Born and raised in Chicago and it's northern suburbs, Larry Crandus found himself in the right place at the right time, starting his career in music at the legendary Wax Trax! Records, first at the record store and eventually the label. He went on to work at other prestigious labels, transitioned into film and television, and eventually landing at Playboy. Larry was kind enough to talk with me and his old pal David Babbitt, so keep reading to learn about his brief stint with Gene Simmons, getting carjacked while delivering a script to Bonnie Hunt, grossing out John Waters, his love of coffee, and more!
Ben: Hey Larry, thanks for doing this. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I was born in Chicago, raised in the north shore suburbs. I’ve loved music ever since an early age, music is my first love. As far as arts and entertainment, I was lucky enough to work in the music business when there was a music business. When that went away in the early 2000’s, I moved out to LA to start over again, hoping to stay in the music business but it became clear that wasn’t going to happen and transitioned to television and film, I worked on sitcoms, a talk show, pilots, mainstream television. Currently I’m working in the adult field. For Playboy. I hesitate to define myself by my work experience, but that’s the easiest way to let you know what I’ve been up to.
Larry Crandus, photo by Daniela Mileykovsky.
David: I’m pretty sure you were at U of C when you were in college? What was it you were going to college for? What did you see yourself doing?
I finished at University of Chicago and spent 2 years at Syracuse University, initially in their theater program and that lasted one semester but I was not into it. I enjoyed doing plays and improv in high school and then I went to Syracuse and I was amongst a bunch of students that had head shots already and agents and the sort of classes I was taking I just was not connecting with so that lasted one semester and I became a liberal arts major. I dropped out of Syracuse after 2 years because I had no direction, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I figured; why waste the time? I don’t know if you’ve ever spent time in Syracuse NY, but it induces depression. The winters are brutal. Chicago has it easy comparatively. So I dropped out and that’s when I came back to Chicago and worked as a foot messenger for one summer and I’d hang out at Wax Trax! after my morning of delivering packages and envelopes in The Loop. I eventually got a job at Wax Trax! just because I was there every day and got to know the people. Eventually I went back to the University of Chicago, studied art history, and got a bachelor’s there. If I was serious about pursuing a career in galleries or museums, I should have gotten a masters, but I didn’t feel like doing that.
For the first 6 months after graduating U of C, I worked at a gallery as an assistant for $3/hour and that clearly wasn’t going to be much of a future for me.
David: So, in a weird way, you were already setting yourself up for the career you have now by being on the pulse of culture.
Larry: If you say so, sure. I was spending so much time at Wax Trax! shopping and came to know the employees there and became friends with people like Carol and Gerda, and Hope.
And eventually, I got to meet Jim at a house party and we had a nice long conversation there and one Friday I was at the store and Carol said “Have you seen Jim yet?” and I said “no” and she said “Go talk to him, he wants to offer you a job” and my heart just pounded out of my chest, I was so excited. This was my home away from home. To be asked to join the ranks was a great day. Of course, on the first day I worked there on Sunday, I got a speeding ticket on Fullerton on the way to the store. I remember the day.
Larry at Wax Trax! Records, courtesy of Wax Trax! archives
David: So, what was your career at the store like when you first started? Were you at the counter or any special assignment?
No, I started just as counter help, ringing up customers, playing records. I remember on the first day, Jim told me to go to the back room and shrink wrap a pile of 7” records and he said “roll a joint and meet me out back.” That was my first day at Wax Trax! and I thought “I am home, this is wonderful.” So, for the longest time, my role was counter help and I transitioned to the mail order department, and created their mail order catalogs, and then eventually, they put out the Ministry 12” single. The second version of which had a foldable sleeve that was modeled after the Section 25 Always Now sleeve and Jim loved that Factory stuff, the Peter Saville stuff. They all came unfolded of course and that was my job for weeks, was to fold Ministry 12” singles. Eventually, the label became stronger, and I went from the store to the label. All told, I was there for about 10 years.
David: What did you do at the label?
I was national sales director for the east coast. I remember everything east of the Mississippi was my territory so I did direct sales to record stores.
David: I don’t know why I was at the label, I was probably delivering something from Interzone and a company meeting was about to start and you said “Hey you wanna stick around?” I did and I just got to watch, fly on the wall style. What really impressed me there was lots of talking over people and just--excitement. Then you talked and people listened. “Like wow, Larry’s a big guy”. And you were pitching Black Pete and I ended up buying that 12”.
David, you should take over this interview because you clearly remember more than I do. [laughter] It’s a shame. One of my biggest regrets is never keeping a journal. Black Pete...I haven’t thought of Black Pete in decades. My goodness.
David: I didn’t know it was a cover, it took me 10 years to be like “Wait, Mississippi Queen is a cover?”
Now I have to go diving into the internet to find out about Black Pete. I remember the name but not much else. Another band I tried to get signed to the label was Masters of Reality, I met Chris Goss. He was a DJ in Syracuse, so when I was a student there, he was the best DJ in town. I got to know him and we would talk music and he sent me a cassette of the earliest Masters of Reality recordings which were all synthesizers and drum machines and a guitar. And it’s really great stuff and I tried like hell to get Jim to sign them but it just never happened and look at them now. Legends.
David: It’s the same with Corey (Rusk). It was slow going. He had to know them. He turned away a lot.
You can’t argue with the results.
Ben: Are there bands that you did bring to the table who ended up on Wax Trax!?
No, I guess my 2 tries were failures. Black Pete and Masters of Reality. Most of the stuff that came to the label were through relationships that Jim and Dannie already had. Al, Frankie, and Marston in particular. Or stuff that they found through the store. So, no, I can’t say I was responsible for anyone getting signed to Wax Trax!.
David: So, there was one person who was pivotal in the history of Wax Trax! and Touch and Go and that was John Loder from Southern and he handled Europe for both labels at one point in time. Do you have any John Loder stories?
Sadly, I don’t. I went to Southern once. I would meet him in passing, but I don’t think he ever came to Chicago while I was involved with the label. I met him at Southern one day. I went to visit Allison who was the Wax Trax! person at Southern, and spent some time in her office. I remember one memory that I have of that visit was Adrian Sherwood sticking his head into Allison’s office to say hello and Allison introducing us. I was a huge On-U Sound fan. I thought it was Adrien Sherwood, I wasn’t quite sure, of course, back then there weren’t a lot of photos but Allison introduced us and said “This is Adrien Sherwood” and I said “Wow, you make great records” and he said “Thank you” and that was my interaction with Adrien Sherwood. But the stories I heard about John Loder were just like “What a great human”.
Ben: I’ve never heard anything but complete praise for him.
David: So, from Wax Trax! you ended up at Mute. Based on their history of records, that’s like another brass ring. What did you do there?
I was Midwest label manager. My business card read “Midwest Label Manager, a title that commands respect”. So, I basically was everything for them in the Midwest from Cleveland to Minneapolis and I did radio promotion and retail promotion. I would take bands around when they would come into town, do in-stores, set up competitions. Sadly I was only there 2 years but with lots packed into those 2 years. The one story to this day I love is when Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were coming through promoting ‘Henry’s Dream’ and they were playing Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, I think. I was in Detroit with them and we were on our way to an in-store appearance. Sadly, at the time, I could give a shit about Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, I was more of techno head. Shameful, because today, Nick is terrific and I’m a huge fan. So I was along for the ride on the way to the record store and Nick was holding court on the bus and he was telling a story about how he was living in Brazil at the time and he had read a story in the paper about cows that lived on fields that were surrounded by high tension power lines, giving birth to deformed calves and he said “in my neighborhood, I’m surrounded by high tension power lines as well. I’m sure I must be sterile by now”.
And I said “talk about the bad seeds, huh” and nobody laughed. Nick just sort of glared at me and he was sitting on some sort of swivel chair and he just swiveled away from me. To this day it’s a great memory.
Nick Cave looking annoyed. He may have looked at Larry like this.
Ben: I’m sure he used it like a week later. [laughter]
Yeah, I think he’s developed much more of a sense of humor in the past couple decades at least, through the Grinderman project. Maybe I caught him on a bad day.
Ben: I can’t remember, was Warren Ellis in the band yet?
No that was Mick Harvey was mostly the music directory at that time.
Ben: What are some more musical highlights from your career?
Einsturzende Neubauten came through. They were playing at The Vic during my time with Mute and they did an in-store at Wax Trax!, but I took them in this old used Volvo 740GOE and I piled all these Germans in and I swear to you, the suspension on that car was never the same. It was ruined. [laughter]
But they were friendly guys and I took them to lunch at Linda Mexico on Lincoln Avenue. And I brought Sean Joyce along from the store and I cajoled him to join us and I asked him to write a story about it for this retail newsletter that we put out at the time called EarWorm. And I asked Sean to write about his lunch with Neubauten. That’s another thing that’s lost through the ages, sadly but it’s a good memory going to this Mexican restaurant with all these big German guys and eating enchiladas and drinking beer.
David: Did you hear the news about El Prez?
Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. I’m holding out hope that they somehow relocate but I guess the clock is ticking there and it pains me to not be there to have a few last meals.
David: Do you want to tell Ben the significance?
El Presidente Mexican restaurant now on Ashland and Wrightwood but before that was this little corner restaurant on Lincoln Avenue that was down the street from Wax Trax! Jim and Dannie loved it and we would all go there regularly. I’ve been eating at El Presidente since 1979. Jim’s nickname was ‘El Prez’. The best chilaquiles I’ve ever had in my life and the most sinus clearing hot sauce. To this day, when I’m flying into Chicago, that’s my first stop. Lupe, the woman that owned it with her father, he would cook and she was the waitress, and she’s been feeding me for 40 years. God bless her.
El Presidente was open 24 hours and if you drove past at 2am, you’d see a fairly big crowd so I would imagine they have a good following, but who knows these days? And Joe Shanahan and people that run venues? I wish I had a magic wand and I could just solve their issues.
Ben: I feel like Joe’s a good example of someone who is being socially responsible and obviously he’s taking a hit, but I think it means a lot to actually be socially responsible. I believe the Metro is having bands that are live-streamed and the bands and the venue are getting a cut so bands are throwing weight into supporting the Metro. People can sit at their house and watch a show on the stage at the Metro. I’ve heard a million things about Joe Shanahan but he’s a vital part of the community. I'm glad to see him getting through this and being responsible.
Absolutely. You can’t take away what he’s built in the city and there are a lot of stories about Joe and I’ve got nothing but respect for Joe. There was a feud between Metro and Wax Trax! for a year and a half or so, I don’t know what brought it on but there was some bad blood between the store and venue for a while. People from the store were banned from the venue and we didn’t let the people from Metro come shop at the store, it was just ridiculous.
David: So celebrities would come to visit Wax Trax!, have you run into any of them in your new life that remember Wax Trax!?
Good question. Nobody comes to mind but it reminds me of a story of working at the store and Phil Collins came in one night and his solo career was just starting and we had a bootleg section and he came up and asked my coworker Gary if he had any Genesis bootlegs and Gary just sort of blew him off for whatever reason and I said “Phil come here” and we went in the back room and there was a bunch of Genesis bootlegs and I figured he’s not gonna whip out a badge and arrest me. I figured he just wants to collect them for himself. And then he said “Do you have any Phil Collins bootlegs?” and I just said “uh no." I laughed in his face and said “no." I didn’t mean to be malicious but I just thought it was an odd question. I couldn’t conceive of anybody recording a Phil Collins bootleg. He paid for his records and was on his way. These days, Wax Trax! certainly has a higher profile than it did for a long time and I’m happy to be involved in all these projects that they’re doing. I was in a meeting at Playboy and this woman across the table from me was wearing a Front 242 t-shirt. And she’s probably in her late 20’s/early 30’s and I just had to take a double take. I asked where she got the shirt and she said she found it online. I said I know that band very well. It’s heartwarming to see people still carrying the flame.
Ben: So, what was next for you after Mute?
I ended up working for Disney, at Hollywood Records.
Disney flew me out to Burbank to Disney studios for my orientation which was a 1 or 2 day class where you learn the history of Disney. They had executive exercises we did and stuff like that. My first day on the Disney studio lot--I kept thinking about my parents, my father in particular--there was this legend that Walt Disney was a big anti-Semite. This is what I grew up hearing and I meet my boss on the studio lot and he says “Let’s go to lunch.” We go to the studio commissary and sit down and his assistant joins us later. This young woman sits down and says “Hi, I’m Debbie, you wanna hear a good Jew joke?” I couldn’t believe it. Later I learned she was a fellow member of the tribe.
Ben: Who were the artists you were working with?
We had the Queen catalog and I had a Brian May solo record so I did in-stores and promos with Brian May but outside of that, it was a train wreck, it was terrible. They had the The Lifers, which was a rap group of prisoners serving life terms. The big joke was “They won’t be touring anytime soon”. I left Hollywood Records and 2 years later they had Miley Cyrus and they were on top of the world.
Ben: So, was Hollywood Records just not your bag? You moved on to Atlantic?
Yeah, I’d been through 2 or 3 regimes at Hollywood and they seemed to be getting their act together by hiring some actual music people to run the label. That’s when I got the call from Atlantic. It was a no brainer. Although for 6 months I was sure I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I only worked 10-2 at Hollywood so diving into the high pressure world at Atlantic Records was a bit of an eye opener and not a good one. I remember my first conference call where they were setting up the second All 4 One record and the president of Atlantic was always on the call saying “I want to ship 450,000 records, not 440, not 425, 450. Now is that going to be a problem?” And there was a big silence and finally somebody said “I don’t think it will be a problem” and the president said “I don’t want to know what you think, I want to know what you know!”. I was thinking “Oh my god what have I got myself into? Take me back, Hollywood Records, please." But I stuck it out and spent 7 years there. But yeah, Atlantic Records. It was Jewel, Hootie and The Blowfish, Stone Temple Pilots, Sugar Ray, Everything But The Girl... I was a busy guy for 7 years.
Ben: With a label that size, what were you doing? Were you working with all genres, assigned to specific stuff, or how does that work because obviously, Atlantic’s massive.
I was the regional marketing manager which meant I’d oversee sales and marketing. I worked with the distribution company WEA to maximize sales and promotions, secure in-store placement and advertising. My big accounts were Best Buy, Musicland, Target, Kmart, Borders. Most of these places are gone now. Basically I made sure Atlantic got every advantage at retail that we could. Taking bands around to stores and offices and having them hobnob make sure we got the best sales out of all these places.
Ben: Atlantic being so massive must have meant you had a lot of muscle.
People would take my call and give me the time of day. The muscle came from having a lot of hits and a lot of money behind us and places like Best Buy and Musicland were anxious to milk that cow. Even then we’d run up against brick walls. We had this band P.O.D. from San Diego which was this hard rock band that had a Christian identity. They were very devout Christians. Not like Stryper, these guys were badasses from San Diego and the buyer at Musicland absolutely insisted on keeping their records in the gospel section, which made no sense. So they’d be next to Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins and their fans couldn’t find their records in stores and this was such a headache for me for months and months and I just could not get her to change her mind. The band was not happy, the label, we threw everything we had at them and she would not move.
Ben: Do you have any good stories from working at Atlantic?
You know Ben and Tracey from Everything But The Girl? I spent time with them in Chicago, took them around to nightclubs because they’d made this change in their sound with Walking Wounded. Ben was all about House music and he’s in Chicago so he wants to know more about House music so I took him to Red Dog, which was the only House club that I knew on the north side. He just loved it. I introduced him to the DJ and it really made an impact on him. He went back to London and opened a club called Lazy Dog and I kept in touch with him and went and visited him in London. I don’t know there were any funny stories, but a week after they’d been in Chicago, I got a call from my boss and he said “I don’t know what you’ve done with Ben and Tracey but they love you”.
David: So, from Atlantic, how did you end up with Bonnie Hunt? Was there a Chicago connection there?
Yeah, a close friend of mine from High School, Holly, was an actress at Second City and was at Second City with Bonnie. So, through Holly, I met Bonnie and became friends and knew her a bit in Chicago and then she was out in California doing a few sitcoms and I got laid off from Atlantic and decided I wanted to be in California because I had spent a few weeks out here working for Disney and I thought “Wow, California is wonderful.” I did not know truly what it was like to live out here and it became a bit of a shock when I moved out here but I came out here with no job. Little side note, I worked for Gene Simmons for 2 weeks. [laughter]
Larry at Wax Trax! Photo by Rich Menning
Ben: Can we talk about that?
Well it’s part of the story so let’s not skip over Gene before we get to Bonnie. I worked for him for 2 weeks so you can tell already it did not have a very good ending but my real estate agent in Chicago’s brother was Doc Mcghee who manages Kiss, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, all these bands. So when I moved out here, I said “let Doc know I’m looking for work” and so one day, a few months after I moved out here I got a call from Doc Mcghee and he said “Gene might be looking for some help and I’ll see what I can do.” The call ended, a week or 2 passed and I figured nothing would come of it. And then one night there’s a message from Gene Simmons on my answering machine asking me to call him [laughter] and I really wish I’d saved that message. So I called him immediately and he asked to meet with me about selling his audiobook into record stores. He’d just come out with his biography and I said “Sure, I’d love to meet with you." So he gave me the address and said “This is the home of Bob Goodman, again that’s Bob Goodman as in Good Man because he is a good man.” so I said “Ok, got it Gene, understood." I went to the address the next day, rang the buzzer on the gate, the gate opened and I’m driving up this long driveway and there were dogs running up and down the driveway and I was like “Oh my God, I’m going to kill a dog on the way to meet Gene Simmons.” I finally made it up to the top of the driveway and it’s Gene Simmons’ house and he’s out in front waiting for me. We say hello and go into his office, he’s got his desk set up and he says “Sit wherever you’d like, if you’d like to sit in my seat please go ahead” and I thought “Oh, is this a trick?” I sit on my side of the desk and he sits in his chair and he begins to tell me about his audiobook and how big a hit his latest book is. His office is a museum of Kiss memorabilia. I don’t know if the coffin was there at the time but you could see it on his television show. They go into his office a number of times and they have display cases for yards of every single piece of garbage that Kiss ever put out. So, he starts telling me about his audiobook and what a big hit it was and he goes “Uh you might want to write some of this down”. I said “Okay” and I took out a pen and started taking notes. This was late October coming into November to sell an audiobook into record stores for Christmas. They hadn’t even manufactured these things yet but they were going to ship sometime in December. It was ill advised and I knew that it was an uphill battle to say the least but I had nothing else going on and I had to take a shot at it so I agreed to do it. I was friends with a man named Adam Parfrey and who is sadly no longer with us. He ran Feral House Books and I told Adam I had this meeting with Gene Simmons coming up and he said “Ooh, I got a book that’s perfect for Gene”. Adam put out a book called The X Rated Bible which is basically just every sort of bit of sex taken from the bible compiled all together. I told Gene about this and his eyes lit up and he said “Gene Simmons reads from The X Rated Bible, I can see it now” and I said “Great.” Nothing ever came of that. He hooked me up with his publisher who turned out to be less organized than I would have hoped and kept changing the deal on me and that’s why it only lasted 2 weeks. It was 2002. Audiobooks are dead to begin with. This was before anyone had iPhones or anything so people weren’t buying audiobooks. Record stores were suffering already and it was a Gene Simmons audiobook so it was a tough sell and I had to walk away from it. I will say though; my interactions with Gene, an absolute gentleman. Terrific, willing to help in any way he thought he could. Of course, his public persona is something very different, but it was an interesting 2 weeks.
David: So Bonnie…
Gene Simmons to Bonnie Hunt... So I let her know I was out here looking for work and this was the first year of her Life With Bonnie sitcom and I came by the set once to say hello. Finally they were going into their second season and she called me to ask if I wanted to be a PA on the show and I jumped at it. I was 42 years old and making 500 dollars a week, but I had my foot in the door of an entirely new industry. I was basically her PA and her assistant so through long hours, I basically learned the television production business. It was Bonnie, David Alan Grier and a few other Second City people and it was a great education. Jonathan Winters was a guest star once. Anyway when that show ended, we did some stuff with Pixar, she kept me on as her assistant and I worked for her for 7 years. We did a pilot for ABC with Joe Mantegna which did not get picked up. We did Cheaper By The Dozen up in Toronto, she brought me along for the ride on all this stuff. It was great, it was quite a ride and then we did the talk show for 2 years with Telepictures and that was--talk about a grind--that was easily 14-16 hour days, 5 days a week, and 2 shows a day sometimes. As far as watching Bonnie, there is no one funnier or quicker than her. She is just remarkable. She had this reputation as being the ultimate talk show guest from her appearances on Letterman. To watch her work was something else.
David: So, I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve seen clips on YouTube that you and even your dad feature in. The one with your dad is great. He just took over.
Yeah, that was my dad. So, dad was visiting from Chicago and came to the set one day and I think Jimmy Kimmel was the guest and the day before, we had a power outage in the studio in the middle of the taping of the show. So the day that dad was there, we had a bit where we would have some PA’s on bicycles generating electricity. And the writer said “Let’s have Mr. Crandus as the 3rd PA and my father was 82 years old at the time on these exercise bikes with these 2 other 20 year old guys pedaling away in matching tracksuits. And Bonnie was like “Mr. Crandus, you’re pitching in for your son, how nice of you, can I ask you your age?” and my father says “You can ask.” [laughter] It was a great memory for him and for me and he’s gone now so it’s great for me to go back and look at that.
This will tell you a bit about Bonnie’s character. That morning at the production meeting, she was deferring to me on purpose to give my father the impression that I was a big deal. It was so kind, and my father didn’t know the difference and he was like “Wow, Bonnie’s asking my son if he approves of the plans for the show, how impressive.” That was really sweet of her.
David: I also saw the clip about your carjacking.
Oh yeah, on Letterman. That was--oof--I was delivering a script to Bonnie and she was doing a rewrite of a Pixar script. Pixar is very protective of their intellectual property, and they would send you with a locked laptop with the script on it. They sent it to me and I was delivering it to Bonnie, so I dropped it off and said goodnight and was going back to my car when I was trying to pull my driver’s side door closed and it wasn’t closing. There’s a guy with his arm in the door and a gun pointed at my face telling me to get the fuck out of the car. At first I thought it was David Alan Grier playing a joke on me. I was like “What?" and he was said “Get the fuck out of the car!” and like the guy in Pulp Fiction, I was like “What?” I couldn’t compute what was happening so I get the fuck out of the car and Bonnie is on the other side of these trees hearing all this happening and she’s yelling to me “Larry, are you okay?” and I’m like “Shut up Bonnie, shut up”. They asked for my wallet. One guy hopped in the car and the other guy took my wallet, ran away, and when they were down the street I said “Call the police, I’ve been carjacked." Bonnie was on her way to Letterman the next day and she talked about it on Letterman. She joked that she kept asking if I wanted a sandwich while waiting for the police to arrive and I kept refusing and she said “C’mon, it’s not like I’m holding a gun to your head”. [laughter]
David: So, tell us about the move from the mouse to the bunny.
Well, the talk show ends and I reached out to a friend who had worked in the promo department at The Bonnie Hunt show who was now head of programming at Playboy TV. She offered me a job as a researcher on a show for Playboy that she was developing called The Stash, which was based on The Soup which was on E!. So it was a clip show and Playboy’s version of it--instead of The Kardashians--they were looking for porn clips to make fun of. My job as researcher was to watch porn DVDs from 9am until 6pm looking for funny moments. Looking for unintentionally funny moments. There’s nothing worse than porn people trying to do comedy, it’s just the worst. Me and my partner would just skim through these DVDs all day with headphones on. We worked on that show for 3 months and we kept track and each of us had watched close to 2000 adult DVDs by the end of the show. The first couple of weeks was fun, but then the reality of watching this material for hours a day set it in, and it just became--soul crushing is perhaps overstating it--but somewhere just shy of soul crushing. But, I’ve been at Playboy 10 years now. I haven’t just been working on the show, I’ve moved on to a dozen other shows and met some really wonderful people. One of the bright spots was working on the shows with swingers. Playboy had this show called Swing which was a documentary style show where they would find couples who were interested in becoming swingers or members of the lifestyle. I did some adjunct shows to Swing, we did a talk show about it and a retrospective show about it. Some of the friendliest, most open people you ever want to meet. I also got to work on a show with John Waters. He did a show called Groundbreakers is the adult version of Turner Classic Movies where someone of authority introduces and gives you background about the film you’re about to watch. So we did that with John Waters and classic adult films. I flew to Baltimore for a few days to shoot with him in a theater and introduced myself--at Wax Trax! we had bootlegs of Female Trouble and Desperate Living which we played constantly in the store which had a huge impact on me. At the airport on the way to Baltimore, one of my eyes is tearing up and getting itchy and... I had pink eye and I’m about to meet John Waters [laughter]. One of the things I had to do was go to John Waters' home with the driver to pick him up on the first day of shooting because he needed help with his wardrobe. And by this time, my eye is seriously pink and I can’t hide it anymore. I tell my executive producer and she freaks out and says “you gotta wear an eye patch.” I was responsible for all of craft service and had to be very careful so I went to Walgreens, got an eye patch and I go to pick up John Waters at his home, wearing an eye patch feeling like such a tool. Perhaps it was not the best idea to explain to him why I was wearing an eye patch, but I felt like I needed to. I said “I don’t normally wear an eye patch, but I appear to have a case of pink eye” and John Waters says “Ewww, pink eye??” I’m grossing out John Waters. [laughter] He says “how’d you get that? Do you have a kid?” and stupid Larry should have said “Yes, that’s it, I have a kid!” but honest Larry said “No, sadly I don’t.” I thought “Ah great, John Waters thinks I’m disgusting, that’s a badge of honor, right?”
Larry with John Waters.
Ben: This is amazing, when was this?
This was 2015, I think.
David: What would 10 year old Larry think of you now?
10 year old Larry is thinking “wow, you live 40 minutes from Disneyland and you’re not going every day?” There’s still a bit of a 10 year old Larry in me, I’m enjoying things so I think he’d be happy? [laughter]
Ben: Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about music, but what are you listening to right now? What’s in your current rotation?
Well, I’m known as the A Certain Ratio guy at Wax Trax! and there’s a new A Certain Ratio record that came out a few weeks ago, and it is, as we say, a banger. It is really good, it made me really happy. There’s a band called Bob Moses I’ve been following. I saw them opening for Underworld a few years ago. They put out a new record called Desire which is a really good record. Total Leatherette is another band I just--they remind me a bit of Coil--they’ve got a sort of darkness to them. I like dark music, I like psychedelic music and they have a total Suicide meets Coil sort of sound that I enjoy. They’ve been around a while but I came across Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo and I enjoy that quite a bit.
In the game room at the Playboy Mansion.
Ben: So, I’m going to move to the coffee related questions. Do you like coffee?
I love coffee, I love a good cup of coffee. There’s nothing more disappointing than a bad cup of coffee.
Ben: What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?
Rich, strong flavor, no bitterness. I’ve tried a lot of different methods and I’ve had good luck with my Breville, Barista Express, but was enamored with the Chemex for a while but that sort of fell away. For a long time, I was a French Press guy, but that got too chewy for me.
Ben: In a normal world outside of Covid, what’s your go-to order at a cafe?
I don’t go for anything too exotic. Maybe a double espresso or maybe an Americano. I used to be a cream and sugar guy, but I like it black with a little sweetener. If I want dessert, I’ll get a Frappucino.
Ben: My favorite drink is a Cortado, which is just kind of like a miniature latte. It’s the most beautiful drink I’ve ever had.
There’s a couple places out here that do a nice Cafe Cubano.
Ben: You’ve obviously had an impressive career in music and now at Playboy, how does coffee affect your creativity, if at all? What’s your relationship with coffee?
It’s a friendly relationship. I don’t know that I recognize a connection between coffee and my creativity, but certainly I start my day with a double espresso and I’ll have another 1 or 2 throughout the day. It’s a stimulant, so if I’m feeling a bit of a drag or uninspired, a coffee break is always welcome.
Ben: The last question I always ask people is if you’ve heard any good jokes lately.
Thank you so much for teaching me the word ‘plethora’. It means a lot.
Thanks again, Larry! It was wonderful talking with you.