I call Jef Wednesday night, March 9, 2005.
Luke: "Could you tell me about interviewing one of the lead singers of Air Supply?"
Jef: "Graham Russell. He was fully sleaved. He had a whole body suit on. It was him and his girlfriend. It was in 1994. It was for [the magazine] International Tattoo Art. He was really nice. He put my mom on the guest list for the show. They were playing up in New Hamsphire. He took care of my mom. She had a great time.
"Other than that, we just talked tattoos. A lot of tattoo interviews are just -- who did your stuff? How long did you have it? It was one of the boring standard tattoo interviews.
"It was just crazy that it was Air Supply. You would never expect that Air Supply would have more tats than Motley Crue."
Luke: "Why did he get all those tattoos?"
Jef: "He was just a big fan of the art after he got his first one. I wish I had the issue...
"We made a big joke about how if you were in a car and Air Supply comes on, you have no choice but to sing with it because you know the words anyway. So you look around in case anybody's watching because you don't want anyone to catch you. It's a guilty pleasure.
"We played a lot on that."
Luke: "So he was a good sport?"
Jef: "Yeah, they were really good about it.
"Somebody had said to me, you should check out Air Supply. They have more tats than anybody. We're like, you're lying. They do not.
"It turns out that they did.
"I did an interview too with Dennis Rodman for the same mag. The same kid who told me about [Dennis] told me about Air Supply. It turns out that they have the best ink out there.
"I remember [Graham Russell] being very gracious. He totally took care of my mom. I think he sang a song to her. His wife was covered as well.
"I don't have the Air Supply issue here. It's crazy. I wish it was on the internet."
Luke: "What were the implications to your life of that [March 12, 2004] LA Weekly cover story?"
Jef: "About 80% of the people I've met since then have seen the article. I thought it would hurt my dating, but it didn't. It didn't help it."
Jef: "I thought it would f--- that up, but no. It still comes up in conversations. I will see somebody that I haven't seen in a long time and the first thing they will say is...
"I just worked Brides of Destruction at the Key Club. Nikki Sixx's side project band. Tracy Guns from LA Guns. He's the new guy in the band. I've known Tracy a long long time. I haven't seen him since I got out [of prison]. It was a year yesterday.
"The first day with Tracy it was like, 'Dude, I saw your article.'"
Luke: "I remember you talking in Vegas about some of the bad consequences of the article."
Jef: "The listing of all the diseases didn't help. A lot of people don't believe that I am still sober. But I don't believe I am still sober. I'm right along with them."
Luke: "How long have you been sober?"
Jef: "Three-and-a-half years now."
Luke: "How did women get past the article?"
Jef: "The girl I'm dating now, I don't know. She just doesn't want to believe part of it. She just wants to think that it really didn't happen. She just wants to not think about it. That's fine by me.
"We've been together eight months. The article threw her off at first.
"I was introduced to her through a friend of mine, after the article came out. The article was the introduction. My friend said, you've got to read about this friend of mine. She said, there's no way I'm ever going to date that guy. Somehow I charmed her into hanging out with me.
"Love is truly blind."
Luke: "Have you ever thought of going gay?"
Jef: "What? Never."
Luke: "What type of music are you listening to these days?"
Jef: "I've never stopped listening to anything but heavy stuff. If it ain't heavy, it ain't worth a damn. Right now I'm listening to Dimmu Borgir, an Icelandic group named after lava flow."
Luke: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"
Jef: "An oceanographer. I wanted to be just like Jacques Cousteau."
Luke: "What happened to that dream?"
Jef: "I discovered album artwork. I went to school for commercial art. I saw Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell. I tried to draw that one over and over again. I won a scholarship to Mass Art [Massachusetts Institute of Art]. Then I turned it down because I discovered bands. I discovered I could load gear. That was more appealing."
Luke: "Did you graduate highschool?"
Jef: "GED." [Highschool equivalency test.]
Luke: "Were you a good student?"
Jef: "No. I was a good student up until highschool. Then I lost interest. I used to get picked on a lot. That got in the way. Then I started spending more time in-town Boston working shows than I did in school. As soon as I was able to take off legally, I took off."
Luke: "Why did you get picked on?"
Jef: "My last name, for one. That's an automatic target right there. Kids are cruel. I was a long-haired punk kid. I dyed my hair and I was wearing KISS shirts, Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath and everybody else was listening to the Grateful Dead, the Eagles... I was immediately separate from everybody. I got picked on because I was different. When I was in school, I was really smart. I had no effort in doing homework. So they'd make me do their homework for them. So I started acting dumb. It was either get beat up or do their homework, so I did their homework. Then I just decided not to come to school any more."
Luke: "What did you think of the Cameron Crowe movie Almost Famous?"
Jef: "I loved that movie. That's exactly how I felt. I was the same. I just wanted to be part of something. I wanted to be part of the big machine. I wanted to feel like I felt at home. Like you knew everybody's name. It didn't matter who you were. You belonged. That's how I felt.
"Just like other performers like to watch Boogie Nights and say, oh yeah, there's me. Almost Famous. I was like, yeah, yeah."
Luke: "Do you think think that rock 'n' roll leads to drug use, delinquency and sexual excess?"
Jef: "Of course."
Luke: "So you have no plans to get into classical music?"
Jef: "I read that they were pretty outrageous too.
"I think anything leads to it. Rock 'n' roll is not abashed about it. I hate when people try to disguise it as something else or put safe rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is not safe. That's the appeal behind it."
Luke: "How have you been able to stay sober for so long?"
Jef: "Drug tests by the federal government. They're pretty stringent. I don't feel like going back to prison. As long as they are in place, that's a good deterrent. Maybe, by the time those are done, some of the feeling good about staying clean will rub off. I like waking up in the morning... I still believe in the freedom to destroy your body any way you want. I still believe that consenting adults should..."
Luke: "What are your ambitions for your life?"
Jef: "I don't know. I'm almost 37 and I have no fallback plans. I don't have a nest egg. I'm living day-to-day. I'm sure I'm headed for a midlife crisis. I wish I knew. If anybody has an idea, they can call me."
Luke: "How was your time in prison?"
Jef: "It was the worst time I've ever had. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy... Well, yeah, I would.
"I was in for two years and four months and 15 days."
Luke: "Is prison divided on racial lines?"
Jef: "It can be. The federal wasn't so bad. I started out in D.C. jail. I was the only white guy among 200 blacks. There I was considered black. I was mistakenly identified as black on my wristband. I thought that was funny. They weren't used to having white people through...
"Everybody got along until something bad happened and everyone would separate to their own [race] quickly.
"Everyone would be cordial and happy and play spades together and then if something went down somewhere else involving two different races, that line would be severed. Blacks go to that side. Whites go to that side."
Luke: "Do you think that applies to the real world as well?"
Jef: "Yeah. Absolutely. A great example of that is the show Punk'd. If you watch that show and see the episodes with the black people, like the rappers, and the black actors. They act totally different. That show is pretty revealing."
Luke: "The white actors and the black actors act differently?"
Jef: "Absolutely. When they're getting caught... When they're in a crazy situation, oh man. Watch the show and you'll see exactly. That show is a great example of how things really are, especially with celebrities."
Luke: "What are the differences?"
Jef: "The blacks always try to play off their situations. They act angrier. In the Brandy episode where she's pulled over by a black cop. She says, 'You know me? We all know each other. We're all black. Right? You're not going to do this to me because we're all black, right?'"
Luke: "So you're not surprised that there are a lot of white porn stars who won't have sex with black guys?"
Jef: "No. There are tons of white trash. That's how they were raised. You can't blame them for how they were raised."
Luke: "How has prison changed you?"
Jef: "I'm more patient now. I've had my fair share of disappointments. If something doesn't happen now, I don't get all bent out of shape over it. It's given me much more respect for the federal government. I believe there's a hierarchy out there and they've got control over certain things. I don't want to poke at the hornest nest."
Luke: "What's your relationship like with your family?"
Jef: "It's great. My parents are cool. They're in Massachusetts."
Jef still loads gear for bands at the Key Club.
Luke: "Have you made much progress on the novel you were working on?"
Jef: "No. It's all done. I've just got to put in to a disk. I don't have the time. It's all handwritten out. I have to transcribe it."