The makeup-wearing, python-toting rocker Alice Cooper was set to appear today at Courthouse Plaza in Towson to croon an anti-drug message -- and maybe sell a few albums in the process.
Cooper, 43, who in the 1970s was known as rock's ultimate bad boy, playing with snakes and cutting the heads off baby dolls, is touring the country promoting his new album "Hey Stoopid," the title cut of which carries a strong anti-drug message.
Russ Mottla, program director at 98 Rock radio, sponsor of the concert, said Cooper volunteered to act as a spokesman for Baltimore County's anti-drug crusade while in town.
Cooper's performance is part of 98 Rock's Free Lunchtime Concert Series, which for the past three years has featured rock and roll bands, usually at the Inner Harbor.
Cooper, whose hits include "School's Out" and "I'm Eighteen," has arranged with the county library to record a special anti-drug video, which may eventually be used as a public service announcement, Mottla said.
Carl Birkmeyer, a video production specialist at the library, planned to tape the concert, with the aim to record a video about libraries and reading that could be used as a public service message as well.
"Alice had a history of being the fastest of the fast-living rock stars," Mottla said. "A few years ago, he totally turned himself around . . . and his current single ["Hey Stoopid"] talks about the stupidity of using drugs."
But Michael Gimbel, director of the county's Office of Substance Abuse, said he often hesitates to use rock stars or athletes as spokesmen against drugs because "all it takes is for one of them to get busted again for us to lose use our credibility."
"I think it's wonderful if he's involved in an anti-drug crusade, but as far as being a spokesman, I think he just needs to stick to staying clean himself . . . But if he's got a good message and he's going to reach some kids, I'm all for that."
"Hey Stoopid" is enjoying air time on rock stations around the country, Mottla said.
Lyrics include such lines as: "Get off that one way trip down lonely street/ You ain't alone in this ugly town/ You stick a needle in your arm/ You bite the dust, you buy the farm" and, "C'mon babe kick that stuff/ Show the street it ain't so tough/ Quit lying around with a crippled, broken heart/ This ain't your daddy talking, you know I know/ Your story ain't so shocking, you know I know."
Though the steps of the Towson courthouse may seem an unusual place for Cooper to promote his anti-drug message, Towson employees who ate while enjoying the sunshine in the plaza yesterday seemed receptive to the idea of a free, 50-minute concert by the man whom many said they had listened to as teen-agers.
"I'll come out and jam with Alice," said Bob Smith, a law clerk in the state's attorney's office. "It's an unusual act for this area. Normally we'll have the Baltimore County High School Symphony come out."
For Rodney, a 28-year-old county employee who declined to give his last name, the Cooper performance was "a radical move." Rodney said he probably would come to see Cooper, "to see if he still has it. I wonder if he'll be going around with some pythons?"
Cooper wasn't telling ahead of time, Mottla said.
"I'll come out to see him, what the heck?" said Corrine Schmuff, 28, a county legal department employee.