Breaking the Fourth Wall: Heavy Metal and the Secret Bond of All Darrens

Never Trust a Guy Without Tattoos -- Mild mannered journalist Darren Garnick channels his inner rock star with Steel Panther.

Never Trust a Guy Without Tattoos — Mild mannered journalist Darren Garnick channels his inner rock star with Steel Panther.

OK, check out the guy NOT wearing spandex in this backstage rock star pose above. What’s his deal? Is he an accountant?  An insurance adjuster?  A data processing clerk?

Hey, I have no pretensions of being or acting like a rock star — and besides seeing one Motley Crue concert in the 1980s (and owning their album, Shout at the Devil), I am hardly a heavy metal guy.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my “Spinal Tap”-like interview with Steel Panther last night at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire.

Steel Panther is an over-the-top satirical band simultaneously making fun of and paying homage to the pretty-boy 1980s hair metal bands — caring as much about spandex and hair spray as their lyrics. Their bass player, Lexxi Foxx, spends his entire time on stage primping in the mirror with one hand while playing his instrument with the other.

I can’t share my story angle or media outlet yet. But journalism has nothing to do with my favorite moment of the evening: Bonding with a fellow Darren.

Heavy metal icons Steel Panther ham it up for a soon-to-be announced journalism project I'm working on with concert photographer Ilya Mirman.

Heavy metal icons Steel Panther ham it up for a soon-to-be announced journalism project I’m working on with concert photographer Ilya Mirman. From left to right, Lexxi Foxx (bass), Satchel (guitar), Michael Starr (lead vocals) and Stix Zadinia (drums).

The performer playing Stix, the drummer, is named Darren in “real life.” After introducing myself, I asked him what I ask every Darren I meet:  “Do you also hear stupid ‘Bewitched’ jokes, getting called Derwood* by people who think you are hearing their clever line for the first time?”

The band recoiled in unison when they heard the question. They are always in character while wearing the bandannas and wigs (Starr’s hair is real) and this was tantamount to accusing professional wrestlers of faking it.  WHOA! WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “REAL LIFE?”

Nevertheless, Darren/Stix broke through the Fourth Wall.

Yeah, he gets called Derwood. All the time. And his fellow bandmates plead guilty as charged. Who says no one watches Bewitched anymore?

Darren/Stix asked me the logical follow-up question: How do I spell Darren?  When I confirmed the traditional D-A-R-R-E-N version, he nodded in approval. It was further validation of what we all know is true: Darens, Darins, Darrins, Darryns and Daryns are all heretics.

But they still probably all hear Bewitched jokes.

Anyone else have a name that evokes the same obscure pop culture reference every time you meet someone new?

(Special thanks to Mirman Photography for its kickass coverage of Steel Panther’s historic first visit to New Hampshire).


For a little more intellectual street cred, I defer to the essay “The Escapist 1960s Sitcom Feminism of Bewitched” on the Women’s History page. Yes, the topic is that important:

“The fanciful 1960s sitcom Bewitched starred Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, a witch married to a mortal husband. The underlying feminism of Bewitched revealed a “typical housewife” who is actually more powerful than her husband. Samantha used her witchcraft powers to solve all sorts of problems, despite having promised her husband, Darrin, that she would no longer practice magic.

… (In a typical episode), dutiful Darrin kissed supportive Samantha goodbye and trotted off to his respected advertising agency job, leaving her in their lovely middle-class home. He was never gone long before some chain of events was set in motion that ended up with Samantha needing to use her powers to end the predicament.

Often the instigator was Samantha’s mother Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead, who famously called Darrin “Derwood” and never understood what Samantha saw either in him or in normal mortal life. Why, Endora asked, would Samantha suppress her witchcraft when she could enjoy being supernatural, powerful and immortal?”

In Darrin’s honor, I need to make a pilgrimage to the Elizabeth Montgomery Bewitched statue in Salem, Massachusetts. Had he spelled his name D-A-R-R-E-N, he likely would not have been so henpecked.

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Filed under Heavy Metal Darrens, Heavy Metal Drama

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