They Came From the Sea

By Skylaire Alfvegren

LA Weekly: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 - 12:00 am

“I just wanted to mix glam, science fiction, transvestites and surfing all together,” says Robbie “TomKat” Quine, explaining how the band he fronts came to be. Though perched atop 6-inch black stilettos and wearing a vinyl jockstrap that showcases interesting ink on his derrière, he radiates something genuine.

While not possessing Quine’s sex-kitten vibe, guitarist Bernard Yin is both glamorous and sincere in a different way. He does his best to avoid telling you he’s been the lightning rod behind some of our more important local bands (Samba Hell, Medicine, Permanent Green Light).

Together, Quine and Yin have created Sex With Lurch, one of the best shows in town. The two had a vision, and had collaborated on something called Medusa Head Trip. But the proper elements for greatness weren’t there, and as a result, Sex With Lurch “just kinda coagulated,” says Yin.

Sex With Lurch is a band only Southern California could produce. Well, Hollywood and the beach, anyway. Chalk it up to surfing. And Dark Shadows. And “Bowie, Bowie, Bowie,” says Quine, who writes beautiful surf-goth songs with beautiful lyrics (and did we mention the beautiful giant spirals tattooed on his butt?). And chalk it up to Yin, whose guitar work bleeds a watery, Eastern sort of eternity into the music.

Quine and Yin both surf. “Surfing is very Zen,” they say. Beautiful things like life and good music are both absurd and sublime. And so very complicated. Bowie and Ronson, yin and yang. Perhaps Sex With Lurch could be explained this way: Quine, the consummate front man, is a Leo. Yin is a Pisces. Together, they’ve created a family. Meaning you need to see Sex With Lurch live to understand the whole thing.

“What gets everyone turned on when they go to see a show, like what gets the kids turned on when they go to the Warped tour, or when people went to see Roxy Music, is that it’s a little bit nasty and raunchy — that’s a good feeling,” says Yin. “That’s what makes playing guitar or beating on the drums fun. We love the beauty that a musical instrument can create, but we’re also there to throw in a hormonal, visceral element.”

“Yeah, rock & roll should be sexy,” says Quine.

There’s a story behind everything, including the cast of Sex With Lurch. There are the Lurchettes. “It started off one queen at a time,” Quine says of Electra Lux, Brandy Warhol and Lady Dante, the band’s transvestite backup singers. Yes, there’s also a Lurch, although the band is not about having sex with him. Exceedingly tall and gaunt, and made up like the Addams family’s butler, the Lurch in question deejayed in Orange County under that moniker for two years before a friend brought him to a Sex With Lurch show. He can be glimpsed doing “a go-go zombie shuffle” and playing theremin directly behind Yin onstage. Bassist Dawn Laureen and drummer Roy Staley add the perfect surf-oomp beats to the SWL experience. Recently, the band has also been performing with Aniela, a cellist.

And then there’s the enigmatic Paul K, seen onstage perhaps dressed as a chicken and painting a portrait of Sartre.

“At recent shows, I’ve been passing out propaganda,” he says. “That’s what I’ve decided my role is, Minister of Propaganda, although I haven’t bothered telling the band that. The first was attached to a photo of Robbie’s butt.”

It said, in part: “As Independence Day approaches, I hope that we will all look at Robbie’s butt as a reminder of the freedoms and liberties we as Americans are privileged to have. We may take Robbie’s rump for granted; it is lovely, but hardly worth further consideration. In reality, however, it’s nothing short of a symbol of national pride. Those swirls on Robbie’s derrière are shining emblems of the dreams and goals of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and all other great Americans who dreamed of and fought for a better and freer world. People in Communist China do not get to have butt tattoos. And even if they did, they would not be able to display them with the pride Robbie does. Nor would they have been able to in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. Our great nation was founded upon the premise of personal freedoms, freedoms to express ourselves as we see fit. And Robbie’s behind is the epitome of that freedom, pronouncing to all the world the joie de vivre with which Robbie approaches life, in the only nation in history which enjoys such sweeping rights to pursue nonconformity.”

Sex With Lurch: nonconformists all. Ride their ocean of latex and midnite movie monsters. Release the bats, grab your longboard and come out to see them play.

The League of Western Fortean Intermediatists

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on Facebook