Sunday, July 10, 2016


Text by George Beke / FFanzeen, 1984
Introduction © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2016
Images from the Internet

This interview was originally published in FFanzeen 12, dated 1984, by George Beke. If I remember correctly, Beke is actually a pen name of one of our staffers who wrote so much they wanted to use a pseudonym for some of their articles.

I don’t remember exactly how or where I met Sex in Miami’s lead singer, Clark Render (or if we only talked on the phone), but he was quite happy to have this piece published about the band. They were raucous in a milder-than-Electric Chairs way. That being said, the gender-bending was not common on the scene back then, with drag being more sequestered to gay bars and the like, even with Jayne (then Wayne) County being such a force on the scene. It wasn’t until Wigstock followed by the popularity of the PRIDE and Halloween parades that it became a bit more acceptable and – for lack of a better term – mainstream.

After this piece came out (pun not intended), Clark called me regularly to chat, and to ask for further coverage in FFanzeen. I explained that we were not in the habit of having follow-up pieces as we did not publish that often, but he kept at it, and I did enjoy our conversations. However, I had predicted that as soon as I stopped doing the ‘zine, I would not hear from him again. And I was correct when, in 1988, FFanzeen ceased in its print form.

Over the years I didn’t hear much about him, but in researching this reprint, I found he’s been active in the community performing at various venues, including off-Broadway and Wigstock, in a tour de force piece called “Dueling Bankheads,” a hilarious bit based on the oft sodden Tallulah.

Mikky Zsedely (guitar) studied photography and now owns the 10 Thousand Steps Bookstore in New York. Ralph Robinson (drums) moved on to play more jazz, including for the group C’Est What. He passed away in 2009 (a blog about him HERE). Tom Gartland (bass) would later work at Secret Sounds Studios in New York. – RBF, 2016
Self-described as “most confounding,” transvestite-led Sex in Miami extoll the virtues of preening through chaos. The band members – Clark Render on vocals, Tom Gartland on bass, Ralph Robinson on drums and Mikky Zsedely on guitar – are interviewed in Mikky’s East 13 Street apartment, sans Gartland, who was unavailable for comment.

FFanzeen: You’re very Kabuki theatre.
Clark Render: Thank you. Kabuki is a good word. Much better than drag or transvestite. Those words feel obsolete. I guess I wear mini-skirts because they feel good.
Mikky Zsedely: Clark has great legs.

FF: Right up front is a strong sense of humor.
Clark: We can’t take ourselves too seriously, without incurring fratricide; still, we do dream about world takeover.
Ralph Robinson: We want lots of money.

FF: You’ve managed to combine certain elements of cabaret, psychedelia, hardcore and salsa. Is this the ‘80s formula?
Clark: It really just reflects our own tastes. Destroy All Monsters [excellent noise band from Detroit, including singer Niagara and late guitarist Ron Ashton – RBF, 2016] is probably my favorite band, and of course its predecessors, the Stooges and the MC5. Those and other odd, obscure bands, like Pavlov’s Dog.

FF: What about new bands?
Clark: The Stars That Wouldn’t Shine from Bard College is great.
Mikky: I just like whomever I happen to be listening to at that moment.
Ralph: It’s a free-for-all and you steal whatever you can get away with.

FF: Do you see a new psychedelia movement bubbling up?
Clark: Well, one does get the feeling of a new chapter starting occasionally.
Mikky: Coca-Cola and coffee are psychedelic these days.

FF: Where is each of you from?
Clark: I was born in Florida and raised in Detroit.
Mikky: New York
Ralph: South Beach, Miami.
Clark: Tom, our bass player, is from West Haven, Connecticut.

FF: You’ve come across as a very New York band.
Ralph: We’re a Florida band.
Mikky: We’re an American band.
Clark: Florida via New York.

FF: You have followings in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Digress a bit on these.
Clark: Well, in Baltimore, people actually flock to buy our record and even line up for autographs.
Mikky: John Waters has our record. I can see why he made those movies [Polyester, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, etc. – RBF, 1984]. They’re nice people. They write fan letters and make you feel it’s well worth it.
Ralph: Baltimore likes winners, as in ’83.
Mikky: They have pink hotel rooms.

FF: And what about Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love?
Clark: Well, we got the ol’ brotherly shove from the Philadelphia police, but the audience and club people are great. One person, whose name I won’t mention without permission, has really helped us win the hearts and minds of Philadelphia.
Mikky: When the police searched us, they wouldn’t touch Clark.

FF: Your debut record features a song called “Japan Must Be Stopped.” What was all the fuss over it?
Clark: We received a letter from the Japanese embassy, inquiring as to the intent of the song, but anyone who listens to the last verse carefully will know we’re actually flattering Japan.
Mikky: “Japan” is a hot record on progressive radio stations from Iowa to Maine, from Tampa to Clearwater, and, of course, New Jersey.
Ralph: There’s a Sex in Miami record-burning wave sweeping the Southeast. They’re buying them up and burning them down.

FF: What’s next?
Clark: Well, a record deal would be nice for starters. We’ve got about a hundred great songs now and even though we’re in the process of recording a couple of them, namely “Celebrities on Booze” and “Here Come the Magnetic Discs.” We’d rather not be forced to put it out ourselves.

FF: But if forced, would you?
Clark: Absolutely.

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