Flipping channels the other night I happened across an interview with Alice Cooper. I recognized him right away. He’s that rock star who’s been around forever, the one with macabre stage theatrics that feature giant snakes, guillotines, electric chairs and fake blood. The songs are staples on rock radio, “Schools Out,” “Poison,” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” He had a record called, “Welcome to My Nightmare.” I figured I knew most of what there was to know about the guy, and anything left probably qualified as some variant of twisted hedonistic rock excess.
Watching the interview for two minutes though I learned that Alice Cooper isn’t his real name, he was born Vincent Damon Furnier. I also learned that the stage name, “Alice Cooper,” is also the name of the band (like Jethro Tull and Marilyn Manson). And as for the presumed wild lifestyle, well it turns out Cooper’s been sober and married to the same woman since Ronald Reagan was president.
Apparently the guy checks the leather clothes and makeup in his dressing room and prefers watching “The Simpsons” to partying. And, to top it off, the so-called “Godfather of Shock” doesn’t practice any dark arts either, instead he’s a regular church goer.
I was never a big fan of Alice Cooper, but I thought I had him all figured out. Why complicate things by learning more? To our ancestors, making snap judgments came in handy. Determining the difference between friend and foe by someone’s war paint kept you alive a little longer.
But today, how often do we put some one in a category based on what we see or hear, especially if that’s the image they want to portray? Catching this interview with Mr. Cooper was a little reminder to me that when it when it comes to understanding our fellow humans, well, school’s never really out.