Backstage Adventures

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The Adventures of Zoë

Vinnie Vincent & Joy Williams c Artist Publications

Vinnie Vincent and Zoë
in the dressing room at the Oakland Coliseum
Oakland, CA, 2/21/87

photo © Artist Publications

Chapter 8 -

In which Zoë veers from near disaster to a successful night with Iron Maiden and Vinnie Vincent

"Oh my God, I can't believe it!" Zoë wails, as her car stops cold on the Hayward bridge and refuses to start again.

Though only early afternoon on a sunny California day, Zoë is dressed for the night in a gold-thread blouse, black leather skirt, fishnet stockings and stilettos. Hardly the gear to be running around in, trying to fix a car that's suddenly decided it doesn't want to go the next 30 miles to the appointed place at the appointed time (and tour managers take no excuses, as Zoë well knows).

"Well, maybe if I get out of the car and stand around in these clothes for awhile, some man will stop and help me..." Zoë silently says an apology to the women's movement, "but let's be realistic here: I'm desperate, and one does what one has to to survive, right?"

Soon, someone does stop, wiggles a few wires around and the car finally starts. Waving him thanks, Zoë speeds off to meet a very worried photographer pacing up and down in front of the Oakland Coliseum. No longer in Kiss, Vinnie has his own band and is opening for Iron Maiden tonight. And fortunately, Vinnie's tour manager is running a bit late, too, so with a huge sigh of relief, Zoë and the photographer collect their passes and are taken into the bowels of the Coliseum.

The dressing rooms are in the "backstage" area, which is actually underneath the stadium proper: a series of long, concrete-gray corridors with concrete floors, and rooms off to the left and right. Finally, Vinnie Vincent's dressing room is reached, and Zoë and Mark (the photographer) enter the room. Though nothing lavish (there's a tacky red faux velvet couch and icky blue curtains), still it's not a rat-hole, like so many rooms in so many smaller venues. At least there are no springs sticking out through the upholstery....

Vinnie Vincent Invasion

Vinnie Vincent Invasion

Though still rattled from the afternoon's struggle with the car, Zoë nonetheless switches into the role of totally sympathetic listener (good for handling everything from jazz greats to thrashers). But as he talks, she thinks: "I've met some very strange people in this business, but this guy takes the cake! There's something very weird about him...." (As it turns out, Mark is invited to hang out with the band, and what he tells Zoë later only reinforces her impression.)

Finally, it's over and Zoë is now free to meet up with Melissa and Elizabeth outside the guest-list window.  Collecting their passes, they head inside to the concert hall. The Coliseum is set up so that the ticket windows are at the top of a hill, which corresponds to the top of the tiers seating the 15,000 people the place can hold.

As they enter from the surrounding corridor and start to descend the stairs toward the main floor in front of the stage, they note that the place is full—of guys. There's hardly a female face to be seen in the whole place! And then someone starts clapping and cheering... and it spreads, until thousands of randy young men are whistling and stomping and cheering their progress. Zoë, Melissa and Elizabeth look at each other and... blink. It's not a feeling we're used to—being applauded by thousands, but it does feel pretty good.

Soon enough, the show starts. First Vinnie's band, and the audience is restless but that's about it. Then Iron Maiden come on and the audience turns ugly so Zoë et al go backstage.  Trouble is, they don't have Iron Maiden backstage passes, but Melissa once met one of the crew when they both were in Australia, and he stations them next to a particular guard, lets him know that he'll be back with the proper passes as quickly as possible, and warns them not to move.

Iron Maiden passThen the guard goes away somewhere. And another guard comes up and wants to throw them all out. Just in time, the Iron Maiden guy runs up with the passes and they're saved from returning to what has become a very ugly scene out front. Not that it's all that great backstage either, as the guards relieve each other every 15 minutes, cursing their luck at having been assigned to this show—and dragging through people too violent to leave out front. One guy has obviously taken too much PCP and it takes three big bruisers to subdue him before he's ejected.

After the show, Zoë's had enough but Melissa and Elizabeth want to go to the Iron Maiden party. So, off they go in pursuit of the party room. Finally, they locate it and approach the guard assigned to check passes. Turns out, they don't have the right passes for this room. Though Zoë knows you can't argue with a Bill Graham Presents guard (at the US Festival in '83, Graham himself was denied entry backstage by one of his guards because he didn't have the right pass), Elizabeth is less experienced and starts to try to argue their way in.

The guard is about to have them dragged off when Iron Maiden's tour manager arrives and asks him what's the problem. "They don't have the right passes!"

The tour manager looks at Zoë, Melissa and Elizabeth then turns back to the guard: "What, are you crazy or something?  Let them in!"

Interview with Iron Maiden next


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