Baptized as a bondage bottom by Misty Martinez at Pat’s In The Flats


There are two Cleveland concerts I promoted back in the day that, for whatever reason, have kept people talking ever since—even decades later (I’m writing this in 2022).

The first is My Name Is Rar-Rar at Speak In Tongues in the fall of 2001.

See the unbelievable Rar-Rar pics here

The other is Misty Martinez at Pat’s In The Flats with Oblongata and Whales (featuring Beckett Warren of Begit N Frenz) on Saturday, April 27, 2002.

Misty Martinez Liz Armstrong Sean Carnage

Original show poster: Sean Carnage

Misty, Misty, Misty… Clevelanders ask me about her still.

Friends and strangers post comments on my social media. “Do you have any photos of Misty Martinez at Pat’s?” “Unforgettable concert.” “Turned how I thought about music on its ass.”

And, uhh, “You got soaked, dude.” (More on that in a bit.)

It seems Misty’s performance just knocked ’em out.

Truth be told, this show knocked me out of the concert promotion game for awhile—at least at venues other than the recording studio I lived in back then (The Invisible City, a co-production with my roommate Mike Shumaker).

This was THE disruptive, change-your-thinking event no one—least of all me—ever expected it to be.

In many ways this Misty / Oblongata / Beckett extravaganza was yet another component of what became the blueprint for a ten-year stint of blockbuster gigs for me in L.A. with Sean Carnage Monday Nights.

CHECK IT: A decade of D.I.Y. is now online—the complete Monday Night photos, dates & performers

This Pat’s show was the first manifestation of a now-classic Carnage formula: take the foot off the ‘rock’ pedal just a bit (my more typical ’90s, U.S. Rocker-influenced inclination was to jam it 100% past the floorboard). There’s no need to prove you’re a purist. The 21st Century is a hybrid. Revel in it.

Throw in performance art / Electroclash / music you can dance to—restore the ‘girls ‘n gays’ vibe (my tribe) that I loved from art school parties long ago. And end the evening with an insane blast that leaves the ragers rolling on the floor, their heads quite literally exploding.

Listen & learn all about the ‘Carnage method’ with No Wave icon Lydia Lunch

I have to thank Misty and the rest of the performers on this long-ago cold April night for showing me the way.

But it wasn’t an easy journey to get there. Here’s what happened:

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

The lady & the lake: Misty Martinez rolls her eyes at my pool of tears. All photos: Sean Carnage.

Misty Martinez was the self-styled “theatrical temptress” alter ego of Chicagoan Liz Armstrong, who I had met through Weasel Walter and the late great Tom Smith when genre-busting noise collective To Live And Shave In L.A., which Liz performed in, stayed at my place circa 1999.

See: To Live And Shave In L.A. …In L.A.!!!

Liz’s day job was underground scene reporter and feature writer at Chicago Reader, and later at Vice.

Liz was and is an artist and storyteller of high caliber. She trains her humanistic, empathic gaze on outsiders that mainstreamers would consider freaks and turns the experiences into revealing art and reporting. I really appreciate what she’s done over the years.

I saw Liz/Misty do her thing on her home turf at Roby’s in Chicago in 2000 when I played with Weasel in The Devil Bell Hippies.

Later, after TLASILA splintered into To Live And Shave In L.A. 2 (minus founder Tom), the group stayed at my place in Cleveland once again.

I already thought Misty & crew were cool, but after TLASILA2‘s show at Speak In Tongues—I was in serious awe. Even after a decade plus of seeing out-there, f’ed-up transgressive shows of all kinds, this concert stood out as the most unhinged, completely insane performance I’d ever experienced.

It began with guitarist Weasel (of the Flying Luttenbachers, Lake Of Dracula, et al) flipping out on acid.

Read about Lake Of Dracula in U.S. Rocker

Nondor Nevai joined in, obliviously singing/drumming “We Are The World” at the highest possible volume bare-chested, clad in leather assless chaps and Slayer-like spiked cuffs (we’re talking 4″ polished spikes here… watch your eyes, kids).

Read the continuing adventures of Nondor Nevai—plus icon Don Bolles!—in Los Angeles

Then Rat Bastard (Frank Falestra of Laundry Room Squelchers / International Noise Conference fame) unleashed a maelstrom of random guitar noise form a miniscule amp.

See the photos: The International Noise Conference 2010 totally slays L.A.

Watch: The International Noise Conference documentary

Out of nowhere, this tiny individual—Liz, in dominatrix garb and fully submerged in her Misty persona—lept on, around and over an old-ass punk dump sofa that was sitting in the middle of the floor.

Misty was truly mesmerizing in her flea-like ability to bounce and tumble and jump and scream, all the while (literally) kicking the dudes’ butts with 6″ platform stripper heels.

At one point TLASILA focussed their collective fury onto that poor old sofa and—in what seemed like three minutes flat—the awful couch was completely vivisected and obliterated. (Liz and Weasel told me later that they had accidentally become attached to said sofa when huge nails protruding from the mangled frame became attached to their flesh. Ouchies.)

Sometime afterward, Liz hit me up.

Misty Martinez was releasing an album called Special Brush. Would I like a copy? Why, yes of course, how generous.

I’ve uploaded my copy of Special Brush for you to listen because the music is so superb

The CD she sent was terrifically cool. I guess it fit into the burgeoning Electroclash movement that was brewing at that time. But this was spiky disco reduced to purple drank speeds. We’re talking sloooow and sparse. More like Conny Plank and Holger Czukay’s Les Vampyrettes than Peaches.

Light years from the raunchy confusion of TLASILA2, Special Brush was haunted/haunting other-space boogie music.

One of my favorite tracks on the CD is the third one, called “Diagram Me.”

Click here to skip directly to “Diagram Me”

The music is incredible—what sounds like filter-swept electric guitar bursts over skittering electro breakdowns. The echo-dripping lyrics are also super clever: “I don’t care if you’re a lady or a man / I’m a pony / you measure me in hands.”

Perfectly encapsulates the trampling pony girl power of Misty Martinez’s persona. A Noise Rock Nugget if there ever was one.

When Liz called and asked if I might be interested in booking her, I jumped at the chance. “Yes, of course!”

“Okay, well, before you say yes I have some very specific asks for the show,” Liz said semi-mysteriously as I remember.

“Like a rider?” I asked. Was this going to be Van Halen “no brown M&Ms” type shit? If I only knew then what was in store for me…

Misty Martinez Liz Armstrong Special Brush album CD cover“I’ll fax it to you,” Liz said. Fortunately I still had a fax machine leftover from the U.S. Rocker days.

Liz and I locked in the date, agreed to work together on the show, and then I signed off. And waited for that fax.

What came through the machine was part manifesto / part treasure hunt list of artifacts I’ve never been requested to procure for a band before or since (and that’s saying something—I’ve promoted thousands of bands).

Here’s a partial recap of what Misty Martinez required (forgive me if my memory is off twenty years later but this captures the gist of it):

  • 1 – Wading pool, preferably inflatable (no hard plastic)—must not be too small to appear toylike
  • Fill the pool with a minimum of 8 gallons natural spring water, preferably imported, flat—no bubbles; water should be room temperature—not chilled; no tap water!
  • The bill for the night must NOT include noise bands! No noise! This is a party. Not a dude fest.
  • Green room needed for costume changes.

This show would have been perfect for Speak In Tongues, but that venue had been closed for several months at this point.

READ: The second to last Speak In Tongues show was the best Christmas of all time

So after securing Pat’s In The Flats, I set about getting Misty’s required supplies in a methodical way.

Read all my posts about Pat’s In The Flats

Misty Martinez Liz Armstrong Special Brush album CD backFirst up—the wading pool: not an easy ask in Cleveland in the midst of a winter weather relapse.

Yes, snow happens in Cleveland in April. Pretty often, actually.

I remember driving all over Northeast Ohio to hardware stores and D.I.Y. Home Centers and everywhere I went, they all just laughed. “You’re a few months too early, son. Can’t you see there’s white on the ground?”

Fortunately Danny Noonan—friend, SIT booker/resident, lead singer of one of the great Cleveland bands of the era, Junking Theory—invited me to this new joint he was working at out on the edge of town—a new place called “Target”?

READ: An oral history of Junking Theory, one of 1999’s greatest bands

Misty Martinez Liz Armstrong Special Brush album CD insertI had never seen the inside of a Target before. It’s hard to remember back when these were ever not ubiquitous. Chez Tar-jay reminded me of Kmart but apparently it was cool because all the Westlake moms and families were packing the aisles. Plus they had wading pools—and spring water! So I filled my station wagon with the goods, and then carried the water jugs upstairs to my place, carefully sitting them near the heater until gig time so Misty didn’t get hypothermia.

What was Misty going to do with the water and a pool? “A baptism?” Mike Shumaker suggested. That had to be it! Some ironic religious mumbo jumbo. I’m on to you, Misty, I thought to myself. I still had no clue.

I was really proud of the other performers—Misty’s openers. I had been working with Oblongata and Beckett Warren for a number of years at this point and they were really at the vanguard of the absurdist/underground approach to life, besides being excellent performers and musicians.

Read: “Speak In Tongues on the Eastside”: Oblongata, Razak Solar System & Beckett take the Grog Shop

Post-9/11 a lot of us felt the 20th century was fully done and the only way to stave off the bellicose Bush-era mutations our country was going through was to out-weird them. In retrospect the efficacy of this strategy is up for debate but that’s what we were chasing at that time.

The night of the show arrived: I carefully prepared the stage area for Misty Martinez.

I set up the pool. I had to borrow a pump to inflate it which necessitated another drive around town. I zoomed back to the venue and, fully inflated, the pool now burbled with the warmish spring water. We closed the larger rest room and converted it into Misty’s green room. I aimed heaters at the stage.

Folks began to arrive. Oblongata and Beckett were all set up to open for the great Misty. Now all we had to do was wait…

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Misty Martinez is not impressed.

At ten minutes before showtime, Misty Martinez arrived, costumed and stage-ready, with a small entourage. I am very specific in calling her “Misty” because I could tell the second she walked in, this was not Liz but her alter ego.

Misty took one look at the growing throng—clad in their thick coats and boots (Cleveland is not a pretentious or fancy place)—and the Oblongata dudes arranging their pedals on stage, and immediately I saw her temperature rise.

Without even saying hello, Misty bellowed, “I told you NO NOISE!

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

The place was packed—the crowd was on pins & needles. I see Beckett and Nick Kelley there.

As the DJ had not started playing yet, Misty’s proclamation was like nails across the chalkboard, and a whole bunch of audience members (read: close friends) craned their necks around to see me cringe submissively.

I was in big freaking trouble.

“I-I-I-uhhhh…” I stammered.

It’s funny ‘cuz I never thought of Oblongata or Whales/Beckett as “noise” bands per se. I would’ve booked other dance acts but I just didn’t know of any operating in Cleveland at that point in time, and I kinda knew everyone.

If only I’d been aware of The Foreign Exchange Students—d’oh!

Besides, despite their ‘noise dude’ looks, Oblongata and Beckett were the arty progressive crowd—SIT survivors. Uncategorizable, open-minded weirdos.

Misty was having none of this.

“You didn’t do what I said!” She appeared furious. Misty even stamped her high-heeled foot imperiously for extra emphasis.

Right then I realized: appearances matter! And it appeared that I had broken the rider. OH GAWD WHAT HAVE I DONE?

But was this real anger or part of a performance…?

“Put me on now and then I’m out of here,” Misty demanded.

“But—but—you’re the star of the show,” I pleaded. “The headliner. Won’t you please reconsider?” I was seriously worried as it was only 9:30pm and Clevelanders, notorious hard workers and late-night partiers, were likely to show up late expecting this To Live And Shave superstar from Chicago… and find only two local bands?

If I didn’t play this right, I’d have TWO furious contingents to deal with.

I groveled out in the open, there was nowhere to take the discussion backstage—Misty’s coterie had already filled the “green room” with costumes and such.

“I play now or I leave—NOW,” Misty stood firm.

I bowed my head and kind of backed away and grabbed John from Oblongata and Beckett and told them we’d be flipping the bill around. They guys had heard Misty dressing me down and were highly sympathetic. “Sure, no problem.” (Later, Beckett said, “I’d have walked out if I knew someone called me a noise guy!”).

Oblongata quickly cleared the offending guitar pedals from the stage area and we brought the lights down.

Misty Martinez’s beats quickly came up on the PA and we were off…

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

The girls know Misty Martinez.

Misty slinked onto the stage and just the site of her—a Catholic schoolgirl / stripper / Electroclash angel—made folks gasp.

What really impressed me was that all the women in attendance immediately got it and were intrigued. They gathered around Misty—you can see it in the photos.

Spontaneous lady gang.

That’s a sign something special was happening.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

When Misty broke into a zoned-out version of ZZ Top’s “Sleeping Bag” I heard the still-growing, capacity crowd roar enthusiastically.

Misty had the audience in the palm of her hand whether she knew it or not.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

I stalked Misty with my camera.

The crowd was not moving much but their jaws were agape, their eyes were wide open—they were way into it.

No one had never seen anything like this—multiple choreographed costume changes! female-powered indie sleaze!—or heard club music so off-kilter.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

But the lack of physical reaction—no dancing happened (this was Cleveland after all)—seemed to stoke Misty’s rage further.

In between songs she was giving me the death stare of all time. Absolutely withering.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

John Bernard, John Rodemann, Denny Lewalk, Brendan Sedlak.

One mystery remained: there was this huge pool of expensive imported spring water, perfectly warmed, sitting in the middle of the area, and Misty had not even acknowledged it yet.

Why had I procured this?

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Suddenly Misty broke character, or so it seemed, and smiled. Come over here, Sean, she seemed to beckon with her hands. My camera and I moved to the center. Come here, come here, Misty waved at me as she moved centerstage in front of the pool.

I guess pool time had arrived—finally.

Misty made a big deal about positioning me on the other side of the pool. She signaled to crouch down. I was under her spell at this point. I was just above water level with my lens, wondering what would happen next…

Misty put both hands near the water’s surface, caressing it slowly, luxuriously… AND THEN LAUNCHED TWO CUPPED HANDS OF WATER DIRECTLY AT MY FACE!

And then she did it again. And AGAIN.

So before I can even get my bearings or move out of the way, I am completely soaked from head to toe, and so is my camera. Holy shit!

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Misty Martinez is no angel.

The question of who was getting baptized this night was finally answered: it was I. I was the mark.

I made a ‘womp-womp’ face as everyone in the crowd laughed. Misty feigned laughter as well but I could see her mouthing, I’m gonna murdalize you.

So yeah, all that searching for a pool and I’m the one who got dunked.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

As Misty’s final beats evaporated into the ether a HUGE round of hooting and applause rose from the crowd.

But would we get an encore? Nope!

Misty walked off stage, a helper put a (fake) fur coat around her and she pointed at me, “Give me my money now—I’m leaving.”

More public humiliation for old Seannie. I was bright red in the face from embarrassment at this point.

But I also felt like, well, maybe I just became the bottom in the best bondage/dominance performance Pat’s In The Flats had ever witnessed… kinda cool.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Now, someone had once told me to never, ever pay performers out until the end of the evening.

You never know how much money you’re going to make—or what may get broken.

I’ve followed this advice assiduously my entire career.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

But on this occasion, I made a sole exception. I gave Misty’s helper multi-handfuls of cash.

Enough was enough! I had been thoroughly beaten. And I was sopping wet.

I felt like I caught a little smile on Liz’s face as Misty stormed out the door. Had all of that been… real?

“Hey—hey, Misty….” I called after her.

But just as suddenly as she arrived—poof!—Misty & Co. were gone. Disappeared back into the night.

Very impressive showmanship if that’s what it was. Like a steamroller.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Begit N Frenz aka Beckett Warren aka Whales.

Begit N Frenz played next.

Beckett was supposed to be playing with Anthony aka Finky Binks as Whales but Anthony had gone back to California.

SEE: Beckett & Finky Binks’ hot collab, Whales, open for The Moldy Peaches & The Cassettes at Beachland Ballroom

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Brian Straw, Rob Sirovica.

It was one of Beckett’s weirder sets.

At this point he had long left any allusions to hip hop long behind.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Jason Colbert & Sara.

Beckett’s set ended with an environmental tirade / stand up routine that, if it had come out twenty later, perhaps more folks would recognize Beckett as the genius he is.

Regular underground showgoer Todd Pressler remembers:

Whales was my favorite Beckett band. One time I saw them in Oberlin and Beckett had this one song that I still hum to myself. It was like a political awareness song.

‘The Navy is blasting sonar in the ocean and it’s fucking up all the whales!! You want to hear what it sounds like, it’s like this AWWHOOOOO!!!’

And Beckett put the mic in his mouth and screamed.

The song was a loop from ‘In The Navy” by the Village People. You know, ‘We want you, we want you, we want you for a new recruit.’

Then Beckett would be like ‘AWWHOOOOOOOO!!!’ over and over.

It was… catchy?

Beckett also played this video—Whales’ only “official” release:

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Oblongata—sudden headliners. From left: John Delzoppo, Todd Pincombe, Ben Parks, Anthony Vincent, Brendan Sedlak.

Oblongata tore things up and brought folks back in from outdoors where they had been loudly chattering and gossiping about Misty’s “intense” set and “Diana Ross behavior.”

As a gay man I remember being impressed that, in 2002, (mostly) straight folks knew what “Diana Ross behavior” was.

Oblongata Todd Pincombe John Delzoppo Anthony Vincent Andrew W.K. Cleveland 2002

Oblongata’s Todd Pincombe, John Delzoppo & Anthony Vincent channel Andrew W.K. as they prep for the big Misty Martinez show at Pat’s In The Flats in Cleveland, 2002. Photo courtesy of John Delzoppo.

Here’s an answer to a mystery I didn’t even know was a mystery:

It’s two decades later and now we finally know the story of why (1.5 members of) Oblongata were dressed in white on this fateful night.

See the photos: Oblongata destroys Chris’ Warped Records

John Delzoppo writes:

Bonus fact about the Misty show: Anthony is in all white but the rest of us are not. That afternoon we came up with the idea for the whole band to dress up as Andrew W.K., all white outfits with nosebleeds. His album was just hitting mainstream popularity so we wanted to goof on it. We made an effort but not everyone was able to pull together the uniform so we bailed on the idea. Would have been funny if it worked out!

[Above is a] shot of us hanging that afternoon as the idea was coming together. Todd with some ill fitting scrub pants, the best we could get at the thrift store.

[Sidenote to a sidenote: Andrew W.K. was a good buddy of Misty Martinez…]

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

As you might imagine, I took a long break from booking shows after this one. I needed to start getting ready to clear out to L.A.—and stop publicly bathing in humiliation, despite how funny and ridiculous this Misty experience ended up being.

The next time I promoted a show at a venue that wasn’t my house was in 2004! So, yeah, long gap.

Anyhow, thank you again, Misty. You were the most memorable and a fitting Cleveland swan song, I suppose.

When I reunited with Liz at the To Live And Shave show in 2007 she was super gracious. I’ve also learned she has some association with one of my idols, Candy Pain—”Professional Wrestling’s Sapphic Sweetheart.”

Read about Candy Pain on Sean Carnage’s Best List: The L.A. places, people, & music that matter

So, yeah, if you’re still wondering about reality—pro wrestling’s real, y’all… probably as real as Misty Martinez (though Misty’s music is still really great).

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the photos—these have never been published before.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Beckett Warren, Ted Flynn.

Chicago Liz Armstrong Misty Martinez Special Brush Cleveland 2002 Pat's In The Flats Sean Carnage Oblongata Begit N Frenz

Brian Straw, Ian Colbert, Sarah Wido.

PS. I found this “Misty Martinez” performance that was recorded in Paris about one year after Pat’s In The Flats… Liz seems to have shed her dominatrix-y persona for something perhaps more true to life. It’s excellent!

Watch it here:

Listen to Misty Martinez’s Special Brush CD

See To Live And Shave In L.A. at Pehrspace

Here are all the events I promoted or covered at Pat’s In The Flats

Speak In Tongues is the place where all these friendships originated!

Read more about the Cleveland scene in U.S. Rocker

Follow me on Instagram for classic show photos and more

+ There are no comments

Add yours

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.