From The Desk Of Kristian Hoffman: Luxuria Music (Turn Off Your Mind, Relax And Float Down Streaming)

Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud met in high school back in the early ’70s in Santa Barbara, Calif. After starring in PBS cinéma-vérité documentary An American Family, they formed the Mumps, moved to New York and shared Max’s and CBGB stages with all the legends of the punk/new-wave explosion of 1976: Television, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. Hoffman and Loud also had front-row seats for the Mercer Arts Center incubation of the New York Dolls, before that. In our book, that grants you unlimited license to open the floodgates. Fop (Kayo), Hoffman’s latest solo album, is an ornate masterpiece of baroque pop, well worth your attention. Hoffman will be guest editing all week. Read our new Q&A with him.

Hoffman: When I was invited by my wonderful friend The Millionaire (of Combustible Edison and Velvet Hammer Burlesque) and Erik Bonerz to join Luxuria Music as a DJ, I didn’t know what “streaming” was. Doesn’t all radio seemingly “stream” through the ether? Yet here I am, five or so years later, streaming with cyber impunity on what has to be the only station that can boast, through its combined private record libraries, the most extensive collection of mind-boggling musical eclectica on the planet.

Luxuria Music General Manager Chuck Kelley was a music consultant on Pulp Fiction and From Dusk Til Dawn and produced reissues for artists as varied as the Flaming Lips and Ennio Morricone. When Luxuria Music first started, the emphasis was on genres that now have seeped into the pop-culture mainstream, but were then quite radical: loungecore, exotica, tiki culture, obscure surf. But under Chuck’s tenure, the station has expanded to warmly embrace a day-glo rainbow of outré and outrageous recordings of every stripe. The one unifying factor is that most of the DJs seem to be the single person from their various hometowns who scoured the thrift stores and swap meets for obscure gems the most diligently and obsessively—some might say pathologically—to build private libraries of the wildest sounds they could find in their chosen fields. So the station is basically peopled with Nutty Professors who have “done your searching for you” in any given field of delightful musical arcana, and now they only ask that they might share their brightest, most phosphorescent treasures with you.

The ultra-manic Howie Pyro, founding member of NYC punk era’s most beloved tweener band, the Blessed (which gave us the immortal anthem “Kindergarten Hard-On”), sometime member of Danzig and D Generation and club-founding maven of legendary NYC hot spots like Green Door, hosts a show called Intoxica where he howls through an Echoplex, plays blaring clips from deranged exploito movies and spins rock primitiva and dementia from Asian go-go to ’50s/’60s lunatic teenage frenzy to anything about monsters, voodoo or cockroaches. Expect to hear Frank Furter & His Hot Dogs, Florian Monday & His Mondos, Ronnie Cook & His Gaylads, Frankie Stein & His Ghouls, Mad Mike Moldies & Monsters and just about anything by Alfred E. Neuman.

Luxuria’s glamorous Switched On Audrey (resident DJ of the Cavern Club in Hollywood and UP! Club in Frankfurt and producer of go-go happenings and TV shows like The Now Sound) has a bossa-nova show called Pretty World that shows the genre to be as varied and multi-colored and aurally sensual as any acid dream, with an emphasis on Tropicalia that soothes as it ferments.

My one-time cohort in the Dave Davies Band, Jim Laspesa, whose show is called Bubbling Over, is the mad professor of sound-a-like cover versions, caucasoid vocal-group disasters, flower-power/hippie exploitation, vintage radio spots and uncategorizable thrift-store acquisitions, and he’s a bubblegum expert, too!

DJ Strike has what must be one of radio’s most improbably over-produced shows, Kitsch Niche; it’s like a soft-core b-movie about mutants and she-monsters riding a flotilla of candy-apple-red Vespas into your ear! He’s a sonic pioneer who self describes his Luxuria show as:
But really kids, that barely scratches the surface of Strike’s, um, oeuvre. (Or is it merely an oeuf?)

Luxuria is also home to ’60s groover Agent Kari, composer and Gemini Award winner Ron Sures, Ian “You Really Turn Me On” Whitcomb, former Gentle People auteur Douggee Dimensional and Audiophile/Artitude magazine founder Carl Howard, among so many more blazing personalities.

Much of the uber-rare music first previewed on Luxuria and owned by only a few stalwart vinyl archaeoligists around the world has since been made public by the valiant efforts of reissue producers, and Luxuria can boast two of the finest in the world as DJs: Andrew Sandoval and Steve Stanley. Grammy-nominated and universally recognized ultimate Monkees expert Sandoval has researched, produced and annotated some of the industry’s most highly regarded and culturally astute reissues. Starting with the only legitimate reissue of the Left Banke’s stellar catalog, Sandoval continued to produce reissues that stand as a who’s-who of seminal ’60s music, including the extended, three-CD set of Kinks masterpiece Village Green Preservation Society, which is considered definitive, as are his lavish re-issues of the first three Bee Gees LPs. His compilations are must-haves for every serious student of the ’60s. Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965–1968 is particularly essential. Sandoval is also a gifted singer/songwriter in his own right, with a smoky Colin Blunstone soprano and five or six charming, accomplished CDs under his belt. His Luxuria show, Come To The Sunshine, specializes in the most fab of all the fab ’60s songs, but often in rare 45 versions that are radically different from the ones you know best, in glorious mono. It’s like impossibly rare but infectiously joyous ’60s academia turned Frug-happy hullabaloo!

Stanley, another accomplished singer/songwriter with his fab group the Now People, has an area of expertise only slightly left of Sandoval’s: ’60s soft pop at its most dedicated and thus perversely galvanized, specializing in that nebulous but tantalizing genre known as the West Coast Sound. Stanley has produced, designed and/or annotated more than 120 reissues for Rhino Records, Rev-Ola, Collectors’ Choice, as well as his own reissue imprint, appropriately dubbed Now Sounds. The Now Sounds catalog includes releases by the Association, Paul Williams, Janis Ian, the Cowsills and Dion, as well as the recent Roger Nichols And The Small Circle Of Friends Full Circle album. Stanley also produced the fantastic reissue of one of my personal obsessions and criminally undersung faves, the Moon, and he even generously thanked me on the credits! His Luxuria show celebrates his own personal barrio of sound that gyrates from the swinging lite psych of “The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Beer Drinking Song” to soft sounds at their most depraved, like the bizarre “Emily’s Illness” by Nora Guthrie.

My own humble contribution to Luxuria is the Pepperland Spicerack show for two hours every Sunday. It’s dedicated to the pop-osition that I hope to take your mind on a technicolor trip down late-’60s/early-’70s baroque and lite psych byways, with detours into the damage psychedelia managed to inflict on other musical disciplines like easy listening and garage. I give special emphasis to OSPs (other Sgt Peppers) and ORHs (other Richard Harrises) and as many foreign-language versions of same as I can dig up! I have been known to play the Blossom Toes, Geranium Pond, Czerwone Gitary, the Rokes and Eric Charden all in one show. (Can you guess that most of this music, with a petite salty soupcon of La Bowie, is the inspiration for my new CD, Fop?) I am always trolling for new undiscovered lite psych bon bons (anything with backwards cymbals, phasing or a sitar on it will do), and the world, surprisingly, continues to accommodate my inveterate trolling with hitherto undiscovered classics like “High Places” by the Butterscotch Caboose or the harpsichord-inflected “Would You Believe” by the Atlantic Ocean.

Like all publicly funded stations, Luxuria is constantly teetering on the brink of total collapse and squeaking by through the generosity of anonymous patrons and the poor, beleaguered listeners to whom we must extend our wheedling cyber-hat regularly. But it just seems like a cabal of vinyl-mad eccentrics all gathered in one mini-tab of virtual acid on the tongue of the sonic universe is too good to let the trip end. Listen and learn.