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POP MUSIC REVIEW : County Might Be Outrageous but She Proves She Can Rock

February 16, 1996|CHUCK CRISAFULLI and Jayne County performs tonight at Club Cherry, 657 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 10 p.m. (213) 896-9099.

From the Kinks' "Lola" to Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady," rock 'n' roll has frequently had a bit of fun with gender-bending. The genders have rarely been as bent, however, as in the case of Jayne County--formerly Wayne County--the cheerfully outrageous transsexual icon of punk.

County is a survivor of the early-'70s Manhattan underground scene that included the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers, and on Wednesday at the Viper Room she proved she's still a vital presence with a powerfully entertaining set of fast, loud, rock 'n' roll decadence.

A striking figure in stockings, lingerie and formidable platinum-blond wig, County generated instant goodwill with hammy humor and a larger-than-life persona. As her superbly tight three-piece backup band ripped into its primal riffs, County swayed from genteel mannerisms to demented abandon like a punk-rock Blanche Dubois.

County doesn't sing so much as preach, although with such printable titles as "Toilet Love," "Trans-Gender Rock 'n' Roll" and "Man Enough to Be a Woman," she clearly has some uncommon notions of what constitutes salvation. She summed up her taboo-tweaking philosophy during some between-song patter, declaring, "I believe in freaks."

County could get by on oddly vivacious persona alone, but for all her cartoonishness on stage, she clearly takes the music seriously. She may be freaky, but this exuberantly twisted performer still delivers some very straightforward rock 'n' roll pleasure.

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