CULTURE
“Kings of Sleaze”: How The Mentors Became the Most Obscene Band in History
MERRY JANE talked to director April Jones about her latest documentary — an unflinching, all-access exploration of The Mentors and the madness that has always surrounded the band.
Published on November 5, 2018

First emerging from the late 1970s Los Angeles punk scene, The Mentors quickly proved to be the most obnoxious, outrageous, and reprehensible power trio of all time — and then kept upping their offensiveness factor from there. 

Led by drummer/vocalist Eldon Doke, who renamed himself El Duce, The Mentors combined the drug-crazed misanthropy of GG Allin (but with way more humor) and the theatricality of Kiss (but with way less money — and way more nudity) into a rolling freak show of anti-authoritarian chaos and hedonistic abandon. 

Punks loved the group’s attitude, while metalheads appreciated the expert musicianship of El Duce, along with bass player Dr. Heathen Scum and guitarist Sickie Wifebeater (the pseudonyms speak volumes). Everyone seemed to be in on the joke, except, of course, the actual authorities.  

In 1985, a group of politicians’ wives gathered by Tipper Gore created the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and mounted a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in which they demanded that “extreme” music be censored. As a result, Mentors’ lyrics that rhymed “smell my anal vapor” with “your face is my toilet paper” are now a permanent part of the Congressional record. 

While the rest of the culture caught up with The Mentors’ approach to gross-out humor during the ’90s (the decade that made mainstream hits of South Park and Marilyn Manson), El Duce managed to ignite what may be the biggest controversy of his entire career. 

Shortly after the 1994 suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, El Duce claimed that Courtney Love, the dead rock star’s widow, had offered him $50,000 to murder her husband. He repeated the story on Jerry Springer, in the National Enquirer, and, most infamously, in Nick Broomfield’s 1998 documentary Kurt and Courtney.

In that movie, El Duce says he didn’t kill Cobain but he knows who did and then drops then name “Allen” and says he’ll “let the FBI catch him.” Two days later, El Duce was found dead on railroad tracks in Riverside, California. 

Rumors, all unsubstantiated, have long swirled around the fatal incident. Many focus on a musician who calls himself Allen Wrench, the last person known to have seen El Duce alive. Wrench maintains he dropped the singer off at a liquor store and drove home. No charges have ever been filed and no one has ever proven otherwise. 

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Mike McPadden
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Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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