One Big Conn

Do you listen to Ted Nugent? You shouldn’t. Doing so will make you gay.   Yes, that Ted Nugent. The wild-game-hunting, bow-and-arrow- shooting, notorious womanizer who wrote a song, “Cat Scratch Fever,” which many surmise is about Nugent’s own struggles with an…

Do you listen to Ted Nugent? You shouldn’t. Doing so will make you gay.

 

Yes, that Ted Nugent. The wild-game-hunting, bow-and-arrow- shooting, notorious womanizer who wrote a song, “Cat Scratch Fever,” which many surmise is about Nugent’s own struggles with an addiction to, um, petting felines. (Sample lyric: “I make the pussy purr with the stroke of my hand.”)

That quick click of character traits seems to go a good distance at shoring up one thing: Nugent is the most un-gay person to ever play music. But on the other hand, dude did wear a loincloth.

Such helpful information may have never been gleaned had it not been for www.lovegodsway.org. Love God’s Way got the Internets a-buzzin’ this week with a series of videos from an overweight “reformed homosexual” preacher with a “genetic thyroid condition” who, despite his heft, can “dunk a basketball.” His name is Donnie Davies, and he’s “Changing Homosexuals Into Ordinary People” (CHOPS). The awkward, mustachioed Davies introduced his ministry CHOPS and his band Evening Service nary a week ago with, “The Bible Says (God Hates Fags),” a song and YouTube video shot in frosted Barbara Walters-style cheese replete with hand-holding prayer circles, lots of hopeful looks toward the sky and more than a few so-bad-they’re-funny lyrics (“Read the Bible, you’ll be sure/ To enter Heaven, there’s no back door”), and the Web has been all atwitter ever since.

In “The Bible Says” Davies plays guitar while staring deeply, effeminately into the camera, and, with a straight face, belts the song’s chorus: “God hates a fag/ God hates fags/ God hates fags/ If you’re a fag, he hates you too.”

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But the video is just the start, both to the ministry and the clues that have caused many, including Time Magazine blogger-supreme Andrew Sullivan, to stand in awe of what he and others are calling “brilliant satire,” an extremely well-executed Borat-y viral marketing rouse that has many gums flapping and tongues wagging.

Along with the video are lists of “gay” and “safe” bands. “One of the most dangerous ways homosexuality invades family life is through popular music. Parents should keep careful watch over their children’s listening habits,” the site intros, continuing, “especially in this Internet age of mp3 piracy.”

Listed under “Gay Bands” are some of the usual suspects: k.d. lang, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Queen. But alongside them are others that suggest both a keen hipster ear and an utterly huh?-inducing swipe at … something.

Evidence to the former: Le Tigre, Man or Astroman, Portuguese record label Merzbau, avant-garde electronic composer Morton Subotnick and the not-exactly-a-household-name Justus Köhncke. The inclusion of these acts suggests a sort of insider knowledge that would most likely escape the type of character Davies wants you to believe he is: the average Jars of Clay-listening Christian.

Also lumped in with these “Gay Bands” are several others you might not suspect. Who knew listening to Jay-Z could make you gay? DMX too? The Rolling Stones are listed along with Ghostface Killah, whose lyric on 2004’s “Kunta Fly Shit” inspired the name of this column.

There are other subtle tells that offer insight into Davies’ satirical web. Eminem is on the list, but his name is spelled “Eminmen.” The Detroit rapper is joined by his Grammy performance partner Elton John. Twice. The second time a parenthetical “really gay” is added. Morrissey is listed as “questionable.” The aforementioned Ted Nugent’s loincloth makes an appearance, the Grateful Dead have the word “AIDS” typed next to their name, and most bizarrely, George Michael is included because he’s “Texan.”

Okay, so there’s ample evidence something here is seriously askew. This whole thing is a hoax, right? The question now becomes, who’s behind it and why? Those answers have been given, retracted and given again by Internet sleuths who’ve pored over every bit of info.

Would-be Columbos started with one of the odder mentions on the Gay Bands list: Bobby Conn. A Chicago-based provocateur, Conn has stirred around the independent music scene for quite some time with his modern-day Ziggy Stardust theatrics.

But it was one of Conn’s other bandmates, Colby Starck, who drummed up suspicion. In band photos found online, Starck looks suspiciously like Davies. Starck, Bobby Conn’s label Thrill Jockey and a somewhat unamused Conn himself have all denied any part in the Davies phenom. Conn wrote about it on his blog: “I have made a small (very small) career of mocking religious hypocrites, right-wing politicians, conspiracy theorists, Satanists, Scientologists, real-estate gurus, etc. for many years. But I put my own brand name on it, and do it on the record.”

The Conn angle abandoned, a new name emerged: Dallas stage actor Joey Ogelsby. Ogelsby is a member of an improv comedy troupe (his credits include a stage version of Debbie Does Dallas), and in his MySpace profile he claims he’s interested in “the way satire can positively affect the world.” His picture turned up on his agent’s website, and he and Davies look remarkably similar.

Still, some remain unconvinced.

So what’s the point of all this? If it’s a genius bit of “viral marketing,” some Snakes on a Plane-style Internet whirlwind taken the next (ill)logical step, then to what end? What exactly is it advertising? The domain name www.chopsthemovie.com has been purchased, so that answer may be just around the corner, but man, talk about too much foreplay and not enough, um, feline petting.

Until then, it’s comforting to know, hoax or no, the court of public opinion views Davies as a sad, bloated buffoon. “It has to be satire,” we’ve said dismissively, “otherwise it’s just uncompromisingly lame.” At least Bobby Conn has gotten some much deserved publicity. (Several commenting on Dan Savage’s blog discovered—and now love—his band because of all this.)

So yeah, there’s that. Oh, and the knowledge that listening to Nickelback will make you gay.

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