Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Elton and Betty White

Oh bOINGbOING, you just redeemed yourself for the bookshelf wallpaper!
They have a post up about Elton and Betty White, a couple I remember well from Open Mike nights at a Little Rock punk club in the late 80's. You would see them around town too, in their sequined swimsuits and sombreros. Some of the crustiest, most cynical, and "hate the world" kids in the LR punk scene at the time, regarded the White's as sort of proxy grandparents, non-judging, nurturing, and a haven from the close-minded conformity which was the status quo in the region at the time. (Or at least so it seemed to teen-agers with green hair.)
I remember no less a crusty than Bircho, at the time drummer for Crooked-But-Responsible and later to move onto punk-rock infamy as member of Trusty, waxing nostalgic about the warmth and safety the Whites offered him as a runaway on Little Rocks unkind streets, and especially about Betty's homemade cookies.

Every once and a while, I Google the Whites, though Betty has passed, because I need a little of the sanity they provide me. That's right folks, the Dragon said it regarding the Whites... SANITY! They proved to this young lizard, that you can be your own person with style, humor and grace, that sex can be a good thing worth talking about, and that the truths of the heart are far more important than conventional wisdom.

Dang, I'm actually tearing up, writing this.

Anyway, so it looks like the Whites have a MySpace page, which you can find by clicking on the title link.

The Whites later moved to Venice Beach, where I understand they were no longer quite the big weird fish in a small pond, though they did have a public access TV show.

Here's a clip of them in Venice Beach.
And here's one from their Public Access show.
Several years ago I found a video of fellow Arkansawyer, Janor Hypercleats of the Church of the Subgenius on their TV show, but I can't scare it up now. If anyone has access to it, the Dragon would be eternally in your debt.

From the Whites' MySpace Page:

Elton and Betty White were a musical duo from Little Rock, Arkansas who charmed the hearts of all who would listen with their disarmingly honest and hilarious songs. Not only were they and their music extremely weird, but they also lived (and chronicled in their music) one of the greatest, most touching love stories in the annals of history (or at least Arkansas). Much of what is known about the two at this point is conjecture or rumor, but a rough outline of their legend goes as follows:

In the early 1980's, Betty was a more or less normal, married secretary in her late 50's/early 60's at a Little Rock law firm (allegedly working with Hillary Clinton) with a slight psychiatric problem for which she took medication. At some point, though, she stopped taking her medication and experienced a psychic and sexual renaissance of grandiose proportions: out with the husband and respectable job, in with the matching hot pink hair-do and spandex pants.

Elton, meanwhile, was a much younger (30 years younger, to be exact!) man renowned in Little Rock for his phenomenal basketball skills until the day he claims someone "put something in his drink." Elton met Betty in a homeless shelter, and it was love at first sight. The two were married and became notable Little Rock eccentrics, playing music all around town while sometimes delivering newspapers on the side. Elton ran for a seat in Congress, while Betty challenged Bill Clinton in an Arkansas gubernatorial race with the sole platform of lowering the age of consent to 14.

During this time they recorded at least three albums: "The Best of Elton and Betty" (which is not a compilation), "Sex Beyond the Door," and the mysterious, elusive "Hard Deep Sex Explosion." Each album - but "Sex Beyond the Door" in particular - is a searingly honest, bizarre gem in which the two expound on aspects of their daily lives and sexual inclinations while playing dubiously-tuned ukuleles and tiny guitars. "I Am the Master of Love," "I'm In Love With Your Behind," "I Don't Really Like Oral Sex Much at All," "The Little Dicks Fit Me Best," "My Three Feet Red Hot Tongue Is Sweet as Sugar," "Your Breast, I'd Love to Carresst [sic]" - it is through songs such as these that the true depth of their love for each other is revealed, in the process making their oeuvre arguably the most listenable and entertaining in the entire genre of Outsider Music.

Having had their fill of Little Rock and frustrated by the sometimes provincial nature of its entertainment industry, the pair moved to California's Venice Beach sometime in the early 1990's, where they delighted tourists on the famous boardwalk and even got their own public access TV show.

Betty died in 2004, never having known the level of respect or success she deserved. Her legacy of brilliant, hilarious music, though, lives on, and plans to revitalize Elton's career are in the works.

From their immortal classic "Climaxation (is a Sweet Sensation)":

Don't hold back your good feelings, In sweet love there is healing.


Anonymous said...


I met them many times as they were a fixture in Little Rock and very friendly. I can remember driving down the freeway screaming my head off at some assholes in an old Lincoln Towncar driving 40mph on the freeway and then seeing the Sombrero on Elton. I couldn't stay mad at them... Nice people very strange they have been missed. In fact they left Little Rock in that very car to be on the Leno show but they never made it to LA and the story is that they either broke down in Arizona or just liked it enough to stay a while.

Punkelf, Donavan actually has some of the original old cassettes they were selling @ live gigs we saw them live at @ Juanita's.... a packeds house : )

The last memory I have of Betty was of her pulling her hat of and proudly proclaiming that she shaved her head.

My favorite song by them is The Little Dicks Fit Me Best by Betty. Once you have heard it you can't erase it from your head.

Iain De Sane

Combatscoot said...

Sounds like folks I would've wanted to meet.

Chus said...

This is what I think: Betty White


We also love Elton and Betty very much. They recorded over 275 songs in Little Rock. We finally got the rights to publish and release all of the Elton and Betty tapes on CD.

Please visit the official Elton and Betty myspace for more.

Watch for the Oxford American Magazine 10 Year Anniversary issue/CD featuring 2 cuts and a huge spread about the duo that has warmed our hearts for so long...

RIP Betty.