Hussein Moses reads the 2004 memoir from the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman for the first time – and uncovers some unholy truths about our lovely little nation.
“There’s a devil in my dick and some demons in my semen.”
That’s an actual line from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. I’m not messing with you. These guys have sold something like 80 million albums, won half a dozen Grammy awards, and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’ve never been able to figure it out.
Lyrics like those were mostly why I didn’t bother reading Anthony Kiedis’ 2004 autobiography Scar Tissue when it came out. I assumed that it couldn’t have been anywhere near good when his writing has been this bad for so long. But I found a copy of it in an op-shop for $3.50 recently and decided to push all that to the side and jump right in.
It’s a revealing memoir, sure, but it didn’t do a lot to bring me back around. Let’s just say I get a bit uncomfortable reading about older guys creeping on 17-year-olds all the time. The main thing that’s worth sticking it out for is that he mentions New Zealand constantly throughout the book, which is both ludicrous and kind of amazing.
Anthony Kiedis took his devil dick all around our fair country. It’s my pleasure to bring you a small list of things I learned about New Zealand from seeing it through his eyes.
1. Rotorua is the place to get down
“As soon as we set foot in New Zealand, I fell in love with the place,” says Kiedis. This was 1992, just as the band broke through with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, an album that spawned singles like ‘Give It Away’, ‘Under The Bridge’ and ‘Suck My Kiss’. As he tells it, he was staying in downtown Auckland when one night “a long haired brunette goddess out of a Kiwi fairy tale walked into the room”. Julie was her name and they would end up spending the rest of his stay together.
“We took a trip to Rotorua, and checked out the giant hot mineral lakes and the mud pits. We broke into a national park and made love at the edge of a mud pit that was a big bubbling cauldron of steam and mud.”
Shout-out to Rotorua, the real city of love.
2. It rains 300 days out of the year
Do you ever think about all the crazy things you’d buy if you could afford them? Like a house in New Zealand maybe? It’s no secret that Anthony Kiedis once owned property in Kaipara Harbour. In Scar Tissue, Kiedis says he hooked up with an ex-rugby player who was now a conniving real estate agent and phoned the winning bid in himself.
“I was on the phone from Australia, and he was at the auction. ‘It’s at a million dollars. Going up. Going up. Someone here wants it for one point seven.’ I was like ‘Okay. Go two.’ The next thing you know, I’d bought this place for way more than it was worth. When I got back, people started telling me that they weren’t even sure if there was anyone else bidding, that all these Kiwi businessmen were in bed with each other, but I didn’t know if that was true.”
That was just the beginning of the end of his love affair with New Zealand. “It turned out that I saw the farmhouse on one of the few days of the year when it didn’t rain,” he writes. “Three hundred days out of the year, that country just poured precipitation. It was cloudy, rainy, chilly, blustery, England-on-a-bad-day kind of weather.”
For the record, in a 2002 conversation with Snoop Dogg – who, by the way, admits that he has SPENT A MILLION DOLLARS ON WEED – Kiedis had this to add: “I bought a house in New Zealand on a whim, because when you’re there, you think, Oh I can get here whenever I want. What’s 13 hours on a plane? I haven’t been back since. I bought a fuckin’ house there, and I never go there.”
3. Always get a second opinion
One of the best stories is also the most NSFW. Kiedis was suffering from shin splints when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in the country to play Big Day Out in 2000. He saw a doctor while he was here and was prescribed some tramadol to help with the pain. Unfortunately, there were some side effects.
“When we got back to the hotel, I had sex with Claire and something unusual happened. We were fucking and fucking, and I just was not coming. That had never been a problem. Later it crossed my mind that it might have been due to the Ultram, but how could it make me not come? It was supposed to be a glorified Advil, a non-narcotic. It made no sense.”
He’d later find out the truth about tramadol and the fact that it wasn’t the best medicine for ex-junkies. “I guess that idiot doctor in New Zealand didn’t read his copy,” he says. Lucky for us, there’s no mention of whether his symptoms cleared up.
4. There’s not nearly enough cocaine in New Zealand
Kiedis refers to 1997 as a year filled with adventure and misadventure. (Keep in mind he had got sober again at this point. He relapses more times than you can count in the book.) “The year began on a positive enough note,” he writes. “I was in New Zealand, setting up my new house. I remember being in Auckland on New Year’s Eve and seeing amateur party people on the streets doing cocaine and champagne. It looked so appalling to me. I was glad I wasn’t in that place.”
“The truth of the matter,” Kiedis continued, “was that there probably wasn’t enough cocaine in a small country like that to keep me satisfied for any length of time.”
It must suck being a rock star.
5. We only have ourselves to blame
Here’s a fun fact: A New Zealander was actually the inspiration behind the song ‘Californication’? This is a special place, after all. Genius could strike at any moment.
“When I was in Auckland one time, I ran into a crazy lady on the street,” writes Kiedis. “She was ranting about the fact that there were psychic spies in China. That phrase stuck in my mind, so when I was back home, I started writing and writing, and they became my favorite of all the lyrics that I’d collected over the last year.”
This got me thinking: Do you think Anthony Kiedis has ever come across that preachy religious couple on Queen Street that sings all the time? Or one of those men who pretend to be a statue? Or the break dancing guys outside Sketchers? Or is New Zealand just not a place he ever comes back to now?
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.