Princess Cornflakes

Too trashy to print on a cereal box

Garage Mania

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Robby Russell – Radio Personality, garage music geek, bobblehead collector, hedonist….

Nurse Cheril – white clad acid queen, the beautiful laughing dancing sidekick, the woman with 1000 voices, hedonist…

Robby Russell's bar customized with original KACE sign

Together these two are the co-hosts of independent radio’s number one weekly garage rock show – Garage Mania!

Garage Mania/Psych Out USA is a weekly show which can be heard every Saturday at 1:00PM PST on WPMD, the radio station which broadcasts from Cerritos Community College in Los Angeles. News, crazy pictures, and archived information are available at the Garage Mania web site: www.robbyrussellshow.com

I caught up with Robby one afternoon in his lovely bobblehead-filled sunlit apartment in Belmont Shore section of Long Beach, where he gave me a tour and talked about his favorite topics – psychedelic and garage music, and Cheril.

Robby Russell - Man of Shadows

Robby grew up in Long Beach, Long Island in the 1960’s. He came to Long Beach, California in 1972 (he only lives in cities called Long Beach), as he heard that the rock music scene was better. He was right. “On the day I arrived in California, Jim Morrison was playing a free concert and the Illusions were playing that night at the Whisky”.

Seven years ago, Robby teamed up with Nurse Cheril after meeting her in Panama Joe’s on the shore. “She was dressed in all white, which is how you have to dress at Panama Joe’s. So we decided to call her the Nurse. I had been doing the show with another guy, but decided that it would be better to have a woman as a sidekick.” I asked Robby if Cheril appealed more to men or woman listeners. “Men, definitely” he answered without hesitation.

Their chemistry is obvious and they seem made for each other, at least in radio land, dancing in strange wigs and costumes even when they aren’t in front of the camera, partly because when they started out, they were.

The first version of Garage Mania was a video show taped in a studio in Northridge. Cheryl describes the show as “fun, because we could just dance and act crazy and do what we wanted on the camera”. But Robby was kind of bummed out at having to drive 1 1/2 hours each way to the hot stuffy studio, and schlep props in from the car.

some Kiss bobble heads

Five years ago, Robby and Nurse found WPMD, a radio studio closer to home, thanks to a tip from fellow L.A. DJ Steve Propes.

The radio show has become a wild combination of garage and psychedelic music, strange recordings, wacky news, stand up comedy and Nurse Cheril’s multitude of radio voices and personas.

Cheril's personas or Robby's Bobbleheads?

Cheril’s personas are an important part of the Garage Mania ritual. Luckily, Cheril called up on the phone and described some of her alter egos for me. Currently, there are about 5:

1. Mary Jane – a Marge Simpson-voiced old party girl. Mary Jane can be found wearing fishnet stockings, go go shorts, (or poinsettia pasties for Christmas). She’s from California but also is a bit hillbilly.

2. Little Margie – this is Mary Jane’s six year old protege. Margie likes to practice polka dancing in a short dresses. Lately she has been spiraling gently downhill, eating rum balls and smoking cigarettes. Margie’s future is uncertain.

3. Valley Val – Val is a classic old school Valley girl. She prefers the mall to the beach and really loves to shop!

4. Texas Tina – Tina is a sort of combination big haired Texas girl, with a New Orleans southern belle. She likes Texas garage best!

And the many faces of Cheril are perfectly complemented by Robby’s deep knowledge of 60’s music. Most of the garage I (the Princess Cornflakes) have heard has come from the Rhino Nuggets box sets, featuring bands such as the Seeds or the Electric Prunes. But Robby says that Nuggets are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Robby, there is an ocean of American garage music out there.

In particular, Robby mentions the 1960’s garage music scenes of Michigan, Texas, and New York. “The Michigan sound was hard with heavy guitars. There were bands such as the Tidal Waves, Rationals, Underdogs, Stooges, Bob Seeger System or the Pleasure Seekers. The New York bands had more organ sounds. There was a huge garage music movement in Texas with bands such as the 13th Floor Elevators (with Roky Erikson) or the Moving Sidewalks”

One of Robby’s favorite New York area bands were the Illusion, which he used to see in his hometown of Long Beach, Long Island. He also loves the New York Dolls and punk, but says that the Dolls are as far into punk as he goes. “We don’t play the Ramones”.

New York Dolls poster in Robby's apartment

Says Robby: “The show is two hours, but we could go longer. In fact, one day I’d like to just do a continuous nonstop show. We’d just go in to do our show and then occupy the station for about 20 hours. It reminds me of something done once by a D.J. named Happy Jack. Jack was a Philadelphia D.J. who did a 200 hour show. Eventually he went off-air. Next thing I heard he was lying in the hospital recovering.”

I think this is the way Robby would like to live out the rest of his days, happily dancing in the studio with Cheril by his side, wearing a flower lei with “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” or the Illusions blaring in the background.

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Written by nattie

January 9, 2008 at 3:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Cool info, keep it going. 10-4

    sam cohen

    January 9, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  2. Good story, I feel I was there. I will be checking out the show

    Big Steve

    January 12, 2008 at 5:46 am

  3. I enjoyed this a lot.

    Syl

    January 15, 2008 at 4:02 am

  4. robby is great I listened to his show I wish he and the nurse would have a much longer show it would be great if they could do their show on mtv

    Vikki

    January 21, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  5. Thank you for mailing this article to me. I’m Honored that Robby & Cheril
    Consider me part of Team Russell. Their Madcap Antics, Extensive Research,
    The Great Music and all the other Farout Junk sandwiched together in their two hour slot, has been absolutely Delightful & Entertaining for me since their on camera Daze at alternative.nu…….
    LONG LIVE GARAGE MANIA!
    KOMMANDER KILWALSKI

    KOMMANDER KILWALSKI

    January 27, 2008 at 6:55 pm


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