Gorgeous Frankenstein brings sexy back… from the grave

With his washboard torso finely coiffed devilock and imposingly ghoulish makeup — not to mention an unforgettably verbose name — former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein has been an icon of horror punk for a quarter century. Defining the genre with his esthetic dominance wild guitars and trademark crunch his fingers have laid the fretwork for some of the Misfits’ most memorable tunes including “Night of the Living Dead” “Skulls” and “Astro Zombies.”

Yet within his two-plus decades with the band von Frankenstein’s fingers have been the only things doing the talking. Innumerable inches of column space have been dedicated to the endless bantering between former band mates singer Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only but von Frankenstein has remained mysteriously silent.

Until now. Von Frankenstein finally breaks through his verbal reticence with horror punk trio Gorgeous Frankenstein. Originally formed merely as a means of creating original “performance” music for his wife wrestling personality and exotic dancer Gorgeous George the band has been gaining recognition over the past year due mostly to the guitarist’s musical pedigree. This attention has provoked an eponymous full-length released by Evilive/Megaforce and an opening slot on Danzig’s last American tour. Von Frankenstein sighs at the attention.

“After all this time I really just wanted to do my own thing” he explains. “I wrote some of the songs from the [Misfits’] Michale Graves era but these are all my own work. My wife was a stripper and I’d tag along to watch her dance. I thought that if she was in a band and this was her music playing I would be so into [it]. That’s how the idea started. Then I sat down with Glenn in his office. He said ‘Where do you want to go with this?’ I was like ‘I want it to play in strip clubs.’ He sat back and said ‘Now you’ve got it!’”

Featuring tunes such as “Made in Hell” “DevilGirl” and “Speedwitch” Gorgeous Frankenstein unite the ’50s-pop influence of Famous Monsters-era Misfits with a sultrier more decadent rockabilly flavour. When wrapped in von Frankenstein’s trademark horror-punk shroud even the strapping fiend is stunned by the final results.

“[The music] is weird” he laughs. “I don’t listen to rockabilly at all but I write like that for some odd reason. It comes off as that but it works. I’ve seen people approach my wife and ask about the music playing in the club. They like it so they go buy it listen to it and fantasize about the girl they saw dancing while they’re hanging out with their wife. I guess the speed of the songs is for strippers.”

Completed by Blitzkid ex-pats Argyle Goolsby (bass and vocals) and Jesco Devilanse (drums) and featuring Gorgeous George’s burlesque performance during live shows Gorgeous Frankenstein is as expected a primarily horror-based outfit. Yet von Frankenstein notes that there is most certainly a provocative twist.

“Of course I have elements of ghouls and devils in the lyrics” he says. “The horror thing came from when we were kids so it’s ingrained in me. The imagery of horror violence and brutality — all that shit I write about — is just great art. It’s compelling; something for kids to say ‘Wow that’s sick!’ It’s not about politics or being a gang-banger… stupid shit like that. It’s fun and timeless. But most of the music is about strippers — well my wife. She is Gorgeous Frankenstein.”

In a potentially uncomfortable situation Gorgeous Frankenstein finds von Frankenstein pairing up with former bandmate Danzig as producer and band manager. Those in the know might recall The Misfits’ internal power struggles between Only (von Frankenstein’s brother) and Danzig which led to the ultimate demise of the classic Misfits lineup and an irreparable split between the two. Initially siding with blood von Frankenstein eventually defected from Only’s camp to work with Danzig. Opting out of airing familial dirty laundry von Frankenstein is blunt.

“As far as I’m concerned there are no Misfits anymore. There could have been but there doesn’t seem to be a chance of that in the future. The only person that could make the Misfits happen again is Danzig. The business between Jerry and I… is our business. I love him to death. He’s my brother but I just can’t work with him anymore. I don’t think many people can.”

To that extent von Frankenstein makes no bones about where Gorgeous Frankenstein’s allegiances lie. Taking an active hand in song arrangement band affairs and knob-twiddling von Frankenstein admits that were it not for Danzig’s active interest neither the band nor von Frankenstein himself would exist. He is thankful that after years of disconnection the two have rekindled their camaraderie at the urging of Gorgeous George.

“She had been a friend of [Danzig’s colleagues] for awhile and said hi to him for me. He said ‘Doyle’s cool… I’ve always liked him.’ Eventually we started working together. Bottom line: if he didn’t help me there would be no Gorgeous Frankenstein. The man gave me my career twice. He taught me how to play guitar and let me join the Misfits when I totally sucked. I wasn’t good enough to be in the band… I’m still not good enough to be in the band. He gave me a career back then and he gave me a career right now. He created me. If he wants something done I’ll do it.”