Somewhere in Friedrichshain, in a hinter-hinter-house, through a dark archway between a Kebap shop and a private club, tucked away in a cluttered courtyard and down a set of worn, stone steps – there, lies Taka-Tuka land. And there ventured I, one dark night. The occasion for this adventure? A birthday party for Pirate King Holgar to be celebrated with a secret performance by those deadly darlings, Cobra Killer.
Down the steps, through two heavy sets of black curtains, to where the Pirate Queens lie reclined on their beach chairs, in a sand-filled corner, dressed in matching brown leather detective coats and slugging away on their pre-show bottles of wine…
They are basking in the attention of their admirers and playthings, and I certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt that fun, so I go to the bar for a squat version of a cocktail in a plastic cup – pirate style. Then I meander through the rest of the cellar to familiarise myself with the lay of the land. There are three largish- rooms with low ceilings and crumbling brick. A few broken down bits of seating, another bar and, tucked away in the corner, a large hole. I see boots and hear loud laughter coming from that hole, so I investigate. Poking my head through, I narrowly miss having it severed it off by a flying dagger. Ahoy mateys! – knife- throwing! The locals generously offer me a turn decimating the styrofoam dummy and in this way I while away the time until Cobra Killer start.
The gig starts indeed with a rousing round of “Sea Robber Fabian!” theme from “Pippi Longstocking in Taka-Tuka Land” (and perhaps the inspiration for this club?) lead by the birthday boy (picture right) in full Jolly Roger regalia.
Then the girls capture the stage in their usual vicious-victorious fashion: turning on the cheering applause sample, snapping on latex gloves, stripping off the leather coats and assuming winning poses on Eric Stanton stilettos. They launch into their current opener: “My own sodden wad”. Marching in time and singing like smartass, taunting, schoolgirls “Winter, summer, spring, I don’t want no king”. It’s not long before Anika, politely known as “the one with the tits” starts launching herself into the crowd with all the lustiness and abandon of David Johannson. Swooning and collapsing, it is a shocking pleasure to watch. But not so much to listen to so far on this night, as the sound, mastered by the handsome young Valentine, is on full blast like cannonballs in your ear…
Gina, the other Killer, is wearing her old figure-skating costume – her trademark lacy light blue ‘party-girl’ dress having been destroyed by too many sweaty antics in the Australian summer. I gather her figure- skating peak was around the age of twelve, for the dress is very small. She shows a lot of crack – not to bad effect, and the dress contributes to the Killer’s image of girls not grown up, who don’t wanna grow up, who want to have fun and tease you, and please you and scare you and love you a little bit too.
Several songs follow – all the while wine is poured down and around and over. Perfectly timed singing and gestures sometimes continue the effect of the girls’ offering to the school variety show. Song lyrics seem drawn from 50s mod, girl groups and personal experiences: “Hey Stoker, come on stoke”, “Much, much better”, Psycho-Cat – “Don’t leave me alone ‘cause I will mess up your flat, I’ll like to piss on your records and puke underneath your bed – Are we bad? Are we bad? Are we bad? Are we bad? Are we bad?” Yes indeed.
A lull occurs while Valentine struggles to control the belching machine. The girls decide to launch into a new song they learned while touring in Australia: the Kookaburra song. Maybe you know it – it goes like this:
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bushes, he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be –
They sing it over and over and over to the point of insanity.
Annika and Gina have known each other and played in bands together since early adolescence, so it’s not hard to imagine them sitting in the backseat of the parents’ car, engaging in this naughty behaviour. Now the Killers urge the audience to join in, cajoling them.
When everyone grows bored of this diversion, Annika takes out a hoola-hoop, and slurs breathlessly into her microphone: “I’m very good at this.” And by god she is! What other talents has this woman been bestowed with? Two hoola-hoops at once…
Finally they demand more bottles of wine – or rather sekt – and resume the show. The Killer’s samples are self-written and produced, although reminiscent of Gina’s work with Patric Catani (as EC8OR) and the manic, control-chaos-noise of Alexander Hacke. Dirty, delicious sounds.
Alas, the pirate crowd tonight is not so up to it as others I’ve seen, in fact, the downbeat crusty girls seem mostly put off by the show and the energy isn’t lifting. It’s hard to be a chick watching Cobra Killer. It’s not like Madonna where the sexual element is removed, packaged and ‘safe’ – the Killers are directly in your face, doing what you want to be doing. Not that the boys get off that easily – caught in Annika’s smother-hug and rolling around on the floor or, as described by a spectator at their recent gig in Bastard, “getting humped by her tits”. Yes, yes, maybe it sounds good, but imagine 200 people watching your reaction to this action. It’s therapy – shocked therapy.
Still, musically, charismatically (and otherwise?), Cobra Killer always come out on top. They hijack any occasion. At the pirate gig in Taka-Tuka land the title of a Kathy Acker book kept running through my head: “Pussy the Pirate King”. The plot is about a “group of debauched female pirates [who] hijack the plot of Treasure Island and take off in search of some testosterone-free utopia.” And the dust jacket trumpets, “This “grrrl pirate story” is the “literary analogue to the wild girl energy that dominates our rock and roll culture in the 1990s”. Update that to 2002 and you’ve got C.K. Maybe you will be their next stowaway…