Slim Perkins works the day shift
A sign on the door of Boutique Hypnotica says the curiosity shop opens at 11 a.m. At about 20 minutes past the hour Jason Joyner rolls to the curb in his big-ass truck, a grimy powder blue and white 1987 Suburban with window decals that scream the name of his band – Greensboro punkabilly trio the Tremors – along with images of flying saucers, a “13” skull and bones and a bumper sticker that says, “I eat children.”
The vehicle is big enough to strain the boundaries of the parking space. But what the hell’… Joyner, also known as Slim Perkins, is way bigger than the hollow body of the standup bass he slaps onstage with the band. What’s he supposed to drive – a Mini Cooper?
The store opens well before noon and a trickle of customers begins to run almost immediately, starting with a couple teenagers who shuffle over to the display case to check out the, uh, glassware.
Slim’s a bit bleary-eyed himself after last night’s gig at the 506 in Chapel Hill with Unknown Hinson – the original country and western troubadour – and he eases onto a seat behind the counter surrounded by a wall of bumper stickers; trays of silver rings; racks filled with microskirts, funky T-shirts, hipster pants and scary belts; bondage gear; tables of shoes with ultra-high heels; vials of creams, lotions and oils; angry sunglasses and copies of Prick magazine.
But not before he fills the room with music that plays from a stereo he brought in from the car.
He rubs his eyes.
“I’m glad this Chicken Pickin’ comes only once a year,” he says.
Slim and the other cats from the band, call them Jimmy Tremor and Stretch Armstrong, have arranged a rousing evening full of angry twang and free chicken on Saturday night at Ziggy’s.
“Chicken pickin’ is a prominent style in honky tonk music,” Slim says. “And I got a great Southern caterer coming in. It’s great fried chicken.”
The next customer is a young woman whose tank top shows off her arm tattoos to full advantage. She’s got her son with her, Taylor, 2 years old.
She’s here for some bumper stickers. Taylor has other ideas.
She’s eyeing one that says: “Join the Army; travel to exotic, distant lands; meet exciting unusual people and kill them.”
Either that one or the one with the picture of Einstein.
Taylor meanwhile runs rampant through the store, grabbing, running, touching, rummaging through a box of Latex and lace neck collars and then making for the door.
Mom goes after him and administers a punitive measure of her own. Now Taylor is slung over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes, weeping and rubbing his sore butt. And now he calms himself, drops down into his mother’s arms and says with fresh tears on his cheeks:
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” she says. Then to Slim, “Do you have the one with the Smiths?”
“I got Crass and Bad Brains.”
“I’ll definitely take Crass. And Bettie Page.”
After he sells her an assortment of decals, including one that says, “devil child,” he speaks again about the event.
“It started out as,” he says, “we were playing the Heavy Rebel Weekender.”
The HRW is an annual bacchanal of cars, psychobilly and tattooed women in Winston-Salem.
“I know those guys [who put on the event]. I said, ‘If they can do it I can do it.’ I wanted to stage an event showcasing the bands I thought deserved to be seen. To let them shine like I know they can.
“Shit,” he continues. “What’s better than a rock and roll show with free food and kickass music?”
This year’s lineup includes Hillbilly Werewolf, the Defilers, Jimmy and the Teasers, Corndawg, Bloodshot Bill and Dexter Romweber.
“We gave up our normal headlining spot for Dexter Romweber,” Slim says. “I think Dex has earned his dues.”
But Slim and his boys have been making payments themselves for about five years and a recent push has seen them playing more gigs than ever.
“Be a rock star, make a million dollars,” Slim says. “That’s the idea, right?”
Soon after a hipster in a ponytail and fitted madras pants slides through the door of the shop. He pauses by the register and points a trendy finger at Slim.
“The Tremors?” he asks.
“Right,” Slim says.
“You guys are amazing,” the hipster says. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
And with that he glides over to the display case to check out the glassware.
Slim smiles, showing a gap in his contagious grin.
“We’re rawk stars,” he says.
To comment on this column, email Brian Clarey at firstname.lastname@example.org.