YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Back when we were just knee high to a billy goat, Your Mama recalls one particular, sunny Saturday afternoon when our well intentioned but culturally paranoid Christian neighbors had all the local kids over for punch, cookies, and a lesson in “backmasking.” Some of the children may recall the early 1980s when a bizarre brouhaha broke out about backmasking, a technique through which a hidden message is recorded backwards into a song that is meant to be played forward. The only way to “hear” these alleged hidden messages is to play the recording backward, which of course almost nobody does. The backmasking fracas got so out of control that in 1983 a bill was actually introduced in California aimed at preventing backmasking that “can manipulate our behavior without our knowledge or consent and turn us into disciples of the Antichrist.” Disciples of the Antichrist? Pu-leeze. Have y’all heard of anymore more ludicrous in your lives?
Anyhoo, although we’d spent hours (and hours and hours) with Linda Rondstadt and The Knack spinning on the family turntable, Your Mama had never heard of playing a damn record backwards and couldn’t fathom why someone would do something so stupid. Our seemingly guileless neighbors on the other hand–bless their little hearts–were in a feverish panic about this backmasking issue because they, like so many fundamentalist religious groups at the time, believed some bands were backmasking not just any ol’ messages but Satanic messages into their songs.
With wild-eyes, our neighbors whipped out their tape recorder and played all us innocent kiddies some recorded examples of these so-called Satanic messages. We furrowed our brow, cocked our head, and listened for the voice of the devil. We heard a lot of garbled things we couldn’t understand and then, practically jumping out of their skin with outrage and excitement, our poor neighbors would screech at us what it was we were supposed to be hearing. This went on for an hour or more. As Your Mama slowly shifted our attention away from the tape recorder and focussed on the cookies and the sad, cat tattered curtains, our hosts prayed for our salvation from Satanic music. They gave us a list of bands that allegedly put backwards Satanic messages in their music and warned us from listening to the bands lest we become minions of the devil himself. Your Mama left with the baby hairs standing straight up on the back of our sweating neck, not because we thought Satan was trying to send messages through Led Zepplin songs but because over the course of our lesson on backmasking we developed a very strong feeling that our neighbors were 47 kinds of crazy.
One of the many bands that was on the list of bands our neighbors encouraged us to boycott was Styx. Not only had they named their band after the mythological River Styx that separated earth from the underworld–otherwise known as hell–they, allegedly, included the absurd backwards message “Satan move through our voices” in their song Snowblind from the Paradise Theatre album. We don’t know about that, but we do know that Come Sail Away was and still is a classic worth listening to every now and then.
This has all been a all a very, long and roundabout way of getting around to the real estate matter at hand. Thanks to the generous and bizzy boys at Celebrity Address Aerial, we’ve learned that Chuck Panozzo, the bass playing founding member of Styx, and his artist man-friend Tim have put their modest but exuberantly done Bali marries south Florida style house in Wilton Manors, FL on the market with an asking price of $799,000.
In 2001, after 30 years as a rock star swarmed with louche and languid groupies, Mister Panozzo left the band and came out publicly as a gay man living with HIV. A year later he released an autobiography appropriately called The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life With Styx. Since coming out of the closet, Mister Panozzo has become a vocal advocate for AIDS awareness and gay rights. He reportedly sometimes gets with and plays gigs with the current members of Styx.
Wilton Manors, for those not familiar with the particulars of geography in south Florida, is a gay friendly enclave near Fort Lauderdale, a beach town also popular with the gays and spring breakers so drunk they can’t spell their damn names. Property records show Mister Panozzo and his man-friend purchased the property in the gayborhood in June of 2005 for $635,714.
Listing information indicates the walled and gated single story residence measures around 2,000 square feet and includes 3 bedrooms and 3 poopers. The front motor court, a kind of circular drive that’s not actually circular is separated from the front courtyard by a tall white wall. Entry is through a gate under a Japanese style pergola thing that opens to a decked bridge that spans a koi pond and leads to the glass front door. Flanking the front door are a couple of statues that would startle the skin right off Your Mama as we came across that bridge on a boozy and dusky evening.
The interior spaces, an open plan sort of thing has a corner living room with ivory leather furniture that opens to the back yard through a couple of French doors and a dining area furnished with a small round table with a Lucite base and four barely there Lucite chairs that sit on a faintly patterned round rug. Mister Panozzo clearly has a thing for upsetting statuary. To the right of the dining room table is a statue of what looks like a very hungry peasant person and, to the left, a stone torso in front of the shimmery, possibly mother of pearl tiled wall depicting a well-built man with his naughty bits exposed. Listen poodles, Your Mama’s decorating rule #797 clearly states that regardless of artistic provenance no gay man’s home should ever include semi-lurid statues, paintings, and/or drawings of naked men. It’s just unseemly and unnecessarily cliché. However, if one insists on having a carved stone nude torso of a well-built man in one’s home, the dining room is just not the place to put it. Ever. Seriously. Nobody wants to look at some statues stone twigs and berries while trying to tuck into a hot plate of chicken cacciatore. Well, at least no one Your Mama knows.
Amid the extravaganza of tropical flora and Buddhist statues and bas reliefs are several koi ponds and other water feathers, meditation gardens, a saltwater swimming pool and tented poolside cabana with gauzy curtains and a giant u-shaped sofa over flowing with what Your Mama can only hope are dozens of multi-colored and patterned throw pillows. The lily is perhaps more gilded here than we might prefer for our own poolside cabana but at least Miss Panozzo had the good decorative sense not to karate chop the throw pillows. Your Mama can hardly bear the summer heat and humidity of southern Flaw-reeduh but we could probably stomach the situation for an afternoon or two iffin we could replace that big ol‘ rough wood coffee table with some sort of apparatus where Big Sven and his Big Hands could work his massage magic.
Your Mama hasn’t any idea why Mister Panozzo would want to sell his version of tropical paradise, but perhaps he’s moving back to Chicago? On to bigger and better digs? Downsizing to a condo on the beach? Maybe if we listen to some of his records in reverse we’ll hear some sort of clue.