Alice Cooper recalls the moment he met surrealist icon, Salvador Dali, for the first time
In 1973 there were very few people able to make Alice Cooper look a little basic. The shock rocker had just been on a run of knicker-twisting hits and had gathered up a passionate crew of haters fro his blood-spattered live show. For Cooper, everything was going right.
It was on this year that Cooper would meet the legendary surrealist Salvador Dali and get a lesson in what flamboyance and deliberate artistic confusion really was. The pair met at King Cole Bar in New York to discuss Dali’s big plans for turning Cooper into the first-ever human holographic.
The conversation would spiral on from there and see Cooper and Dali enjoy a wild relationship that often involved Cooper looking like the boring one in the group, not a moniker he was used to. “Dalí’s people rang my manager and explained that he’d seen one of my stadium shows,” explains Cooper to Another Man. “He said it was like seeing one of his paintings come to life, and that he wanted us to work together.”
It was enough to inspire Dali to make contact with Cooper and propose his new piece. As Cooper patiently waited with his manger in the King Cole Bar he remembers Dali’s impossibly brilliant entrance, “All of a sudden these five androgynous nymphs in pink chiffon floated in. They were followed by Gala (Dalí’s wife) who was dressed in a man’s tuxedo, top hat and tails, and carrying a silver cane. Then came Dalí. He was wearing a giraffe-skin vest, gold Aladdin shoes, a blue velvet jacket and sparkly purple socks given to him by Elvis.”
Arriving into the hotel like a cartoon character yelling “The Da-lí… is… he-re!”, the surrealist artist lived up to his name as he ordered a quite baffling drink for everybody. He requested a round of ‘Scorpion’ drinks which is a heady mixture of rum, gin and brandy all served in a conch sea shell and completed by an ornamental orchid on top. The drink Dali ordered for himself? A glass of hot water.
The artist sits down with his piping hot glass of water, takes out a small jar of honey and begins drizzling it into the water. He cut the drizzle with a pair of scissors raises his arms in dramatic fashion and received a round of applause form his entourage, “Me and my manager looked at each other in amazement,” says Cooper. “I realised at that point that everything was about Dalí. The world revolved around him. I wasn’t meeting him. I was entering his orbit.”
“With Dalí, everything was a performance,” explains Cooper. “Each night we would go to Studio 54 or to see Andy Warhol at the Factory. Dalí always travelled with lots of bizarre characters, so I was happy just to sit back and take it all in. I wasn’t going to try and talk to him about art, because he was always using this funny language. I was in the presence of the master.”
It would be an experience that would live long in Cooper’s memory, often resurfacing at the most unusual of times. As we said, it’s not very often that Alice Cooper is upstaged but when Dali arrived ordering orchid cocktails and wearing a giraffe vest with Aladdin’s shoes, something must have been realised by Cooper. He may well have been the best on stage, but Dali lived it every single day.