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Ain't misbehavin'? Blender won't bother

The pop music magazine spins around the sordid, the psycho and the silly.

June 13, 2005|Peter Carlson | Washington Post

Courtney Love beat Diana Ross, whipped Jack White, pummeled 50 Cent and crushed Suge Knight. Now she's in the finals of Blender magazine's "First-Ever Ultimate Fighting Championship."

It's a battle for the coveted title of "The Ultimate Rock & Roll Psycho," and for Love to win, she has to face Jerry Lee Lewis, a man who shot his bassist, stabbed a magazine editor and married his 13-year-old cousin. Lewis defeated rappers C-Murder and DMX and heavy metal's G.G. Allin in the preliminary rounds, and now he's ready for Love.

Bing! The bell rings! They go at it!

Well, not really. This is a purely theoretical battle, staged only in the demented minds of the savants at Blender. It's just another of Blender's delightfully daffy high-concept rock stories, right up there with "The Most Awesomely Mediocre Artists of All Time," which ran earlier this year, much to the chagrin of folks who like Sonny Bono, Art Garfunkel and Clarence Clemons.

And the winner is ... well, if you want to find out who took the ultimate psycho title, you'll just have to buy Blender.

Created in 2001 by Felix Dennis, the mad genius who brought us Maxim, Stuff and the Week, Blender is the pop music magazine that doesn't take pop music too seriously.

Some rock mags see pop stars as poets, sensitive artists and the voices of their generation. Blender sees pop stars as nut jobs, drunks, stoners, sex maniacs, careerists and hype-mongers who occasionally produce good music.

But Blender isn't a muckraking or moralizing magazine. The editors revel in rock misbehavior. They seem to believe the arrests, overdoses, brawls and car crashes of your average pop star are at least as entertaining as his or her music.

Blender brings its readers stories they just can't get any place else. When Rob Thomas, lead singer of Matchbox 20, announces that his dog was "sexually abused by his previous owner," Blender lets us know. When Britney Spears visits an "energy healer" in a Malibu strip mall, Blender prints a picture of the healer waving his hands over her head.

And when a sex video featuring Fred Durst, the potbellied lead singer of Limp Bizkit, appears on the Internet, Blender not only quotes a porn "expert" who gives it an erotic rating -- "zero" -- it also conducts a survey asking readers whose sex video they'd least like to see.

But Blender doesn't just report these items, it gives them perspective, pointing out where they fit into the long and glorious history of rock knuckleheadedness.

Any mag can report that X rocker is dating Y actress, but Blender gave us "The 25 Hottest Rock & Roll Galpals," including Christie Brinkley, Carmen Electra, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, whom Blender identifies as "The Farrah Fawcett for the Teeth-Whitener Generation."

And who can forget "The A-Z of Rock & Roll Sex Scandals," which appeared in May? It featured "the seamiest moments in music history," in alphabetical order from Anderson, Pamela to Zeppelin, Led.

It's this long-view historical perspective that lifts Blender above other rock mags, and it may explain why Blender edged Spin in circulation this year -- up to about 600,000 -- and is second only to Rolling Stone, which sells 1.2 million copies an issue.

Blender's sense of history is also apparent in its CD reviews, which are voluminous, pungent and readable. In the April issue, Blender reviewed the Mars Volta CD "Frances the Mute" and found it hard-rocking but pretentious: "There is an entire minute of bird chirping at the beginning of the suite called 'Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore,' followed by nearly three minutes of mystery noise and Cedric-wail."

Whether it's shooting spitballs at rock pretentiousness or wallowing in rock raunch, Blender is the rock 'n' roll mag with the rock 'n' roll spirit.

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