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Neither an especially gifted singer nor a talented actor, Alice Cooper nonetheless has become the darling of the pubescent set by such gruesome antics. His show represents an updated version of Saturday afternoon at the horror movies. Says Alice: "All we do is project fantasies. I don't preach. The only message is 'here I am and what are you going to do about me?' I'm sort of a spit in the face."
Alice likes to describe himself as the end product of an affluent society overfed on the sex and violence of television. "Society has created this Frankenstein, this Alice Cooper," he says Actually, he is the ultimate put-on, a shuck. He comes from a background that is more like a wholesome Andy Hardy movie than something out of Frankenstein.
Alice was raised in sunny Phoenix, the son and grandson of ordained ministers. Since their fundamentalist sect does not allow its ministers to receive salaries, Father Ether Furnier earns his living as an engineer for Goodyear Aerospace Corp. Though the Furniers are obviously proud of their son and his success, Ether admits: "It is quite a shock when you expect to sire a gospel missionary and instead you get a rebel rock star."
The Furniers had warnings early on. Even though Vince was not especially musical (he still plays only the harmonica), he would dress up to imitate Elvis Presley or Ricky Nelson. Later, as a sophomore at Cortez High, he organized his first band, the Earwigs. "It wasn't a band, it was a joke," says his older sister Nickie. He also wrote sports and feature stories for the school paper under the ironic pseudonym Muscles McNasal Muscles because he was so skinny, McNasal because of a misshapen nose. It seems that Vince bravely concluded a marathon run, then went home and fainted, nose first.
Out Front. "He was not a common student," says Vince's former track coach and journalism instructor, Emmett Smith. "When I think of Vince, the first picture that comes to my mind is of him lying on top of the cabinets thinking up stories for the paper." The cabinets were in the school's pressroom; they were seven feet high with only a two-foot space between the top and ceiling. Vince regularly wrote all his copy lying up there. The stories were good and on time. Smith says that Vince was "very, very creative, a fine writer."
Sister Nickie recalls that Vince's main concern in life was to be differ ent. When all the other kids were wearing jeans and T shirts to school, he sported a jacket and tie. "Pretty soon everybody else started dressing up, and when that happened, he started dressing down," she says. "With a personality like that, you had to know he was going to do something to get himself out in front."