In celebration of Poon’s upcoming free show at The Royal Room (in Seattle on December 9th) a week-long celebration of Poon articles, lists, and interviews will be featured at Mildly Pleased. Kicking off the celebration is an article on the band’s history from the recent 40th Anniversary Issue of Malt Liquor Monthly. Enjoy.
Poon: Sex, Lies, and Phantoms
By Arthur McPark
Poon will always be known, above all else, as the sexiest band in history. That is until 1985 when they removed their distinctive comic-book makeup, and everyone realized how hideous they were. Gross. But they still had the sexy licks. Always the sexy licks.
Theatrics and on stage penetration have also been a calling card for Poon, who were one of the biggest-selling acts of the 1970s and inspired the Poon Navy, as fans refer to themselves. The quartet formed in the heyday of the of the sexual revolution, and it set out to define, at first, desirable fantasy-character personas, highlighted by Rick Boner’s drumming, Native American chanting, and trademark police monitored ankle bracelet.
The group was founded by Boner and sex-crazed lover/Viking warfare enthusiast/rhythm guitar-playing frontman Lesley Quartermaine, who first crossed paths during a drug deal gone bad while still in grade school. Growing up near the muddy banks of the Wishkah, Rick and Lesley spent hours listening to records. Mostly blues. Some of their favorite artists included; Deaf, Blind, and Dumb Donnie, Bile McFatterson, and Sting (the early stuff). Then in 1973, Rick and Lesley first practiced their trademark style of music, known in later years as “Porn Rock” in a garage on Rick’s reservation. They called themselves Fudgecake.
In 1974, they hired lead guitarist/door-to-door whiskey salesman Chet Stroker through an ad in Malt Liquor Monthly. After rehearsing as a trio, the group took out an ad in the Sears Catalog for a bassist with “lots of money for drugs” and discovered Izzy Cummings, who adopted a “Satanic Rabbi” persona. The group renamed themselves Poon (Stroker’s mother’s maiden name) and set out in search of rock ‘n roll glory.
At the time, they were all working dead-end jobs, with the exception of Quartermaine, who worked as an afternoon gigolo. Their visual image and game plan were in place from the start. After a few Seattle shows, Poon met shady ex-marine and record producer Phil McCracken, who helped the group get a deal with Assablanca Records.
The critics despised the group’s lazy songwriting, out of tune instruments, and unnecessary grunts on the band’s first three albums. They also openly mocked the group’s stupid clown makeup. Nonetheless, Poon sh*t it off with the fans from the very beginning. After some hard financial times (an entire 1974 tour was reportedly financed after McCracken maxed out his credit card and sold the patent rights to his time machine), the band took off with their live album …Awake (Number 1, 1976), which contained the Top Twenty hit “Windy Bitch City.”
In 1977 the band’s sound and image shifted towards total corporate f*ck, beginning with Boner’s live version of the ballad “Virginia” (#1, 1977), a quintuple-platinum selling single he wrote for a girl who lived down the street from his trailer park. Accordingly, Poon’s audience grew from mostly male adolescent metal fans to lotsa babes. As the group racked up more and more quintuple-platinum records – six between 1977 and 1979 – they became even more corporate f*ck. Younger fans were frequently photographed with action figures, coloring books, and body bags of their favorite Poon members.
On May 25, 1977, Strokerland Studios released a feature length Poon movie entitled, Poon Meets the Phantoms of Phantom Lake: Attack of the Phantoms. Even though the film featured more phantoms than any film made up to that point and had all-star cameos from Erik Estrada and Henry Kissinger, the film was handily defeated by a bullshit space movie about stars. The group’s popularity was becoming flaccid. Four simultaneously released solo triple albums sold poorly — Stroker’s was most popular — although the group had several hit singles around this time, including a newly remastered version of the disco-porn rock anthem “(I’m Your Loving) Flame.”
In 1982, Cummings left to become a Satanic rights activist and later found work as an adult film choreographer. He was replaced by bassist Buster Cherry, who bassed it up into the Nineties (Cherry died hilariously of a ham overdose in 2011.) The group then briefly changed its image, abandoning the dumb clown makeup characters for Long-haired warrior dudes–influenced look. Poontasia, an overambitious concept album, featured songs co-written by David Copperfield and was the group’s first album to see release without selling a single copy. Poon quickly reverted to its dumb clown makeup and guttural moans once more, and Tyrannosaurus Sex eventually sold 500,000 copies and was certified gold.
What to do? Change image again. Suckcess (Number 666, 1984) depicted the group (now with bassist Mike Hawk filling in for Buster Cherry in the throws of Ham addiction) without its makeup and sparked a commercial insurgence. Poon released one more album after the return of Buster Cherry before crashing entirely with 1992’s Drinkin’ and a Drivin’. Not only a commercial failure, the album received backlash from concerned parents over its pro-drunk driving message. Mass burnings of Poon’s entire discography were held all over the world. Poon was so whacked out on horse suppositories, even they participated in the burnings.
Almost two decades passed until Poon became sober(ish) enough to go back on tour. Veteran hair metal bassist Peter Cream filled in for the deceased Cherry and the band played a string of “successful” shows in and around the Pacific Northwest. In 2014, Poon uncovered the master tapes of their first album 1 Natural Rubber Latex Condom in an ancient ruin and re-released it to the public. The whereabouts of other Poon recordings are still being investigated to this day.
Today, Poon is at peace with their demons, embracing them fully. And in response to how much longer this whole ride will last, Quartermaine says, “As long as I got a ticket, this ride ain’t never gonna stop.”
For more info on Poon visit
Poon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/churchofpoon
Band Camp: poonband.bandcamp.com
And make sure to check out Poon LIVE at the Royal Room in Seattle on December 9th, 2015. Bring protection.