It’s a song about heroin.
So. I have never done heroin or any other drugs. I used to be a drunk, so I could relate to being a hot mess in that way. When I was obsessed with “Lust for Life” I was in my late 20s and my mess was getting hotter every day. I had been an Iggy fan for a few years, having purchased Raw Power when I was about 23. Hot damn is that a fucking fantastic album! I am pretty sure I first heard “Lust for Life” in Trainspotting in the summer of 1996. I think I went to see it because I heard some of Iggy’s music was going to be in it. I got the soundtrack, of course, and later bought Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop, which had “Lust for Life,” “The Stranger,” and some early Stooges stuff on it. I was very impressed with everything.
Iggy’s music was perfect for Trainspotting, not only because the movie is about a bunch of junkies, but because the way it’s edited lends itself to such energetic sounds. I took this guy I was lusting after to see the movie, and the Scottish accents were so strong he had no idea what the fuck they were saying. He fell asleep in the middle of the movie.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of it. I saw it several times in the theatre and bought it as soon as it was out on video. That junkie world fascinated me. I had read Iggy’s I Need More and lots of other books by and about drug addicts, and being pretty straight-laced (except for my drinking, which in 1996 was still fun) at the time it really intrigued me. Not that I ever wanted to try heroin or coke or any of that shit, but the self-destruction of it all was interesting.
When I really got all up in the song a few years later, my drinking was still fun for the most part, but the seeds of the tragedy I was to become were being planted every week at a goth club that had 80’s nights on Wednesdays. I started going there with a coworker who was 19. I was 27. We got along great at work, and we hung out a few times at bars that were closer to our houses, but when we heard about the 80’s night on the other side of Cleveland, we got excited. He was too young to really remember much of that decade, but he was a musician and loved all kinds of music, so he really wanted to check it out.
I had not been out much for the previous year. My BFF moved to New York for work, and without him I didn’t see any reason to leave the house. So I saw 80’s night as my opportunity to love the nightlife again. Pat suggested that we invite the new guy, Todd, who was co-assistant manager with me and had recently come to our coffee shop from one of our other shops that closed down. Pat had a man-crush on Todd. I always said that he looked at Todd as Fonzie. So I asked Todd to come, and he said he would try.
Since Pat was underage, I got to drink as much as possible and he got to drive my drunk ass around. I took full advantage of that. And Todd showed up that night, looking fine as hell in his black leather pants and white tank top, his long, thick hair flowing just above his shoulders. Day-um! I needed to get on that.
The three of us started going to 80’s night every week. Todd lived near the bar, so he’d meet us there. Pat always drove since we lived close to each other, and he’d play all kinds of music for me on the way. He had been in a bunch of punk bands and would sometimes play their CDs, or he would play other stuff he loved and knew I would get into. I was not interested in Green Day at the time, but Pat turned me into a fan.
“Lust for Life” was released in 1977, but they still played it on 80’s night for some reason. And I danced my motherfucking ass off when it came on! Holy shit, is that a hot song to tear up the dance floor to when you’re a drunk bitch! And tear that shit up I did. I used to request it, but after a while the DJ knew I wanted to hear it and would play it for me automatically. I had it like that at that bar. All the gays went there for 80’s night as well, since there really wasn’t a big gay bar to go to on Wednesdays at that time. I made lots of new friends there. It was an eclectic collection of people on Wednesdays, and that gave it an amazing energy. I was the Queen of Wednesday Nights!
I had been getting tattooed for three and a half years by this point, and I think I had 5 or 6. Suddenly, it struck me that I needed to get an Iggy tattoo! Most of my tattoos have come to me through such epiphanies. He represented danger and excitement and sex and music and art and energy and scandal, and I needed more of all that shit! I thought I should get IGGY written vertically on my right ankle in the font used on the Raw Power album cover. Yes, that would be my next tattoo. I talked about it with Pat, and he said he thought I was going to get Iggy himself tattooed on me. I told him that just his name would look cool, but he said that if I were going to get something Iggy-related, that it should be the man. I didn’t have any portrait tattoos yet, and I had no idea where to put Iggy on my body. Pat immediately explained that it would look sweet on my right side, just above my hip. Hmm. That sounded awesome. He said I should get the picture from the Raw Power cover. That was it. I brought in my CD cover, they traced it, and onto my body went Iggy!
In the few weeks prior to getting inked, I would tell everyone on Wednesday nights that I was getting Iggy on me soon. I’d lift my shirt and show them where it was going to be etched into my skin. And once it was on me, well, I could hardly keep my shirt on! As soon as those first beats of “Lust for Life” started, I pulled up my shirt and ran out to the dance floor to shake my ass. It was a great time.
I have a high tolerance for pain, so none of my tattoos were unpleasant to get. The only thing that bothered me about getting Iggy was the position I had to twist my body into for the tattoo artist to get it right. All the guys who worked in the shop were hovering over me as I was under the needle. It was quite the spectacle, and I loved the attention. They were impressed that I was so calm. I dig that tattoo needle more than I can express.
That night, I tried sleeping on my left side so Iggy could heal properly. I lathered him up in Vaseline after cleaning him one last time before bed, and then I pulled the sheets and blanket over my body and eventually drifted off to sleep. While I slept, however, I rolled over onto my right side. I woke up with Iggy stuck to my white, blue-flowered sheet. It reminded me of when we were kids and we’d use Silly Putty to copy a comic strip. Slowly and steadily, I peeled my skin away from the sheet, which now had a perfect image of Raw Power Iggy imprinted on it!
Aside from flashing everyone at the bar once Iggy was part of me forever, I especially enjoyed showing it to Todd. I think the first time he saw it was after work one night. He may have been driving me to my car or something. I think we went out drinking right after work, and when we got back to the parking lot at work things started happening. And he got an up-close and personal look at Iggy. They became good friends that night.
I got a lust for life, got a lust for life
Oh, a lust for life, oh, a lust for life
A lust for life, I got a lust for life
I got a lust for life