[MUSIC] The Barbarellatones may have saved my life. Or at least, my existence here on Maui. During one of my wife’s semi-regular “WE’RE LEAVING THIS BORING ROCK!” outbursts, she came across an ad for a “Surf Glam Rock” band playing that very night. The BarbarellaTones, fronted by a sexually ambiguous, charismatic singer who introduced himself as “Robbie Revlon,” played campy, suggestive crowd favorites such as “Baby Wants a Corndog” and “Thar She Blows” (which the entire band performed wearing eye patches). But what really stood out were their heartbreakingly beautiful, melodic ballads that brought to mind Hole and Nirvana. I tracked down Mr. Revlon, a.k.a. Robbie Quine, eager to learn more about his band, their upcoming performance at Casanova and how the hell one of his original songs, “Fire of Love,” ended up being featured on The Sopranos.
“For the Sopranos thing,” said Quine. “I just sent a CD to the music supervisor, who liked it and gave it to the director. I guess he liked it too. It ended up in the April 23rd episode called ‘Luxury Lounge.’ The strippers danced to it at the Bada Bing.”
Despite seldom playing live on Maui, Quine is not an inexperienced performer. His gothic glam band, Sex with Lurch, toured the L.A. club scene for years. Asked to recall his most memorable gig, Quine laughed.
“The Fetish Ball, for sure,” he said. “C.C. Deville (of Poison) was in the audience, blowing us kisses. Tons of strippers and drag queens. The whole vibe of the night was a complete freak show. We’re very comfortable in that environment!”
In addition to The Sopranos and the Ball, Quine’s bands have been featured at Oahu’s GirlFest and on KROQ in Los Angeles. That comfort with the L.A. underground scene seems to make Maui an odd choice for a professional musician and self-proclaimed “Surfer by day, Drag Queen by night.”
“That’s true,” Quine said. “Not much is keeping me from returning to L.A. I’ve been recording with Peter DiStefano, the guitarist for Porno for Pyros. He played on the last B-Tones album.”
He’s been recording at Top Audio in Haiku but plans on returning to California after playing shows here for the next six months to a year.
“I guess these shows are sort of our grand hurrah,” he said.
And what should we expect of those shows?
“More debauchery!” said Quine. “We’ll try to up the sleaze factor. We’ll be a little tighter, too—we were a little rusty last time. And we’re going to have an honorary Barbarellatone—a bull dyke on a bullhorn! She’s a sex android named Teri.”
I asked Quine about dressing in drag.
“I only do it for the shows,” he said. “I love the androgyny of Bowie, T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper. Rock and roll should be sexy and sleazy.”
He was flattered with the Courtney Love comparison.
“I’ve never heard that but I can see the similarities,” Quine said. “We’re both coming from alienation, being lonely or “the freak”—I want to convey beauty and pain.”
Unfortunately pain is something Quine is very familiar with. His song “Misery” chronicles the death of his ex-girlfriend Heidi, who overdosed on heroin with Quine but did not survive.
“Heidi gave me a dark gift,” he said. “That was the end of an old life and the start of a new one. I had some relapses at first but now I’ve been sober for 14 years. Now it’s time to focus on my music. I’m 46 and the glam thing won’t be around forever. I’m just trying to be loving, put out good energy and be the best Robbie I can be.”
And maybe just save a few lives in the process. [COREY NIELSEN]