Rock's most enduring villain is far from ready to hang up his straitjacket - or his putter.Photographs by Sean McCormick.
ALICE COOPER snickers while telling the story of his onstage midair skewering of a doll thrown from the audience, done with a sword formerly owned by Errol Flynn. Moments later, I'm standing just a few feet away from the original shock rocker as he raises another potential instrument of death and prepares to whack away at a small object. But instead of aiming for my head, Cooper sends a dimpled golf ball sailing out over a grassy expanse, courtesy of a highly polished titanium driver and a powerful but elegant swing.
It's my first lesson in a good golf swing. To be honest, it's my first golf lesson of any kind - and from Alice Cooper, no less.
My 1970s and '80s childhood was laced with Cooper. Actually, every rock fan born within the past 30 or 40 years has grown up with Cooper - even if heavy metal isn't his or her music of choice. His face, eyes wedged inside thickly smudged black eyeliner, is one of the most enduring images of rock's devilish side. His song "School's Out" is the anthem of generations of high school graduates. Really, who doesn't know Cooper?
I don't, it turns out.
I had no idea who Cooper really is - or at least is now. The scariest thing about spending time with offstage Cooper is trying to figure out, premeeting, what I should wear for heading out onto a golf course with him. A pale green straitjacket (sleeves dangling, of course)? Sherbet-pink bondage pants? A sun visor with chains? After all, until that first moment I meet him at the Riverview Golf Course in Mesa, Arizona, he is still an angry rock god to me - not Coop, as his friends call him, a 59-year-old father of three who loves to shop (he has 17 televisions), prefers golfing in the earliest hours of Phoenix daylight when he's home, and goes head-to-head with Kenny G - yes, that Kenny G - at pro-am golf tournaments. His recent memoir, Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict, is as much Cooper's rules for a great game as it is a romp through a life in rock.
And even though a quick premeeting Google search of the terms Alice Cooper and golf puts my mind at ease, I am relieved to see him wearing a standard-issue sun visor and polo shirt when he arrives at the golf course with his longtime teacher and friend, golf pro Jim Mooney.