Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Origins of Mojo Steve/The Lightning Man

Most everybody that I know in my everyday life simply knows me as Steve. I mean, it’s my name and all, and has been for nigh on 39 years now. I prefer Steve to Stephen, and for the love of all things small & fuzzy, don’t call me Stevie. That’s just wrong.

However, in the realm of fans of the band Depeche Mode, I’ve been known by another name entirely for about 15 years now. The know me by the nickname of Lightning Man. And among my circle of die-hard hockey fans, I’m known as Mojo Steve. Both names are somewhat cryptic and a tad strange, I admit. Perhaps it’s time to enlighten you as to how I ended up with two nicknames, and really don’t go by either in my everyday life.

Back in 1992, a couple months after I got out of the Army, I took a short trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida to visit my buddy John. Whilst lounging poolside, John and I somehow decided it would be a novel idea to start singing along loudly to the CD "SHOWTIME" from the band Nitzer Ebb. The cd contained the song "Lightning Man", a catchy yet angry dance track, the funky track "Fun To Be Had", and the song "Getting Closer", which was just plain angry. After a couple songs, a full can of beer ker-plooks into the water near me and floats to the surface. Holy crap…depth charges! Looking up to a third floor balcony, I see a young lady waving a Nitzer Ebb concert shirt at me & beckoning John and myself to come up the party she was throwing. Free beer? Drunk chicks? We were SO there. The drunken hostess introduced me to her friends as “The Real Lightning Man”, causing John and me to raise an eyebrow and look at each other like “Dude, just roll with it”. The party was a tad lame so we made a hasty retreat, but somehow the name stuck, and a year later when we discovered that there was an online discussion forum for our favorite band, Depeche Mode, I opted to start logging in as The Lightning Man, since half the people in the forum were using clever music-oriented screen names. A lot of DM fans also like Nitzer Ebb, and the Ebb opened for the Mode on their 1990 world tour. It stuck, and 15 years later the online Depeche Mode fan community still knows me as Lightning Man. In tribute, one of my tattoos symbolizes the nickname.

----------Nitzer Ebb: Bon Harris and Doug McCarthy----------------

Fast forward to the 2004-2005 hockey season, and there I am in the stands at a South Carolina Stingrays game. The camera operator is panning the crowd during stoppages in play, and they happen upon me while the song “Yeah!” by Usher is on. I’m not an Usher fan but I do rather like Lil Jon, who is featured on the track, so I stood up on impulse and started tossing out every cheesy white-boy dance move could think of, much to the crowd’s enjoyment. Up in the control box, they rewound the film of it and played it again in slow motion about 10 minutes later, to the tune of “Let’s Get It On”, again to the enjoyment of the crowd. I was a little embarrassed at first, but the crowd enthusiasm emboldened me and it started to become a regular game occurrence. I started to get feedback from the players themselves saying how much they were amused by it, so I kept on doing it, and then Stingrays legend Marty Clapton told me after a game that he thought they played better when I did what he called The Mojo Dance, sending the lucky mojo to the team……..and thus a monster was created. Marty’s use of the word Mojo led to me being Mojo Steve, not to be confused with Suspenders Steve, who does a dance during Stingrays games to the tune of “Cotton-Eyed Joe”. The dancing became an every-game phenomenon during the 2005-2006 season and through the 2006-2007 season, with me trying to add new moves every so often to change it up, or adding props like wigs and sunglasses, and for a while wearing a bright pink hockey sock on my head. This season, however, I seem to have fallen out of favor with team management, as they put me up on the screen maybe four times all year. It’s a shame really, since I keep having to fend off questions from my “fans” as to why I’m no longer up there, and I just direct them to ask the man in the booth who runs his little fiefdom and decides what to do.

So there you have it. The simple, actually rather mundane, origins of the strange names associated with me. But really, I just answer to Steve.


1 comment:

John said...

You're such a cool cat, Stevie...