Morrissey's quiet desperation and romantic worldview continues to connect and inspire fans
"A lot of it has to do with the intensity of him as a person," says local Moz fan DJ Maladjusted (he prefers to be known by this moniker, which references a Morrissey solo album title), who will be hosting A Night Of Morrissey at Beauty Bar, March 6. "He's kind of a no-bullshit personality. He says what he wants and fuck all what people think of it. And his fans have carried that over into their devotion for him. I once saw a Morrissey concert in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I saw grown men fist-fighting each other for a piece of his shirt."
The garment war that Maladjusted is referring to was not an isolated incident. Since his days in the Smiths, Morrissey has had a strong proclivity toward disrobing on stage to flaunt his horribly gaunt (at least in the '80s and '90s) yet playfully arousing upper body -- and at some point began tossing his wardrobe into the audience, where they ritualistically tear the shirt to pieces like starving wolves being handed a single pork-loin. The fabrics often become both items of worship, a kind of pop shroud of turin, and a status of achievement, like a Lakota warrior collecting a scalp, or a sci-fi nerd owning The Star Wars Holiday Special on laser-disc.
If Maladjusted is right, and the lack of self-conscious censorship that Morrissey lives his life with is reflected in the shameless lengths to which his fans will go show their love, then it stands to reason that the religious rituals they've created around him are also a mirror of the singer's high-minded ideologies. Known to approach radicalism in the defense of animals, the Smiths alarmed parents with the title of their second album, Meat Is Murder, in a way not yet seen previously in rock music. To this day, no meat is served in a venue where Morrissey is performing, forcing McDonalds inside stadiums to close for the night; and once forcing him to walk off the stage at Coachella in 2009 after smelling cooked meat. "I can smell burning flesh," he said, "and I hope to God it's human."
Yet another way Morrissey baffled parents and enthused outcast teenagers was his confessions of asexuality. He would repeatedly state in interviews that he had no interest in sex with men or women, yet, at the same time, he would write lyrics and design album covers that gushed erotic desire like an open vein. He would live his days as a lone-wolf monk, yet at night, he'd enter the stage and unleash a libidinous rage on the audience, strip-teasing for them and flailing his tender skin about the air while singing lyrics of isolation like, "I've got no right to take my place in the human race," and "last night I dreamt that somebody loved me."