A Teen Idol
THERE IS NOT A LOT OF Tomata du Plenty, but there's a lot to him. He's a small person whose body writhes in embryonic language both on and off stage. The following interview was conducted in the kitchen of his manorial Hollywood house-which he leaves daily at 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. for bearclaws and newspaper reading at the local California Donut Shop.
He is co-founder, lead singer and lyricist of the Screamers, one of the two most affecting and important new-wave groups indigenous to Los Angeles. His songs are poems, as the insert box shows.
Q: What do you think you look like?
A: Most of the time like a monster, a grotesque figure. Frightening, I wouldn't want to be on drugs and see me. By delusion I'm a teen idol, although even when I try to be cute it's another side of grotesque (He enjoys this summation of himself.)
Originally, I was an actor. Not so good- other people's words. Now I'm a sketch in myself; I'm playing myself. I can be a thief: steal from the store.
Q: Then who does influence you?
A: Well, probably I don't have taste but I Iike emotional performance. Shaun Cassidy was tremendous. There is a huge machine around him, and he has trained to it. All the money, all the managers, all the moving around, all the girls-and he affects me.
I go downtown to mariachi music and to Awaki's where they play genuine Japanese music on amplified instruments. (Tomata's dream city is Tokyo, and he may be said to have made the Atomic Cafe the chic spot it has become through his patronage.)
Q: Where are you from?
A: Los Angeles. I went to high school in East L.A. I'm U.S.A.-lrish.
Q: What are your L.A. influences?
A: I'm very glamorous . . . and like living comfortably. It's the best revenge. Already people think we're wealthy but I still ride the bus. I can't drive a car, and would rather have a helicopter anyway.
I feel very romantic about L.A. and miss it in New York. Nostalgia for empty buildings and Hollywood Boulevard at night when I can go skateboarding. L.A. affords us a lot of space and concentration, Good for writing.
Q: How do you-feel about ''the industry?" A: Don't avoid them. We will be them I suppose. I'm very star-struck by it, though.
The danger is the isolation of success, not the actual industry. I mean unless you wanna be Jayne Mansfield you must be careful with publicity. I don't wanna wear Fiorucci, it's the wrong packaging. But I'm fascinated with promo. Media is like a virus that hits certain people.
Q: How do you plan the future then?
A: Our main goal is to make film scores and perform. We're doing one now. Most groups get screwed by having the big goal- like records. They tie themselves up. If you have that much talent you deserve that much more and so does the public.
Q: Do you mind your songs being called poems?
A: The songs are perfume -or a stench. Each one has a special scent. ''Hurt" is really sweaty.