Maggie Estep Gets 'Vicious' With Lou Reed

Ex-Velvet Underground leader lies down in a gutter for her.

Do a web search using the keywords "cynical," "poetry" and

"twentysomething," and chances are you'll find a picture of

singer/songwriter/poet/novelist/spoken word performer Maggie Estep smoking a

butt with her evil movie twin Janeane Garofalo, both sloshing in a huge coffee

cup filled to the brim with the detritus of their love lives and enough foamy

disgust to keep a college town buzzed for a week.

But even Estep wasn't

jaded enough to feign too-coolness when she found out Lou Reed had agreed to

appear in the video for her cover of his song "Vicious," from her upcoming

sophomore effort, Love is a Dog From Hell (July 1), also the title of a

poem and book of poems by Los Angeles bohemian and well-oiled author Charles

Bukowski.

"It was really cool," said a jovial Estep over the phone from New

York. "It was one of those things where someone told him we were covering his

song, he heard what we did and his people told me he'd like to appear in the

video." The video was directed by actor Steve Buscemi (Trees Lounge),

who, like Reed, heard the song, loved it and agreed to take his first stab at

music video direction.

The cover, which re-works Reed's breezy S&M fantasy

into a moody trip-hop ballad, is one of many surprises on Estep's more musical

second album (her first album, No More Mr. Nice Girl was released in

1994), recorded with the Golden Palomino's Knox Chandler. The video for the

song, shot May 18 on the streets of New York, is described by Estep as a series

of scenes of her and her male protagonist being "absurdly vicious" to each

other in a "BuÐuel-like atmosphere" (referring to Spanish surrealist director

Luis BuÐuel). At one point, the video shows them feasting at a surreal dinner

party with about 20 friends of Estep's, none of whom was paid for their

work.

"At the end, Lou and Michael are lying in the gutter and Lou's job is

to console Michael," said Estep about the legendarily prickly Velvet

Underground founder's character who originally released "Vicious" on his 1972

album Transformer. "Originally, he was even going to lip synch to my

words, but he can't really lip synch very well, so he eliminated that concept.

He was just so far off it was incredible," Estep said, adding that Reed was

"much shorter and skinnier" than she imagined.

As to how the cover made it

onto the album, which includes a mix of hilarious and scary spoken word rants

over ambient sound and trip hop beats as well as a few straight-on rock songs,

Estep said it was, literally, a last-minute thing. "I've always loved that song

since I first heard it when I was 14, and I never even had an inkling that I

would ever be in a band, but I'd always wanted to do it. Then, in the last day

in the studio, I said, 'hey, can we try to do a sort of trip hop version of

'Vicious?'' and everybody looked at me like I was insane and then we did it."