A Comprehensive Study on The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze Rockumentary by April Jones
As someone who was born in the mid 80’s, I don’t remember a world without explicit content warnings on my CDs (CDs are those frisbee-like object your dad has collecting dust in the basement, kids) but even as small, stupid baby I would have known that the PMRC was a load of dog turds. The warning stickers may as well have just read “This is fucking cool, kids.” It’s been stated again and again that this stupid program made these artists more appealing to kids rather than offering any sort of protection to them. The PMRC even inspired tune after tune including the smash hit Mother by Danzig, which I just learned was a direct response to this weak sauce organization. Research is fun!
As I started to pay more attention to music, I wasn’t interested in Hanson or whatever other squeaky-clean band was out there, I wanted the good stuff! Oh, what’s that cool older brother of my friend? You say Marilyn Manson removed his ribs to give himself fellatio on stage? That’s disturbing. This Beautiful People song kinda slaps though. I’m in! Purchasing 3 Manson CD’s off my older brother for 5 bucks a pop is still one of the most cunning deals I’ve ever pulled off in my life. Although selling my copy of Final Fantasy to my friend for $10 later that year was the bozo move of the century. Ya win some, ya lose some!
But what does this have to do with anything at all? Well, around this time is when this Jewish fella from Cincinnati had arguably the biggest show on TV going. It was called Jerry Springer and there wasn’t a snot-nose kid who didn’t scope that shit out. At least in my circle of weirdo friends anyways. I don’t think I need to explain this show to you but on occasion Mayor Springer (yes, he was the mayor of Cincinnati, look it up) would invite the scumdoggiest of characters on to denounce their awful life choices. This is where I was first exposed to the likes of Gwar and G.G. Allin. Jerry would sit them up on stage and let the audience hiss and boo at them for a while until some lady would come out and emphatically exclaim that these characters had fucked up their shitty kids lives with their music. Now these are the only guest I vividly remember from my childhood but there were other guests. Who could it be?
Well since you’ve read the title and have seen the image at the start of this article, you may have been able to piece this together. It was Eldon Hoke who was better known as his stage name El Duce. Now listen, when your music is classified as Rape Rock, you’re probably going to turn some heads. As founding member and frontman/drunk drummer of The Mentors, El Duce was no stranger to controversy. As a Canadian punk kid, I grew up listening to the Dayglo Abortions who were also a band who found themselves in hot water with jerkoff government people. I would say that the Mentors are very similar to Dayglo but arguably take their lyrics even further down the toilet. Well, actually, there’s no argument. Hide the Hamster and Punker Bitches are like nursery rhymes compared to some of El Duce’s lyrics. But somehow, I missed them! As a child, I remember watching bits and pieces of GG’s Hated in the Nation video and being rightfully disturbed but for some reason, the Mentors never came up. As musically talented as Dayglo and as lyrically demented as GG, you’d think teen Josh would have been all over them, but it was not until I recently stumbled upon April Jones 2017 Rockumentary, The Kings of Sleaze, that I became enlightened.
Clocking in at barely 100 minutes, this ode to the Mentors and their twisted ways is actually a pretty easy watch. Well I guess that depends on how easily you are offended because this band, and the people in and around it, is not for the feint of heart. The OG members would be El Duce, Sickie Wifebeater, and Dr. Heathen Scum but they’ve employed a laundry list of other weirdos such as Insect on Acid and Poppa Sneaky Spermshooter. This doc explores the early lives of the 3 founding members and touches upon the absolute shit show that was their live show. Hitting the stage wearing executioner hoods, they would occasionally be accused of looking like members of the KKK; however, their occasional fill-in drummer, Insect on Acid, was African-American, so these accusations were frivolous. The same could be stated about the band’s alleged sexism as they employed a female bassist and hey, even the director of this doc is a woman!
Jones does a good job portraying the band as the punk pioneers they are without trying to paint them as some kind of misunderstood geniuses. The film pulls no punches about Duce’s insane alcoholic tendencies and I was not shocked at all when it was revealed he did not even make it to his 40th birthday. Although I would have assumed an OD got him rather than being decapitated by train. (Sorry for the 23-year-old spoiler!) I don’t want to ruin much more but let’s just say the film ties in another famous rockstar’s death and El Duce is somehow involved! Spicy!
As someone who loves music documentaries and especially ones focused on the punk rock scene, I really enjoyed this documentary. It was informative, hilarious and sad all at once. Seeing the pain in the eyes of El Duce’s friends and family as they remember his life is sure to strike a nerve with those of us who have or still have reckless friends. The kind of friends with all kinds of talent but no interest in alcoholic or narcotical restraint. Those stupid, fun as fuck, tragic assholes! El Duce was one of a kind and he may make you sick with his words and general appearance but damned if he wasn’t an interesting dude!
Let’s wrap this baby up with some soapbox shit, shall we? The censoring ways of the PMRC-like mindset have returned in other forms these days, but the Mentors keep plugging along finding new ways to piss off the uptight people in the world. While I can’t really go to war defending their silly and often revolting lyrics, they absolutely should keep doing it. Much like Gwar, the Mentors were built to last beyond their unfortunate demise of their charismatic front man. You may hate it (and honestly who could blame you) but I don’t want to live in a world where people are burnt at the stake for their lyrics. And if you’re worried your child will hear these songs or see some violent TV show and become a monster, give me a break. I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Bender Bending Rodriguez: “Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?”
Watch this documentary for free on TubiTv!
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