fact been Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols drummer. I watched as he opened the door and was then gone.
Now I was excited as I knew that what I'd waited for, for so long was only moments away. I took a couple of steps and then opened the same door. Next thing I knew I was standing under a threshold to a new room. It's what was within these four walls that really got me going. For not twenty feet in front of me was Johnny Rotten himself. I didn't pay any attention to what surrounded him, only that I knew some four or five others were standing around. Alone and as if purposefully separated from the rest, he sat in the middle of a large couch. His cold, destructive, uncaring eyes glared into mine like he was trying to burn a hole through my head. And talk about a rush, for it wasn't his glare that bothered me, it was more to the point that I was literally in front of this man and it was just him and I. I'd seen that angry face of his over and over again for many years on film, but to suddenly have that rage and single entity with all of his attention directed solely at me, was something else.
I started to slowly walk toward him. In my hand and in its case was my camera, which like I had been to so many places. Could I get this one shot that I'd waited so long to get? With that in mind I began my speech. "Johnny, I've waited for over fourteen years for this momen...." and before I could get another syllable out of my mouth I was suddenly paralyzed in mid sentence, as if struck down by a bolt of lightning and my words pinned helplessly to the ground. His rude interruption was straight forward and blunt. "Who do ya think you are waltzing in ere like you own the fuckin place, go on, get the fuck out, get out."
That was it! As quickly as I'd entered the room I was leaving it. His demeaning, demoralizing tone had stripped me of everything I'd had to say. But I'll tell ya, the thoughts that shot through my head in those last few moments before I turned to leave that room were so conflicting. Part of me was so fucking pissed that I'd spent so long trying to pursue such a goal and it had ended so quickly and in this way. Yet my other side knew it'd been well worth it and that I'd been rewarded greatly for my efforts at being so patient. I mean lets face it, I'd gained a rare back stage pass, I'd actually managed to get back stage without it, I'd met Johnny Rotten in person and if anything I'd had that pleasure of being told to get fucked by him.
When I reached the door to open it, I turned and quickly scanned the room. Over in the far right corner was Paul and it looked like he really felt sorry for me. I looked across at him and said, "Paul what are the odds of a photo before I leave." "Oh, I might come down later," he said. With those last few words I closed the door and left. I now felt more sad than ever as I began to descend that stairwell that I'd spent so long pursuing earlier. Reaching the bottom I noticed the same crowd who I'd been around before. I felt sorry for them and hoped they got further with the asshole upstairs than I had. And with that last thought I started to cross the broken cup cemetery toward an exit. I'd had enough of waiting around for one night and was quite certain that Paul wouldn't be coming down anytime soon. As I was about to take my first step down the exiting stairwell a gut feeling came over me. Something told me to look back across the huge ballroom one last time. And to my surprise Paul had indeed followed me down the stairwell like he'd said. Suddenly I was filled with such a rush and was so so happy again. I literally flew back across that floor and within a few seconds was at his side. "Paul, Paul, just one photo, that's all I ask." "Oh, all right then, OK, get on with it then," and that was all he said. With those last promising words I extended out my left arm and gave it my best shot.
This is my story of how I got one photograph of me and a SeX PisToL. Since taking that picture I've thought about the events that happened that night over and over again. I've even had dreams where I've met up with Johnny for a second time under similar circumstances. In each one I ask if I can take a picture of him. But in every dream something tragic happens, like there's no film left in the camera, or the batteries die, or I can't find my camera and so on. But the more I've analyzed his actions the more I've concluded one simple thing. Johnny Rotten in my eyes, is really a contradictive asshole. Maybe I'm wrong and that's fine. But wasn't this the man who promoted the philosophy of "think for yourself, do your own thing and don't be governed by the old order, just get rid of it." Well it seems rather odd doesn't it that after thinking for myself, doing my own thing and saying fuck this shit there's an alternative here, I'm then belittled and squashed by this so called Godfather of it all and being looked down upon like I'm a piece of worthless shit.
As much as I love the Sex Pistols, where would he be if not one person had ever bought a single record. I personally believe that that's what he forgets. It was because of (some of) US that got him to the status that he holds today. I've also asked myself this question. "If he were in my shoes that evening, what would he of done?" There's an interesting scenario for ya, eh? To put it bluntly I think he would of done exactly as I did and gone for broke and given it his best shot.
Movie: "Filth & Fury." Requote Johnny Rotten: “I’d always talk to the audience in a one to one way after gigs. Where do you live? What’s life like for you? Absolute basics!”
Really Mr. Rotten. That’s not what I saw. I came across an arrogant prick to put it bluntly.
Johnny Rotten, your full of shit my friend.
Well, that's my story and as contradictory as it sounds, I'll always love the Sex Pistols. "God save the queen my son." I thank you and hope you enjoyed this reading.
And they say every picture has a story to it. This is the story to Paul Cook and I. Aragon Ballroom, Chicago IL. Sat 8-17-96
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