You don't often hear people from other parts of the state distinguish between Eastern Kentucky and Southeastern Kentucky, but it's true, they're different. Not a lot. Just enough to notice if you're the kind of person that notices things.
It really boils down to a feeling.
In Eastern Kentucky—in Pike and Floyd and Johnson and etc. Counties–you feel a lateral connection. You love the mountains, but you also love knowing that you can sneak out of them at any moment into the bluegrass or toward the sea. The old Appalachian aesthetic isn't gone here, but it's losing to bad billboards and fast food fluorescence. The people wear clothes from shopping malls in other cities.
In Southeastern Kentucky–in Perry and Harlan and Letcher and etc. Counties–it feels almost like you're in a terrarium, like one day you'll look up and a big eyeball will be staring down at you where the sun used to be. There's all these trains and train tracks and it's hard to think of them going anywhere except in circles. The WPA look is still on top, the mossy cold stone and gold-leaf lettering. You don't feel that breezy lateral connection either. You feel pressure. You feel the trees breathing on your neck. You know that beyond the mountains there are more mountains, and this either breaks you or hones you into an enlightened warrior.
Adam Brewer is a warrior. He is walking on the shoulder of Route 15 in Hazard, looking normal enough. Maybe he is going to his normal job in the stockroom at J.C. Penney in the Black Gold Plaza. Maybe he is going to buy some normal cat food for his normal cats. But put your ear up to the side of his head and listen like you would a conch shell. There is an ocean inside there that you would never suspect. It sounds like an old VHS recording with the volume way up. It's going:
ALL THE SICKNESS AND THE MADNESS AND THE FRUSTRATION OF WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE FEEL THAT I HAD BEFORE WRESTLEMANIA V IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT I FEEL NOW, RICK RUDE! THE AFTERMATH OF WRESTLEMANIA V, THE NUCLEAR WAR TAKING PART IN THE POWER OF MY BODY IS SOMETHING THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH! I WILL NOT RUN IN DEFEAT! I WILL NOT FEEL THE DISGUST THAT YOU WANT ME TO FEEL! BECAUSE THE WARRIORS WILL WIN! THEY WILL PASS THE TEST! ONLY A TEST THAT IT IS! THE WARRIOR WILL COME ABOVE ALL THE SLIME, ALL THE FILTH THAT YOU BROUGHT TO WRESTLEMANIA V! AND HE WILL PROVE TO THE WARRIORS THAT HAVE CLUNG TO THE BODY PARTS FOR MANY MONTHS THAT THE WARRIOR IS THE ONE TO SURVIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!
Did you hear? It's already started. The transformation. He's steeling his spirit for the ultimate smackdown. In just a few short hours he'll be at home and have his hair pulled back like a cage fighter, revealing his half-shaved skull. He'll have his shirt off and his pants around his ankles. His body will be dripping with sweat and he'll be writhing on the ground with a microphone halfway down his throat, exploding the eardrums of his best friends with threats of violence and calls to riot.
There will be no more Adam Brewer, small-town Penny's stockboy. No, when the door closes and he descends into his basement he'll be a whole new thing. He'll be the ultravicious Adaam Hussein, The Perry County Sheik, the lone globster of a one-madman band called Globsters.
In the darkness, with a few orbs of colored light passing across his face, he'll scream, "There's a lot of talk right now about where people can piss! Well I'll piss wherever I want! I'll piss in your mouth!"
And the whole structure will quake with approval as a battalion of fists pound against the low wooden ceiling.
It'll be so loud that no one even hears the miles of trains pass by, squealing around in circles inside the terrarium.
It'll be so hot that everyone's impurities evaporate into a fetid cloud that stings the eyes.
It'll be somebody's version of a nightmare.
It'll be somebody's version of a dream.
It'll be another unhinged night at The Cuddle House.
Ask somebody to tell you a little bit about themselves. It shouldn't be hard, but most people don't know what to do with it. Most people go, "Well, let's see here er um uh er I was born in blah blah blah…"
Not Adam Brewer.
"Tell me about yourself, Adam" is like lighting a fuse.
"I'm a punk!" he explodes. "I like wrasslin'! I like knives! I like dangerous shit! I like the bad side of life! Evil! Darkness! Sadness! Depression! Sexuality!"
And there's no way of mentioning what he says without mentioning how he says it. Yes, his accent is thick. His cats are caits and beers are byurs, for example, but that's not out of the ordinary. It's just that he sounds so damn sweet when he talks. And joyous. And old and young and male and female and rural and urban and sincere and sarcastic and everything all at once.
His voice, like everything else about him–his stooped gait, his saucer-sized glasses–puts him in a category that folks around here call "kindly queer".
It's got nothing to do with being gay. Or kind. It just means that you're not normal. Maybe you're a vegetarian Japanophile like Adam. Well, guess what? You're kindly queer.
He's caught a little hell for it, but whatever.
"Other people's opinion don't matter to me. I've been made fun of. I get made fun of a lot for the way I talk. My accent. And that hurts my feelings sometimes. But if you wanna make fun of the way I talk go on ahead."
So right now bands are starting to show up for Volume 19 of The Cuddle House gigs, the 1000-decibel freak shows Adam has been hosting for over a year. He likes to bill them like that, in volumes, because that's how they do it in Japan. The Cuddle House name is just an homage to he and his girlfriend's favorite Hazard restaurant, The Huddle House. They go there every chance they get. He likes to get a vegetable omelette and a big ol' waffle. He wishes he could figure out how to make them at home.
This particular show has him crazed. It's going to be the best one yet. He's been trying to get these guys to come forever. He's got Tenement coming in from Wisconsin, Big Zit from Indiana, and The Elsinores from Lexington. The Google Boys, the "East Kentucky Feminist Noisecore" band he plays in with his girlfriend Katie and their friends Mikie and Lillian, is on the bill, too.
Adam opens every show by himself as Globsters.
He's stomping around from room to room in his shit-kicking boots, stirring a pan of vegetarian black bean taco stuff every now and then so the bands can eat, wearing a peaked policeman's cap and wielding a billy club.
"Haha! Bet ya'll didn't know I was a cop, too, huh? Yeah! I'm Hazard's most violent cop! I put this on and I whoop some ass!"
He opens the fridge and tells everybody don't be shy.
"I got ya'll a big case of water. I got sodie pap if ye like sodie pap. Mountain Holler! Yeah! The real deal! Straight from Save-A-Lot! Our house is your all's house!"
Just don't let the cats out. That's the #1 rule. There's a poster of Stone Cold Steve Austin on the front door that says, "Don't let the cats out! Shut the door! And that's the bottom line! Cause Stone Cold said so!"
There's loads of other wrestling stuff around The Cuddle House, too. All part of the general combat theme. There's a whole room devoted to Adam's passions, all of the warrior's totems. Knives. Records. Action figures. Weapons.
"This is what I like. You can't fake who you are, you know, but it's hard around here when you gotta hold back the biggest things in your life. I know if I go to work and talk about Japanese hardcore or whatever I'm just gonna look like an asshole. So I just keep my head down."
Not at home. Not in The Cuddle House. Here it's all exclamation points. He swings around a homemade skull-crushing implement called a monkey knot and points to a flag on the wall that says, "KILL 'EM ALL, LET GOD SORT 'EM OUT!"
"Yeah! This is what I'm about right here! This is me! I wanna get the 'Don't Tread on Me' flag but instead of 'Don't Tread on Me' I want it to say 'Please Don't Tread on Me or Talk to Me or Even Fuckin' Look at Me!'"
Knowing that, or hearing some of his own lyrics (Get nonhuman! Grow a tail! Cut it off! Whip somebody with it!), you probably wouldn't guess that a good chunk of his record collection is country. Keith Whitley is right in there with all the obscure Italian hardcore.
"Hell yeah! Keith Whitley is my favorite fuckin' singer of all time! That motherfucker can sing! He's a real Kentucky hero. I wear a Keith Whitley button on my guitar strap. I take a lot of pride in being from Kentucky. People ask me what kind of music I play and I tell 'em. I say, 'I play Kentucky's ultimate music only!' No other band in Kentucky plays music like me. And I'll go toe-to-toe with any band from Kentucky that wants to. I'll show their ass up! I'll stomp their ass!"
And he would, too. Practice all you want, but when the globster starts globbing he's unstoppable. His sound will clothesline you.
"I take a lot of wrasslin' and put it into my music. My favorite wrasslers are guys like Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody. They really hurt people."
Stan Hansen is the guy that famously knocked superheavyweight Vader's eyeball out of its socket in 1990.
"Yeah! They call it hittin' stiff! Strong style! That's why I call my music Hazard Strong Style!"
That philosophy translates into songs that are the sonic equivalent of a molotov cocktail. They're super short and super loud, full of pop culture samples and righteous anger.
He makes them alone on his computer and uploads them to the internet. For live performances–in trailers, warehouses, basements, garages–he just hits play on an iPod or whatever and goes insane.
In a nice dress and lipstick or borderline naked with a blindfold wrapped around his head, he'll segue from one rant-laden tune to the next with bizarro non sequiturs two inches from your face. Maybe he would like to politely inform you that we are presently living in a dystopian future predicted long ago. Maybe you should know that you are being turned into a website. Maybe Doctor Who isn't as cool as you think it is, idiot.
Outside The Cuddle House, stickered-to-death cars are parked bumper to bumper in the thick weeds and all the kindly queer people are starting to make their way into the basement, aka The Karaoke Dungeon.
There's a mason jar of moonshine making the rounds. Even when you can't see it you can here that inimitable sound, like a broken cymbal, of its lid screwing on and off.
Inside and upstairs, Adam Brewer thanks everybody again for showing up from wherever they came from. He promises he'll talk to them after the show. He's not going to be himself for a while. Or maybe he is.
He says, "Uh huh! Yeah! Last time I played with these dudes I was sick as a dog and I played real shitty and I felt bad, but now I get to redeem myself and play good because I'm not sick!"
Down the old wooden stairs he goes, the globbingest Globster into the twitching globster mob. He plugs this in and unplugs that. He cracks the mic chord like a whip. The lights go out. Somebody presses play and it's on.
EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A PUNK BUT NOBODY WANTS TO PAY THE FUCKING PRICE! YOU GOT SOMEPLACE ELSE YOU WANNA BE!? HUH!? YOU WANNA BE AT HOME WATCHING NETFLIX!? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT!? GET YOUR ASS IN HERE!! LET'S GO!!!
Over in the corner there's an uneasy looking group. They're not a big group but their representatives are at every Globsters show. You can see them in the background of all the shaky cell phone footage of past performances. They're the ones who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Maybe they came in from a big city outside of Kentucky and thought they'd seen it all. Now they're standing there watching some small-town guy burn from the inside out and realizing that the world doesn't stop where the mountains start.
They're easy to spot. Their mouths fall open and their eyeballs hang out of their sockets just like Vader's did when Stan Hansen got ahold of him over in Japan back in 1990.
OR WOULD YOU RATHER WATCH DOCTOR WHOOOO!? DOCTOR WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT THAT SHIT!!!
Adaam Hussein from the top rope, folks!
The Perry County Sheik!
Hazard Strong Style!
Globsters debut LP "Express Everything" is due out this September on East Kentucky's own Karmic Swamp Records (karmicswamp.org)
Like Globsters and Google Boys on Facebook for up-to-date information on future happenings at The Cuddle House, or contact Adam Brewer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org