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Ask Ray

You can e-mail your questions to Ray at raymondstolp@raymondstolp.com

Ask Ray goes Dutch! After quite a successful run of twelve years in which the oracle of Zaandam, myself, has been answering your questions on a plethora of topics, in English no less, which isn't my native language, Ask Ray is now branching out to include columns in Dutch. All the questions and answers from 2008-2020 will remain here as an archive for you to scroll down to, and you can still send in your questions which I'll incorporate. But after years of writing in English to reach the widest audience possible, there's a directness and honesty to writing in your first language, that I'd also like to explore more. Those of you who don't understand Dutch, can always run the pieces through a translation machine for a psychedelic version in your language of choice. As a good introduction for everyone, I'll start off with a three-part piece about Jill Jones, in English, commissioned by Bram van Splunteren.

Jonesy & Stolpy

A hyperreal episodic tale. Dedicated to and concept by: Bram van Splunteren.

It was a solemn afternoon at an uncle's birthday party, when I first saw her on a television. The year must've been 1983-ish. At that time my passions were mainly limited to the Star Wars franchise, but that was all about to change. Emerging superstar Prince had a hit on the Dutch airwaves with the super funky song '1999'. I remember being fascinated by the apocalyptic lyrics and having a fondness for quoting 'I got a lion in my pocket / And, baby, he's ready to roar' to unsuspecting classmates. Elvis had Vegas, I had the classroom. A little star was born there, then too.

So this little star was seated in front of his uncle's television, when the video for '1999' aired on the Dutch music program Countdown, a family staple. Apparently two really pretty ladies sang the first line of the song, but I was particularly smitten with the blonde wearing what I presumed was a police hat - cool! She oozed charisma and seductive sensuality. I didn't know what those things were at the time, but they sure got a hold on me. As the guitar part hit my soul like a sledgehammer, and a downwards shot revealed this pretty singer was wearing suspenders, an aunt exclaimed, 'He sure finds this beautiful!' She wasn't lying. R2-D2 and Chewbacca were an instant, distant memory. And despite his considerable screen presence, one would almost forget Prince was in the video.

I bought the 1999 double LP and the liner notes revealed the name of the pretty blonde who was apparently his main collaborator and backing singer. Jill Jones. Or some variation of J.J., as Prince liked to credit her. Boy, I stared at some J's on his inner sleeves in my time.

Soon thereafter I bought my first VHS tape, the Warner Bros. release of Prince's epic Purple Rain movie, still the best rock movie ever to me, and my buddy Quentin Tarantino agrees. Jill plays the waitress in the movie. Unlike most of the others, she actually had an acting background and it shows in the movie. My little self wished I could cast her as the lead in many, many movies.

But I was convinced that would never happen. I'd probably never be able to talk to her and she'd never know of my existence. Because who was I? Just a little boy living in the little town of Zaandam in a little country somewhere. I'd be lucky if the milkman remembered my name. An existentialist even before I had reached the tender age of ten. Little did I know what the future had in store for me.

To be continued...

Jonesy & Stolpy: Episode II - Destiny Unfolding

A hyperreal episodic tale. Dedicated to and concept by: Bram van Splunteren.

As the eighties progressed, so did Jill's career. She released a spectacular eponymous debut album, and had a hit with 'Mia Bocca', the video for which was the best thing to come out of Paisley Park at the time. A promotional tour of Europe followed, that proved her to be a dynamic performer... who could actually sing live - superbly! She even visited Holland (the mojo in the air was palpable), did an interview for the popular music mag Hitkrant, and performed on our equally popular Countdown music program, where I had first seen her perform in the '1999' video a few years earlier. The circle was almost completely round, but unfortunately I didn't get much further than my windmill at the time, and missed the Countdown performance (I've never been able to track it down since then, either).

I did however, read the Hitkrant interview. A picture emerged as beautiful as her voice and looks. I felt - as romantic or silly as that sounds, depending on your perspective - a connection. She had a penchant for falling asleep in the classroom but still passing her exams, like me. She had a beautiful connection with her dog Cesar, who found his way back to her, after her grandparents had given him a new home tens of miles away, for being too wild. Not only was my own dog my best friend, I also related to Cesar finding his way back to Jill no matter what. And the very fact that I am now writing this piece here in 2022, might suggest I have a thing or two in common with Cesar. In any case, the story moved me.

Momentum was gathering for Jill, but unfortunately Prince backed out of the USA leg of his Sign O' The Times tour, which was to have her as the opening act. She could've given Prince a run for his considerable money, and cracked the States. In the nineties she was to reprise her role from Purple Rain in Prince's interestingly flawed follow-up movie Graffiti Bridge, which bookended her stint as his most longstanding collaborator in his most impactful period. Their paths continued to run parallel and would eventually merge again shortly before his untimely passing.

Meanwhile my own music career flourished as well in the nineties, and even though I never became a mainstream household name, some notable people took notice. One of them was talent manager Melissa Prophet, who played Sharon Stone's girlfriend and helped smuggle Joe Pesci's (her real-life client) diamonds across the border in Martin Scorsese's classic 1995 film Casino. A bond between us emerged so legendary, award-winning broadcaster Rob Muntz wanted to make it the subject of his next RVU radio doc series. Me trying to make it in the States under Melissa's wing, while staying at her house with a radio crew. What could possibly go wrong? That's right, everything! Considered the Queen of Hollywood, Melissa knew everyone in the business, and word got around of her new crazy Dutch friend. And it was in this way that she enthusiastically introduced me to her friend Anna Fantastic.

Anna and I immediately hit it off, a fellow Dutchie (she grew up in Holland) having fun amidst the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. We got along like a house on fire. As people have come and gone through the years, we have always stayed loyal to each other, and to this very day I still consider her to be one of my very best friends, like an (overtly attractive) sister. So imagine my surprise, when one day she told me, that during the late eighties, early nineties, she had a relationship with Prince and lived with him for a few years in Minneapolis. And that she was best friends with... Jill Jones. I never pushed her to introduce me to Jill or anything, and humbly continued to admire her from afar. Until that one miraculous day when I opened my Facebook page, and read the words that made me pinch my arms to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

'Jill Jones has send you a friend request.'

To be continued...

Jonesy & Stolpy: Episode III - Destiny Manifests

A hyperreal episodic tale. Dedicated to and concept by: Bram van Splunteren.

I wasn't dreaming. The girl I had spend so many times daydreaming about while gazing out of an Amsterdam classroom, had just send me a message out of the blue on Facebook! The unimaginable had turned into a concrete reality: Jill Jones knew of my existence. And not only that, as a gesture of welcoming kindness, she opened the virtual door a tiny crack for my first tentative step into her world. Of course, the great Anna Fantastic was behind it. It's no coincidence Prince gave her that artist surname!

Anna, the great supporter of all things Stolpy, already had a habit of encouraging her female friends to go chill with me and stuff. I'd find myself blushing for four hours straight over dinner with fashion and lifestyle icon Tamara Chloé at the Amsterdam American Hotel, on the strength of Anna calling me a 'schatje'; a Dutch term of endearment she had previously never before applied to a man, Tamara gushed. As she complimented my impeccable dinner manners (a stretch), Tamara went on to tell me she'd worked with Prince also, in a girl group with Anna called Fantasia Erotica featuring Anna Fantastic. Next time Prince invited Tamara to one of his concerts, Tamara offered to bring me along to introduce me to him, 'Having a friend like you would be good for him.' This wonderful world Prince had created with Paisley Park, I somehow found myself to be a colorful, otherworldly character in it, cherished by the characters that already inhabited it.

Anna must've vouched for me in a similar way to Jill. And as distances grew smaller through technology, she no longer seemed so out of reach. But maybe I was. I'd never been that keen on getting in touch with my idols. There's always a discrepancy between the image in your head and the reality, and you know, why mess with that. That was one of the reasons I was never too keen on meeting John Frusciante, despite him inviting me over to the Pinkpop Festival when the Chili Peppers played there in 2006. An incredibly kind gesture from an incredibly generous man, but reluctance is my middle name in these types of situations. But there are exceptions to the rule, and when Jill Jones pops up in your inbox, well, that's the kind of irresistible proposition that shows even I'm human after all.

So I started to write to her, in reverent, yet Stolpian tones. And Jill in turn, turned out to be very approachable and funny. I instantly felt at ease with her; it didn't take long before I started to affectionately call her 'Jonesy'.

Instead of reality falling short of some preconceived notion, Jill transcended them. It turned out we had more in common than I thought: I learned about a whole philosophical side to her that, having studied philosophy myself, of course appealed to me greatly. No wonder Anna, knowing us both well, genuinely thought we'd be a good match. Not only would Jill read whatever sizable philosophical tangent I'd go off on, she'd offer a question for more. Often she'd have an unusual take on something, that would echo my same initial internal reaction. And she also made me look at things in ways I hadn't done before, especially with regards to politics, an area I became increasingly interested in. And with her vast knowledge in that area, she became an invaluable source for me.

Far more than a one-way fan-idol dynamic, we became friends who appreciate each other's honesty, and support each other equally - with great care and sensitivity. More than just admiring her as a musical performer, I became enamored with her strengths as a thinker. And as we both came from a musical background but both started writing for magazines, in a basic way I felt some kinship there as well. A trajectory of expanding into multiple areas, instead of sticking to one strict career path. Going where the light leads you.

Over the years, Jill and I grew closer. We communicate weekly and movingly, our mutual support seems to mean as much to her, as it does to me. If I was having health problems, Jill was checking up on me and offering valuable dietary advice. If I was doing anything musically, Jill was checking it out and cheering me on. I could go on and on, but you catch my drift. I can be an okay friend. But she's an even better one.

What's more, she recently said she'd love to have me on the talk show State of Things, her weekly take on American politics alongside Aisha K. Staggers and host Dr. Vibe. Not sure if I'd be able to contribute much more than blushing for two hours straight in her presence, though!

So where does this leave us? Well, don't be surprised if you catch us drinking a Harar coffee together in Amsterdam or L.A. one day. After all, a love so strong always has a way of finding its way back to her.

The end (for now).

Koning Martin, in memoriam

Martin was zo cool dat zelfs toen ik een keer per ongeluk z'n doucheruimte opblies (don't ask) dat ie nog cool tegen me bleef.

Ik maakte vroeger nog weleens filmpjes waarin we allemaal de gangster probeerden uit te hangen. Met eerder lachwekkende resultaten. Totdat de camera zich tot Martin wendde: meteen overtuigend gevááááárlijk voor de lens. Ineens zag je die Bijlmer roots in z'n loopje. Terwijl ie ondertussen geen vlieg kwaad deed, natuurlijk.

Samen naar Dante, twee uur 's middags. 'Je vriendje is er,' sprak Martin terloops. Herman Brood was net wakker en liep naar beneden voor zijn ontbijtbord van Grand Marnier met fruit erdoorheen.

Net, vijf minuten geleden. Ik staar naar een Adidas eau de toilette in m'n hand. Ooit van Martin gehad in de vorige eeuw. Ruikt nog steeds voortreffelijk.

Z'n omgedraaide handen, 'Moet je kijken Ray, wat wit hè, nog witter dan jij, raar hè?' We wijzen naar een donker plekje huid op m'n sleutelbeen: 'Maar ik heb weer een stukje Martin hier!' Altijd weer die bulderlach als ik het legendarische stukje Martin aanwijs. 'Ik heb je wel altijd een klein beetje bij me!'

Maar nu ben ik wel een heel groot stuk Martin kwijt.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Op de spoedeisende hulp met Badr Hari 2

Na het douchen gisteravond staarde iets verrassends mij aan: één van mijn benen zag eruit of een kleuter met een zwarte viltstift over mijn aderen gekliederd had. Een opvallend aangezicht op mijn porseleinwitte huidje dat zelfs mij niet ontging. Ik schrok. Nu ben ik niet zo'n hardloper naar dokters of ziekenhuizen, maar een geschiedenis van trombose in mijn familie, waarbij een trombosebeen ook een neef in de twintig van m'n moeder ineens overkwam en hij diezelfde nacht nog overleed, stemt nu eenmaal toch wat ongerust. Daar kwam bij dat mijn moeder inmiddels aan de telefoon hing en terecht druk ging uitoefenen dat ik toch direct aan de bel moest gaan trekken; het is algemeen bekend dat men bij een vermoeden van trombosebeen, onmiddellijk de alarmlijnen moet gaan laten rinkelen. En zo belde ik, voor het eerst in m'n leven, de spoedeisende hulp. En voldeed ik inderdaad aan bijna alle symptomen van een (levensbedreigend) trombosebeen. Alleen als de symptomen erger werden, wilden ze dat ik terugbelde. En dat deden ze. Aan de telefoon probeerde ik het verhaal zo afgezwakt mogelijk over te brengen, in een poging een nachtelijke trip naar het ziekenhuis te ontlopen. Maar uiteindelijk wisten ze me toch over te halen dat ik toch echt zo snel mogelijk moest komen.

'We zien je om twee uur straks, maar het liefst eerder, zo snel mogelijk als je kan.'

Probleem was echter dat ik op dit nachtelijke uur alleen was, en geen vervoer had. En ik klop vrijwel nooit bij buren aan voor hulp met iets. Maar eens moet de eerste keer zijn. Ik zag nog licht branden naast me, en klopte aan.

'Het spijt me zo dat ik zo laat hiervoor aanklop, maar ik moet met spoed naar het ziekenhuis. Zou één van jullie me kunnen brengen? Als het niet kan heb ik er alle begrip voor en regel ik iemand anders en...'

Nog voordat ik mijn zin kon afmaken, ging Badr Hari 2 een plasje doen om mij vervolgens zonder enige aarzeling te vergezellen voor het Stolpiaanse avontuur van een nachtelijke trip naar de spoedeisende hulp. Een welverdiende koosnaam gezien zijn statuur als kickbokser. Een beer van een gozer, met een klein hartje van goud. Beetje als mij, eigenlijk. Voordat hij het gaspedaal intrapte, wierp hij één blik op m'n been.

'Het lijkt alsof iemand je in de ring flink heeft toegetakeld, ouwe!'

Hij zocht nog een leuk muziekje op, en daar gingen we, onderweg naar het ziekenhuis om één uur 's nachts in zijn zwarte kar. De dreiging van een wellicht kleine kans op een nogal negatieve afloop - die me toch ook had aangestuwd om uiteindelijk te gaan - mocht de pret van een aantal goed gemikte moppen in de Zaanse nacht niet in de weg zitten. De oogjes tikje groot, maar m'n gevoel voor humor was nog niet geweken.

Gelukkig wist Badr 2 de weg en zaten we al snel op de goede plek. Eigenlijk ging alles goed. We hadden alleen allebei ons mobiel niet bij ons, dus konden we het thuisfront niet van live verslag voorzien. Maar goed, die konden ook wel even zonder ons. Een charmante dokter roept mijn naam in een vriendelijke vrouwenstem, 'Meneer Stolp?' Een goed begin is het halve werk.

Maar niet te vroeg gejuicht. Bij de eerste aanblik dacht de dokter ook onmiddellijk aan trombose.

'Shit nee hè, dus toch?'
'Ik ben bang van wel dat het een goede kans is dat dat het kan zijn, ook vooral omdat het maar aan één been is. We gaan dat maar als eerste onderzoeken nu dan ook.'

Terwijl ze van alles met m'n beentjes ging doen, benadrukte ze hoe goed ze het van Badr en mij vond dat we zo snel meteen waren gekomen.

Na ongeveer een kwartier testen durfde ze eindelijk te zeggen dat het waarschijnlijk geen trombose betrof. Ze meette m'n bloeddruk en hartslag op. Die was begrijpelijkerwijs iets hoger na wat er zich net daarvoor had afgespeeld, maar geheel binnen de perken van iemand die zich ineens in zo'n situatie bevindt, verzekerde ze me. Wat het precies wél was, zou nader onderzoek voor moeten komen, maar dat kon, net als eventuele operaties, later gedaan worden, en hoefde niet met spoed nu in één keer doorgezet te worden deze nacht. De dokter en ik slaakten al opgelucht adem toen het besef langzaam indaalde dat het in ieder geval geen trombose is. Maar de kleuter krabbel bleek wel een tatoeage te zijn.

'Ik vind jou nog jong en het is voor mij ongebruikelijk om bij iemand zoals jij zoiets zo ineens te zien ontstaan.'
'Ik word er in ieder geval niet mooier op, dokter! Ik hou het goed in de gaten en dan zien we het verder wel.'
'Nou jij mag me later ook nog bellen met vragen hoor, dat vind ik bij jou helemaal geen probleem.' Engelen dragen soms geen vleugels maar dokterspakken. Het afscheid naderde.
'Wat een job heb jij!'
'Ja, ik maak wel echt wat mee.'
'M'n buurman en ik vinden het ook echt een avontuur, hoor!' zeg ik met brede glimlach terwijl ik naar Badr Hari 2 in de wachtkamer wijs.
Hij lacht terug, 'Is ie nog heel? Mooi!'

Eenmaal thuis, omhelsden Badr en ik elkaar, en het thuisfront - en vooral ikzelf - konden weer met een gerust hart gaan slapen.

De volgende ochtend en wat belletjes en kennis vergaren verder, bleek helaas toch dat er ook niet niks aan de hand is. Een traject van vervolgonderzoek en fysiotherapie wacht op me. Blijkbaar is een leven lang bewegen en sporten ook niet zonder gezondheidsrisico. De latente neiging van m'n adertjes om overstuur te raken, in combinatie met te veel druk op m'n bloedvaten door met name het gewichtheffen, is tot mijn verrassing zowel trigger als verergerende factor van hetgeen mij ten deel is gevallen. Waarbij een lange wandeling tegen een helling op de loopband, de spreekwoordelijke druppel was. En de mooie dame op het beeldscherm als beweegreden om toch nog wat langer te blijven lopen, ook zomaar geen gunstige drijfveer was. Als ik mijn lichaam niet wil slopen, wordt mij de krachtsport nu sterk afgeraden, zeker op maximale belasting - wat toch een beetje the name of the game is. Helemaal not done is het squatten, dat ik definitief zal moeten laten varen om m'n lichaam verdere schade te besparen.

Gewichtheffen is een belangrijk deel van mijn leven, dus dit kwam vanmorgen toch wel koud op m'n dak vallen. Ik zal hierin een weg moeten vinden.

Zo, en dan nu weer even naar de sportschool. Voor koffie.

Speciale shout-out aan Badr Hari 2 en de voortreffelijke dokter!

De kracht en onzin van het positieve denken

Positief denken, het mantra van moderne tijden. En er zit wat in: grab life by the balls, rug recht, hoofd omhoog, kom maar op met de uitdaging van leven. Over het algemeen een houding waar je meer aan hebt dan doemdenken en bij de pakken neer te gaan zitten. Maar... ja, er is altijd een maar. Daar is de eerste donkere wolk al aan het luchtruim!

The Secret, neurolinguïstisch programmeren, de instant-geluksindustrie van de meer optimistisch getinte self-help boeken, alle beloven hetzelfde: als je maar positief denkt, komt alles vanzelf goed. Was het leven maar zo simpel.

Als onze werkelijkheid namelijk totaal een product zou zijn van ons denken, zouden we geen steek meer hoeven uitvoeren. We zouden gewoon de hele dag languit naar onze navel kunnen staren en positief dagdromen, en onze werkelijkheid zou zich conform aanpassen aan die droombeelden. Al die dingen waar succesvolle mensen met veel vallen en opstaan voor hebben moeten zwoegen, guess what? Dat hele gedeelte slaan we gewoon even over. Met een positieve mindset staan we allemaal die Ziggo Dome vol te zingen. Los van dat het leven erg saai zou zijn als het alleen maar buigt naar mijn positieve verwachtingspatroon, kun je afvragen wat er eigenlijk mis is, met als dingen mislopen. Leren we niet juist vaak de belangrijkste levenslessen, als dingen grondig in de soep lopen? Van het klauteren vanuit de diepe dalen waarin we ons soms bevinden?

Net als in het casino, rolt het balletje des levens zoals het rolt. Los van dat ik ervan uitga dat ik een miljoen ga winnen, of juist niet. Het leven zit vol tegenslagen, zelfs voor de geluksvogels onder ons. Is de mate van tegenslag puur gecorreleerd aan de mate van positief denken die daaraan gepaard ging? Mijns inziens, nee. De werkelijkheid is chaotisch en wenkt niet altijd instemmend terug op hoe ik zou willen dat de dingen verlopen; hoe vurig positief ik daar ook evengoed vanuit zou gaan (tegen beter weten in). Begrijp me niet verkeerd: er zijn zeker dingen waar we vat op hebben en kunnen sturen. Maar hoe groot die grip is, wordt vaak schromelijk overschat door mensen. Een overgroot deel van de werkelijkheid is overgeleverd aan krachten waar wij geen vat op hebben. In die zin zou je kunnen zeggen dat pessimisten een realistischere kijk op de zaken hebben. Maar voor de positivo's, zou alles op rolletjes lopen als zij er maar niet zouden zijn om alles te verstieren met hun negatieve gedachten.

Immers, als honderd mensen in een vliegtuig stappen, waarvan in eenenvijftig de gedachte opkomt dat het voertuig weleens zou kunnen neerstorten, is dat dan de oorzaak van de katerige piloot of de loszittende vleugel die de vliegende holle dildo doet planeren? Die uitkomst heeft de meerderheid met hun worst case scenarios naar zich toegetrokken? En hoe zit het dan als die verhouding fifty-fifty ligt; blijven we dan wel of niet in de lucht? Ik trek dit denken even naar de praktische realiteit om enige zweem van absurditeit te ontbloten.

Maar zoals Emile Ratelband in navolging van zijn leermeester Anthony Robbins zou zeggen, als we denken dat het shit is, is het shit, en als we denken dat het goed is, is het goed - en dus werkt het positieve denken. Ook daar zit wat in. Maar ik kan door positief te denken niet ineens mijn daadwerkelijke situatie veranderen; alleen mijn houding daartoe. Alleen door actief handelen kan ik die situatie veranderen. En in hoeverre ik dat kan, hangt nog maar zeer van die situatie af.

Er komt een punt dat de kracht van positief denken, als een ronduit kwalijke zaak ingezet kan worden, met paradoxaal negatieve gevolgen. Denk daarbij aan de zogenaamde orenmaffia, die de verantwoordelijkheid voor alle lichamelijke ziekten die een mens kan overkomen, puur in zijn of haar manier van denken lokaliseert. Alle mensen die ernstig ziek zijn? Eigen schuld, dikke bult. Had je maar wat positiever denken. Alles zit immers tussen de oren. En dan tegen terminaal zieke patiënten gaan prediken dat ze maar positief moeten blijven denken, omdat ze dan vanzelf toch weer beter worden. Of sterker nog, zich daarom maar helemaal niet moeten laten behandelen. It's all in the mind, not in the medicine, immers. We weten hoe het met de lieve Sylvia Millecam is afgelopen door naar dergelijke kwakzalverij te luisteren. Zieke of mishandelde mensen, bovenop het onheil dat hen overkomen is, ook nog eens een schuldcomplex gaan aanpraten, lijkt mij geen positieve zaak (noch een reële).

Wat te doen? Ik stel voor dat een gezondere en productievere levenshouding is een kansberekening te maken voordat je op de beurs van het leven gaat gokken, en daarop je handelen baseert. Daarmee kun je jezelf en anderen een hoop narigheid besparen; maar dan wel in de kennis dat je er ook soms grondig naast kunt zitten, en iets tofs kunt mislopen door iets niet te doen, dan wel iets vervelends je kunt overkomen door iets juist wel te doen. En dat is niet erg. Schat in of een groot risico het je waard is om te nemen, en zo ja, verzoen je met de eventuele prijs die je ervoor moet betalen. Met instinct en intellect kom je ver, en als het leven je af en toe een tik op de vingers geeft dat jij niet alle touwtjes in handen hebt, kun je dat met een nederige glimlach aanvaarden. En is dat niet eigenlijk heel erg positief?


Potverdikkie, kom ik toch net even een mooie dame bij me in de straat tegen hier... Ik dacht even dat ik aan het tijdreizen was - sterker nog, dat was ik - want ik dacht even mijn mooie buurvrouw van de overkant te zien, die alweer een tijdje terug verhuisd was. Wat bleek? Ze was het ook. Voor haar oude huis, nog wel. Selina. Weliswaar is ze met m'n neef, maar die was nergens te bekennen. Een Judas tot op het bot, schroefde ik de Stolp charme nog even een tandje aan. Buitenkansje. Maar de loyale moeder moest alweer snel door, zoals meer vrouwen, bij het aanzien van die gekke neef.

Desalniettemin een moment waar de zon even doorscheen op een verder druilerige dag.

Tarantino treiteren

Ik weet nog goed toen ik en Quentin Tarantino de Cult Videotheek in Amsterdam frequenteerden. Het zal begin jaren negentig geweest zijn. Hij woonde toen een paar maanden in een éénkamerappartement in Amsterdam, en was het script aan het schrijven voor wat de legendarische prent 'Pulp Fiction' zou worden. We verkenden de hele geschiedenis van de cinema van blaxploitation tot slasher, en met name underground filmmakers als Richard Kern waren ons beider favoriet (de grap was dat precies de films die hij zocht, steeds net aan de heer Stolp uitgeleend waren. 'Who's this Raymond Stolp guy who keeps renting my shit?'). Kortom, net als in de muziek, ging ik ook in de film als archeoloog op verkenningstocht van genres en regisseurs, en waar het allemaal vandaan kwam. Op een parallel pad met archeoloog Quentin, waren we samen op zoek in de schatkist naar de mooiste juwelen.

Quentin werd één van de grootste regisseurs aller tijden, en ik denk weleens met weemoed aan dat zijn filmografie, mede-geïnspireerd is door de VHS-bandjes waar we allebei elke maand als eerste bij wilden zijn. Ik werd, was en ben Raymond Stolp: ik ben al legendarisch als ik niets doe.

Andere mensen die de Cult Videotheek frequenteerden waren Katja Schuurman en een in latex uitgedoste S&M dame die in de kelder een doodkist had gezet om stoute dingen in te doen. Waarmee ik maar wil zeggen: je maakte in zo'n zaak meer mee dan op Netflix. Enfin.

Eén van de films die ik daar huurde, was George A. Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead'. Ik denk dat ik nog nooit zo in mijn leven heb gelachen, als toen we onder het genot van een fles Amaretto, die film zaten te kijken. Ik twijfelde of het serieus bedoeld was, of een bedoelde parodie was. Pas later kwam ik erachter dat deze film gezien wordt als de beste zombiefilm aller tijden, en op nummero uno staat in de lijstjes van vele horrorfans.

Je kan de langste versie van deze film nu gewoon op YouTube bekijken. Dat heeft zo z'n charme. Maar Quentin irriteren door eerder te grijpen naar zo'n stoffige VHS-band, in een kelder met Katja en een S&M dame, geniet nog altijd mijn voorkeur.

Een teder wederzien

Naar de sportschool gaan heeft nu meer dan ooit wat weg van een heel uitgebreid doolhof/themapark afleggen van reglementen en verrassingen. Tussen alle balies en (mond)doekjes door, zou je bijna iets vanzelfsprekends als je handdoek vergeten. Maar door opperste concentratie en volharding, wist ik het parcours vlekkeloos af te leggen. Waarbij ik wel heel erg hard in de lach schoot om de slinkse commerciële wijze waarop je je geld 'terugkrijgt' van al die maanden dat je niet hebt kunnen trainen (hint: dat krijg je niet, je kan het alleen bij hen weer spenderen in de vorm van gratis diensten, die je weer hooked maken of langer bij hen houden). Ik dacht dat ik zorgvuldig over dingen nadacht, maar daar moet ergens een Wittgenstein/Elon Musk-achtig brein rondlopen.

Het wederzien met Nicky van het CDA was dan wel weer teder. Plagerig sprak ik hem toe.
'Ik wil je niet jaloers maken, maar ik heb al die maanden met een ander in het park getraind, en we zijn heel dicht naar elkaar gegroeid.'
'Als je maar niet...'

De Pas, deel II

'Buurman, ik durf het bijna niet te vragen, maar zou ik nog een keer de afvalpas van je mogen lenen? Ik ben de mijne namelijk weer kwijt.' In haar stem klinkt iets van twijfel door of ik deze chaotische dans wel weer met haar wil aangaan. Maar een vrouw in nood laat ik niet zitten.

En zo nam het vervolg op ons vorige pas avontuur aanvang.
'Als je 'm nu weer kwijtraakt...'
Ik laat even een stilte vallen.
'...maakt dat ook niet uit!'
De momenten dat ik makkelijk ben, zijn als een dief in de nacht; je ziet ze niet altijd aankomen.

Ik kijk vanuit mijn ivoren toren toe hoe mijn buurvrouw beneden dapper het afvalbrengstation tegemoet loopt. Ze opent de bek van het Koekiemonster met mijn pas. Voordat ze enige andere handeling verricht, stopt ze m'n pas meteen achter in haar broekzak. 'Probeer nu nog maar eens vat op de pas te krijgen,' moet ze gedacht hebben terwijl ze haar eerste vuilniszak in de bek van het beest deponeert. Ze drukt het luik vervolgens ferm dicht.

Voldaan grijpt ze naar haar broekzak, maar dan ineens ziet ze dubbel. Ze heeft twee afvalpassen in haar hand.
'Dit ga je niet geloven!' schreeuwt ze naar boven naar me toe.
'Ik stop net jouw pas precies op de plek waar ik mijn pas blijkbaar had gelaten: in m'n achterzak. Deze broek is met pas en al door de wasmachine gegaan!'
Hiermee had ze de passen als kaarten door elkaar geschud, en wisten we niet meer van wie welke pas was.
Op miraculeuze wijze was mijn pas dus opnieuw zoekgeraakt. Misschien krijg ik nu wel haar door de wasmachine duizelig gemaakte pas in handen, en zou die het nog wel doen?

Een paar jaar geleden toen we nog weleens gingen joggen samen, grapte m'n buurvrouw weleens lachend, 'Ray niet zeiken, rennen!'
Het mocht weinig baten.
'Kunnen we de passen niet bij het licht houden om te zien welke het minst toegetakeld is?' vraag ik een tikje zeikerig.
Met de pasjes omhoog bij het ganglicht, gaan we als detectives op zoek naar de pas met de minste krasjes.
'Ik wil deze!' roep ik als een klein kind, wat ik in wezen natuurlijk ook nog ben. De pas raakt weleens zoek, maar het kind in me is snel gevonden.
Haar zoon doet inmiddels ook mee, 'Als je pas het straks niet doet ga je gewoon weer naar mama toe, en ruil je ze om.' Altijd fijn als iemand met z'n radiostation precies op jouw golflengte afgestemd is.

Bij het afscheid maakt de chaos baan voor grappen.
'Jij bent een tovenaar,' roep ik haar toe, 'de Hans Kazàn van de passen.'
'Kan je weer een mooi stukkie schrijven, ouwe.'

De dag dat ik met een pisstraal over een peloton leraren ging

Ooit was ik een braaf, verlegen, ijverig jongetje. Op de lagere school.

Op de vele scholen die ik in het voortgezet onderwijs doorlopen heb, ontpopte ik me daarentegen al snel als een schavuit. Ik was meer bezig met meiden dan boeken, en verruilde regelmatig het klaslokaal voor het café. Bij de diploma-uitreiking lagen de leraren onderling dubbel van het lachen, 'Hé, dat is de eerste keer dat we hem zien, heb jij hem eerder hier gezien dit jaar?' Ook de rector vond mij niet zo'n goed voorbeeld, 'Iemand die het hele jaar niet langskomt maar wel fluitend z'n diploma's komt ophalen.'

Er was namelijk een soort Raymond Stolp-effect ontstaan: leerlingen die te veel met mij omgingen, werden steevast na een paar maanden van school getrapt. Niet iedereen hoefde er zo weinig voor te doen om goede cijfers te halen.

Tuurlijk werden leraren weleens boos op me door m'n verzuim, negeren van gezag, en slechte invloed op andere leerlingen. Maar dan wist ik ze altijd weer te paaien met charisma van moeder's kant. En zo ben ik heel ver gekomen. Maar zoals een lerares het al voorspelde, 'Er komt een moment dat je niet overal meer mee wegkomt door die mooie glimlach waar je ons allemaal mee inpakt.'

Na een paar jaar was dat moment dan eindelijk aangebroken. Ik had het zo bont gemaakt, dat ik op het matje geklopt werd bij de rector.

Directe aanleiding was dat ik niet meer naar de gymles wou gaan. Na jaren met tegenzin daar te verschijnen, vond ik het wel welletjes, en was ik er al bijna een jaar niet geweest. Dat was blijkbaar toch opgevallen. Maar de doorslag was dat ik een prachtig stuk had geschreven waarvan een klasgenoot, een goede vriend, me had gevraagd of hij het mocht overschrijven. Dat kwam uit, maar door zijn brave reputatie verdacht men mij er toen van dat ik het juist van hem had overgeschreven. Treurig genoeg wou hij er niet voor uitkomen dat het juist andersom was, en liet ie me vallen als een baksteen. En ik had m'n reputatie niet mee, dus niemand geloofde mij. Hij stond er ook slecht voor, maar mede dankzij mijn stuk, werd z'n cijfer omhoog gekrikt en mocht hij uiteindelijk toch over. Omdat hij ook leraar wou worden, had hij sowieso een streepje voor, hoewel dat uiteindelijk niks werd. Hij zou een glansrijke carrière op ander vlak tegemoet gaan, maar was mij als vriend kwijt.

Ondertussen moest ik naar het kantoor van het hoofd van de school, om m'n hachje proberen te redden. Al mijn leeftijdgenootjes gingen in dergelijke gevallen daar dan duizendmaal sorry zeggen, en verder braaf doen wat hen opgedragen werd, om maar verstookt te blijven van repercussies. Ook ik was om tactische redenen vriendelijk, maar hoewel mijn uitleg over het plagiaat op dovemansoren viel, hield ik voet bij stuk over mijn onschuld. Zo ook over mijn gymverzuim.

'Als het nu om exacte vakken ging, dan had je een punt gehad. Maar om een beetje met een bal rond te rennen, ik vind het onzin. Ik heb het inmiddels ver genoeg geschopt dat ik zo'n beetje m'n hele vakkenpakket zelf mag samenstellen, maar jullie blijven dit maar verplicht door m'n strot drukken, terwijl ik er niks aanheb voor wat ik hierna wil gaan doen. Ik heb er geen zin in en ik doe het niet. Punt.'
'Ja Raymond we moeten allemaal in dit leven weleens dingen doen waar we geen zin in hebben. Ik merk in dit gesprek dat jij totaal de verkeerde houding hebt. Een universiteit is ook absoluut niet voor jou weggelegd. Dit niveau is al te hoog voor je, dat merk ik aan alles aan je. Iedereen heeft het door behalve jijzelf. Je zit alleen maar achter de meiden aan, verder doe je niks. Je bent inmiddels ook al een paar jaar ouder dan je klasgenoten. Wat heb je hier nog te zoeken? Ga werken, man.'

Ik moet zeggen, hij had een punt. Soms moet je in het leven compromissen sluiten en is het niet alleen maar mijn weg of de snelweg. En ik had inderdaad het hele jaar nog vrijwel niks uitgevoerd. Ik zou een onmogelijke eindsprint moeten leveren om dat in zo'n korte tijd nog in te halen. Toch wist ik er nog uit te onderhandelen dat ik het schooljaar af mocht maken.

'Maar als je dit schooljaar niet haalt, dan mag je het jaar niet overdoen en stuur ik je van school af.'

Zelfs voor de gymles kwamen we tot een oplossing: ik mocht in plaats daarvan elke week gaan zwemmen, wat ik hartstikke leuk vond. Vooral omdat ik dan steevast vergezeld werd door mooie dames die ik in badpak mocht aanschouwen.

Al met al was het een goed gesprek, hoewel ik wel vond dat hij me onderschatte dat mijn potentieel een paar treden lager zou liggen dan mijn (academische) ambities. Soms geeft iemand je adviezen om je wakker te schudden uit een droom, die toch echt wel te realiseren valt. Hoewel het door gebrek aan inzet niet onmiddellijk zou opvallen, kón ik het wel, vond ik zelf. Terechte kritiek kan ik nog enigszins verteren. Maar ik ben allergisch voor als mensen mij de les gaan lezen, als ik weet dat ze de bal totaal misslaan.

M'n gedachten dwaalden af naar een feestje waar ik onlangs was. Toen bijna iedereen vertrokken was, en ik mezelf probeerde op te rollen in een tapijt om te gaan slapen, benaderde een jong meisje me. We raakten aan de praat. Ze was nog maar een jaar of zestien maar had een buitenechtelijke relatie gehad met een veel oudere, getrouwde man, vertelde ze me. Naarmate we elkaar beter leerden kennen en het vertrouwen toenam, onthulde ze me de identiteit van de man: de rector van onze school. Het mocht absoluut niet uitkomen omdat ze minderjarig was, en hij dus strafbaar was. Dus of ik het alsjeblieft voor me wou houden. Hij zou immers zijn baan verliezen en nergens meer aan de bak komen en zelfs in de bak kunnen belanden. Ook zijn huwelijk en gezin stonden op het spel.

Langzaam trokken mijn gedachten weer naar het heden en ik hoorde de rector in het kantoortje mij weer bevoogdend toespreken over dat ik te dom was voor het niveau van zijn onderwijs, en in plaats daarvan een lullig baantje moest gaan nemen waar ik geen zin in had. Zal ik het tegen hem zeggen? Een riskante onderneming, gezien ik alle opgebouwde krediet in één keer kon verspelen en hij me alsnog stante pede van school kon trappen. Maar als iemand me af zit te zeiken, dan zeik ik ook even over jou heen.

'Raymond je kan nu eenmaal niet gewoon maar doen waar je zin in hebt in dit leven!'
'Inderdaad, zoals met een minderjarige leerling naar bed gaan als je het hoofd van een school bent, hè? Want als ik dat aan de grote klok hang, ben niet alleen ik, maar ook jij straks van deze school af!'
Hij trok wit weg en keek me met een verschrikte blik aan.

Met ballen van staal, had ik hem bij de ballen. De machtsverhouding was omgedraaid. Hij durfde niks meer tegen me te zeggen, en kón ook weinig meer zeggen: zijn morele praatjes kwamen weinig overtuigend meer over. Hij zong inmiddels een toontje lager, en dat beviel me een stuk beter. Nadat ik hem even had laten schrikken, stelde ik hem gerust dat zijn geheim veilig was bij mij.
'Je kan het ook omdraaien. Als ik straks lekker wegben, zit jij hier nog de rest van je leven. Wie is er nu echt de lul?'
Bij gebrek aan weerwoord, knikte hij maar wat verbouwereerd.
Gelukkig vond het meisje het later niet erg dat ik het tegen hem gezegd had.

Toch had hij sindsdien een wat paniekerige blik in z'n ogen zodra ik in de buurt kwam. En hij was poeslief tegen me. Maar ik acht het niet uitgesloten dat ie achter m'n rug bezig was de poten onder m'n stoel weg te zagen, en meegeholpen heeft dat ik toch het eind van het jaar van school moest. Iemand die iets over je weet dat je positie zo kan compromitteren, ben je immers natuurlijk liever kwijt dan rijk. De filosofieleraar waar ik een negen bij had gehaald, heeft nog gevochten voor me als een leeuw. Maar het tij was inmiddels tegen me gekeerd. Ik besloot twee jaar in één jaar proberen te halen op een andere school. Iets wat vrijwel niemand voor mogelijk hield. Toen ik zei dat ik een jaar later terug zou keren met alsnog een diploma, lachten ze me daar uit.

De rector wist inmiddels echter dat het onverstandig was om mij tegen de haren in te strijken.
'Laten we nu de afspraak maken dat je het me wel laat weten over een jaar, mocht je daar toch je diploma hebben gehaald en wij je hier verkeerd ingeschat hebben. Deal?' Een handdruk bezegelde onze afspraak.

Een jaar later kwam ik weer langs. Ik had het gehaald. Ze stonden met hun bek vol tanden. Ze hadden het faliekant fout gehad, wat de rector ook toegaf.
'Ik vind het mooi dat je ons een poepie hebt laten ruiken.'
Uiteindelijk ben ik ze dankbaar want ze hadden mijn bewijsdrang aangejaagd. Ik was met een pisstraal over ze heen gegaan en had er voor straf ook nog even een universiteit achteraan gedaan.

Het mes

'Weet je nog toen je heel jong was dat je zat te sjansen met een Turks meisje op school, en dat een groepje jongens je toen in een steegje met een mes bedreigd hebben, met de waarschuwing verder uit haar buurt te blijven? Weet je dat echt niet meer?'

Leuke anekdote over mezelf die ik vandaag hoorde, maar zelf he-le-maal vergeten ben. Ik heb mijn middelbare schooltijd grotendeels in Bos en Lommer, de Bijlmer, Gein, en Ganzenhoef doorgebracht, en dan maak je weleens wat mee, hè? Te veel om zelf allemaal bij te houden.

Ik kan me nog wel de eerste keer herinneren dat ik door een paar jongens de bosjes ingetrokken werd, tegen de muur werd gezet, en een mes op m'n keel kreeg. Kan nu wel de stoere jongen gaan uithangen, maar ik scheet bagger. De eerste keer van iets, is altijd even wennen. M'n tienerjaren moesten nog aanvang nemen, maar de belofte van een doorgesneden keel had ik alvast binnen. Toch liet ik het er niet bij zitten. Ik zocht uit waar één van de jongens woonde, en bezocht hem dezelfde dag nog thuis. De ouders deden open, en ik deed m'n beklag. Huisarrest, bitch.

Ik ben een lieverd. Kijk naar mijn hoofd. Daar kan je toch niet kwaad op worden? Ik zoek nooit problemen. Ik ben een zon die zoveel liefde uitstraalt, dat je er een warm snoetje van krijgt, dan wel een warme gloed in je ziel. In de winter kan je om mij heen zitten zonder dat je een kachel nodig hebt.

Toch heb ik genoeg meegemaakt in mijn jonge jaren in Amsterdam, dat ik sommige messentrekkers dus inmiddels blijkbaar alweer vergeten ben. Waarbij we de vraag of ze mij vergeten zijn, maar even in het midden laten.

In de gemeente Zaanstad is onlangs een messenverbod ingevoerd. Nooit gedacht dat ik ook hier al die tijd omringd was door messentrekkers. Ik word hier echter vrijwel nooit op straat lastiggevallen. Maar ik geniet natuurlijk ook veel respect. Zaanstad is immers cacaobonen, windmolens, en Raymond Stolp. Van sommige monumentjes blijf je af.

De terugkeer van de pijltjes

Net voordat ik vandaag de deur uitliep richting sportschool, mocht ik op de valreep een mailtje van ze ontvangen. In het kader van de aangescherpte corona maatregelen, stellen ze het op prijs als ik hun paleis voortaan betreed met een mondkapje op. 'Dat wordt benauwd straks tijdens het squatten,' denk ik terwijl ik een mondkapje in mijn leren jas frommel en naar buiten loop.

Hoewel niet expliciet vermeld, vermoed ik dat tijdens het doen van de oefeningen, het mondkapje wellicht weer af mag. Maar wat heeft het dan überhaupt voor zin?

Verzonken in gedachten, hoor ik ineens een krijsende vrouwenstem. De vrouw stoort zich blijkbaar om onduidelijke redenen dat de weg openligt, en pakt dit aan om een luidkeelse klaagzang over corona, corona, en nog eens corona op te houden. Het lijkt de televisie wel. 'Tegen mij hoef je niet te schreeuwen,' zegt een nietsvermoedende bouwvakker, die toch een nietsontziend kritisch betoog krijgt. In één lang uitgesponnen verbale stoot krijgt de man de schuld van alles, de horeca, de politiek, dat de straat openligt en mensen er krap langs kunnen en er volgens haar geen anderhalve meter te hanteren valt, en dat ouderen er niet veilig door kunnen. De bouwvakker laat haar even uitrazen om voorzichtig te uiten dat hij wellicht niet de schuld is van alles wat er mankeert aan de wereld in haar wereldbeeld.
'Dit pik ik niet!' schreeuwt ze, terwijl ze naar een andere bouwvakker loopt, 'Wie is hier jouw leidinggevende!'

De makke van een filosoof zijn, is dat ik vanuit meerdere kanten naar een situatie kijk en voor verschillende perspectieven meestal wel wat begrip kan opbrengen, zo ook het hare. Maar of ze op een constructieve wijze met haar frustratie omgaat, til ik in ieder geval één wenkbrauw bij op. De omstanders kijken elkaar aan met een blik die meer zegt dan woorden, en we vervolgen onze weg langs het nauwe zijpad - met anderhalve meter afstand. Ik denk aan hoe zwaar het overgrote deel van de mensheid het heeft gehad voor 1890, en verwonder me hoe deze relativering het overgrote deel van de huidige Westere mens lijkt te ontgaan. Het geschreeuw verdwijnt naar de achtergrond en een inwendig gevoel van dankbaarheid neemt de overhand.

De sportschool komt in zicht. Mondkapje op. Het is mij inmiddels duidelijk geworden dat we in een soort oorlogszone beland zijn, waar in ieder geval de verbale kogels je zomaar om de oren vliegen. Ik loop naar binnen en wat schetst mijn verbazing? Niemand in de sportschool heeft een mondkapje op. Een medewerker komt op me afgelopen.
'Hé Raymond, hoe gaat het ermee?'
'Uitstekend,' lieg ik, 'ik dacht me eens gehoorzaam op te stellen nadat ik jullie mail net kreeg, maar ik ben blijkbaar de enige die een mondkapje draagt hier?'
'Ja, verbiedt iets helemaal óf niet, dit halfslachtige gedoe biedt alleen maar onduidelijkheid en zet geen zoden aan de dijk. Maar de bedoeling was dat mensen een mondkapje dragen als ze naar een ander apparaat lopen, om vervolgens het mondkapje weer af te doen tijdens de oefening.'
'Dan kan je net zo goed helemaal geen mondkapje opdoen, als je 'm toch steeds gaat afdoen en er daar overal mensen langs je lopen.'
'Ja maar je mag het mondkapje ook ophouden tijdens de oefening.'
'Dat lijkt me toch een beetje benauwd tijdens het squatten.' Om over de cardio nog maar te zwijgen.

Een van top tot teen getatoeëerde spierbundel mengt zich in het gesprek.
'Niemand weet meer waardoor je corona oploopt en wat ze nu moeten doen. Zelfs de politiek niet.'
'Je kan het overal oplopen, dus ook in een sportschool,' voegt de medewerker toe, 'zelfs van iemand achter een balie die je voor het eerst ziet.' Ik besluit het gesprek nog maar even van een apocalyptisch randje te voorzien.
'We zijn hier nog lang niet van af. We kunnen nog wel voor wat verrassingen komen te staan.'
De getatoeëerde krachtpatser en de medewerker knikken instemmend.

Ik loop de sportschool verder in. Een paar dames verderop staren me onophoudelijk aan. Ik ben Raymond Stolp. Vrouwen willen mij, mannen willen mij zijn.

Een man staat ineens voor me als Clint Eastwood die op het punt staat zijn pistool te trekken. Ik kijk naar beneden en zie dat ik blijkbaar in de verkeerde richting loop.

De pijltjes zijn terug.

Guitar straps: the road from the Fender monogram to the redemptive Souldier (the psychedelic translation)

The guitar strap. It almost seems such a futile detail. But just like a person wears a suit, the guitar wears a guitar strap (or the other way around, not to digress). More than a cable, guitar amp, or some distorting candy on the floor. In fact, when I scored a VHS of Eric Clapton's performance at Knebworth at the age of fourteen, I was certain. The coolest thing about this, is the guitar strap full of crazy glitter motifs.

Even more so than the perky pink Armani suit that EC wore.

I had to have that guitar strap as well, and so began a search along with George Baker (of 'Little Green Bag' fame) across many guitar shops. But everyone was puzzled. There was no way to get ahold of it.

Years later it turned out that the guitar strap was made by Gianni Versace as a one-off for Clapton. So it wasn't surprising that George and I invariably returned home empty-handed. But a Holy Grail is allowed to be somewhat mysteriously unattainable.

It did lead me to the strap that was hidden under the glitter: the black Ernie Ball Polypro strap. I told myself it was actually just as cool, and used this guitar strap on all my guitars for years. Still, something kept gnawing. I missed making a visual statement.

Then my good friend Chris P. Dekker came on the scene. 'Try a Souldier strap, that's exactly what you're looking for and a lot more Stolpian,' said the man in the cap. As often, it took me a while to take him seriously and actually check the strap. I was immediately sold. As a man who takes things to the extreme, all the Ernie Ball straps on my guitars had to be replaced by my new love, the Souldier guitar strap. The sleek black gave way to a rainbow of colorful motifs and fabrics.

Souldier is the child prodigy of Jen Tabor, an extremely attractive woman - but this aside - who came up with the genius idea to purchase vintage fabrics with ditto patterns, and to add seatbelt material to the back. Which slides even better across the shoulder than the nylon of the Ernie Ball Polypro, not to mention the ragged underside of leather guitar straps. Ernie Ball and many others are now copying her idea with their guitar straps, but I don't mean that in a negative way per se. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it underscores the revolution she's brought about in this industry. Anyway.

Fitting in the postmodern landscape, the Souldier strap is a work of art where the finishing touch lies with the consumer. You can adjust the color and material of the belt, lapel and buckle to your taste when ordering online. Even the rubber strap locks they sell are smoother than the rubbers from Grolsch bottles, your favorite ant fucker (Dutch expression for a picky person) can tell you by trial and error.

I can spend hours with Chris staring at the many patterns and colors of Souldier straps, and which one matches best with which guitar. And what the right dose of matching and mismatching is. Kind of the same thing we do with women, but in a more socially responsible way. With the purchase of a new guitar, he even gifts me a Souldier guitar strap. He leaves his girlfriends at home, but it remains a moving, generous gesture.

Recently I got a friend request on social media. I had to blink a few times with my little blue eyes. It was the beautiful Jen Tabor from Souldier, the owner of my favorite brand of guitar straps. My devotion to her guitar straps for many years had apparently not gone unnoticed, and she had also become good friends with Chris at many NAMM music fairs. It was almost inevitable that we clicked. Still, I was overcome by a modest shyness (which left me just as quickly, mind you). What an honor! The circle is complete and the strap is Souldier.

Gitaarbanden: de weg van het Fender monogram naar het verlossende Souldier

De gitaarband. Het lijkt zo'n futiel detail bijna. Maar net zoals de mens een pak draagt, draagt de gitaar een gitaarband (of andersom, daar wil ik vanaf wezen). Meer dan een snoer, gitaarversterker, of wat vervormend snoepgoed op de grond. Sterker nog, toen ik op veertienjarige leeftijd een VHS'je scoorde van Eric Clapton's optreden op Knebworth, wist ik het zeker. Het coolste hieraan is de gitaarband vol maffe glitter motieven.

Nog meer dan het parmantige roze Armani pak dat EC droeg.

Die gitaarband móest ik ook hebben, en zo begon een zoektocht samen met George Baker (van 'Little Green Bag' faam) langs vele gitaarzaken. Maar iedereen stond voor een raadsel. Er was niet aan te komen.

Jaren later bleek dat de gitaarband door Gianni Versace als one-off voor Clapton was gemaakt. Zo gek was het dus niet dat George en ik steevast onverrichter zake weer huiswaarts keerden. Maar een Heilige Graal mag dan ook iets mysterieus onbereikbaars hebben.

Het leidde me wel naar de band die onder de glitters verstopt was: de zwarte Ernie Ball Polypro strap. Ik maakte mezelf wijs dat die eigenlijk net zo cool was, en gebruikte deze gitaarband jarenlang op al mijn gitaren. Toch bleef er iets knagen. Ik miste het maken van een visuele statement.

Toen kwam mijn goede vriend Chris P. Dekker ten tonele. 'Probeer eens een Souldier strap, dat is precies wat jij zoekt en veel meer Stolpiaans,' zei de man met de pet. Zoals zo vaak, duurde het even voordat ik hem serieus nam en de strap daadwerkelijk ging checken. Ik was meteen verkocht. Als man die dingen doortrekt tot in het extreme, moesten alle Ernie Ball straps op mijn gitaren vervangen worden door mijn nieuwe liefde, de Souldier gitaarband. Het strakke zwart maakte plaats voor een regenboog van kleurrijke motieven en stoffen.

Souldier is het wonderkindje van Jen Tabor, een buitengewoon aantrekkelijke vrouw - maar dit terzijde - die op het geniale idee kwam om vintage stoffen met ditto patronen in te kopen, en aan de achterkant van autogordel materiaal te voorzien. Dat glijdt nog lekkerder langs de schouder dan het nylon van de Ernie Ball Polypro, om van de raggende onderkant van lederen gitaarbanden nog maar te zwijgen. Ernie Ball en vele anderen doen inmiddels haar idee na met hun gitaarbanden, maar dat bedoel ik niet per se negatief. Imitatie is immers de hoogste vorm van vleierij, en het onderstreept de revolutie die zij in deze branche teweeg heeft gebracht. Anyway.

Passend in het postmoderne landschap, is de Souldier strap een kunstwerk waar de finishing touch bij de consument ligt. Je kunt namelijk kleur en materiaal van gordel, lapel en gesp naar smaak afstellen bij de online bestelling. Zelfs de rubberen strap locks die ze verkopen, zijn soepeler dan de rubbertjes van Grolsch flesjes, kan uw favoriete mierenneuker u nog proefondervindelijk vermelden.

Ik kan uren met Chris staren naar de vele patronen en kleuren van Souldier banden, en welke het mooist matcht met welke gitaar. En wat de juiste dosis matchen en mismatchen daarbij is. Beetje hetzelfde wat we met vrouwen doen, maar dan op een meer maatschappelijk verantwoorde manier. Bij de aanschaf van een nieuwe gitaar, doet hij me zelfs een Souldier gitaarband kado. Zijn vriendinnen laat hij dan thuis, maar het blijft een ontroerend, genereus gebaar.

Onlangs kreeg ik een vriendschapsverzoek op social media. Ik moest even een paar keer knipperen met m'n blauwe oogjes. Het was de mooie Jen Tabor van Souldier, de eigenaresse van mijn favoriete merk gitaarbanden. Mijn jarenlange devotie aan haar gitaarbanden was blijkbaar niet onopgemerkt gegaan, en bovendien was ze op vele NAMM muziekbeurzen ook goed bevriend met Chris geraakt. Dat het klikte was bijna onvermijdelijk. Toch werd ik overvallen door een bescheiden verlegenheid (die me ook even snel weer verliet, daar niet van). Wat een eer! De cirkel is rond en de band is Souldier.

Waarom duiven altijd op mij poepen

Los van dat ik zelf een Ray of Light ben, ontvang ik ook graag lichtstralen van de zon, bij voorkeur op een terras. Eén van de terrassen die ik graag frequenteer, is het terras van Filmtheater de Fabriek in Zaandam, befaamd als de plek waar de première van de film Kartel gehouden werd, berucht als mijn acteer -en soundtrack debuut in de cinema.

So far so good, ware het niet dat mij met enige regelmaat de dubieuze eer ten deel valt, dat duiven daar steeds op mij poepen. Toeval kan soms trefzeker steeds dezelfde persoon uitzoeken, want het maakt niet uit met hoeveel mensen ik daar aan een tafeltje zit, de drit vindt steeds alleen mij.

Wellicht heeft het iets te maken met hoe ik mij vaak positioneer als ware hun toiletje, recht onder de dakgoot waar ze graag bivakkeren. Of ze mogen me gewoon niet en mikken met opzet. Maar dat niet alleen mensen, maar ook zelfs duiven de pik op me inhebben, is een slachtofferrol die zelfs mij één brug te ver gaat. Daar komt bij dat ik vroeger tachtig duiven had, en we met gemak door één deur konden. Mijn favoriet was de .013, de duif waarmee ik als kleine Stolpy nog in de plaatselijke kranten stond, omdat ie alle wedstrijden won. Een duif sneller dan mijn gedachten. Maar ook een duif die afdwaalde als mijn gedachten, want op een dag kwam ie nooit meer teruggevlogen. Maar ik dwaal af.

Een paar weken geleden genoot ik weer eens van het zonnetje bij de Fabriek. Hun nieuwste aanwinst Amy, kent mijn bestelling nu al beter dan ikzelf, 'Jij wilt geen Wieckse Witte maar een Weihenstephaner.' Met deze twintigjarige zonnestraal hoef je niet lang op het bijvullen te wachten. De drankjes volgen zich op in een tempo dat zich kan meten met de muziek van Herman Brood in zijn hoogtijdagen eind jaren zeventig.

Ineens begon het te regenen. Of nee, wacht, shit. Een duif heeft het weer op me gemunt. M'n hele shirt onder gepoept. Ik vertel Amy over mijn voorgeschiedenis met de beestjes en mompel, 'Volgens mij is het gewoon steeds dezelfde en mag hij me niet.' Amy schiet in de lach. Het is een soort lach die bezongen wordt in nummers van Ryan Adams en Jett Rebel, die gek genoeg ook 'Amy' als titel hebben. 'Loop anders maar even met me mee,' zegt ze.

Ze neemt me mee naar een achteraf gedeelte van de zaak, om me een shirt te lenen met allemaal sterretjes erop. Een sterretjes shirt voor een ster, cool. 'Lief van je, thanks,' zeg ik, terwijl ik me richting kraan en zeep begeef om mezelf en m'n oude shirt toch nog enigszins op te kalefateren.

De mensen die zeiden dat duiven die op je poepen geluk brengt, hadden toch gelijk.


Ineens kreeg ik om half één 's nachts een wel heel onverwacht berichtje in m'n inbox.
'Nog wakker? Ray, heb jij een auto? Ik moet morgen namelijk een abortus ondergaan en mijn vriend wil me niet brengen.'

Dat was even slikken, vooral omdat ik nog nooit eerder met het meisje in kwestie had afgesproken. Maar ook in de virtuele wereld voelen vrouwen al snel een vertrouwensband met me, zo bleek. En een dame in nood laat ik niet zitten. Dus na een nacht van weinig slaap en veel draaien, stond ik de volgende ochtend om acht uur haar op te wachten op het station. Die auto had ik namelijk niet, maar ook met de trein had ze liever dat ik meeging.

In de verte kwam ze aangelopen; althans dat vermoedde ik, ze leek immers op het meisje van de foto. Het eerste wat in me opkwam was, 'Zal dit nu de volgende zijn waar ik helemaal verliefd op ga worden?' Een vraag die zich overigens pas jaren later zou laten beantwoorden, en een eigen column verdient.

Gezien het vroege uur en het drama dat zich aan het voltrekken was, zag ze er - aan de buitenkant althans - onberispelijk uit. Grote bos met bruine krullen, intense amandelvormige ogen, volle lippen, strakke kaaklijn. Zo'n gezicht waarvan je, hoe lang je er ook naar kijkt, steeds tot de onvermijdelijke conclusie moet komen dat je er werkelijk alles mooi aan vindt. Een mooi figuur elegant uitgedost in een witte zomerjurk met groene pumps, en een grote witte damestas die ze al snel in mijn handen zou drukken.

Ze praatte in een razendsnel tempo dat amper haar gedachten leek te kunnen bijhouden, die ongetwijfeld nog sneller dan het licht waren. Zenuwen, dacht ik. Ik knikte veel, maar begreep weinig. Ik begreep alleen dat het lot ons bij elkaar had gebracht, en zij mij nodig had. 'Ik ben er vandaag voor je, we gaan het gewoon doen. Voordat je het weet is het weer afgelopen. Je kan het, het gaat goed komen.' Een rust trad in haar ogen, en terwijl ze erop stond om ons beider treinkaartjes af te rekenen, werd mij pas duidelijk dat we naar Amsterdam gingen. Ik probeerde Stolpiaans het ijs te breken met een voorzichtig eerste grapje.

'Dit is niet helemaal wat ik in gedachte had van onze eerste date.'
'Dit is geen date,' vuurde ze meteen lekker bitchy terug, maar ik zag haar mondhoeken omhoog krullen en haar wegschietende blik verraadde dat ze geamuseerd was. Liever een foute man, dan een verre vriend, moet ze op dat moment gedacht hebben.

Terwijl we Amsterdam binnenreden, was het ijs al volledig gebroken. Ze praatte alsof ze me al jaren kende, sterker nog, als ik haar mocht geloven kenden we elkaar ook al jaren en was ik een soort familielid. Ik knikte maar. Een paar jaar daarvoor liep ik op straat met familie die ze herkende, en kwam ze op ons af gelopen zonder dat we elkaar aanspraken. En nu hadden we nog maar een paar maanden contact gehad via social media. Maar realiteit was op dit moment een onnodig detail. Ze had duidelijk een poëtische ziel met een geheel eigen kijk op de dingen, en wie was ik om die te verstoren.

We raakten zo in gesprek en zaten zo te lachen (een verdedigingsmechanisme c.q. afleidingsmanoeuvre om de dag dragelijker te maken) dat het best lang duurde voordat het besef indaalde dat we niet wisten waar we liepen, dan wel volledig de weg kwijt waren. Dit is het punt dat veel mensen - vooral onder druk - in de stress schieten en op de ander gaan afreageren. Maar Billie deed dit dus niet, en met een aangenaam gevoel voor zelfspot besloot ze dat we maar weer eens in tegenovergestelde richting moesten gaan lopen. Ik was onder de indruk van de souplesse waarmee ze verdwaald was.

'Als we echt zo erg te laat komen, dat het niet meer kan, ga ik volgende week wel weer met je mee rond deze tijd. Vaste prik, net zolang tot we het een keer vinden.'
'Ik hoop dat we dat even over kunnen slaan, Ray.'

Op een gegeven moment liep ze ergens voorbij en riep ik haar terug, 'Wacht eens, volgens mij is dit het.' En zowaar had ik zonder enige voorkennis over waar we moesten zijn, de abortuskliniek gevonden. Waaruit maar weer blijkt dat ik floreer onder omstandigheden waarin er niet op me gestrest wordt. Ladies, take note.

Bij binnenkomst werden we al snel door bijna iedereen behandeld alsof we een stelletje waren.

'Alweer iemand die denkt dat jij mijn bitch bent,' merkte Billie op een gegeven moment dan ook op, 'en dat terwijl jij bejaard bent.'

Want dat is een detail dat ik nog even had overgeslagen: Billie was negentien, ik zesendertig. Ik vroeg mezelf ook af hoe ik hier nu weer zo in verzeild was geraakt. Billie stond verderop allerlei onvoorzien papierwerk in te vullen. Als je wilt verhuizen, heb je minder te doen, kwa bureaucratie.

Billie duwde haar damestas in m'n handen om op te passen, en ik overwoog wat lekkers bij de bakker voor ons te gaan halen.
'Maar dan denkt iedereen daarbinnen straks wel dat ik gay ben met die tas, hè?'
'Nou,' begon Billie te giechelen, 'dat denken ze sowieso wel hoor, Ray.'

Op een gegeven moment werd ze opgehaald voor de verrichting van hetgeen waarvoor we kwamen, en ik moet jullie zeggen, ik was bezorgd. Even los van haar poëtische wereldbeeld, kende ik haar eigenlijk nog maar een paar uur, maar met het talent waarmee ze me wist te plagen zonder op m'n tenen te trappen, en haar dappere houding, had ze inmiddels toch een klein plekje in m'n hart verworven. Ik sloot me op op het toilet, ijsbeerde wat door de gang, en belde een vriend voor morele steun.

Ineens kwam er een zuster naar me toe, 'Je vriendin wil dat je naar beneden komt.'
'Ik moet nu ophangen,' zei ik terwijl ik een trap afliep en m'n maat bijna tevergeefs van de lijn probeerde te krijgen, want die was inmiddels wel behoorlijk geïntrigeerd.

Ik bevond me in een omgeving die ik niet anders kan omschrijven als kleedhokjes van een zwembad in een vooroorlogs aandoend tafereel. Alleen dan i.p.v. vrolijke kinderstemmen, met overal huilende vrouwenstemmen om me heen. Die allemaal geen behoefte hadden aan hun (echte) vriend op dat moment. Behalve Billie dus, die als enige meteen mijn aanwezigheid verzocht had. Ze zat op een tafeltje in wat leek op een kookschort, ik kon aanschuiven op een stoeltje.

'Begon je me alweer te missen? Het is toch wel al gebeurd hè?'
'Ja, maar het lijkt erop alsof jij nog steeds zwanger bent,' grinnikte ze, wijzend naar mijn buikje, dat in een poging me in zo'n stoer mogelijke positie te wringen, juist opvallend uitstak. Tevens verrekte ik daarbij een spiertje waar ik later nog lang last van zou hebben. Zelfs in een krap zwemhokje van een abortuskliniek met je pose nog indruk proberen te maken op een dame: net zoals iedereen ben ik soms ook best sneu bezig.
'Dat rare hoge kookschort dat je draagt, je hebt toch wel inmiddels je slip aan hoop ik?'
'Ja Ray, toch maar even gedaan voordat je binnenkwam. Wil je een slokje van m'n thee?'

Omringd door huilende dames, zaten Billie en ik moppen te tappen, en ik voelde aan dat dit haar manier was om met pijn en verdriet om te gaan. Die pas later los zouden komen als ze weer alleen was. We besloten al snel dat het welletjes was in dit tranendal, en stonden in recordtijd alweer buiten de deur. We liepen een zonnig park in. Enthousiaste plannen over winkelen en daarna bij mij thuis te gaan chillen, borrelden al snel in Billie op, om niet veel later ook weer de agenda te verlaten. In een supermarkt gooide ze wat lekkers naar me toe, 'Vangen!' en opnieuw rekende ze, net als bij de treinkaartjes, ondanks mijn tegensputteren voor ons beiden af. Ze leek - voorlopig, althans - opgelucht. Ook de bomen in het park, hielden opgelucht adem.

Ineens kwam er een filmcrew van de lokale nieuwszender AT5 op ons afgelopen. Een cameraman staat voor me en een interviewer duwt een microfoon onder m'n snufferd. Z'n eerste vraag is een echo van wat we de hele ochtend al hebben gehoord.

'Dit is zeker je vriendin, mag ik je daar wat over vragen?'
'Je mag me alles vragen maar ze is niet mijn vriendin. Dat mocht ik willen! Ik ken haar nog maar net een paar uur,' om daar met typische Stolpiaanse bravoure aan toe te voegen, 'maar ze wil nu al met me shoppen in de stad zo om me een kleding makeover te geven. Volgens haar valt er nog wel wat van me te maken. Leuk hè? Vind je het wat? Wel een mooie meid, toch?'
Billie's vriend, op dat moment thuis al zappend langs AT5, zal zich verslikt hebben in z'n koffie. Net goed. Had ie maar als man niet moeten verzaken in z'n taak vandaag.

'Mijn vraag is, er speelt nu een kwestie vandaag dat men boetes wil gaan uitdelen voor als je fluit naar een vrouw, of haar voor hoer uitmaakt op straat. Wat vind jij daarvan?'
'Nou ten eerste vind ik het wel een héél erg groot verschil om naar een vrouw te fluiten, of haar voor hoer uit te maken. Fluiten vind ik echt onschuldig en zelfs complimenteus, maar zomaar een vrouw die voorbij loopt voor hoer uitmaken vind ik echt not done. Dus ik ben het niet eens met dat ze dat over één kam scheren. Zullen we het anders eens in de praktijk uitproberen om het verschil te demonstreren? Even puur voor de research, niet dat ik het echt meen, weet je wel.'
De cameraman knikt gretig ja met z'n camera. Ik fluit richting Billie, die inmiddels wat verderop staat, en me niet hoort.
'Hé hoer!' schreeuw ik vervolgens gekscherend, en de cameraman houdt het niet meer uit van het lachen, en zijn camera deint mee als een paard in galop. Ze hebben waarvoor ze kwamen. En Billie, zo weten we inmiddels, kan wel tegen een grapje.
Maar in m'n publiciteitsgeile balorigheid, riep ik van alles vanuit de veronderstelling, dat het één en ander er later wel uit gemonteerd zou worden.
'Wanneer wordt dit uitgezonden?' vraag ik.
'Je was net live op televisie!' De AT5 crew barst opnieuw in lachen uit. Oeps.

Eenmaal terug in Zaandam, zie ik de droefheid zich meester maken in Billie's gezicht.
'Zal ik even een glaasje water halen voor je ergens, lieverd?'
'Lief van je Ray. Je zult inmiddels wel naar huis willen.'
'Ik breng je liever eerst even veilig naar huis.'
'Weet je het zeker? Da's een heel eind omlopen voor je. En weet je de weg dan wel weer terug te vinden?'

Nadat ik Billie thuis heb afgezet, loop ik maar wat heen en weer, en kom ik bij toeval uit op een punt dat ik herken vanwaar ik richting huiswaarts ga. Twee verdwaalde zielen, maar inmiddels onlosmakelijk verbonden.

Daarna zou Billie me elk jaar op deze dag een berichtje sturen, om me te bedanken voor dat ik haar zo lief geholpen had.


Ze schoot ineens voorbij terwijl ik aan het hollen was op de loopband. De Mooiste Kont van de Gym, had ik ter plekke besloten. Van wie die was, kwam ik pas enkele minuten later achter, toen de meid zich omdraaide en achter de balie onduidelijke dingen deed. Kylian Van Rijn, medewerkster TrainMore te Zaandam. Begin twintig, met een glimlach waar de zon niet tegenop kan concurreren, en zo knap dat ik voorheen eigenlijk te verlegen was om haar echt aan te spreken. Ik, ook geen rotzooi, maar inmiddels rond de veertig, voelde me toch iets ongepast in mijn beroering. Ik hoopte dus dat ze niet doorhad hoe mijn ogen bijna onvrijwillig haar richting op schoten. Maar terwijl ik m'n best deed haar niet aan te staren, en net deed alsof er op het schermpje van mijn loopband iets boeienders afspeelde, was zij wel verreweg het meest bezienswaardige in de verder afgestorven omgeving.

Een half jaar later zaten we samen aan de patat. Inmiddels hadden we elkaar wat beter leren kennen, en in het kader van volledige openheid, besloot ik haar de anekdote te vertellen van hoe ik voor het eerst haar billen in het vizier kreeg. Het soort anekdote waarvan elke geleerde in de kunst der vrouwen, zou zeggen dat je 'm beter kunt weglaten, tenzij je als Vieze Ouwe Gluurder wilt overkomen, dan wel een proces-verbaal aan je broek wilt krijgen. Zo niet bij Kylian.

'Awww, zó lief! En nu zit je gewoon met me aan het avondeten!' Soms loont eerlijkheid, want vertedering viel mij ten deel.

In het afgelopen halfjaar had Kylian mij volledig onder haar hoede genomen. Ze trainde me - gratis - ging shoppen voor kleding met me in de stad, maakte boodschappenlijstjes voor me, wou m'n haar knippen, en was vooral een aandachtige en boeiende gesprekspartner. Al snel werd de grap in TrainMore, dat waar Raymond was, Kylian was, en als je de één zocht, je de ander zou vinden. 'Stolpy,' zo vertelde ze omstanders desgevraagd, 'is mijn ontspanning hier.'

Want Stolpy was haar koosnaampje voor me. Maar daar bleef het niet bij. Zodra ik binnenliep, schalde een opgewekte vrouwenstem steevast door de TrainMore met varianten als, 'Poepie!' 'Mijn beauty!' Dit is hoe het leven eigenlijk altijd zou moeten zijn.

Maar de adoratie ging twee kanten op. Soms deed ik even alsof Ome Ray afgeleid was zodra er een andere mooie dame de sportschool binnenliep. Om dan al snel te vervolgen met, 'Nee hoor, jij bent mijn koninginnetje hier.' Waarop Kylian haar hand als een waaiertje bij haar gezicht hield als ware ze het er warm van kreeg, en we beiden in de schaterlach schoten.

Kortom, na wat blessures in de liefde, ontpopte ik me als een vlinder, en werd ik weer die heteroseksuele smeerlap die velen - vooral ikzelf - zo gemist hadden, en dit alles onder haar leiding. Nou ja, leiding... de beauty had een beest gecreëerd dat ze zelf ook niet meer helemaal onder controle had. Ik kwam weer tot leven, tot mezelf, en kon weer ademen, en dat alles dankzij m'n jonge kompaan. 'Je bent het beste dat me dit jaar is overkomen, Kylian.' Opnieuw werd mijn volstrekte oprechtheid warm ontvangen.

Maar zoals Prince het al bezong in '1999' komt er aan alle feestjes een einde, en na een jaar besloten ze de stekker eruit te trekken bij TrainMore Zaandam, omdat het te weinig winstgevend was. Onze liefde moest het bekopen voor de euro, en Kylian vertrok naar een ander filiaal, een andere stad. Maar een andere Raymond, zou ze daar niet treffen. Ik? Ik zocht ook maar eens een andere sportschool op. Inmiddels met babbels, maar wel zonder Kylian. De koffie was koud, de op, en het feest voorbij.

Ik zou Kylian nog één keer zien op het afscheidsfeest van TrainMore Zaandam. Ik hield de deur al in de gaten. En ineens kwam ze binnenlopen, terwijl alle mannen haar kant opkeken. Leren broek, bonten jas, en een laag uitgesneden top die me eigenlijk later pas opviel. 'RAYMOND!!!' schreeuwde ze door de zaal heen. We renden als ware in slow-motion naar elkaar toe, om elkaar midden op de lege dansvloer te vinden in een innige, langdurige omhelzing, die ook de gemoederen van de overige aanwezigen nog lang zou bezighouden. Kylian sprong nog enkele malen tegen mij op, en terwijl we elkaars hand vasthielden en elkaar glunderend in de ogen aankeken, waren woorden overbodig geworden.

Nooit meer alleen in de kantine

Het zal ergens in de periode 2002-2004 geweest zijn. Ik studeerde filosofie (wijsbegeerte als we de woorden wat duurder willen maken) aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, en tussen colleges door ging ik altijd lunchen in restaurant het Atrium, tussen andere studenten van diverse pluimage.

Zo ook die ene middag, toen een corpsbal-ogende rechtenstudent bij me aanschoof met de woorden, 'Hé lul, vind je het goed als ik even bij jou kom zitten lunchen?' Ik dacht dat hij een grapje maakte en een persiflage deed op een Jiskefet-karakter. Maar al snel bleek dat hij echt praatte als zo'n lullo die Jiskefet toendertijd persifleerde. Hij viel in ieder geval niet uit z'n rol terwijl het gesprek zich ontvouwde.

'Wat studeer jij dan?' vroeg hij oprecht geïnteresseerd.
'Je zit oog in oog met een ware wijsgeer.'
'Oh kijk, we zitten hier met een echte filosoof, eindelijk eens iemand waarmee ik een gesprek op niveau kan hebben.'

Met vleierij kom je ver, en ik vond 'm zowaar aardig. Terwijl hij een hap nam uit z'n broodje kroket, wauwelde hij bekakt, 'Descartes met dat cogito ergo sum, dat vind ik nu van een poëtische schoonheid. Ik denk, dus ik ben.'

'Wist je,' zei ik terwijl ik naar voren leunde als ware ik hem een geheim toefluisterde, 'dat volgens Descartes het plekje waar de ziel zich verbindt met het lichaam, de pijnappelklier is?'

De jongen verslikte zich bijna in z'n broodje, en terwijl er wat stukjes kroket in z'n zwarte lokken bleven hangen, lachte hij me toe, 'Dat is toch geweldig? Dit hoor ik echt niet als ik bij die rechtenstudenten verderop ga zitten, hoor! Ik spendeer mijn lunches liever op een beetje hoger filosofisch niveau. Zie ik je morgen weer rond deze tijd?'

'Hoe heet je eigenlijk?' vroeg ik hem voordat hij wegliep. Hij draaide zich om en stak zijn hand uit.
'Thierry. Thierry Baudet.'

Zelden dat je iemand ontmoet in je leven waarvan je geen idee hebt dat ze later zo'n belangrijke rol in de samenleving gaan spelen. Maar toch had Thierry die middag zo'n ervaring toen hij Raymond Stolp ontmoette.

De Pas

Net zoals je in horrorfilms titels hebt als 'De lift', hebben we op een bepaalde manier in het appartementencomplex waar ik woon, 'De Pas'.

Hiermee doel ik op de u welbekende afvalpas. Een pas die ten minste één van alle bewoners hier ten allen tijde kwijt is. Zelfs uw uiterst georganiseerde correspondent. Met mijn buren uit Chicago onder me heb ik zelfs een soort afspraak van wederkerige uitleen omdat we, althans wat de pas betreft, een dystopiaans wereldbeeld hebben. Dystolpiaans, zo u wil.

Deze week waren m'n buren hiernaast de pas kwijt, en zodoende klopte m'n buurvrouw hier af en toe aan om de mijne te lenen. Zo ook net, vlak voordat ik even de muziekstudio van haar man aan het bewonderen was. Met zowaar een Kustom versterker waarbij Vincent Gallo z'n vingers zou aflikken. Manlief, een Stolpiaans sportief type, wou net even onder de douche springen, en ik, ook Stolpiaans, wou wel even wat frisse lucht pakken.

Dus gewapend met de kartonnen dozen van nog wat recent aangeschafte studioapparatuur, vergezelde ik m'n buurvrouw naar beneden richting de machinale variant van het Koekiemonster: het HVC afvalbrengstation. Terwijl ons gesprek tien richtingen tegelijk uitvliegt, en ik het karton in minstens zoveel richtingen scheur en aan haar overhandig, kijkt ze me ineens serieus aan. 'Heb ik jou nu net die pas overhandigd?' Ik gebaar naar mijn lege zakken. 'Effe serieus hè, je maakt geen grap?' De pas is weg. Vlak daarvoor in de chaos lag ie nog te rusten op het hoofd van het Koekiemonster. Die vervolgens honger kreeg.

Met een doordravend tempo waar zelfs een drumsolo van Ginger Baker een puntje aan kan zuigen, pakt m'n buurvrouw haar mobiel en begint de nodige gegevens in te tikken op het InterGoogle om een nieuwe pas voor me aan te vragen. Ze is geen vrouw van pauzes. 'Kijk,' zegt ze, 'Het is toch handig af en toe, zo'n mobiel,' plagend over mijn prehistorische mobiel uit het dinosaurustijdperk. Een telefoon, nog echt om alleen mee te bellen, zal maar zeggen. Niet die hedendaagse mini-ruimteschepen waarmee je de matrix invliegt en modern leven een simulacrum geworden lijkt. Maar ik dwaal af.

'Hé ouwe chaoot,' zeg ik (ze is tien jaar jonger dan mij), 'dan kan ik nu weer de pas van jullie gaan lenen,' en schiet in de lach om de slapstick. Tegelijkertijd vanaf het raam en vanuit de straat, doen haar man en zoon een gelijktijdige facepalm, die niet misstaan zou hebben in een flitsende choreografie.

Na een paar verontschuldigingen van haar, zeg ik dat ze het niet expres doet, iedereen weleens een foutje maakt, en dat er wel belangrijkere dingen in het leven zijn. Soms lijk ik echt op een leuke vent.

Maar één ding is duidelijk. Er is een zwart gat dat alle afvalpassen opslokt, en het bevindt zich hier centraal in Zaandam.

De anderhalve meter blues, pijltjeswaanzin en een gay weerzien

Ik liep vanmiddag een DVD-winkeltje binnen. Overal pijltjes. Lichte trilling onder m'n linkeroog. Aan het einde van mijn bezoek zie ik twee gangen naar de exit. Eén mega druk met een lange rij van mensen, één totaal zonder mensen. Ik kies, zoals elk weldenkend mens, voor de gang zonder mensen, maar word halverwege door een hard krijsende vrouwenstem gesommeerd onmiddellijk terug te lopen. Ik liep hiermee namelijk (bewust) tegen de pijltjes in. Net zoals ik ook niet op groen licht ga zitten wachten bij het zebrapad, als er geen verkeer aankomt. Toch heerst hier een andere logica.

'U moet terugkomen en alsnog de weg hier met de juiste pijltjes bewandelen richting de uitgang!' Terwijl ik me langs een lange rij mensen probeer te wurmen, conform de 'juiste' corona-pijltjes, vraag ik me af in wat voor knettergekke wereld we zijn beland.

Eenmaal buiten vraagt een beschaafde, oudere vrouw, vriendelijk of ze er even langs mag op straat aan wat werklui. 'Je loopt maar lekker om m'n aanhangwagen heen, hier wordt gewerkt,' snauwt één van de mannen haar toe. 'Ja, dan word ik lekker platgereden midden op de weg, boer.' Even overweeg ik de man te kortwieken met zijn rondslingerende heggenschaar. Maar het meer aangepaste gedeelte van mijn psyche neemt de overhand. En de vrouw kan zich prima zelf verdedigen.

Even later arriveer ik in de sportschool. Alle pijltjes zijn weggehaald. Ik slaak een zucht van verlichting. Net als in oude gedeeltes van Griekenland waar ik ooit vertoefde, waar geen verkeersborden of regels zijn, geen links, geen rechts, maar het harde conflict, waarbij men gewoon voor elkaar stopt als een voortuig ergens langs moet, regelt het zich hier nu ook weer vanzelf. Men is tot het Stolpiaanse inzicht gekomen dat men zo druk bezig was om op de pijltjes te letten, dat men juist tegen elkaar opliep, en dat een anarchie soms beter functioneert.

De leukste politicus die gay is van het CDA, Nicky, verwelkomt me enthousiast met, 'Hi hunk! Heb je inmiddels alweer een nieuwe vriendin... of vriend?'

Even is alles weer normaal in balans in het universum.

Eerste dag weer naar de sportschool

Ik heb gapend oorlogen gewonnen. Beha bandjes spontaan doen openspringen met slechts een knipoog. Imperiums doen sneuvelen met een korte druk op de verzendknop. Maar tegenwoordig een sportschool binnen te kunnen lopen, dat blijkt toch wel een behoorlijke uitdaging. Gelukkig buig ik regels zoals Uri Geller lepels, en met charisma van moeders kant, heb ik me een weg gebaand door de bureaucratie naar de ingang. Het valt of staat wel met een lieve dame achter de balie, want pas dan komt mijn magie volledig tot z'n recht.

Bij binnenkomst krijg ik meteen een sproeiertje in m'n hand gedrukt. Het blijkt dat ik er een nieuwe baan bijkrijg: die van schoonmaker. Sproeien voordat je wat aanraakt, sproeien nadat je wat hebt aangeraakt, overal liggen doekjes en prullenmandjes, een onwerkelijk aangezicht. Ironisch ook, gezien het coronavirus zich toch eerder via de lucht dan via objecten verspreidt volgens mij, en om me heen geklaagd wordt hoe benauwd het is, en geen raam openstaat. Toch schijnt de ventilatie pico bello op pijl te zijn, conform Neerlands nieuwe orakel het RIVM.

Vooral in de typische mannenhoekjes is er niet veel bewegingsruimte, en schiet iedereen vlak langs elkaar heen om erdoor te kunnen. De anderhalve meter, is hier slechts een gerucht. Ik sproei nog wat om me heen. Alles is immers bezet. Het uur waarvoor ik geboekt sta, is alweer bijna voorbij. Er ontstaat een discussie of ik eigenlijk wel de kleedkamer binnen mag lopen. Een meisje spreekt me aan op dat ik een pijl niet goed zou volgen, en biedt even later haar excuus aan dat ik toch in de goede richting liep (bij toeval). Uiteindelijk loop ik echt in de goede richting: richting huis.

De geboorte van een schrijver

Ik had ooit een juf Nederlands die eerst niet geloofde dat ik m'n stukken zelf schreef, en toen ik haar eenmaal overtuigd had van het tegendeel, erop bleef hameren, 'Beloof me dat je schrijver wordt later.' Ik zal een jaar of dertien geweest zijn.

Hoe anders was het een paar jaar later op het VWO, toen een juf maatschappijleer me apart nam voor wat op een interventie leek. 'Raymond, wat moet ik toch met jou aan?' vroeg ze zich hardop af, terwijl haar hoofd nee schudde, en in haar blik bijna iets van medelijden zat. 'Als ik zie wat voor dingen jij soms opschrijft, dan denk ik echt, wat doe jij hier, en wil ik je met klem afraden om naar de universiteit te gaan. Sorry maar dat ligt echt ver boven jouw niveau en ik weet zeker dat jij dat niet gaat redden.' Omdat ik het niet eens was met haar over iets, had ze besloten dat ik te dom was om te poepen, en absoluut niet de verstandelijke vermogens had om een universiteit aan te kunnen, laat staan een studie als filosofie. Onder het mom van 'oh gossie' had ze de nobele taak op zich genomen om me voor een grote teleurstelling te behoeden.

Uiteindelijk doorliep ik die studie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam met vlag en wimpel, maar daar gaat het me niet om. De boodschap is deze.

Het is maar goed om in jezelf te geloven, als anderen dat niet doen.


168. How do you set up your guitars? And what kind of strings and picks do you use these days?
Louise de Graaf, Castricum, Netherlands

I always try to get away with an action that is around 1,5 mm at the 17th fret on both the high and low E string, with just a tiny bit of neck relief. Sometimes one has a guitar where you have to compromise and use a higher action or else it'll fret out on bends. But I prefer to get it dialed in just right, because the more it deviates from the aforementioned settings, the more negatively it affects my playing ability. I use a slightly modified version of their Ernie Ball Power Slinky strings (.011-.050) and their Everlast .88 mm picks that my buddy Leif de Leeuw has left at my house a couple of times. I do experiment and deviate from that every once in a while but that's what I've settled on for quite a while now. I've mostly used D'Andrea Celluloid .96 mm picks before but I originally switched to Delrin picks from various brands as a solution to picks slipping in live situations due to sweatier hands. I didn't have that problem anymore with the Delrin material, even though I preferred the sound of the celluloid. But ever since Leif turned me on to these Everlast picks, I fell in love with how they seem to sound both brighter and deeper than other Delrin picks I have tried, for whatever reason. As far as strings go, I like the Ernie Balls because of how smooth they feel, and how warm and harmonically rich they sound (to my ears, anyway). And they're available everywhere. Hex core because of ease of use and less accident prone, nickel plated steel wrapping because it brings a little extra high-end spunk to my P-90 pickups. And I prefer the more robust feel and tuning stability of higher gauge strings. I've experimented with various incarnations of the .011 set, including the balanced tension version, but it wasn't for me: .011, .014, .018p, .028, .038, .050 is where my fingers and playing style like it to be. So it's basically their standard .011 Power Slinky set, except I toss out the low E .048 for a .050. As you can probably tell, I'm very particular about these things and arrived at this through extensive experimentation with various gauges of each string. For acoustic I prefer a similar .011 set as well. It's all just personal preference, what works for the individual player, and that works for me. But to extrapolate a bit on your first question, I mostly prefer to set up my guitars myself, it's almost like a bonding session with the instrument to me, I really like to get to know it and see at what settings it responds best to me, and take my time to intonate the bridge as well. It's been a learning curve but through trial and error I feel I've gained a lot of insight.

167. If infamous Dutch 'musician'/turd, Ray Stolp, was to get his own signature Gibson or Fender, what would make it 'signature', for you?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I'd really want to design it myself from the ground up with the help of engineers who could technically help 'turn my dreams into reality'. I have a lot of things I'd like to change from the classic designs that would be helpful for me personally. I find Annie Clark's Ernie Ball St. Vincent signature guitar and Johnny Marr's Jaguar very inspiring... when the signature model means it's really its own thing. I could go into specifics but the technical talk would probably bore you. I've thought of a few directions I'd like to build a guitar towards... generally speaking, I'd like the controls to be out of the way of my picking hand, the body to have some sort of contours, and the weight to be light. No middle pickup. I'd like to mess around extensively with various neck shapes, radiuses, fret wire sizes, and pickup configurations to determine what I like best, even though I already kind of know my preferences. Which tend to be a medium-size C-shaped neck (think of the '59 Les Paul neck profile) with a rosewood or ebony fingerboard with no lacquer on the back, a 9.5" radius (no compound), 6105 frets, and P-90 pickups (500k pots so they don't get too mushy). I really like the Gretsch sound so would like to experiment with some Filter'Tron pickups as well. I'd also consider an Alnico V staple pickup for the neck position. Whatever the pickups would end up being, in general I prefer them to have flat pole pieces and to not be slanted; for both sound and convenience reasons. I tend towards liking the sound of mahogany so would probably pick that wood for the neck and body. I'd have to go with a Les Paul single cut body shape, because I find it the most beautiful. I'd like a steel bridge and a graphite nut. Binding only on the neck, not the body (it increases comfort in the first, not the latter, to me). No locking tuners, no string trees, and a headstock that would tilt back just a little like an Epiphone would. I'd still like to tweak it all slightly, and of course, change my mind about it all at any time. I'd probably drive them nuts! But the end result could possibly have wide appeal yet be something unusual. It would probably look like a Stolpified version of my Les Paul Special, which my good friend Chris P. Dekker recently got me a good deal on in Gibson's headquarters for Europe at the A'DAM Tower, and is currently my favorite guitar. I probably couldn't improve on it, but hey, you asked!


166. Six more nights of work before I reach my goal of being an unemployed Dutch 'musician',  just like my (barely) functionally retarded friend, Raymond Stolp! Any words of advice, Ray?? What's been the secret of your non-success these past 2+ decades?!
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

You've just got to stick with it and be determined, you know... not care what anybody else has to say about it - like for instance, overtly critical hillbillies. Do not care about career, social acceptance, or any of that stuff... and then one day, maybe... you get to be a lone ranger, a warrior, like me. A friend of mine who I studied philosophy with ten years ago, came to visit me recently, and during a walk that's what he called me, a lone ranger and a warrior. He was referring to me not being married with kids yet and to my 'secret productivity' of all the unreleased music I've been working on the last couple of years that I showed him a glimpse of. After being stomped into the ground for years by the likes of you, it was a fresh perspective! To have a hobby like music does help, though... you don't want to stare at your belly button all day and get too socially closeted... so become a barfly, talk to chicks a lot. And like Bukowski says, never try. Good luck!


165. You're hot! Do you work out?
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

Yes I do, and thank you! Yeah, I always think if they don't like the face, at least they'll like the body! Oh, I'm kidding, what's not to like about that Stolp face. For those interested, I'll give you my stats.

Chest: 43 inches
Shoulders: 49,5 inches
Biceps: 15 inches
Forearms: 11 inches
Waist: 32-34 inches
Hips: 37 inches
Thighs: 25 inches
Calves: 16 inches

Couple that with 33 inch long legs and you know why I was picked up off the street by a modeling agency a few years ago; I 'measure like a model' as they say. I'm 5ft 11.3 and currently weigh around 165 pounds and my body fat percentage is about 12 percent. My stamina has never been as good and the power of my chest, back and legs are great and graph shows them to be of equal strength (if only I was as balanced mentally - joke!) I work out at the luxury TrainMore gym here in Zaandam, it's a very cozy place for me: I have a good rapport with the guys there (which is not like me as I'm usually allergic to men) and the girls working there call me their resident slut because I've gotten to know them all pretty well personally, which tells you enough about their level of adorableness. I don't mind going there a lot, usually three days of weight lifting but sometimes also adding a few cardio sessions every week. On the weight lifting days I just do a very basic full body work out mainly consisting of compound movements. To give you an idea of how I'm performing at the peak of my powers in a few key lifts:

Barbell Bench Press: 165 pounds (reverse pyramid set)
Barbell Military Press: 110 pounds (reverse pyramid set)
Pull-ups/chin-ups: bodyweight (3 sets of 10 repetitions)
Dips: bodyweight (3 sets of 10 repetitions)
Squat: 220 pounds (3 sets of 10 repetitions)

When I want to lose some flab, for - say - 6 weeks I'll eat extra clean (no junk food, no alcohol, less fat, foods with less calories and so on) and drop my daily caloric intake to a deficit of about 500-750 calories below maintenance, while applying an 18/6 intermittent fasting protocol. The fat will then fly off pretty quickly and after 6 weeks I'll be around 10 pounds lighter (with virtually no strength or muscle loss). Eventually I'll add three to four days of cardio each week as well (30 minutes of steady state running on the treadmill each time). What I like about cardio is that it keeps you in good cardiovascular shape, and gets those endorphins flying in your brain to make you feel all-round good. Feeling good translates to looking good and your skin also gets clearer from sweating out all the toxins and stuff. And it certainly helps me lose those last few pounds of flab around the midsection, because you can't keep cutting your calories indefinitely. I don't gauge progress by body fat percentage readings with calipers, instead finding waistline tape measurements, in combination with the US Navy body fat calculator, a little more reliable and convenient. As long as my waistline stays around 32 inches, which is around 12 percent body fat, I'm good. I also track progress by keeping a photo log, to make sure I keep getting more cut while keeping most of my muscle, as measurements and (consistent) photos don't lie, but your own mind can play tricks on you, and know-it-alls who say you're doing it all wrong and you're not making any progress, are often uninformed and wrong themselves, and listening to that can sabotage your succes. So as long as you don't lose weight too quickly and do everything healthily (aiming to slowly lose one to two pounds a week over the long term, like doctors typically advise for healthy weight loss) do whatever works for you; if you can see the improvements from the numbers and the photos as the weeks (or months) go by, screw what anybody else has to say. Including me, as what works for me, might not be the best method for you (you might have different goals, your body might respond differently to certain things I do, this might not psychologically be the best routine to stick to for you, and so on). After the cut I'll go back to eating at maintenance level (or a little above it, usually a slow six month bulk if I really want some muscle growth somewhere). As far as the actual diet goes, I just asked the most fierce-looking dudes at the gym what's in their fridge, and bricolaged myself a diet from that. Which basically means about four meals a day, small-to-medium portions with lots of protein (I like my eggs) a decent amount of carbs (slow-digesting ones like from brown rice) and a little bit of the good fats (like from organic peanut butter) and easy on the bad fats and the booze (every once in a while I'll get drunk and eat lots of junk food, though - 'solely to shock the system into burning more calories'). I've tried all sorts of different routines and still change it up for a few months every now and then, but this in a basic sense has gotten me the best results so far. The goal for me, if you like, is to be healthy, have fun, feel good, and look good as a bonus while you're at it. Looking good to me would be slim but not too skinny, with a decent amount of muscle but not too big. And by that I mean what the general population would consider those parameters to be. For bodybuilding people what normal people would consider slim, they'd consider to be fat, and what's a decent amount of muscle to most they would consider small (I'm generalizing here, but a lot of bodybuilding people have a different perspective, let's say). Also, for me personally, though I've obviously picked up a lot of knowledge through working out since I was sixteen (on and off for one/two year periods with breaks of a couple of years - have now been exercising consistently for the past seven years) and studying the science behind it, I don't want to get too obsessive about it, it's more like a fun pastime in the context of a life where my focus is on other things as well (music, girls, observing culture and whatnot). Which suits me fine because I don't want to be super huge or have single digit body fat, and that would require a lot more time and focus. Having said that, even to be in the shape I'm in, requires quite a bit of determination, effort, and discipline. I don't really enjoy any other sports but today I had my first real boxing lesson and I loved it! A mate of mine who's a fighter (a good one too, I once saw him kicking someone's ass in the streets) taught me the basics, he said I picked it up quickly and my footwork is like Michael Jackson! I'm a quick learner generally but I must've inherited this natural ability from my grandpa Stolp who was a boxer.

164. Dear Raymond, if you were for some strange reason not allowed to be a performer and artist what kind of job would you want to have and what jobs would you most definitely decline or hate to do. Best regards,

I'd decline anything that involves my greatest fear: to blend in. Other than using my brain in philosophical and artistic ways and creating cultural artefacts out of this, I don't think I'm much use for society. That, and making girls happy, is my field of expertise. I think I'd make a great criminal, because it requires one to think outside of the box and to have a healthy disregard for authority, which are qualities I possess. I'd be an ethical, honest, noble criminal, though. I'd steal from a large corporation, but I wouldn't steal from my friend. I'd break into a house, but I wouldn't break into my neighbor's house. I'd rob a bank, but I'd be friendly yet stern with the cashier. I'd be gentlemanly about it. But fortunately for the world, I just want to play guitar, so fear not my dear readers. I did actually work in construction when I was about fifteen years old, to fund buying some Armani gear I desired. I basically helped tear down my grandfather's house and build it up again from scratch; a house I ended up living in for a while a few years later. They said I was a hard worker. I was particularly relentless at throwing all the tiles down from the roof towards the catcher. That was my first job and although it was tough and I was soaked in sweat at the end of the day, I liked it. I grew up hating sports but later in life developed a taste for bodybuilding and boxing, so I could see myself doing some kind of job involving that, although I have no ambitions about getting on a contest stage with either of those. I'd be good as a presentor on television, and I've had some offers, but again, it's just not one of my ambitions. I always wanted to be a rock 'n' roller. Through the work of the great Piet Vroon and owning some books he used to own, I did develop an obsession for psychology and have considered studying it and becoming a psychologist. Now I'm just particularly well-read on the subject. I also feel an affinity with scientific sceptics like James Randi, it's interesting work and worthwhile (I'm allergic to bullshit so any contribution towards having less of it in this world seems worthwhile to me). I'd also love to be a groovy little professor doing scientific work with regards to the origins and nature of the universe, but I'm afraid it would drive me crazy not grasping the answers to my questions, if I'd even find them. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to make ends meet, but in the tradition of the great Charles Bukowski, if at all possible I'd avoid any nine to five job, really. I'm interested in a lot of fields in this world, and I'd like doing things within those fields, but I don't like people telling me what to do, especially not throughout the day, almost every day. At one point I got kicked out of school and found myself at a job centre where they wanted me to go get a job at the Albert Heijn supermarket; I immediately pursued a career in academics and worked hard to make sure I'd get into a university, doing two years of study in one year in order to be able to do so. That was like a nightmare vision, having to do such assembly line factory type work; although I'd love to work on guitars in a similar capacity. I guess it would have to involve a passion, something I love. I could see myself working with animals, dogs in particular, and children. But anything involving grown-ups in a so-called serious setting is risky business for me, and asking for trouble, probably. I'd hate to have to do anything mundane or what would involve having to be around people a lot. This excludes most of what's going on in the world.

163. Hi Ray, how do you get your self in 'the zone' if you are not in a creative mood? Warm regards,

The zone is usually a place that happens whenever I pick up a guitar, guitar parts come to me or I get transcendental out-of-body experiences when playing a guitar solo, for instance. It also happens when singing sometimes, and with lyric writing - with engineering and mixing, even, as the studio is just another instrument. Sometimes ideas come to you and you start bringing them into reality with musical tools, sometimes playing around with the tools bring the ideas into immediate fruition. I usually just wait for the ideas to come around, or find myself in the mood, it's not like I consciously have a process to get myself in the mood. I'm not like a writer who consciously creates drama in his or her life just to produce interesting work. Life sort of happens, and I get inspired by it. If you let your sexdrive drive you several times a day, to answer your previous question more clearly, it can cause your brain to tap into a certain wave that is very calming (and appropriate for New Age? To create another little paradox) maybe your sexual energies are all depleted and there's nothing left for the music, but you can also argue that sexual release doesn't per se tame the beast, but even more unleashes it. But is this detrimental or beneficial to the creative process? These are interesting things to think about, Zenomore. You know my stance on rock 'n' roll, there's a reason they call it 'sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll', these things go together like coffee and cream to get the mojo going, although there are alternative (and perhaps more interesting) routes to get there.

162. Dear Raymond, thank you for your answer. I conclude you have never really experimented with abstinence or better the sublimation of sexual energy. I shall reverse my original question: what happens/happened with the quality of your music if you let your sexdrive drive you several times a day? It may depend on the one your drive may drive. Have you ever studied the sexual behaviour of famous artists from Mozart till now? Is the ontological horniness in its pure form not always already anticipated by the possible ontic redemption of this horniness? What does the ontological horniness do with the quality of your music? Am I stating the question of the role of the muse? Do you have a muse? What are the criteria to become your muse?

Both Exit Inferno and Bella Koko were to a large extent products of a muse (each album has a different muse). In both cases, I became very jealous when other men entered the picture, so being possessive in that way is a recurring criteria of a muse and hence motivation to pick up a guitar and sing like somebody broke my back, to purge such powerful emotions. When a guy hits on my girl, and I don't feel the urge of wanting to rip his head off, I know the love is over. That isn't to say a muse always has to be your girlfriend; perhaps the greatest muse is an unrequited love (look at Derek And The Dominoes with Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs in which Eric Clapton sublimely documents his love for his best friend George Harrison's then-wife Pattie Boyd). Perhaps only unrequited love can be truly romantic (to continue the example, the moment Clapton ultimately got the girl and married Pattie a few years later, he said it was all over). A muse is also synonymous with an obsession. Or: the center of one's universe. The muse must set fire to one's imagination, one's libido, and one's romantic sensibility. Her story must make you dream. The role of the muse is to drive you crazy and the music becomes the soundtrack of you losing your mind, and possibly, finding it again. I've never really studied the sexual behavior of artists. If you want to play really dirty rock 'n' roll, being in touch with the ontological horniness is beneficial (just think of Elvis shaking his hips) I guess if you want to play more serene genres it could be detrimental to its quality (New Age perhaps wouldn't work if the main thing on your mind is orgasmic release; in this case your erection may be considered the enemy). Certain music is very motivated by wanting to get girls and its very quality depends on it (the more passionate about a girl, the more passionate the content and performance). I currently don't have a muse. But to pretty girls looking to meet the criteria to become my muse, I would suggest that a good start would be short skirts, high heels, and red lipstick. Like voodoo, these elements seem to almost magically conjure the more spiritual elements mentioned above. But a muse who doesn't offer ontic redemption is like French Fries without mayonaise. Truly romantic, yes, but ontological horniness ultimately needs ontic release. Maybe redemption comes in the form of letting go of all earthly desires, but nobody likes a cock tease.

161. Dear Ray, what is your opinion on (temporary) abstinence from sex and creative outbursts? In other words can you manipulate your sexual drive in order to produce more and better music? Is it a fact that once you are in the process of creating music you do not want to have sex with Monica Bellucci if she would make you a proposal? Kind regards,

I suppose everything influences everything and abstinence from sex would perhaps make one more grumpy and the music would reflect that, but I doubt if it would be better music. I guess you can manipulate your sex drive through not eating much, for instance (and watch your libido plummet) and with all the extra time you have that you would normally spend eating and having sex, you could be directing those energies towards music so you could indeed be producing more music, I just don't know if it would be better music per se. A healthy sex life would affect other areas in life positively as well you'd think, and sex creates vibrations in your head that are very conducive to getting a creative flow going it seems to me. I guess to leave your genetalia alone till spiderwebs are in the pubic hair area, it could cause one to have the blues and therefore one might sing the blues more convincingly, to contradict my previous flow of thought and create a nifty little paradox. As far as Monica Bellucci goes, when I'm making music, especially if it's a sexy beat, say, something bluesy or industrial, it would get me in the mood to have sex with this Italian beauty fo' shizzle, in fact I think it would be hard to manipulate my libido to the point where I'd be undettered if she'd propose such a thing. That would truly be an offer I couldn't refuse. I used to hang out with a girl and everywhere she went, folks would whisper that she looks just like Monica Bellucci. However, I'd rather be blown by a toothless prostitute standing behind Amsterdam Central Station, than let her anywhere near my pecker. So my attraction to Monica is beyond the mere physical appearance, into a whole other realm of ontological horniness.

What is your dream and after that... do you have another one to follow the original up when you reach it?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

My dream is to be happy and healthy and make music and have fun with my friends and perhaps have a wife and kids if it's in the cards and I meet the right person.

159. Agreed... I can be a cold shot to one thing... betrayal. Because I'm a very supportive friend ...I never forgive betrayal.
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Yes you hit the nail on the head. Betrayal ruins everything. It becomes a black cloud over everything you've ever experienced with the person, it makes everything ring false all of a sudden. It's scary the human capacity to betray. Once you've been betrayed or burned a few times, it gets harder to trust but still I choose to remain open, maybe subconsciously I'm a little more guarded, but still I feel more unguarded than most people. My answers to your questions are a case in point! It's the only way... otherwise you just become bitter and you're not connecting with the beauty around you for fear of rain.

158. Do you have abandonment issues?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

I don't fear abandonment. I'd be perfectly content on a deserted island, being blown by a robot. In the end I'm quite self-sufficient and don't need much in the way of people around me in order to be fulfilled. If someone wants to leave, so be it. Usually when people want to leave I'm like, 'I'll open the door for you, do you seriously think I'd miss misery?' I'm quite cold in that way. But it takes a lot to get me to that point of coldness.

157. Do you think that humans are monogamous by nature or nurture expectations?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

I think humans are one of the few animals that attempt monogamy at least, or think it's something to strive for, I haven't read up on the subject well but the romantic in me likes to think that is somehow hardwired into our being/genetics. At the same time I'm not naive and see people cheating left right and centre. For whatever reason, I'm more drawn to monogamy. Hell, when I'm in love with a girl, she's the only girl I want to have sex with, even when I'm not (yet) having sex with her! Maybe it's to do with nurture/upbringing to a large extent as well, who knows.

156. Is your life driven by ego or love?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Love is everything. I mean, what else is there? I have no religion. All that's left is love. In my life it is an ambition to become less ego driven but it's difficult, as I'm very fond of myself and fall into that trap of thinking of myself as a separate entity from all the things around me, when we are in fact one, you and I also, Kelly.

155. Do you practice safe sex 100 percent of the time?  
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Always safe sex, I'm paranoid about getting diseases ever since being a kid and watching on the TV how Freddie Mercury died. I mean, in a monogamous relationship, I'm open to getting tested and then not using a rubber and making babies, of course. I feel people are way too slack about using protection. That is your life there on the line. Sex is great and all that, but it's not worth risking your health for!

154. Are you a giver or a taker? Do you please your women first?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Russell Brand used to steal all the women I was chasing, but now I know his secret - always please the woman first. I was always a giver but since then I have the mindset of giving first and now the sky is the limit! I refer you to the cunnilingus answer also for more on this, as I feel these questions are tightly interrelated.

153. Do you wink at old ladies?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

I do wink at people a lot, and I feel very... not just winking but being considerate and helpful to older ladies is something I aspire to and sometimes manage to do as well.

152. When was the last time you randomly  commited an act of kindness?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Kelly, every day, all the time, even probably here on 'Ask Ray', possibly even in this answer. I'm always being kind to people. It's why women adore me... and won't sleep with me.

151. Do you tip well?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

I always tip, and I tip well. Usually two euros, even to a dick bouncer who basically beat me up twice.

150. Are you any good at cunnilingus?
Kelly Collier, South Bay, California, United States

Cunnilingus, to be honest I found it daunting at first but then I developed a taste for it (pun intended) and I think I'm now widely considered King of Oral Sex in Zaandam, Amsterdam, and the Dutch islands like Texel. Not to brag or anything, but orgasms were had because of it. Plentiful.


149. Dear RayRay- I'm completely disillusioned with music. Everything sounds either like Coldplay or Nickelback. And seriously, fuck both of those bands. I find myself listening to 35 year old music on Pandora about 80 percent of the time. Are there any 'new' bands or artists that don't sound like dry white toast?
Randy Jack Hardwood, United States

I go for the old skool too, listening to vintage Buddy Guy on the jukebox now as we speak. I always try to keep up with new music coming out, though. My very sweet, pretty, unique, talented, superior, funny writer friend Amaryl Sondervan is only twenty years old, and she sometimes sits me down here and lets me hear all the new music them youngsters are into. You know her, you once wrote to her how pretty she is after you'd seen her photos on Facebook and she told you, 'I'm Ray's neighbor.' Anyway. She has impeccable taste in footwear and music. She plays me the latest music and some of it I like but there hasn't been any new music I've heard that truly rocked my world since Amy Winehouse, and she mostly listened to old music too and my favorite songs of hers have a lot of retro, Motown, sixties girl group influences (but with an original twist, especially lyrically). I really like the idea of being forward thinking and not stuck in the past but I must say paradoxically a lot of that old stuff sounds more evolved and futuristic to me. Maybe because old stuff captured the excitement of invention but has been done to death since so new stuff feels like old stuff that no longer sounds fresh but like a tired rehash, or like a new language you really don't want to hear or speak. Original isn't always good. Good and original, that's the goal. For me, anyways. Not sure if I always reach it, but hey, I try! I listen a lot to Love's Forever Changes (especially 'Alone Again Or' is a masterpiece) and Shuggie Otis is amazing, listening to and studying his work has really made me branch out on the guitar and as songwriter. But generally I mostly listen to Ronnie Wood's solo work from the seventies these days. Ronnie Wood is a boss, he swings. Now Look is a masterpiece ('Breathe On Me' in particular). When I hear that music I think I'm dancing in a coked-out discotheque like time doesn't exist and it's a joy to exist and any other sentiment is foolish. Yes! The only more modern music I listened to for a long time was John Frusciante's Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt. As a teenager I only really listened to old blues records for years, I had about 200 blues CDs and that was it. My favorite stuff was from the thirties like Robert Johnson, so relatively speaking I'm a lot more up to date these days. Willy DeVille is truly one of the greatest artists to come out of America, and incomprehensibly never got the recognition his talent deserved - lots of famous musicians are nothing compared to this guy. Instead of clinging on to whatever the flavor of the month is, more Americans should discover his music and hail him as the national treasure he is. The music of Sparklehorse really speaks to me, I've found it very inspiring which is code for I've nicked a lot from it for my own music. I do check out new bands a lot when they come to town to play, but they're usually so obscure or embryonic you'd barely find any music by them. My friends in Scarlet Soho I always go watch live when they come to Holland, they're quite popular and a great band. As far as the stuff that's popular in the charts and newcomers there, forget about it. The best thing all year has rightfully been at number one there everywhere though, David Bowie's triumphant return with The Next Day. My favorite song from 2013 has been a bonus track off that one, 'I'll Take You There'. It's so vital. I look forward to more stuff of his. It's difficult stuff to learn on guitar, though! 'Where Are We Now?' sounds deceptively simple but there's a lot going on with the chords there that is not your usual fare. Superb song there by the way, wow. Made me cry my eyes out like a little girl when he came out with that one out of nowhere on his birthday. Speaking of Bowie, some current bands I've heard that I like: Arcade Fire (I like Reflector with Bowie singing on it, and a nice little Kierkegaard influence of course always makes my philosopher's heart beat a little faster) The Kills, The Sissy Cowboys, The Virgins (although they broke up last month). I really like St. Vincent, she's original and good (that best and most rare of combinations) a bitchin' guitar player, plus pretty to boot - what more can you ask for? There you go, to end on a current note.

148. Dearest Ray, as a mentor, you have truly shown me the ropes of being yourself and embracing it. I have never regretted telling my bosses to go, 'fuck themselves!' What I would like to know; is there a happy medium?
Jeff Glanville, Wyoming, Ontario, Canada

I'm not saying you've got to be a bitch in the face of authority at all times, but anything that wants to reduce you to the horror of nine to five doing something you don't want to do, for people you don't like, should be avoided if possible at all times. In general I think most people don't do what they really want to do because they are afraid of it not matching society's expectations of them. I say screw those norms and just be who you want to be and do what you want to do - at least have that as your focus, even if you have a shit job just to pay the rent, make sure that you make that a stepping stone to something else instead of an end destination. Aristotle once said that everything should be assigned to its proper place and with that in mind I'd say if the place you're in isn't suiting you, your efforts should be directed into moving towards a better place. Whatever that place may be... one person's ideal place may be another person's place in hell, you know. So society's general guidelines can never apply to each individual, unique case. Who cares what the masses want of you anyway? We're all just blobs of energy waiting to die and float into a different kind of energy and until then I'd say it's a good idea to listen to your heart and what it tells you to do instead of other people's confused idea of what that must be. People should just let each other be to find out and decide for themselves how they want to spend their finite time on earth as human beings. Trying to match expectations leads to compromise and compromise is what kills during life. I mean, unless you like to compromise. Sometimes you have to put a little water with the wine just to get ahead in life and to maintain a good vibe with whoever you're dealing with, but it's a slippery slope and there is a line you can cross where you end up completely not being yourself and discarding your own wants and needs just to please others or to take the path of least resistance. Always keep the well-being of others in mind with what you do, but never let that concern override taking care of the well-being of yourself. So watch it, Glanville!

147. Happy to have friends that have a healthy respect for boundaries. I don't think I'm too rigid but when it comes to pervnerds, they get tossed to the curb ASAP. Ray makes the cut despite being a total pervert because Stolpe is Dutch so it is my guess his perv-spective is highly evolved in his understanding of boundaries, sexual or otherwise. In other words Ray-Ray is not a stalker, even though he has a soft spot (or did) for Nicole Andrews. 
Betsy Ballin, Saint Louis, United States

Yeah with Nicole I felt it was a mutual thing, she totally goofed around with me and in fact even nicknamed me her 'pepper spray' like I'm her protector/guardian angel against real perverts! Girls sense that I wouldn't hurt a fly. The real creeps are usually the guys who approach you like Mr. Perfect but then, like you say, don't respect and cross boundaries once they've sneaked their way closer to you. I like to think I have a good intuitive sense of where boundaries lie, and girls usually have a good intuitive sense of my humor when I seemingly cross them. Which I'd call 'charm'. I wonder how Nicole is... haven't talked to her in a while. You know I actually mainly thought she was sweet and funny, I wasn't being seriously amorous, just flirty because I liked how she responded to me, we had a good vibe and she is extremely pretty. She's a fun gal to goof around with. She 'gets' me. I don't think I've ever even private messaged her, it was all out in the open, un-stalky and extremely adorable. I like that she is a person with a lot of drive. I like ambitious, artistic women. I always hope she's doing well with her career and take an interest in the movies she's in and make an effort to be supportive. And like, when a girl tells me that makes her day, I know I'm not crossing any boundaries. I wouldn't call that stalkerish, more like extremely sweet. I've never like, hit on her or anything, she just intrigues me. It's mainly a thing of, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice back. Don't care who you are, a dirt-poor girl living in the streets or a Hollywood actress.

146. Why don't you make the same kind of changes in your life like I did?

I don't understand why people always want to change you into being like themselves. I always enjoy people being vastly different than me.

145. How about discussing some of the most common guitar pedals and effects and their description/what they're most commonly used for- stuff like wah-wah's, phasers, etc.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Fuck man, that would seem like work. I can tell you what I use but I don't know much about how it works technically (I learn and keep forgetting, it's not that interesting to me how the colors are made, it's more interesting what I can do with the colors). I use an overdrive which mimics the sounds of a tube amp at full blast, but at a lower volume. Usually natural amp distortion is the best but sometimes with an unruly amp it helps tighten things up at higher volumes too. I use a wah-wah sometimes, which to me is like rolling the tone knob on your guitar back and forth, although I'm sure that isn't precisely what is going on. It's hard using that pedal and not have it be cliché, like Shaft (although a good cliché a day helps keep the doctor away). I kind of use it as a slow sweep most of the time, accentuating certain frequencies. Then you have your modulation, chorus, flanger, and phaser. Swirly sounding stuff. Derived from the Leslie cabinets, from my understanding, that makes your guitar sound like an organ. I tend to use phaser the most, because I like how it's used on The Rolling Stones song 'Heaven'. Flanger has limited use to me, although I have the Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress that is more subtle and chorusy that I've applied quite a bit on my last album. Chorus can be beautiful but I usually lean more towards rude, filthy guitar sounds, and it can make things sound a little too polite and nice for my tastes. Like the eighties. Then you have your delays which seem to be some of the most popular these days, but delays confuse me, it makes me feel like the past is babbling through my current speech. Still, it can really enhance certain guitar bits. I prefer reverb, which is like a very short delay, because I can have things sound echoey without having to do things like set the time of the delay to the beat of the song and confuse my retarted Dutch brain in the process. There are loads of other things out there to mutilate your guitar signal, but those are some basic ones that people use a lot. I myself use the tremolo on my Vox AC30 quite a bit, which makes things sound mysterious and like from a David Lynch movie. It takes the volume up and down in a steady progression. Effects pedals are a bit like everyone getting tattoos though, you hear them everywhere on music and they're so overused it's actually refreshing just to hear a guitar plugged straight into the amp; which generally is my favorite sound for most applications anyway. I'm very much of the Ronnie Wood school of taking an old Strat and plugging it into a vintage Fender Champ and turning everything everything up - done! But you want to spice things up every once in a while as well. The trick is to take these boxes and use them in ways people generally don't, while still having the resulting weird sound be musical and working in the context of the piece of music you're applying it to.

144. Ray Ray- I've got a theory. Because songs are made up of notes and words, and there are a very finite amount of notes and words, isn't is possible that eventually every possible song could be written? We could eventually run out of music? There are only so many possible combinations and sequences we can put them in, to produce original art. No?
Your thoughts...
Randy Jack Hardwood, United States

Funny you mention that, this is a philosophical question I ponder quite often myself. I think Sting - of all fucking people - probably said it right, that kinda everything is sort of already done before but when you blend the melodies with original words/phrases, you come up with something uniquely your own. The postmodernist in me would say everything is already been done, though. Except the song that last forever and started since the beginning of time haha Too late to start that one now! haha John Frusciante once told me that the hands and your electricity have a lot to do with the outcome in sound though... so even if I played 'La Bamba' for the umpteenth time, it would still be fresh, because it's my silly old flesh and bones playing the thing. Copyright is a little ridiculous though, any way you cut it... people are doing the same thing over and over again. Even the ones doing the lawsuits stole their shit. Led Zeppelin is one big thievery... but Jimmy Page had an original technique/approach to the stuff. I find this a very interesting point you point out... you have a penchant for that. More thoughts when I'm sober. Perhaps.


143. Ray-Ray... What's your take on the American political system and how we look to the rest of the world? What are politics like in the Netherlands? How much do I owe you in consulting fees for asking these pointed questions?
Randy Jack Hardwood, United States

You owe me a bunch for these questions because I'm into doing things for money these days. It's become my thang... Let me preface this by saying I'm apolitical and always become shy and quiet when the grownups talk about presidents and shit at the dinner table. You guys have Liberals and Democrats right? We have a left and right wing but it's scattered among many parties. I'm a right wing conservative generally (I relate to Vincent Gallo with this among other things) with a dash of leftist ideology thrown in here and there in the confused - yet adorable! - place we call my brain. I'm not a fucking hippy though, for sure. Politics are fucked up in Holland at the moment, our main guy is getting a lot of backlash for raising certain tax relating to welfare I suppose (zorgtoeslag, what's that in English, Dutchies?) and it's almost a national revolt at the moment. To the point government might have to ease up and/or change this decision. Holland is a very forward thinking country in a lot of ways and politics reflect that... to me it's totally surreal the way some things are handled in America... like they throw you in jail if they catch you smoking pot... here the cops say, 'Good afternoon, Sir!' as they walk by while you're lighting up a blunt sitting outside a bar soaking up the sun. I think you Americans think we Europeans think you're Neanderthals a lot of the time, I've noticed this insecurity especially around the Bush era... I always tremendously look up to America. Everything I love is from America. Culturally it's like my utopia. They'd probably lock me up there though, so it might not be my preferred political climate. I'm better suited to laid-back Amsterdam. They have more of a sense of humor about doing things that are so-called anti-authoritarian, at least that's my impression talking to cops off-duty. Unless you like, rape a girl or something, but that's something I'd rather kill myself than do. Anyway... that'll be ten bucks, thanks.

142. About the feminization of men. Some men constantly have to ask for their wife's permission: when you ask them, 'When was the last time you got angry at your wife?' they usually have to think for a really long time. But when you ask them, 'When was the last time your wife got angry with you, they promptly answer, 'Yesterday.' My wife and I get angry with each other all the time. We aren't afraid to call each other out on bullshit. I do 'ask permission' for things but that's usually just to coordinate schedules. I'm rarely denied 'permission'.
Randy Jack Hardwood, United States

That sounds good and healthy to me. I just find that sometimes SOME women (I have to be nuanced here) find it absolutely a given that you would go along with whatever they've got planned for the day/week without even asking, 'But do you want to do this too?' and then throw an absolute fit if they perceive a spontaneous event to unfold that you haven't got their express written approval for beforehand. Sometimes even when you've asked repeatedly, 'Is that okay, do you want to do that too?' beforehand and they've mumbled a 'yes'. Which is just on a level of insanity and unfairness beyond my comprehension. But yeah, you've just got to set your boundaries and don't let people walk all over you. That goes for women too, of course. There's nothing to set off the dictator in oneself than the niceness of another person. When you've got the balls to at least express your anger instead of just always letting someone get angry at you, it at least instills a sense in the other person of some restrained, that they haven't got carte blanche to just take their bad mood out on you or whatever.

141. It's more than a little annoying to observe awesome things happening to some of the biggest assholes in the world. It's especially painful to observe the contrast: shitty things happening to some of the best people I've ever known. I get that it's 'life', but I'll never be able to wrap my head around it. Thoughts?
Casi Hart, United States

Makes you wonder whether 'karma' really exists... it's the old dichotomy of whether the universe is all chaos and cruel with no purpose, or there being like a bearded Santa-like figure behind it all with a grand scheme that ultimately is for the greater good of everybody. I'm afraid the nihilist in me tends towards the former view... Maybe through chance or their own fucked-up character, people get back 'what they deserve', and we call that karma. But it's not so much a force in the universe making that deliberately happen.

140. Tell us why people make fun of your mobile phone.
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

I fucking hate the phone, anyways. People seem to be no longer in the moment. They go out and don't see what's around them, unable to connect and concentrate on the actual people around them... glued to their screen locked in cyberspace. All those creepy sc-fi novels coming true. My cell is like 'the dinosaur'. It's ancient. Can't go online with it or anything. It's actually off most of the time. Like when I'm alone, sure, I'll shoot the shit on here, but when people are around me, I like to be there for them.

139. Ray, is your birthday a national holiday yet?
Jeff Glanville, Wyoming, Ontario, Canada

Unfortunately no, and I agree, it's a disgrace. Holland can have very poor taste indeed, sometimes. There are a few folks out there who do place me in the right context of unmatched social significance and cultural impact, and I might sell more than five records one day, so you never know what the future holds... we might be seeing lots of nudity in the streets once a year, people in Raymond Stolp shirts freaking out with air guitar to my music everywhere, in honor of my greatness. It would be a fitting tribute. I could then at some point appear for real in the middle of Amsterdam, appearing like a true queen with a crown on my head a la Freddie Mercury (a hologram of my grand entrance should appear simultaneously in all the other major cities of Holland). Maybe we are being too modest and thinking on too small a scale... maybe my birthday should be more of an international holiday. Pure Stolpification of reality everywhere, where we could be heroes, just for one day. World leaders everywhere must be getting a spine-tingling sensation everywhere as they read this, knowing a seriously great idea when they see one. I might even have a jam session with Obama on the Big Day - that boy can sing! Thanks for keeping my ego in check, Glanville!

138. What was your worst experience with sex?
Jesmina Mujovic, New York, United States

Talking with a girl for longer than ten minutes without there being a strong suggestion from her that it'll result in sex, is pretty bad... fortunately that doesn't happen too much, though... Not that I don't like talking to pretty girls, I love to for hours and hours, I find them completely fascinating but as my great idol Prince would say, 'I've got a lion in my pocket, and, baby, he's ready 2 roar!' It would be an insult to the beauty of my cock, and indeed life itself, to not at least have it be part of such a beautiful flow of communication. But to answer your question more seriously, having sex with a girl who's on her period without telling you can provide a surprising, messy experience... I wouldn't call that my worst experience with sex ever though, more of a hilarious experience if both have a relaxed attitude about it like we did. I guess what would constitute more of a negative experience with sex for me, is if the attitude isn't relaxed. Like you bring home a neurotic broad and when you as much as touch her hair during foreplay, she stops you annoyingly and starts correcting her hair. That doesn't really contribute to the mood of the primal, animalist act of having sex for me. Say Jesmina, I've been talking to you for over ten minutes now, I was wondering...

137. Ray, is it better to laugh hysterically until you cry, fall on the floor, or pee?
Betsy Ballin, Saint Louis, United States

Preferred laughter, in my view, should always come in response to the hilarious adorableness of Ray Ray, and result into crying, and falling on the floor, or even better, on top of Ray Ray. I was going to say that it should result in peeing on Ray Ray too, but Jeff Beck is the guitar player better suited to this particular fetish.

136. Tell us Ray Ray's Rules of Love.
Betsy Ballin, Saint Louis, United States

Rule #1: (a golden tip for you girls out there in search of true happiness) If your boyfriend appears consistently annoying, you might want to check out Ray Ray...

Rule #2: Avoid all men who merely appreciate your outer form (such as your bootay, etc.) You need a man who likes the inner you as much as the outer you. Sex is important, but occupies only a relatively small part of the day as far as engaging in activities with your mate goes. What's more important is if you get along, can smile with each other, find each other intellectually stimulating, and if your partner is consistently adorable. But of course, a good ass has its place too in a relationship.

Rule #3: If you need love, don't settle for friendship with your object of desire. It's mentally unhealthy. God gave you your reproductive organs to put them to good use! To deny these impulses on a constant basis as one has to in this type of dynamic, not only leads to 'blue balls' but also a grumpy mood. We don't want that.

Rule #4: If you've found something good, stick with it. Monogamy is the new cheating! Don't always chase the next thing, even though us men are wired to do this, so pay attention fellas. You will regret it in the end. You will find yourself in a brothel, with prostitutes trying to console you, for that one lost big love, of whom you didn't realize at the time, just how special she was. Trust me, I've been there.

Rule #5: Thou Shalt Spoil Thy Pecker. Always.

Rule #6: Guys, it isn't all about your ding-a-ling once you've 'conquered' the girl. Be sweet to her. Bake her cookies. Bring her tea. Give her a shoulder to cry on when she's upset. Go the extra mile when she's having a hard time with something (or it's that time of the month). Be considerate. It's not all about you and your perverted impulses. It's about that and treating the lady like the princess she is. To give is a beautiful thing. Don't just take. Give, give, give!

Rule #7: Guys and gals who are hung up over an ex. We've all seen them, we've all been them to some extent, but what to do about them? Well, you deserve to be someone's Number #1. Someone who is still living in the past with an ex, especially when the ex is out of the picture and has taken on mythical proportions in their deluded mind, is bad news - when one wants to have the prince-princess dynamic with such a person, that is. They already have a prince/princess. In the hazy fairly-land of their daydreams that hangs over their eyes like mist through which they can't see how great you are. What we want is complete and utter devotion. Also don't trust those who linger around an ex too much 'just to be friends'. In my experience there is often a desire there to remain friends with their genetalia as well...

Rule #8: When you've been hurt by a lover, forgive (but don't forget). Forgiving isn't about saying that what the other person did was 'right', it's about letting go of something so you can move on. If else you'll be spending your days consumed by hatred, resentment, etc. as a dark cloud hanging over your head. Forgiving someone is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You're saying to that other person that you no longer give them the power over you to be in such a resentful state. The fuckers aren't worth it. Life is too short to be carrying such baggage around, we need to let go of it so we can fly towards the light so we don't get lost in the darkness...

Rule #9: Never stop seducing each other. Lots of relationships end on a dull fart because neither party has continued to make the effort of seduction. Seduction isn't just the prelude to a relationship. It is indeed a huge part of the relationship itself! Ladies, keep surprising your men with that kinky set of lingerie. Fellas, go watch and pretend you like that chick flick with your girl and, you know, be sensitive, adorable, suggest a deeply evolved feminine side - pretend like you understand them, like me. And then buy them a scarf and look in their eyes like you're Mickey Rourke in Nine 1/2 Weeks. The rewards will be great in the long term for both parties. Every day should be a rerun of Nine 1/2 Weeks! This is an essential part of longevity in any successful relationship.

Rule #10: Don't believe so-called experts on love, like Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Stolp. Do your own thang. You gotta be you. It's better to be a bad you, than a good impersonation of me. And remember, I just presented some general guidelines. I might be a total bitch in real life. I merely offer some insight, based on empiric research. And a high level of adorableness.

135. How come, if a woman is simply nice to a guy, you know, just talking, they assume you're interested? It's frustrating. It seems even if you tell them you're not interested in that way, they don't really believe you. I have lots of male friends because I enjoy the company of men, but not the way most of them seem to think. Thoughts?
Melissa De Haas, Los Angeles, United States

For me personally, I definitely don't assume interest when a woman is just being nice and talking to me, not even when she's flirting with me. Cuddling can get emotionally confusing, but I still remain modest and don't assume 'interest in that way'. Once a girl starts going near the pelvic area or asks me to pull her hair and that sort of stuff that basically signals foreplay, even I start to suspect there may be interest, but I'm humble to the point that even when my fly is being unzipped, inside I'm going, 'Is she joking? Is she really interested?' I may be different from a lot of guys with this, though... I'm basically clueless in the opposite way, where I don't really believe girls if they tell me they are interested in me in that way. I guess I got so unassuming with women after the experience as a teenager of having one take me to her place, inviting me into her bed, putting Mango porn on, while searching my jacket for condoms - only to later wonder aloud how on earth I got this crazy idea of her being interested in me that night (and I've since experienced similar contradictory behavior with women). Even if such wonderment reeks of a fraudulent aroma, a woman can basically manipulate me into believing anything! That's why all of ya are going to be the last nail on my coffin.

134. When do you quit sucking and start revolutionizing guitar playing?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I'll start playing guitar with my cock and blow all your minds!

133. Why are Fenders and Gibsons from the fifties and sixties so sought after? What makes them so special? You would think with the technology and knowledge we have now, today's guitars would be superior, so what's the deal? Are there any sought after years in the eighties or nineties? Is there a particular year or stretch of years in the fifties and sixties that's more special than the others?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

To me they are mainly special from a historical perspective and because they contain the mojo of the times in which they were build, and because you can't build them anymore exactly the way they were build back then - some materials can't be used anymore, they use different processes nowadays (like with the lacquer). So older Fenders and Gibsons aren't per se better but they are surely different than new ones in that sense. Hence the (main) appeal of (some) vintage guitars for me. Having said that, not that there's a drastic difference in sound and vintage guitars can have a lot of problems that a brand new guitar usually doesn't have, so from a viewpoint of functionality, I'm all for the reissues. Even if they aren't exactly like 'the real thing' (whatever the fuck that may mean with regards to a mass produced item that has always shown variances per individual guitar) they can get pretty close to the sound of, say, a general fifties or sixties Les Paul or Strat. The idea that old instruments are always bettermakes no sense, as some of the most awesome guitar sounds, were recorded a few years after these guitars came out. Guitars do feel a bit better once they're played in a bit, but the whole mythology of older wood resonating more reeks of a fraudulent aroma; besides, go get an old piece of wood and make a new instrument out of that, then. The woods they use now are pretty much the same as they did back then. Pickups do lose magnetic pull over time and become mellower-sounding; I think that would make more difference in the tone than strings resonating against it a lot over time. As far as the build quality being better back then, lots of Fender guitars left the factory without clearcoat or undercoat under Leo's watch; when they were in a hurry to boost production, they'd cut corners. The argument that the build was better back then because they were handmade instruments instead of using machines like nowadays doesn't hold up either - they used machines back then too; they still incorporate lots of processes by hand these days. I know of many current guitars that are better than their vintage counterparts, and vice versa. Good and bad guitars were made in all eras and right now some pretty good ones are being made; I find that the Fender and Gibson Custom Shop are building some of the best new guitars, they are so refined. I don't get much of a tingling sensation in my ballsack playing the necks of other guitars compared to those, generally, for instance (though my all-time favorite neck is the one on my '90 Les Paul, which is neither Custom Shop nor from a desirable era). CNC machines and computer technology create more consistency of quality with some parts for mass-produced instruments, handbuilt isn't always better, unless there's a high level of attention to detail by the luthier, which isn't always a given, I've found, especially when demand increases and they have to be churned out in larger numbers in a short amount of time. In the end it isn't really about the guitar, or when it's made. As long as it somewhat works, any good guitar player can make it sound good. It's just that with great guitars, you can sound and play even better. But even bad guitars can provide an interesting artistic challenge. And limited guitars are sometimes the best guitars because they focus your playing into a certain direction. Fenders up until 1965 (before the CBS takeover) are the most collectable (especially the Strats from the fifties) and the '59 Gibson Les Paul Standard is one of the most sought-out (and expensive) guitars on the planet. They (or their reissues) are special guitars and I love them too, unfortunately, as I don't like to be too conformist with these things (as I feel most people tend to be wrong about most things) although luckily I also have a very soft spot for one of the most unpopular electric guitars of all time, the Fender Jaguar. Which to me is an extremely evolved design that's way ahead of its time (instead of the clunker most people make it out to be). Generally speaking, at the moment (because I may change my mind) as far as solidbody electric guitars go, on the side of Leo Fender's designs, I'm a Strat/Jaguar guy. Ergonomics, aesthetics, versatility of tones and the tones themselves, those suit me. On the Gibson-side, I love the looks of a '59-style Les Paul Standard (especially in tobacco sunburst with a brown back - no flame) but sound and feel-wise I lean more towards the simpler P90-equipped Les Pauls like Juniors and Specials. A P-90 in the bridge is the tits for a screaming lead sound, and it cleans up so nicely when you roll down the volume knob. I love the sound of the neck pickup on a Strat, and again, it cleans up nicely when you roll off the volume. But the Jag has the most usable sounds for me.

132. Psst, it's your filthy uncut pecker that's disappointing them.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Your spellchecker fucked things up, it changed the word 'delighting' into 'disappointing'! Surely not what you could've meant.

131. Hey Baron von Dutch A-hole III, thanks for learning me how to pronounce your uncle Eddie van Halen's real name 'Lodewijk'.  I knew you were good for something.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Very little though... once girls find out there's not much more to me than my spectacular cock, they flee like mice!

130. Tell me about your new Fender Jaguar.
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

Well I walked into a guitar shop about five years ago and saw this candy apple red Jaguar there, and wanted it ever since. I finally finagled it from them for about half the price. It's a 2004 Custom Jaguar from Fender's Custom Shop, basically a reliced '62 reissue (I like the slab board from that year versus the veneer board - it sounds a little warmer). Both the sounds and feel of it are insane, in fact I find it hard to go back to any other guitar now. I've always been a Strat/Les Paul kind of guy, and this seems to combine the best of both worlds to me (it's also nice to have something that's not these usual suspects for a change). I've always loved the shorter scale of the neck on a Les Paul, yet the contoured body of the Strat is pretty hard to argue against. The body of the Jag seems even more ergonomic and well-balanced than the Strat. I don't understand why the Jag bridge has such a bad rep, I find there are more thingies to set up, but when they're set up well, it actually stays in tune better than any vibrato bar I've ever used. I don't understand why these guitars aren't more popular. The first person who really sung its praises to me, is John Frusciante. In September 2004, I asked him, 'Can you tell me something about the process of how you pick a certain guitar for a certain piece of music?' during an online Q&A (his favorite question of the bunch, I later heard from the girl who ran his web site, Sibel/Fuxia, when she stayed at my house for a couple of days, but I digress) and I also mentioned the Jaguar to him, to which he replied, 'For me the Jaguar is one of the more colorful guitars that I have because the vibrato bar on it is the best one that I've ever felt and you can make string noise from behind the bridge and from behind the nut, and there's lots of tonal differences and there's just something about it that feels a certain way to me, it's hard to explain but... it feels very purple to me or something. For me that's my most fun guitar out of all of them.' That wasn't enough for me to seek it out, though, although I know he used it predominantly on his first two solo records that I love, Niandra LaDes and Usually Just A T-shirt and Smile From The Streets You Hold (I had the original drawing of the latter's cover hanging on my wall here for a couple of months as I was living here with the girl who John gave it to, but again, I digress... but to go off on one last tangent as a funny anecdote, the painting was hanging pretty low on the wall and our cat Arlo nearly destroyed it as he loved to jump on the couch and have a go at it with his paws as it was just slightly above him - to give all you Frusheads a collective heart attack. It was still looking unscatched though... remarkable considering a limited edition Burroughs book that John used to own in the same time period that I got as a gift, is covered with his dried-up blood, paint, and whatnot). Anyway, back to the Jaggy... for whatever reason, it wasn't really till I heard Johnny Marr play it and talk about it that I got really excited about getting one for myself. And then of course finding that one fine specimen of it that I now own. It's great that I haven't really got any big guitar influences who play the Jaguar a lot, so it gives me an open horizon to explore instead of the sound tending me to go to avenues that have already been explored. Me and John do share a lot of the same influences and a funk background, but I think Johnny Marr comes from a really different angle at the guitar. I've never really figured out how to play any of John's guitar parts in that style he developed on his first two solo albums and I don't know how to play any of Johnny's stuff. So instead of picking up a Les Paul and playing a Cream-era Claptonesque solo, or picking up a Strat and being tempted to play something Hendrixy because you associate those guitars with those styles, I don't really associate the Jaguar with anything, and it does give you a starting off point to be more original because it doesn't have all that historical musical baggage. So I just plug the Jaguar straight into the Vox AC30 and explore this wide palette of sounds that are relatively fresh to my ears; it's fun to see how that steers my playing into fresh territory as well. There are so many great things you can do within a relatively clean sound, I don't really need much else right now. Instead of say, using a flanger, I just scrape the pick across the strings to get a similar suggestion of a plane taking off; there are so many things you can do with your hands and be resourceful in that way - and the Jag itself already offers so many great, not overused, tonal flavors. Perhaps it's an eccentric guitar for an eccentric guitar player, but to me that guitar seems completely logical. I still get confused on a Strat figuring out which tone controls go with which pickups. With the Jag the master volume and master tone knob like with a Tele, makes much more sense to me. I find it fun fiddling with all the switches and sliders, and again, the layout is very logical and makes perfect sense to the way my brain works. As I sort of explore this guitar, I keep marvelling at how smart Leo designed it, how there seems to be a lot of thought behind what's there, and where it is. As far as things getting in the way goes, I actually love the two single coil pickups, far apart arrangement and how much room that gives me for my picking hand. And it just looks so sexy, those shapes with all the chrome. But the main thing is the sound, which is just crazy good, of this particular one, anyway. A lot of people complain about the vibrato bar, but again, in its stock form, with the way I play I don't have strings popping out of the saddles and I love the feel of it and the resonances it gives, it's like there are all these extra ghost notes and harmonics and like there's an echo chamber attached to the guitar. I understand now why some people think this is Leo Fender's masterpiece (I'm not saying I agree with this in any absolute sense though, as I'm wont to change my mind with these things). But to summarize the current state of things, like I put it to great amusement of the great Nico Dijkshoorn on the day that I got it: I'm in love.


129. Hey you Dutch a-hole: what Eurotrash countries have you spent time in and how would you rate them from best to worst?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Hmm, let's see. Well I used to be near the Cannes Film Festival in France a lot as a kid 'cause my parents took me there, I canoed through the Ardennen in Belgium in my early teens, made money singing and playing guitar with world-class dancer Richard Rodermond in the streets of Paris when I was sixteen, visited Kent in England with a huge group of girls a year later, found coachroaches in my glass of Bacardi and Coke in a seedy bar in Las Palmas, Spain soon after that, and went to Greece a few years ago to an island called Lesbos. The name of the place should've been a giveaway that I was entering an island predominantly filled with lesbians, which might have not been the perfect location for me to get laid. It wasn't until I boarded the plane and saw all these women from behind in their seats with their hair shorn short in the back, that I got suspicious. Suspicions that were confirmed when I landed and met my neighbors there - two girls who casually caressed each other's asses while in close proximity of The Stolp. Great. They used to watch me nightswimming and marvel at 'what a beautiful man' I am, which shows that I at least instill doubt and tingling sensations near the genetalia of even girls of the lesbian persuasion. I felt really happy in Belgium just because it was the first time I really felt freedom and also a connection with a group of travelling people, so it appealed to the gypsy in me. Las Palmas sucked because one night I accidentally forgot to turn off the water tap in the bathroom of our apartment, and one of the dudes I was travelling with thought that justified his reaction of taking all the dirty wet towels there and throwing them at me while I was asleep. Motherfucker ran into his room and locked the door to obviously avoid my reaction to that - typical. When he turned the water off it had caused minor spillage, yet the rage was all about 'what could've happened' (a slight flood and some mopping, big fucking deal - accidents happen). It always baffles me how people can go off at someone when that person's intentions aren't to do anything nasty, anyway. Anyway, that incident set the tone for the mood of the rest of that holiday. I guess what the best place was isn't just about the place itself but your own mood while you're in it. So my judgement on what's the best place I've been to is clouded by that. But the part of Las Palmas I visited was a simulacrum of a culture as well, it had made itself a copy of mainstream American elements to have global appeal to tourists to generate money. In contrast, the part of Greece I visited had retained its own unique flavor. Apart from the lack of available women, I really liked the lesbian Greek island because the weather and water are really groovy there, and I remember being in such a beautiful little church there that it almost stopped me from being a hardcore atheist sinning Stolp. In Paris I almost got arrested and thrown out of the hotel for having a little fun in the elevators. I remember the salesmen in the markets there laughing among themselves about me and saying, 'He's crazy!' because at sixteen years old, I was already even more of a hustler than those Parisian price-fuckers. Paris is really beautiful but once we got back in Amsterdam, I remember a girl proclaiming, 'Other places are great, but when it comes down to it, nothing beats Amsterdam,' and agreeing with her. People just seem less uptight here about things than in other parts of the world. So I guess Amsterdam has my vote for favorite city in the world from the ones I've visited. I'd recommend all pretty girls to visit it, and visit me, often.

128. Isn't it boring when girls always agree with you?
Fieke Prins-Halberstadt, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

I personally never get enough of it.

127. Seems like you wanna be with Courtney Love or Angelina Jolie considering your fondness for girls who are neurotic, psychotic and like monsters.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

God, if only you knew the irony in pulling out those two particular names (I seem to always be surrounded by girls who look and act like either of those two - at least that's what my friends tell me). I was always one of those men who refreshingly didn't go gaga over Jolie... but things can make your taste fluctuate and I later did find her very sexy and a turn-on to look at. I basically like any girl who even slightly resembles that one princess that really holds the key to my heart. It looks like I'm in lust with many, but rather, I'm so in lust with one, that I only like others in as much as they reflect her to me. In this way, other girls become something of a mirror through which I see that one girl.

126. What are the best and worst things about Dutch people and also what are the best and worst things about you Stolpy?
Elaine Ferry, Zaandam, Netherlands

I don't know if I can really generalize but what I can at least say in particular about the people in Amsterdam is that they're usually very open and tolerant about different lifestyles and different ways of thinking, which is a neat thing. I mean if I walk out the door in my underwear, you wouldn't mind because you live next door and have grown fond of living next to the local village nut, yet the rest of Zaandam probably would be less receptive to such unconventional behavior. But in Amsterdam... when I went to high school there, there was a dude rollerskating by in his underwear each morning I walked to school, and people barely noticed. They're used to strangeness in Amsterdam, so I feel at home there, being a strange guy and all. The worst thing about Dutchies, hmm... that someone like me can live here without getting arrested? Good things about me are that I'm somewhat smart, I can provide a bit of a laugh and my memory's not bad. Also, unlike most men, I don't degrade women as objects to use (yes girls, that's how the majority of guys talk to each other about you superior creatures when you aren't around - but I have now blown their cover!) I'm as much into boobs, etc. as the next guy but what really fascinates me is the girl inside. I may be unique in this. I guess the best thing about me is that I'm very sweet (at least that's what everybody who knows me says about me) and the worst thing is probably that I'm very sensitive. But with that I mainly harm myself. I can get very angry and be like a raging lunatic, but I don't think that's a negative thing per se, it's more like a sign of passion. The Passion of the Stolp. I think all in all it's fair to conclude that I am the greatest, and that's just the way it is. Just like the earth is round. It's physics! And yet, I remain humble in the face of such facts. Elaine please e-mail me when your fiancee is away at work, I shall drop by for tea so we can discuss these important matters further.

125. Dear Ray, how the fucking hell does an Electro-Harmonix work??? Is that a multi-effect? Yours sincerely,
Ruben Vikshtur, Verona, Italy

Electro-Harmonix is a company that makes some of my favorite effect pedals for guitar, and some of their units do indeed combine various effects in one box. What I like about these pedals is their idiosyncratic sounds that are tweakable in ways that really capture the core of psychedelia, they're noisy, they're big (bigger is better, always) and they have funny names. Speaking of which, the first Electro-Harmonix pedal I played was a Big Muff (giggles) Pi, which is a distortion/sustainer. I experienced what the power of that pedal is from a very early age; I played it in class during a presentation about guitar at age twelve, and the sound of the Big Muff blew the kids away more than any other pedal I demoed for them that day (basically a bunch of cool Ibanez 0-Series pedals that my uncle loaned me for the occasion). It's a sound that commands attention; it's so in-your-face, you can't compare it with anything. To this day it's my favorite distortion box. As far as the rest of my pedalboard goes, I go from an RMC1 wah-wah into an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Sceamer overdrive, then the aforementioned Muff, into a Carl Martin xII chorus, an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger and a MXR Phase 90 for modulation, into an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man delay. The cables are George L's everywhere except for from the guitar to the pedals; after kicking the connection loose during a live performance I'm using a more sturdy Planet Waves cable for that. For (electric) guitars I usually use either my Fender Custom Shop '56 Strat or my '90 Gibson Les Paul Standard, and for amps I use a '55 Fender Champ and a Vox AC30 CC2X - I just got it. I've wanted a Vox AC30 for many years and almost bought the one John Frusciante used on Shadows Collide With People and then almost finagled David Hollestelle's legendary AC30 TB (that he used for many years playing with Herman Brood) from him for a ridiculously low price (in both cases I decided to blow my money on girls instead, which is always a bad move). Those were great sounding amps from the sixties but I recently A/Bed the newer - and recently discontinued - Custom Classics version with the new series AC30s and it slayed them to my ears - and it sounded just as good as their sixties counterparts. I found a guitar shop that still had a CC2X in stock, and I could get a good price for it, so I just had to get it (I rented one in the studio during the recording of Into The Heart Of Conflict, by the way - it's all over that record). So, two guitars, two amps, and a handful of effects. Sounds like a simple set-up but it's quite elaborate for me; for years I would just make sure whichever venue I played supplied a Fender Twin amp, and just bring one guitar and plug straight into it. Even something like reverb I would consider a wild move. I've only recently started to put reverb on my voice, because my favorite singer Elena Legakis told me I have a great voice but it would sound greater through reverb. By the way, Elena, you little bitch, if you're reading this, you are the love of my life and the greatest girl I've ever known. And I think it's quite a feat to have somehow ended yet another answer - a discourse on effects, of all things, this time - with me talking about a chick I'm into. But you see, it isn't that incongruous as it might appear... I spend all these years making sounds with these toys, mainly in the hopes they would be like a call to bring someone as great as Elena to me. Well, it worked!

124. The things we fear the most have already happened to us. Agreed?
Maurice Moes, Leiderdorp, Netherlands

Like being born? That must've been scary... That's an interesting point you're making, Maurice. Maybe the things we fear the most have already happened to us, and we're just afraid they'll happen to us again. There's an evolutionary component to that... people go, 'I wish I could forget about that bad thing that happened to me,' but Mother Nature lets us remember those bad things very well so we're well-prepared to avoid them happening again in the future - for survival, you know. Kind of like me always being very careful crossing the street after having been run over once by a car and getting my leg broken, for instance. Similarly, fear is good because it makes you run when a rock drops out of the air so it doesn't hit your head. But a lot of the time, it just gets in the way and is counterproductive. Therefore, I think one of the most important things in life, is to free yourself of fear as much as possible.

123. Did you watch any of the Super Bowl? I'm thinking not but figured I'd ask. Do you like any sports??

Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Well I did watch my friend Nicole Andrews in the new Bud Light Super Bowl commercials with the walking dogs (she's the blonde and she's adorable - way to go, baby!) but apart from this highlight and the music, the actual sports are my channel hopping moment. Me and my cousin Boy Pattinasarany used to play soccer a lot with other kids in the streets growing up, so I guess I can like those kind of competitive team sports but it really depends on who's in the teams (whether they're douchebag-free). I always think I suck at those sports although I've had coaches be quite surprised by that and tell me I'm quite good - and I don't believe them. I have fear of failure issues which tend to come out in the context of team sports as well, especially growing up I hated the sports you had to do twice every week at school, I was shaking in my boots going there. Also, I can't deal with any kind of authority figure so I'm more suited to individualistic sports, like bodybuilding which I do enjoy and know some about, etc. I don't watch any sports on TV or whatever, though.

122. What are your views on what happens to us after we die? I consider myself agnostic, so I don't know what happens after I die, since I haven't been there before (as far as I know). I don't believe in heaven/hell. I wouldn't expect anything after you die but I guess I'll wait and see what happens.
I always thought I'd die in a high speed car crash before I was thirty. Didn't think I'd still be around this long.

Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I suspect dying is always going to be somewhat of a nasty surprise no matter what the context, but a pre-death blowjob would fit right in with my 'eat your pie before you die' life motto so that would be a fitting way to go for me. Especially considering what a Huge - ha! - fan I am of getting them. I think going in your sleep is the nicest way to go... that way maybe you don't even notice it. I'd sign up for that, especially 'cause I don't believe in an afterlife, reincarnation, or any of that bullcrap. Somewhat surprising you feel the same, being from puritan America and all that. I wouldn't be so arrogant to say I know what happens after death either, but I'm not taking any chances and living life to the full in this life every day, because although I'd like it to be different, I suspect it's going to be one big black nothingness after the party's over. I never thought I'd look this good at my age ('Dude, you look identical to the pictures I've seen of you in the 8-12 age range,' Elena Legakis said to me last night) so I'm not complaining. I do feel my mythology would benefit from an early, spectacular death like a James Deanish car crash, but I'm not going to buy into my own hype and hope to live as long as possible, being up to no good as much possible.

121. There's a rumor going around that you're clean and sober. Last weekend you were spotted in the nightlife of Zaandam with soda pop instead of the old trusty white wine. Change of image? Or is Mr. Stolp bettering his life and has he bid the alcohol farewell?
Mathieu Prins, The Valley, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

Yes the local rumors are true, forget whatever you read on those American gossip sites, The Stolp has turned a new leaf and stopped drinking alcohol. The real test was going out last Saturday and seeing if I could lay off the booze the whole night as a first. It was easy. Long story, short: for the first time in ages I had a genuinely fun night, with a really fun girl for a change and I was still crying with laughter despite the self-imposed alcohol ban! A good night that somewhat restored my faith in humanity and the possibility of happiness in an often cruel and uncaring universe. Some folks didn't recognize me with my new haircut, but the real shocker was the absence of an alcoholic beverage in my hand. I'm still shocked myself that I went out last night and that I don't have a hangover now the next day - it's pretty groovy. I'm not saying I'll never drink again, but I'm digging it so far and thinking of at least quitting for the next six months as it'll help me reach my fitness goals quicker as well - to get my body fat down to a level where it'll show my six pack. I found it a little counterproductive to run on a treadmill for 30 minuten, three times a week, only to all but negate the results by binge drinking in the weekend. So that's what initially sparked the idea. I'm not about to join a puritan cult devoted to stripping life from its carnal pleasures, though. I just don't need booze to be bad to the bone.


120. What are your thoughts on aging?

To throw in a cliché, I really do think it's but a number. I don't buy into the ageist crap that is perpetuated by the media. I just look around me and see that the hottest chick I know is in her fifties and has a body that puts most girls in their early twenties to shame (hi, Melissa Prophet). And the smartest, wittiest fuckers I know are usually in their eighties or nineties - like my grandpa who just passed away who always remained a boyish little rascal as well (not unlike someone we know, yes). My other grandpa from my dad's side of the family was a boxer and well into his sixties he had a six pack straight out of 'Fight Club' (again, not unlike someone we know - oh, you're so full of it, Stolp! Getting there, though...) My mom still has supermodel looks in her sixties and has guys younger than me chasing her and calling her 'a medical miracle'. All these things in my shared locale have given me quite a healthy outlook on aging. Now I know, I know, it's easy for me to talk because I got lucky with genes - but you can transcend those too to some extent! The point I'm trying to make is to me aging doesn't have to be a downhill ride from a certain point onwards; it can be a trajectory of growth and expansion. It's just that we get to do something about it to preserve and fine-tune our looks, intellectual capabilities, libido, etc. You can all keep it but you just have to work for it instead of having it thrown into your lap like when you're younger - it becomes like a challenge. As the saying goes, when it comes to the brain and muscles, 'Use them or lose them'. That's why I work out and why I'm always stimulating myself intellectually; although we can't cheat death, we can at least chose to look good and not get too retarded on our ride there. But ah, what am I talking about anyway, I'll just be turning eighteen next month!

119. How are you doing in the romance department?
Sharday Pattinasarany, Zaandam, Netherlands

Well I've developed a zero tolerance policy with women who are horrible to me, so this has thinned out my harem considerably. To the point where you could say my hand and my penis have a monogamous relationship. But it doesn't matter, I feel great being single and because I go out so much these days - almost every weekend - I'm not complaining about a lack of female interest (in fact this weekend I met this nice twenty-two year old beauty whose body is a wonderland - hi, Danique!) I'd be open to a relationship with a nice girl but I'm in no hurry and enjoying my life as it is at the moment. My new music is coming along great, I'm moving into a nice big place which is great, I'm having a good time with my friends - I've got it made, baby! And I'm really looking forward to my best friend the singer from English soil Elena Legakis staying over here for a couple of weeks to do music and have fun with. Although Château Stolp has become a place that no longer allows evil bitches on the premises, I still have a few queenies in my life who are more than welcome to stay here whenever they want, and for as long as they like. You and her certainly belong to that group!

118. Do you think that the days of the social network sites are numbered?
Coco Castlerock, Castle Of Spirits, Germany

I don't know. Despite my unmatched intelligence I still can't see the future. My guess is they're not going away anytime soon, though. It's a great way of reaching a wider audience for your music and getting to know new people from way beyond your shared locale, but humans can only have meaningful relationships with so many people, so to have your attention scattered among over a
 folks online, is really counterproductive because things become shallow. You're better off (and lucky) to have one good friend in real life, than a thousand shallow contacts online. I vastly prefer real life to virtual life anyway, although your real life can of course be enriched - or worsened, believe me - by the contacts you get online and bring into your personal sphere. One thing though, with things like MySpace and Facebook, everybody's a star these days. Maybe when everybody gets tired of having their prolonged fifteen minutes of fame, it's bound to explode into the other direction again, as cycles go. I've been saying for years that mystery will be the new fame. Even though I seem to reveal a lot about myself here, I make sure that ultimately no one really has a clue what's behind all this and who I really am. Long after all the social network sites are gone, I hope this site shall remain as an art piece, with everybody ultimately not really knowing who Raymond Stolp was. Wouldn't that be beautiful?

117. Why do all Dutchies lie like van der Stolps?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Because an interesting lie is better than an uninteresting truth. As Michael Corner once said, 'Better tell ten things which are interesting, some of which prove to be false, than ten things which are true, none of which prove to be interesting.' But what you said might be a crass generalization. I don't want to come off as an Honest Joe at all, but just the other day my longtime friend the filmmaker Olav van Weerden was saying about me to his friends in a bar, 'Ray is as honest as gold.' I'd love to be like one of those artists who 'lies the truth' and uses the truth as a springboard to create some sort of super-reality. But the truth is that I'm mostly a hundred percent truthful, often to my own detriment. I've been told by girls (hi, Elena!) too that I'm refreshingly honest, I'll say what guys usually think but keep to themselves. If I wanna do you, if I have a crush on you, if something pisses me off; you'll know about it. I'm not subtle. But I'm not direct to the point that I'll blurt out anything without any regard for your feelings, either. I'm more like a spontaneous kid who's endearingly open about his feelings, without any mean intent towards anybody. But if you want to question my integrity, believe what you want to believe, hillbilly!

116. Raymond, do you use wooden sticks to clean between your teeth?
Joanne, Zaandam, Netherlands

Not often but I'm afraid if I don't start doing it more regularly, my pretty dentist is going to spank me. Her name is Joanne too and she's always ringing my doorbell to ask me that same question, what a coincidence... very suspicious indeed. I apologize for being the most irresistibly adorable guy you've ever had in your dentist chair and once again thank you for thinking I'm 27 years old max. You're very mistaken and very appreciated. One day I will take as good care of my teeth as I do the rest of my body. But the only reason I'm slack about the teeth is so you have to work on them a lot so we can spend lots of time together in the dentist room! I'm really smart like that. He said while his teeth were almost falling out.

115. Wondering when the great Ray S. is doing an EB cover for me!

Marjolein, Veluwe, Netherlands

EB? What's that stand for? Oh, Everly Brothers? Maybe me and Edan should pop nude out of a cake on your birthday to do our surprise rendition of 'Devoted To You' for you but he would so outsing me with that one for sure 'cause of his Everly genes. I could fuck up the song adorably, though...

114. Are you really the alcoholic and drug addict we all think you are?
Bloody Larry, Zaandam, Netherlands

Not at all, Bloody Larry - with a name like that I almost suspect a classic case of projection. Sometimes a person can be thoroughly weird without taking drugs; and most of the time I'm indeed clean as a banana. I do drink alcohol, which is one of the worst drugs but generally not seen as such because it's so socially acceptable. But it's usually only once every few weeks that you'll find me knocking back the alcoholic beverages among friends in Amsterdam nightlife. I've smoked pot occasionally in my life, but pot messes with your ability to think clearly, which as a graduated philosopher, I find objectionable for me personally. Never really been addicted to any substance except for when I used to smoke cigarettes as a teenager; but I quit quite easily once I decided it no longer fit in with the picture of the person I want to be. These days, on a day-to-day basis, I don't really go stronger than the caffeine in my coffee and tea. I want to get a lot of good work done as a musician, and drugs just get in the way of that. The booze is just to blow off steam and have some fun when I'm having a break. But I have no problem with people who are ardent druggies, everybody should just mind their own business and do what they want to do with that (as long as they don't hurt others with it). But from an early age, I've seen up close the damage it can do to people's lives - one of my favorite people in the whole world growing up, was a heroin addict - which has always made my alarm bells go off whenever people try to shove lines of coke underneath my nose or whatever. There are a lot of other, more fulfilling ways to experience new things in life that are a lot less destructive. And as self-preservation is an instinct I possess, I get my kicks more from music and girls. Which doesn't mean I'm averse to drinking Bloody Larry under the table one of these days.

113. What's the best advice you can give to a beginning musician.
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

The best advice I could give to any person, is to never take anyone's advice at all. Follow your own heart, don't let other people make you believe that they know better what's best for you. Nobody knows you better in that way than you do. It's usually the people who are trying to tell you what you're doing 'wrong' or supposedly should be doing differently, who have fucked-up lives themselves with one bad choice after another. I've had in my life so many times, where it's hard enough to get a grasp on a certain complicated situation, without some know-it-all who doesn't have the overall picture at all, to step in and tell you what to do; and in the process unnecessarily confuse you and misguide you, and sometimes make you go in the wrong direction if you take it to heart. I've had to learn that lesson the hard way, to look back on things knowing things would've worked out better if I listened to myself instead of someone's contrary opinion in what to do in a certain given situation. That's why when people start minding my business, it drives me crazy these days, and I react aggressively because I know from experience how destructive that behavior can be. I mean, you don't see me telling anyone what to do... so let me be and do my own thing as well, you know.

112. Tell me about your experience with bringing net-only relationships into the real world: Do you think things can be much different in person? I've had moderate success on some free dating sites but dating is rough. A lot of flakes out there to weed thru. Most of them are just net acquaintances, tho. Unlike yours, I haven't met most of them in person. Maybe someday.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

You must think I hook up with every broad I talk to on the Internet - in a way you're right! I met some real cool chicks that way and also some real not-cool chicks, you usually can tell a lot of what you're going to get if you get up close and personal on the Internet (sometimes you can even get closer online emotionally, because some people paradoxically open up more as they feel there's the safety of a 'distance' there). But there's always a missing piece of the puzzle when you meet in real-life, you never really know completely what you're gonna get - like how someone smells, for instance. But I'd say most (if not all) of my hook-ups from the Internet have been instigated by the girls, if anything I'm reluctant towards that sort of thing. Just ask even hotties like Elle Morgan or Elena Legakis what a nightmare it's been for them to try to get to talk to me on the phone, let alone a web cam. I don't let people close easily. With Elena it's been really good that her persistence paid off, as I don't think I've ever had such a good relationship with a person (friendship or otherwise) than I have with her. Which is funny because we can probably both be really difficult towards others. But our inherent bitchiness blends really well. But yeah, I'm a massive flirt but if you're a girl with ambitions to get close to me or what's in my pants, you've got your work cut out for you!

111. Does it bother you that people who don't know you personally, write negative stuff about you as if they do?

Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

You've got to be beyond it. I mean, if I let it get to me every time some retard makes up some ridiculous nonsense about me and spouts it around on the Internet with a venom that almost would make you think they believe it themselves, I'd be having a lot of gray hairs now. To be honest, I don't care what people think about me. Obviously I do care what my family and my girlfriends - the people who actually know me because they're in my life on a daily basis - think about me, but other than that, to everyone who gets a boner talking trash about things regarding me that they're clueless about: eat your heart out and thanks for the free publicity. I actually do feel sorry for them because it must be such a horrible feeling of discomfort to invest in so much hate (for no good reason at all). But such is the way of the Internet, isn't it? People with crappy jobs and horrible spouses, going online to take it out at the end of the day by writing the most disrespectful shit about strangers that have everything they've ever dreamed of. I'm basically a nobody with no career who has nevertheless played a few major venues and sold a handful of records to a few people who've taken notice (big deal). And that already attracts envy. Imagine what it must be like for real superstars. Those are the real big vessels for people to project hate unto because to them they represent what's lacking in their own lives (the irony of course, is that that much coveted fame is actually more of a curse than a blessing). So yeah, I don't know what else to say about it. The people I love and know, love and know me, and the people who don't can never change that, so it doesn't affect me. Sure, they can convince other strangers that Raymond Stolp is the Dutch incarnation of the Antichrist, but hey, I'm in rock 'n' roll, for me it's better to have those kind of myths out there than to be thought of as some sort of Mother Teresa. And no matter how people pout and stomp, I'm always going to do what I want to do, and if you don't like it, I don't give a shit. I'm not here to live up to other people's bullshit expectations and conventions. I'm here to live my life on my own terms.

110. Ray, in your opinion, which is Prince's masterwork: Purple Rain or Sign O' The Times? Or, perhaps there is another work that can be considered? Would you agree that Prince's creative highlights all took place between 1983 (1999) and 1988 (Lovesexy)?

I was always more of a Parade and Sign O' The Times guy, I associated Purple Rain much more with being a movie and the CD as 'just the soundtrack'. I must say, over the last year or so I've had a change of heart about that... I'm starting to think that Purple Rain is his masterpiece in so many ways, he really hit the mark with that on all the levels. But I've always had a soft spot for 1999 too, especially when Jill Jones does the phone sex thing on 'Lady Cab Driver'. With no Internet or Playboy channel to access, listening to that on headphones at the time, really was like a godsend. I must say that '83-'88 period you mention does contain the string of albums that are my absolute favorites of his. My favorite Prince song is 'The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker'; if I ever write a song near as good as that, I can die and you can play that Prince gem at my funeral. My favorite concert footage of him is the Dortmund '88 gig that the Dutchies shot for TV. I started playing guitar because of Prince... I thought if I play a white guitar like that on stage, I'll get hot chicks like Apollonia digging me. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy; Prince protégé Anna Fantastic (Anna Garcia) and me would end up becoming friends through our mutual friend/manager Melissa Prophet, who was just telling me the other day, 'Anna loves you too!' Doesn't surprise me as she seems to have a thing for pervs of considerable magnitude. I always tell Anna she could've been my sister with her quirky humor and buoyant energy. Anyway, back to Prince - yes, I'm girl crazy - he was my first musical hero and through all these years to me he still represents the prototype of what to aspire to as a musician because he's as good as it gets, in every single way.

109. I hardly ever play guitar plugged in, unless I'm using headphones. It makes me play differently when I think people can hear me.
Do you have neighbors close by? I actually mostly like to listen to music on headphones because it's not the same for me without them, what about you? How do you listen to music? Do you listen while you do other things?
Trippy Chick, Waterford, New York, United States

I have neighbors close by but these days they're mostly pretty girls who I'm super cozy with (surprise, surprise) and they want to sing with me, hear me play guitar, etc. My neighbor Natascha who I adore - it's like God send me an angel and made her live right next door to me - is a fantastic singer and we've actually been talking about working together on something. She surely outsings me during our late night SingStar battles; we probably get louder with that than I do when I'm cranking my guitar amp to twelve to get the best sound when I'm recording. And when we hear a knock on the door, it's from one of the other neighbors who wants to join us! So in this context, whenever I put on a record and/or sing and play loud, instead of feeling like I'm annoying people, I feel like the Rock God that I truly am, adored by the audience that surrounds me. Or something like that. So I don't listen to music on headphones much as I don't get an unpleasant vibe from the thought of people hearing me (I obviously don't overdo it, though) and unless I'm multi-tracking, I steer away from them because they seem to clog up my ears. I do multi-task while listening to records sometimes, yeah, depending on the mood and the moment. For instance, I'd like to get to know you a little better while Marvin Gaye plays in the background. I think my peanut brain can handle listening to you and Marvin at the same time.

108. You seem to really love Fender Stratocaster guitars. Could you tell me what you like about them and what your main Strat is?
Snowflake, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Not as much as girls but yeah, Fender Stratocasters and Gibson Les Pauls have always been where it's at for me as far as the solid body guitars go. I've owned about six Strats so far, and through playing them you kind of go through a process where you keep refining your sense of what you look for in them. Each Strat that I got represents a step closer to getting what you could call my ultimate Strat. In my case, I kind of started buying them in blind emulation of what my heroes play. My first one (a Hondo copy) I got just because it was the guitar in my local guitar shop that most closely resembled the Cloud guitar Prince plays in the Purple Rain movie. Soon you realize that you like the neck to be a certain radius, the frets to be a certain size, and so on. Through trial and error, I discovered I get the hardest boner from the fifties-style Strats. The main one I'm playing these days is a 2005 Fender Custom Shop 1956 Stratocaster Closet Classic. Those guitars from Fender's Custom Shop are the bomb in sound and playability and I generally prefer them to Strats from boutique builders and even the pre-CBS era Fender ones. The main thing that draws me to the '56-style Strat is the soft V-shaped 'boat' neck; I like a touch of V but not as pronounced as the '57-style Strats tend to be. This one has a 10/56 neck (meaning it's modelled after a Strat neck from October '56) and the first time I picked it up I could barely tell it's a V. In fact it plays and sounds so well for me that owning it was like a dream come true and it actually made tears well up in my eyes. It's a hundred percent original; I like to keep my guitars as unmolested as possible unless I really have to replace something because it's the only way I can repair it. I do think guitars are made to be played and I play the shit out of them; any resulting scratches and suchlike only enhance a guitar's beauty to me. What I like about Strats in general is their comfy contoured body, the playability and tight sound of the long scale neck, their tonal versatility, the way the tuning pegs are lined up in a row... I could go on and on! It blows my mind that Leo Fender could design such a forward thinking thing in the fifties, and get it right straight from the bat; all the so-called improvements through the years after he sold the company, are for my tastes the debasement of a design that was already perfect to begin with. So I prefer them vintage style the way Leo originally conceived them, but to seemingly contradict myself, sometimes a guitar isn't about what kind of parts are in it and a very modern bastardized Strat could be a great player for me just because it has a certain mojo. I use Ernie Ball Cobalt strings (.010-.046) and Fender Celluloid 351 Heavy picks (still my favorite sounding material, size, and thickness for a pick). I like a low to medium action that is pretty much constant all the way down the neck. I have the wang bar set up flush to the body with three springs.


107. Ray, you know that a babe magnet like yourself should not be on the loose in public, what about our safety lessons?!
Jeff Glanville, London, Ontario, Canada

This reminds me of Dexter's pops talking to his son - and I really relate to that character as well! Jeff Glanville you handsome motherfucker, I bet if we went into a bar you'd generate at least as much interest as me. My only advantage is that I'm crazy and not too keen on adhering to any kind of conventional behavior, and some chicks dig that. I just want to be with one special girl, though; being a global sex symbol is wasted on me.

106. Are you with a record company?
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

Yup, I'm on a record label called Flyingdeer Records these days. It's run by my friend Rust, who used to be the manager of the now-defunct Olsson's Books & Records, Washington DC's oldest independent chain of book and music stores. Rust had been a great fan and supporter of my albums from back when I first started self-releasing them, which basically meant I was burning them on CD-R, putting stickers on there, and printing out the artwork and cutting it out manually, and selling them directly through mail order on this web site (shipping them out worldwide and paying for all the postage costs myself). It was good in the way of getting my music out there but this tedious, time-consuming process got to be a real drag, especially considering that the kind of profit I was making a year, I'd spend with my friends in one crazy night out on the town in Amsterdam. I could've gone the easy route and gotten a CD factory to make them for me, but that would only have been profitable if I had been selling them in much larger numbers (unless I would've pushed the price of the CDs up, which I didn't want to do). Dim van Gerven, the guy who brought Tommy Emmanuel to Europe, sells my albums here in his Coco Records store, and he knew a good CD factory where he could get them pressed for me, but he told me it would only be worth the while if we had a large sum made (they really overcharge you if you get just a few hundreds made). I didn't think I'd sell out the stock if we had like thousands of CDs made, so it was back to being an underpaid factory worker for me. Until Rust then started helping out with manufacturing them out of his own pocket, first giving them away for free to get word-of-mouth going, and then selling them in the Olsson's stores. He put a poster of me in the store and customers could put headphones on there to have a listen, and it worked - we sold out the whole (modest) stock. So now he's starting his own label and we're taking it to the next level with distribution. I want to make it clear that I'm not anti-record companies per se. For instance I really like Scott Weiland's label Softdrive Records, and in particular their A&R manager Sher; she wrote me out of the blue telling me she'd listened to all the Exit Inferno songs and that she was 'so fucking impressed' and encouraging me to continue being real - the antithesis of the industry figure trying to mold the artist into what they think they should be. And Rust is the same. I've been allergic to record companies in the past because their offers always included a demand of compromise on my part, but working with Rust, it's different: I'm open to all his ideas but ultimately he wants me to be happy with the finished product so he doesn't put anything out unless it's got my seal of approval. Stay tuned for my stuff to be released on Flyingdeer Records through iTunes, Amazon, CD and vinyl! The first upcoming release will be the lead-off single from Exit Inferno 'Fountain Of Love' with a previously unreleased B-side called 'A Little Rain' which is an Exit outtake. You can buy it as a digital download on iTunes soon.

105. Exit Inferno is great... really digging the sound. You are very talented. 'Motherfucker Blues'... really great fuzz tone, man. Love the gritty vibe. What sort of drums are you using, if they're programmed I am interested in how, software? Rhythm machine? 'You Can't Hurt Me Anymore' is sweet, so this is a drum machine track also?
In 'Fountain Of Love' you've got some great guitar tones, also doesn't hurt that you can play the thing well, haha! What gear did you use on it? Really the production on this album is striking. It has a very tender and simple quality, but doesn't sound cheesy/lame. It's solid and addicting. Very good work, man. 

Although I get obsessive about nailing it production-wise (I won't shy away of mixing a song over a  hundred times), I don't really think of myself as a producer so it almost surprises me that you like it; never ever got a compliment about that side of things before. So far I've only really heard producers who do that for a living comment on it, and although they're surprised of how good I get the songs to sound with my limited means, they'll also say, 'Your songs have so much potential... would be great if someone gave you a bigger budget and helped you really flesh them out in a recording studio.' To them my albums are like glorified demos, but looking at it from a different angle: I really like sparse production. One of my favorite songs is 'When Doves Cry' by Prince, and it's got no bass and the verses are sort of just his voice and the beat. All the songs you mention have a drum machine on them, yeah. It's this ancient Boss DR-110 drum machine that a lot of musicians will look down on, but I don't care. Though I must say, Josh Klinghoffer used to geek out on that machine because he's convinced it's what they used on the first New Order album (although in reality they used an earlier Boss DR model). Anyway this drum machine is legendary for its bass drum sound, it sounds really great and you can really hear it most prominently on 'You Can't Hurt Me Anymore'. I gave that bass drum sound some extra oomph there as well through the mixing desk. So when you turn that song up a little, it's like you're walking at a fair and the bass frequencies in the music are so intense that you feel your body vibrate inside. The way I program the DR-110, I just press and fiddle things as I'm hearing the outcome being looped, and erase things again, until I come up with a drum part that I decide is worth committing to tape. A lot of the time I have a guitar part and I'm looking for a drum part to go along with it, but with 'Motherfucker Blues' it was the other way around: I came up with that bizarre, waltzy drum part and then through jamming on it while processing my guitar in various ways, I came up with that bluesy guitar part. What makes that guitar part is the performance I think; it's really aggressive and I'm hitting the strings like I'm beating someone up. I could do a take with that exact same guitar part and not be in the moment like that, and it wouldn't work at all, it would be like listening to some marine corps music band. The fuzz tone is a late seventies Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi that I got from my uncle who taught me how to play guitar (I was already using that box playing in front of the class I was in at age twelve). For the guitar tones on 'Fountain Of Love', I'm basically using all this old Fender gear from the previous century, mainly a '55 Fender Champ (mic'd with a Shure SM57) and an '88 Fender Strat.

104. I am heavily impressed by the amount of instruments you play! Really an awful lot! Did you get lessons for that? Or are you self-taught?
Marjolein, Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands

I grew up in the Indonesian neighborhood over here, and in their culture it's part of your upbringing to learn how to play a musical instrument. So ten-year-old Stolpy didn't exactly have to beg to get guitar lessons from his Moluccan uncle Nino Pattinasarany every Sunday afternoon for about a year. I always call him my uncle even though officially he isn't - he is to me. When he saw me at a party yesterday, he yelled like an overexcited kid and hugged me like a bear hugs a tree - that's a fucking uncle. Super proud I'm the only one in my family who went into music and always joking that now he's the one learning tricks on the guitar from me. So he showed me the basics on guitar and I took it from there, learning primarily by ear from playing along to records (I can't read music). I think of myself primarily as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, but I also play harmonica, piano, bass, percussion, and I program this ancient Boss DR-110 drum machine that my ex left me. I'm self-taught with all that, even though I didn't really teach myself a lot!

103. I read that you studied philosophy, right? And still you went for the music! Look, now that is what I find so beautiful! Just change direction like that, I love that!
Marjolein, Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands

Yeah, I'm one of the few people who completed their study of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam here (it's notorious for being one of the most complex studies). It's not really like I changed direction or anything, it's just something I ended up doing because I thought it was fun, I never thought of it as a way to later make a career out of it. It was just about spiritual enrichment for me, if you will (and when I use the phrase 'spiritual enrichment', I'm not referring to leaning on 'psychic' hocus-pocus, but critical thinking to expand your mind). I was still performing music in clubs during my study, and also recording my first album Simulacra and some of its successor Fatal Finality. It wasn't a detour, it was just a parallel road I was walking on along with being on a lifelong road of making music, as far as I'm concerned. And I feel I still use it in my songwriting, it's actually made me develop as a musician in a way I never would've if I hadn't done that study for seven years.

102. How do you and Edan Everly know each other, if I may ask?
Marjolein, Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands

We got to know each other many years ago through the Internet, basically. We really like each other's music and we just hit it off because we're both little rascals. At first I didn't even know his pops is one of The Everly Brothers, until I noticed Edan's black Gibson Everly Brothers guitar and put two and two together. He's hilarious and has a good heart, he's very generous (he's given me stuff to expand my studio and has taught me some great recording techniques) always supportive and I've never heard him put another musician down... which is the kind of class you don't always encounter in this business (John Frusciante is another guy I can vouch for in that way - for instance, when people let him hear their music and he's not too keen on it, he'll never show it because he doesn't want to discourage anyone from doing something as beautiful as music). Edan and his buddy Alan St Lesa (another great guy and great musician) were known in Hollywood as the Dutch boy twins, so they sort of adopted this crazy Dutch motherfucker as their long lost brother. I'm normally not a big fan of men, but for Edan I make an exception.

101. Your friend Anne Brown the singer says you're too humble. Humble? You?
Sun, Lake Park, Georgia, United States

It's funny you mention that because she was just at my house and we were talking about that. She basically says my so-called 'cockiness' is just a thin veneer that hides that I'm much too modest. All it shows is that I don't take myself very seriously because I'm actually taking the piss out of myself with that. So I should probably take myself a little more seriously (but not too seriously, because that's the kiss of death). And she's right, I mean just ask any girl I've ever been with and they'll tell you I'm pretty much the opposite of an egomaniac. Without naming names (as I'm classy) I had a girlfriend for a couple of years who had also been in a serious relationship with another (much more known) guitar player, and she used to crack up at how his following would make him out to be this humble person based on his media image, while fully convinced I'm this egomaniac - as she knew the reverse to be true from having lived with the both of us. She concluded we both project the opposite of who we are in the media. I'd personally say that's too much of a generalization (for instance I found him to be extremely generous and respectful to us) but it is true that the image of a person in the media, can be smoke and mirrors to a large extent. So you gotta see through that, and realize that when I say something ridiculous like, 'I'm the greatest', it's completely with a wink. Girls are usually smart and totally get that about me straight from the bat; guys however can be idiots and get really angry at this 'upsetting' idea of another guy being so self-confident. But the irony is that they're basically not getting my self-depreciating humor because they're taking it at face value. Anyway, don't take it from me; that's how my friend Anne sees it, and she thinks I shouldn't be so modest, which is (well-meant) criticism I'm actually taking on board because it's based in reality.

100. Do you ever see yourself married with kids?
Trippy Chick, Waterford, New York, United States

Yes, in fact that's where my mind always tends to go when I fall in love and it almost happened a few years ago. But sometimes you wear pink sunglasses and you can't see clearly through them (the sunglasses are a metaphor for being in love here). So yeah, I would consider marriage and kids, but only with the right woman... if it's someone who feels it's as important to them to make me feel good, as it is to them to have me be there to make them feel good, and we connect... it would be my dream and I'd like that very muchly. For some people it's an illusion because that type of situation doesn't fit their personality, but with me it would be perfect because I love kids (I'm one myself) and when I get with a woman she becomes my whole world... I don't even see other girls around me.

99. Have you ever been to the U.S. and if so, do you like it here?
Trippy Chick, Waterford, New York, United States

No I haven't (can you believe it?) but funnily enough these past few days I've been talking about that with my manager perv friend Melissa Prophet, she really wants me to come over to do some business as she believes in me and my music. I'm sure I'd love it as just about everything I love comes from America. It would be like coming home to a place I've never been before.

98. So Ray, what does it feel like to be at the bottom of a bottle?
Kundalini Candy

Well me and Elena Legakis were having some emotional turmoil, so that might've had something to do with yours truly running amok in Amsterdam nightlife last week, swigging from a bottle of Amaretto Disaronno and getting thrown out of whorehouses. It felt pretty rock 'n' roll, actually... it felt better to clear the air with her, though. But it wasn't until I just received your nudie pics, that I truly started to lighten up. Thank you.

97. Are you a singer in the tradition of Frank Sinatra? Because I've been delving into your past a bit and found that you've been good friends with lots of criminals. I'm sure you won't publish this here, but I could go to the papers and tell them part of your background is like watching an episode of The Sopranos.

You're mistaking me for someone who gives a shit.

96. I was listening to 'You Can't Hurt Me Anymore'
and I have shared that story as the bitch on the other side... I found myself trying to get to MY roots by breaking someone else down... stealing their hope for any future with me... it worked... he's gone and I am here hearing what he must have felt like through your song... 
Vegan Kundalinicandy, Gaia, United States Minor Outlying Islands

I respect your honesty. I used to think my lyrics might be completely impenetrable to others, but comments like these make me realize the songs do come across. 'You Can't Hurt Me Anymore' seems to be the most direct song on Exit Inferno to me. I was just letting out the first thing that came into my brain when tapping into how I felt about a certain situation. I did have a feeling that the person who the song is about, would get what it's about, if they heard it. What I've found is that that song is very recognizable to people who've been in that type of situation on either side of the fence (and who's to say I haven't sort of been on that other side as well). It's not a song to get back at someone or to communicate my feelings about that person, to that person. If that were the case, I would've answered one of your questions on here about the Exit Inferno songs like: oh, that song is about so-and-so. I just needed to understand it for myself, work it out and shout it out. It's cathartic, you know. It was part of the process of me finding myself again. I'm starting to sound pretentious now, aren't I, love? But thank you for your comment. It takes a hell of a woman in my opinion to be frank and say, 'You know what, I was that bitch on the other side.' It's the people who don't own up to that and think everything they do is peachy and shit, who are never going to learn and grow, you know. I mean, who hasn't been a bitch at certain times in their life? It's what we do with it that counts... or we put on our shades and continue to mistake our blindness for our righteousness.

95. I know you have been in music a long time... and are very experienced at what you do. I have not dabbled in music... in the way I have wanted but I do write and I do plan on starting writing again... and this time I will copyright my stuff... just to make sure no-one snags on it... My boyfriend is hip hop/rap and he is extremely talented... he has been in the recording studio in both Tampa FL and New Orleans... He is going to be registering his music and moving forward... but being I have a few contacts (you for instance) I thought I would put my feelers out and see if you have any advice for me... anything you can fill me in on would be great. I have admired you as a musician and would like some of your input. Appreciate it so much Raymond... Look forward to hearing back from you...

Harmony, California, United States

First of all thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it. Before I continue, I recommend that you ask this question to my manager friends Melissa Prophet and Bruce Replogle (you can easily find them through Google). You might recognize Melissa as former Miss California, and your boyfriend might recognize her from her nude pictorial in the May, 1987 issue of Playboy. She also played in Martin Scorsese's Casino as the wife of Joe Pesci's character, who's also one of her many distinguished clients in real life. As her best friend Mickey Rourke once said about Melissa, 'She's got balls,' but she becomes a purring kitten when it comes to her favorite perv - that would be me. Bruce is like a brother - he even looks like me - and his clients have included the crème de la crème of the music industry, from John Lennon to Bob Marley to The Cure. These people recognize talent when they see it, and they would be much more proficient at giving you career advise than me. My so-called career (if you can call it that) is self-generated, meaning: I pretty much do everything myself, from writing, performing, and recording the songs to doing the videos to promoting the material and organizing the shows. I don't really think of myself as being in the music industry. Many years ago I already predicted that most of what's considered 'the music industry', is going to be an obsolete middle man in the future with the possibilities that the Internet offers. Also, musicians whose opinion I respect and trust like my friend Edan Everly (you can read more about him in the introduction I wrote on his official web site edaneverly.com) have advised me to not go the record company route and keep pursuing this strange little road of independence that I've carved out for myself. I even turned down an offer from EMI in 2003 because I want to have the kind of complete creative control they weren't willing to give me. It didn't matter to me that they offered me forty grand to record with a band and a producer in a studio (all of their choice) and be in a big production video they envisioned, and that they dangled the carrot of lots of radio airplay. What matters to me is to be true to my vision so I can look at myself in the mirror and stand behind the work that I've done. Come to think of it, I'm probably the worst person to ask for this kind of advice if you and your boyfriend want the shortest way to the biggest commercial success. My ideas are unconventional and might not be what would work best for you two. For instance, you mentioned getting your songs copyrighted, and that is indeed a good idea if you don't want other people making money off your ideas. But I've always been from the school of thought that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That sort of theft that would give some people white knuckles, would make me swell up with pride. I'm not in it to become rich and I couldn't care less about the fame. Recognition is always nice, but that's not my main motivation either. I think of myself more as being like a social worker: I like the idea of my music bringing solace to people's lives. But I mainly do it simply because it's fun to me and because I have to do it; if I don't get some of these things out they would stay inside and eat me alive. I want to create what I think is beautiful and share that with as many people as possible. It isn't about me. It's about the work. My advise to your boyfriend would be to just be yourself, keep working at your craft, and don't believe anybody who says that you're not going to make it. If you persevere, you'll be rewarded.

94. Martin Bril is dead and that sucks! It's just disgusting that people of his calibre get so ill and that their life then stops. It's unacceptable. On the other side: we're moaning here that we have to miss him. But what do you think about his wife and two young daughters? They have to go on without him. Their sorrow is infinitely bigger than ours. Isn't that unbearable??? Gee, that's really heart-wrenching that you were about to e-mail him when he passed away. It is something so small, but then when it can't happen anymore, it suddenly becomes mega big. That thought then really hits you like a sledgehammer. Sometimes I have the feeling that the people who, as you magnificently put it, give color to society (Martin Bril, Piet Vroon, Pim Fortuyn, Herman Brood, Jos Brink, and so on) die early, because they live so intensely. That they use up everything in a short amount of time or something. Any words in memoriam of Martin Bril?
Fieke Prins-Halberstadt, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

Well we both studied philosophy and shared a love for peanut butter, so that created a bond. I also related to how he did his work with complete sincerity and authenticity, but at the same time he wanted to 'move the product' as he put it. The two aren't mutually exclusive. I mean, every artist you know wants to move the product, some are just more honest about it than others. If they didn't, you wouldn't have heard of them and they would've put their work in a shoebox and kept it to themselves. And it wasn't about fame with him, he realized fame is just annoying; he just wanted to be read by as many people as possible. But what probably most created the kinship I felt towards him, is something I didn't even realize until you pointed it out to me: the fact that our manner of speaking and body language was so similar. A while ago I showed him this web site and offered to make him a similar over-the-top one. I told him I'd maintain it too and wanted no money from him whatsoever for my services. The only thing I'd want in return was for him to devote one of his legendary columns to me. He replied that he dug my site and the offer too, if it were not that his web site had already just been made, and only had yet to go into the air. He added, 'If you're going to do a gig, I'll be there.' It's to my regret that that now never came to be. Of course it was his way of saying that that would be the vehicle he needed to write that piece about me anyway. He had an eye that saw things nobody else saw, or he saw them in a way nobody else did, and he could put that into words in an inimitable, magical way with humor, sharpness, and tenderness. The last column he wrote, was about anger, or rather how anger isn't worth the effort. He describes three kinds of angry men. First the tense, angry man who's determined to prove that he's right. Then there's the angry man who's not completely sure that he's right, only sure of his anger. A third angry man is angry because he lost his anger and is now putting all effort into evoking his anger again. He lets all three men resolve their anger poetically by having them look at some dandelions growing up a post at a pedestrian crossing. Martin Bril's life may have been short - too short - but he set an example by not wasting it on anger and celebrating it by giving love to the people around him. Holland is a lot less fun now that he's gone. 

93. Where is the fountain of love? What is the fountain of love... I think it's a big fucking smoke screen test to compensate for the part inside of our alter ego that can't get up and start walking... so we create meaning in an otherwise meaningless world... so still we keep marching step 'buy' step 'won' by one we all fall down compensation can't bring me out of the reality of bullshit. Once I denounced the world as I know it as a reality and bought into the hype of illusion, I started dissolving into nothing... I know you can feel me... I hear it in your heart chakra... Yes we need love... but WTF is it really? My spontaneity is so repressed...
Kundalinicandy, Phoenix, United States

When I wrote the line 'fountain of love' in my song of the same name, I was basically thinking of all the women out there who are so nice to me. There's also an obvious sexual connotation, so one answer to your first two questions would be: (what's) between your legs. But there's an ache in how I sing the word 'love' there, which creates another layer of meaning that you just put into words in a way that indeed resonates with me. Only someone who has once projected love into a situation where there wasn't any, can sing that line with that kind of ache, baby. Despite that I still think the term 'love' refers to something that can actually take place in reality. I mean, look at the brain scans of a couple in love, there's some crazy shit happening up there under those circumstances. And love purely in terms of showing affection, I see everywhere and I'm one of those relentlessly uncynical people who believes it's not all just purely for selfish motives. Beings actually caring about the well-being of other creatures for selfless reasons. Maybe that's what love is. Maybe that's the place where you'll find the fountain of love. But yeah, the term is often used to justify behavior that is anything but loving, so one can become cynical about it, and even doubt its very existence. 

92. Have you ever read 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle? That book has been a big eye opener for me. The secret of happiness is that you don't have to look for it... it isn't outside of you... it is in you... The secret of the meaning of life, is that it isn't there. The secret of searching for wisdom is that, by admitting that in the end you know absolutely NOTHING, you're the most wise man/woman of them all. Do you agree with that?

Diana, Zaandam, Netherlands

That's pure Socrates, baby. They said that Socrates is the wisest man of Athens, because contrary to others who thought they knew things, Socrates at least knew that he knew nothing. That's why I always say I'm the wisest man of Zaandam, but I see I'm now getting competition from an equally wise woman here. It's one of my favorite lines to say, but they thought I was very weird ('how unusually modest for a guy especially, to have that attitude!') and controversial when I would say things like that at the university. 'What are you doing here, then?' one of those teachers would reply. Apparently it's very provocative to people who think they know things, to be confronted with someone who lives by the motto ignoramus, ignorabimus: we don't know it, and we won't know it. I also agree with you that there's not one pre-given absolute meaning to life, which gives you the freedom to create your own meaning, which in my case means doing things that are fun to me (eat your pie before you die). And yes, happiness is rather an inner attitude to whatever life throws at you, instead of thinking life should be a certain way in order for you to be happy. Anyway. Not to do any name-dropping, but do you know who else recommended that book 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle to me? The very talented, nice and wise Dutch actor and singer Antonie Kamerling, but I still haven't read it. However, now that the wisest woman of my hometown has also praised it, I'll have to check it out.

91. Watching the 'Fountain Of Love' video I found the synchronicity of certain segments intriguing as well as the film quality which seems to shift a bit in places. Can you tell me a little about how this came to be? Could be serendipity or just pure genius? BTW, I like the song!

There's a degree of both serendipity and design to what I do when it comes to how the music and visuals sync in specific spots in my 'Fountain Of Love' video. There are some moments where I already know during the performance, exactly (or broadly) where I'm later going to put it in the video. But it isn't until the first playback, that I see a broad outline of where most stuff is going to go in terms of sequence. I put the scenes roughly in their place, followed by a lot of fine-tuning with the cuts to establish the maximum amount of flow. Then I trim the fat off the usable-but-still-homeless sections and end up with these little vignettes of the best performance bits. I look at those and get ideas how they would go well with certain parts within the song. Shots of say, a robot dance move, I deliberately sync up in a place that works well within the narrative. Again, there will be more cutting to get the right flow. Then there's a degree of trial and error in the editing, moving stuff around and paying attention to what movements go well with a certain guitar lick or whatever, and then locking the scene into the groove of the song. And there are indeed a few spots that just happen to sync perfectly in unexpected ways, but you have to have an eye for that kind of thing so you don't move it away from that spot or cut it out. None of all this was thought of beforehand in a script; there wasn't a script to begin with. The script was, 'Let's go to the park and see what happens and film it.' Also, the song wasn't playing in the background when we were filming in the park. When I did the dance moves, I just played the song in my head and moved to the beat I was imagining, hoping it would match up later in the edit (it did). I think that thing you pointed out here has sort of become my 'signature editing style' and I don't think many people edit that way (where, say, a hand gesture represents a bent guitar note). That's where my instincts take me when I'm editing. I would like to do a video with more pre-written narrative one day, but so far all my videos have been about total spontaneity and making it up in the moment. There is a narrative there, but it's symbolic and predominantly created in post-production (and sometimes by accident). My friend Chris Skowronski filmed this, I studied philosophy with him and he has filmed a lot for various underground bands, stuff that they would use for projection behind them on the stage during their performance. He's a phenomenal painter and has a good sense of composition, plus we have a good vibe which is the most important thing of all because it comes across on the screen I think. I totally go against the grain with what we use camera-wise. The 'Hollywood Suicide' video was shot on Super 8 mm film which is a pretty unpopular choice these days, but still has some fans. For this one, I went even more in the opposite direction of what's popular (not to be contrary, just because I'm stubborn in what I think looks cool). Instead of going the obvious route and using a high definition digital camera, I looked for months for analog video cameras that would give my video a certain vintage feel I was after. My grandpa happened to have an old unused Sony Hi8 Handycam laying around that has some quirky qualities I found appealing. For instance, sometimes the image shakes a little and I'll use that symbolically in the editing, as if a certain word or guitar note makes the whole medium vibrate. So yes, the subtle shifts of the film quality in places that you noticed, are indeed intentionally there for effect and they aren't computer-generated treatments. Hope I didn't go on too long and bore you with all the details. It's just fun to me that you 'get it' because you're into the creative process as well. You have the eye of an artist and see things nobody else has pointed out to me. And I'm glad you dig the song!

90. I heard you were in the controversial Dutch cult movie Kartel. Any news on a DVD release and any future plans in acting?
Rudolf, Germany

Well, when Kartel finally had its premiere on June 18th, 2006, in Dutch cinema deFABRIEK, the directors Lawrence I. Kelatow and Olav van Weerden had already been working on it for ten years, so if that is anything to go by... I actually spoke to Olav at a party recently and he said they were currently editing interviews with the main cast for an accompanying disc with bonus features, but he was tight-lipped about a release date, so there ya have it. Kartel is a notorious crime drama that got a lot of media attention in Holland, because when we were shooting a car chase shoot-out scene, we were held at gunpoint and thrown into jail by real cops who didn't understand we were making a movie. Everybody was traumatized, except me - I was excited and thought it was great publicity! I play the role of a drug dealer named Rutger Revolver in the opening sequence of the movie. I also contributed to the soundtrack. As far as any future plans in acting go, I'm considering taking on the role of Blake Fielder-Civil in an erotic art house film about Amy Winehouse called The Beehive Bunny. There's a short list of choices for the role of Amy that includes Elena Legakis, who's just been offered the part but is yet to confirm.

89. What is your relationship with your parents and were they supportive of your interest in music?
Trippy Chick, Waterford, New York, United States

My parents have always supported me in whatever I've wanted to do, even when I decided to follow getting my degree of Master of Arts in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, with chasing the quite romantic dream of making a living doing music. Along the way I've turned down a lot of career opportunities, and cut myself out of making a lot more money than I am making now, and that has baffled my parents. For instance, after seeing one of my live shows, the boss of one of the biggest Dutch TV stations (VARA) called me up and asked me to play a birthday song and act in the longest-running, most popular comedy TV series in Holland (Oppassen!!!). My response? 'No, I don't think that is rock 'n' roll, end of discussion.' My stubborn refusal to grab this chance of a big shot at fame - a chance most would grab with both hands - because I felt it didn't gel with my artistic integrity, left my parents speechless. In my dad's outlook financial stability is something to particularly strive for, while I'm more concerned with doing things that I can later look back on with a sense of personal fulfillment. So I tell him that if I would become a successful businessman who owns a big company selling something I don't give a toss about, I would later look back on that and think that I've failed in life. And he looks at me like I'm crazy. Then I tell him that if I just made a few albums that nobody but me likes and didn't sell at all, I would feel like I succeeded, because I would've done something I believed in. Then he looks at me like I'm even crazier. But as of a certain age he made it very clear to me that my choices are mine, even if he doesn't understand them. If I have kids, I hope to pass that on as well: to support them doing whatever they're interested in, instead of pressing them into doing what I think they should be interested in. My mom really believes in my music, she's kind of like John Frusciante's lovely mom (hi, Gail) in that they're our biggest fans. But enough about me, I would love to hear all about you while we catch up over a candlelight dinner, Trippy Chick.

88. What's the first concert you've been to?
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

The first concert I've ever been to was B.B. King at the Veilinghal in Alkmaar, Holland, somewhere in my early teens. I went there with my hustler uncle Nino Pattinasarany (who also gave me my first and only guitar lessons - a big shout-out to him) and somehow I ended up at the side of the stage during B.B.'s performance. It wasn't till twenty years later that my uncle told me that happened because he told the right things to the right people there. Anyway, so there I was, the youngest blues lover in the house wearing a purple paisley shirt and holding a photo camera that was probably bigger than I was. Pretty much from the moment B.B. came on he was pointing at me to the audience, and he kept giving me the thumbs up throughout his kick-ass performance. He really brought the house down. Afterwards we shook hands and he gave me a little B.B. King guitar brooch. It meant the world to me and at the time it felt like a sign that I should make music my life. A few years later after a show B.B. spend ages in his tour bus writing his signature for me dot-for-dot on the back of a tour sticker (his idea), which he then put on a piece of glass (I still have it). B.B. truly is the King of the Blues, and despite that he's one of the nicest, most humble men you'd ever meet. His music still brings tears to my eyes, and I'll love him till I drop dead.

87. You have a cool site in my opinion! Beautiful photos, nice reactions. But do you never have trouble from crazy people? I mean: do you ever get harassed or stalked by idiots?

Fieke Prins-Halberstadt, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

There are indeed idiots who've tried to harass or stalk me online, but it doesn't impress me. I'm not interested in delusional people who have a Raymond Stolp hang-up. And anyone threatening me behind a screen, is a chickenshit to me. Behind the screen they act like they're Charles Bronson, but if any of those motherfuckers had the balls to say that shit to my face, they would find out who the tough guy is. If you talk to any cop or real criminal, they'll all say the same thing: the people who really do damage, aren't going to warn you about it beforehand through a computer screen. They just do it.

86. Meow Ray, do you miss my nails and my feet on the draining board? Prrrrr,
Your cat Arlo

Hey you little fucker, people were really scared last night you were going to hurt my eyes with those nails, huh? But I know you wouldn't hurt me (unless I sprinkle water on ya to clean you from rolling around in your own poop). As far as the draining board goes; you really don't let anybody tell you what you should or shouldn't do, huh? You're like a deaf kitty when it comes to that. Sounds like someone we know. You do full justice to the name Arlo Stolp.

85. What does friendship mean to you?
Snowflake, Amsterdam, Netherlands

It means laughing my ass off with you, brother! Friendship to me is about accepting someone for who they are. That's why they say a dog is a man's best friend: dogs don't judge or try to change you. Unfortunately humans can have those tendencies, and to quote Jim Morrison, 'When others demand that we become the people they want us to be, they force us to destroy the person we really are. It's a subtle kind of murder. (...) A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.' The basis for any friendship is trust. If you don't have that, everything else goes out the window because you can't feel safe to be vulnerable by opening up with someone who you feel could fuck you over at any moment. And to paraphrase Descartes, you can never trust anything that has once proven to be untrustworthy. Friendship means loyalty and respect to me. Once you're in with me, you're in for life, and once you cross me, you're out for life. As you and other friends of mine have said, I'm very easy-going and I don't take myself very seriously, so it's almost impossible to insult me into slamming the door in your face, though. You'd have to be strenuously disrespectful to make that happen. If anybody hurts my friends, I'll rip their head off! I'm aware you and I are old school guys in that regard and that a lot of people don't feel that sense of loyalty as a crucial element of friendship at all. Friendship means different things to different people. I mean, there are people in L.A. who will see someone twice at a grocery store and call them 'my friend'! For me friendship means something else.

84. I like your song 'Glass Jar' [from my upcoming album Exit Inferno - RS] a lot. The guitar jam is the best and then with electronica, a new vibe fresh yet nostalgic like I have heard it before. 'It takes a fool to become a tool...' Tell me the story behind the song.
Kundalinicandy Yoginidakini Vegan, Gaia, United States Minor Outlying Islands

Hmm. It's one of those songs that kind of reveals its meaning over time. I'm still discovering what some of it is about months after I recorded it. I incorporate things from the subconscious into my songwriting, and I don't care if I don't exactly know what it means at the time when I'm recording the song. Later on the meaning of those things become crystal clear to me, and the song ends up saying more than it would if I had just gone with everything I consciously, rationally understood at the time. But to not beat around the bush and get more to the point, I'd say it's about being in a situation where someone doesn't give you the room to be yourself. 

83. Dear Ray, on the subject of double penetration, is it better to have one in the ass and one in the clunge, or both in the clunge? If both in the vagina, bearing in mind the other man's penis would account for at least twenty-five percent of the surface area being rubbed against, does this make it a gay act also?
Adam, United Kingdom

I do find the penis-on-penis contact a little gay, Adam, so I'll have to pass on your offer of a ménage à trois.

82. Dear Ray, I am in a major dilemma and need your immediate advice. I have been involved with this guy from England who is in a rather good rock band. He is a really great guy and I do care for him but, I have found in the past few weeks that more and more I am thinking about this other rock god from Holland. I don't know what to do? Should I end it with the English guy, or try out the other guy first for a bit? I really need your help!!!
Texas Goddess

You're from Texas, huh, you wouldn't happen to just be after my Stevie Ray Vaughan pinky ring? Or just spellbound by the rumors from other girls in Texas that I've been with about my alleged 'perfect penis'? I am more than just my penis, you know. And this English dude you're involved with, his name wouldn't happen to be Adam? If so, I think he just wrote me suggesting the ultimate solution to your dilemma, better have a peek at the question above.

81. What is your experience with the girlfriends you've had?
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

I've only had two serious relationships. One I've only enjoyed, and the other one I've only learned from.

80. I LOVE David Bowie's song 'I'm Afraid Of Americans'!! And I really thought most people who would take a chance and do an 'industrial' addition (I guess) to their catalog of music would not pull it off, but Bowie being, well... BOWIE, did it in style and I LOVED that new batch of music he was doing at that time. Just goes to prove the man is a true musical genius and it shows even after all his years in the business. He rules. Have you seen him in concert?? I sadly have never had the chance. He's one I woud LOVE to see!! I mean I would L-O-V-E to see!!!
Scott Weiland's Angry Little Pixie, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

June 21th, 1997, Utrecht, Holland. David Bowie is live on stage at a real intimate venue called Vredenburg doing his song 'Little Wonder' from his Earthling album. I'm right in front of him, and like everybody else in the crowd, I'm trying to grab his attention, to no avail. At one point during the instrumental section of the song, I give up and my mind starts to wander as I get lost in the music. I'm plucking one of my eyebrows while looking with a dreamy gaze at nothing in particular in the distance. All of a sudden, I feel like someone is watching me. I look up, and it's David Bowie looking me right in the eyes! I jump up and down like an overexcited kid and reach with my arms towards him. Bowie's reaction? He takes a few steps back from the mic, and starts plucking one of his eyebrows while staring a million miles into space. Then he pretends to all of a sudden notice me looking at him, and starts jumping up and down like an overexcited kid and reaches with his arms towards me. I can't believe David Bowie is impersonating me! As he cracks up with laughter, and while pointing his finger at me, he sings, 'You little wonder, little wonder you...' Pretty cool, huh? I saw David Bowie in concert four times, and he was awesome each time, and I've always found his audiences to be a lovely bunch too. While waiting for David backstage after his concert at Ahoy, Rotterdam, on July 6th, 1996, I met Alex Alexander, one of Britain's premier Bowie collectors. Pimm Jal de la Parra, author of David Bowie: The Concert Tapes (P.J. Publishing, 1985) was a good friend of mine, I still miss him a lot. It was through those kind of friendships that I was able to build up a pretty extensive collection of Bowie stuff as well. For those interested in my collection, I suggest you check out Wim Hendrikse's two monumental reference books Never get old. David Bowie: Man of Ch-ch-changes, part 1 and part 2 (Gopher, 2005). Wim had access to all my forty-something videotapes of Bowie material, and references what he calls 'The Raymond Stolp Collection' throughout the books. I agree with you, I love that 1. Outside and Earthling period too. I think the work he did in the nineties is just as brilliant as his seventies stuff and I identify with it even more strongly!


79. Hey Ray! The guitar virtuoso! You know what I always found so clever of you? That you heard a song, picked up a guitar and then would play that song by ear. Pfffffffffff... great... Then you would go grunt 'Lovin' You (is easy 'cause you're beautiful)'! When it's my birthday next year, you'll have to do that song for me again.
Phoebe de Piebie, Netherlands

When I do covers, I always like to bring my own aroma to it. To grunt instead of sing the sweet and innocent lyrics of that Minnie Riperton classic, is quite incongruous and goes right along with my tendency to be comically inappropriate. I'm humbled that you appreciate that quality in me. When it's your birthday, I'll be there and do that song in that crazy way.

78. How'd you get ahold of Stevie Ray Vaughan's ring?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I got Stevie Ray Vaughan's pinky ring as a sweet gift from Linda 'Rocky' Rockwell (who was immortalized in Eric Clapton's song 'Slow Down Linda'). She's from Texas and knew Stevie Ray since a little before his debut album Texas Flood came out. He would go over to her place all the time to relax and take baths and one day he just left his pinky ring there. He probably got it at a truck stop while on tour as that's where he would buy a lot of his rings. The ring means a lot to me because Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my heroes. I wear the ring on my index finger; it will just slide off my pinky as I don't have big ass fingers like Stevie did!

77. Hey Ray!! So nice to see you once again yesterday after all these years. As you can see: you always run into each other again. It's a pity that I didn't really speak with you, but you were also very busy. Since yesterday suddenly a lot of memories resurfaced! One of them is that beautiful Gibson SJ-200, that adorned your living room. I still remember that you'd play a delicious jam on it and then press it in my hands. But I was afraid to even hold it. Do you still remember that?
Fieke Prins-Halberstadt, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

I see I'm not the only one with memory like an elephant. Yes, I do remember that because it's a pretty valuable guitar you didn't want to come near it out of concern of possibly damaging it, which shows a rare degree of care for other people's personal belongings, and I find that level of respect very endearing. I've had that guitar for over ten years now and played it on all of my albums so far. Like with all of my Gibsons, I love its bluesy sound and surprisingly I don't have a problem with its feminine curves either. 

76. Time for a short hen party... My first question here (taaaadaaaa): Ray did you ever experience bloopers on stage? Yessa? So tell us!!! Huggies,
Rona, Niedersachsen, Germany

Too much to mention, really. At one time in my early teens, I was on stage taking a guitar solo, and started walking slowly to the right side of the stage. I was in complete ecstasy so I didn't noticed this roadie in front of the stage trying to signal me to stop walking any further down that side of the stage. Well, then in the climax of that solo, with the guitar behind my head, all of a sudden: no sound. Turns out my guitar cable was too short to make it all the way to the side of the stage, and had come out of my amp. All you could hear was a drummer and an audience gasping at the blooper. Another notable blooper happened when I was playing at the Paradiso in a band led by the late Freddie Cavalli (legendary bass player from the so-called 'golden' formation of Herman Brood & His Wild Romance). I missed my cue from him for my guitar solo because a violin player next to me was blocking my view, so Freddie walked to the middle of the stage and shouted into the microphone, 'Hey asshole, solo!' which I thought wasn't the most subtle way to approach a fifteen-year-old band member in front of a packed house. As I don't like someone barking orders at me, it resulted in a bit of a confrontation on stage. But we made up after the show, and he was really complimentary to me and taught me a lot during rehearsals (including scales and how to attack the guitar like an animal) and he was one of the finest bass players I've ever played with. A few years later I was fronting my own band at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, and the day before the show I had fallen asleep in the sun and gotten some pretty severe sunburn. I kept applying this cream up until the show to look somewhat presentable. But the cream had made my hands real slippery so holding on to my pick during the show became somewhat of a challenge; fretting the right notes with my left hand proved to be quite the psychedelic experience as well. Meanwhile my face started to break out in hives because of the hot stage lights. The Melkweg filmed that show and there's one shot where the camera pans across the first row in the audience, and it surprises me you can still see quite a lot of girls swooning, as what they were witnessing must've been closer to a horror show than a rock 'n' roll show in some ways... Bloopers, both on stage and in life in general, I've found to be very valuable learning experiences. I welcome bloopers to my life and hope to make a lot more.

75. Dear Raymundo, I have an ingrown pubic hair... which causes my hoochie to throb in pain.  This dilemma prevents me from masturbating. My vibrator is sending me love letters... <3 <3 What shall I do? Luff,
The Italian Princess

I think I would have to have a close peek to evaluate the situation. I might be able to untwist the ingrown hair with the tip of my tongue and while we're at it, I'll replace your vibrator with my human schlong to do an allround investigation. As you're a friend, I'll do it for a friendly price.

74. Ray, would you ever travel to a small town in southern Indiana for a 3 day music fest? Linton, the town of which I have been born and raised will have its 4th annual LINTON MUSIC FEST Sept 2009. I have recently discovered your music and find it like no other and truly fantastic! Would you ever consider coming to my town to perform? Just curious and truthfully, hoping you might say YES!! Very truly yours,
Erika Sullivan, Indiana, United States

I'm glad you discovered my music and honored that it prompted this invitation, Erika! I'm going to be playing live in 2009 to support my upcoming album Exit Inferno, so if the wonderful people of Linton are willing to take the risk of having a bunch of crazy Dutch motherfuckers over to their lovely town, and the festival is willing to pay enough for us to cover travel expenses and stuff - then we're cooking with gas! Have you got a place to sleep for me?

73. Another quick question. When is the world ending now that the Big Bang experiment has started?
Red Grave, Verona, Italy

The Big Bang experiment can create tiny black holes, but their lifespan will be very short, so the notion that one of them could expand in a couple of years to suck in our planet, is sci-fi jive. The only thing that's going to suck in the earth and vaporize it, is the sun when it grows into a red giant cremating all earthly life in a few billion years. Also, although the Big Bang experiment may shed some light on the evolution of the universe, it won't make us fathom the crown jewel of that evolution, the human brain. It has been calculated that the amount of mental states a human can be in, is much bigger than the amount of elemental particles in the universe. In other words, what happens in our brain is the most complicated process that exists in the universe. You can prove from logic that a system can't understand a system that's just as complicated as itself. Therefore it's impossible for the human brain to understand itself. To do that, you would need to have a super-brain looking at a more simple brain, which can't be done because all of our brains are pretty much the same. So no matter how much we figure out about the universe, in the end we've got to face that, as Cicero put it, 'The spirit itself does not know what the spirit is.'

72. Dear Ray, I'm quite the worst guitar player of the continent, but it ain't a true problem for me (I listen to worse stuff on the radio). I just wanted to ask you this: My instrument is a DeArmond M75T and all I wish is a Fender amplifier. I know you are quite experienced with Fender equipment, so I would like to ask you which model you suggest... with a budget of about 500 US dollars (obviously I'd buy it on the web)! I suppose you already know my musical tastes. Thanks again for your help!
Red Grave, Verona, Italy

Hey man, the gear is just part of the equation when it comes to how you ultimately sound. For instance, compare the footage of me playing a Gibson Les Paul through a Fender Twin Reverb at the Paradiso in '97, to your memory of how Vincent Gallo sounded using the same set-up at the same venue eight years later; even though the lo-fi recording alters the sound, and memory is fallible, it's still clear that despite the use of the same tools, our sounds are different because we're different. A musician's physical and mental being leaves such an imprint on the sound, that even a gearhead like John Frusciante once told me that it therefore ultimately doesn't really matter what guitar (or amp) you use. However, some gear does fit some personal voices better. But the last thing I want to be is some sort of authority on that (or any) subject, as believing in authority figures is stifling for personal growth. Just because I'm a somewhat experienced musician doesn't mean I have more insight than you do into what gear fits your personal voice best. Lots of gearheads have tried to get me hooked on their favored amps that had no mojo to me whatsoever, and I always end up going back to using Fender tweed amps and the Vox AC30. I have a '55 Fender Champ that I use a lot, if you happen to like that sound (it's all over my first record Simulacra) it might be worth it to try out the current Fender Champion 600, which is well within your price range.

71. Have you in your life ever done something of which you always said that
you would never do it? And did you feel guilty or relieved afterwards?
Anne Brown, Hoofddorp, Netherlands

Yeah, I spit someone in the face once, which is something I thought I'd never do. I definitely felt relieved afterwards. I guess I'm a nice guy until you try to fuck with me.

70. Okay, Mr. Egomaniac: Is there an underlying theme interwoven in all of your music? What sorts of experiences do you think of when you write your lyrics? Curiously yours,
Grisel, Tampa, Florida, United States of America

Egomaniac, who, me? I'm innocent... I know that I'm groovy but to demonstrate how humble I am, I burst out laughing at the notion of how pretentious it would be to discuss 'my work' here in any other way than with a big fat wink. Anyway, I sort of pick my theme per album: generally speaking, Simulacra was about love, Fatal Finality was about death, and Into The Heart Of Conflict was about conflict, surprisingly. For the new album Exit Inferno I started writing the songs without any preconceived notion of having them ultimately fit into a prevalent theme that would tie the whole thing together; ironically it's turned out to be my most thematically homogeneous album yet. It's about betrayal. When I write my lyrics, I tend to think of my relationships with people who are or have been in my immediate circle, in situations that provoke a strong emotional response from me. To be any more specific would be detrimental to the room my songs give to dream up your own meaning to them. I'm not sure if there's a main theme underlying all my music, it's more like I'm using various themes to express myself without wanting to change anything or anyone or impose my ideas onto others. My only message is for you to find your own way. There you go, if there's any underlying theme interwoven in all of my music, it's probably that.

69. If you thought you only had a few weeks to live and a couple thousand dollars to do something with, what would you do?
xoxo, Gaia, United States Minor Outlying Islands

I'd continue living exactly the way I'm living my life right now. See, this question sort of suggests I'm putting off doing certain things I want to do in my life, and that such a scenario would make me get to the point and do them. But I always have it in the back of my mind that it could all be over in a second. And I don't believe that when I die, some immaterial residue of me goes on a hunt for a new body or retirement in heaven. I believe that when you're dead, you're gone and smelly. So instead of wasting my precious time on negative bullshit, I rather surround myself with positive energy and things and people that make me feel good about my life and myself. So in my last few weeks I'd be having a good time with my compadres, spending the dough on another Fender Stratocaster, and if I had some change left I'd go buy an ice cream. And anyone who's got a problem with that can kiss my ass.

68. Is Arlo single?
Dajana Barbarousis' cat Purple, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Oh yeah, my cat Arlo is single and I'm sure he'd be very romantically interested in such a special cat as yourself, Purple. When he's not slipping into strangers' cars, jumping out the windows of neighbors' bedrooms, or eating unattended croissants, I'm sure we can find a hole in the little rascal's schedule to go on a date with you. Meanwhile I shall tend to your owner, of course.

67. Should I stop stealing sunglasses?
Dajana Barbarousis' cat Purple, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Nah, you can steal my shades any day, love.

66. If you were American (and thank God you aren't and too bad you're not lucky enough to be one of us), which of these hookers would you vote for: Obama or McCain? I'm sure I know the answer but since you're such a horny hooker, you might just go with McCain since his VP choice, Sarah Palin, is such a hot piece of ass.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Let me preface this answer by saying there are things I'm not knowledgeable about - who would've thought? - with politics being one of 'em. I can usually see the merits of both the Republican and Democrat viewpoint, and wonder why there can't be a context-based politics, where you pick the viewpoint that offers the best solution to a particular problem without having to stay loyal to one ideological team. I guess when you're stuck in a set of absolutes, you don't have much tolerance for anything that doesn't fit into them. I think to be a good president, you'd have to be a bit of a bitch. That's why I thought Hillary Clinton would've been good for the job. I'm not sure if Obama has enough balls to be a bitch when it comes down to it. You know me well, you little fucker, I'm indeed very impressed with Sarah Palin. I'd vote for McCain, hell, I'd even play at his inauguration party, if that would mean I could share some chips and dips with Sarah Palin backstage. Man, all this talk about politics has gotten me in the mood for sex.

65. Hello, I am a young American girl, so I don't know anything about you or your level of celebrity in the Netherlands, so forgive me for that. But during some googling, I came across the article you wrote about Buffalo '66. It is a very insightful and intelligent article, it is also very clearly written and well organized. You articulated perfectly a lot of what is so magical, unique, and brilliant about that film, and that it exists on multiple levels, something which I think most people don't pick up on in VG's work. Are you a big fan of Vincent Gallo? I think he is wonderful.
Victoria Ortiz, United States

August 21th, 2005, Amsterdam, Holland. Vincent Gallo is in the middle of playing a legendary show to a sold-out crowd at the Paradiso, when between songs, he all of a sudden calls out my name... 'Raymond, Ray, did you make it? Good!' It's funny how worlds can merge sometimes. Seven years before that I first saw Buffalo '66. To this day, I've rarely encountered a movie that so totally overlaps with my idea of what is beautiful. It's unfortunate that a lot of Vincent's work goes over the heads of a lot of people, which says more about the lack of humor, intelligence and love in today's society, than it says about the quality of the work of this visionary multi-talent. But long after all the hate-filled nonsense blogs about him have gone away, Vincent's work will have proven to absolutely stand the test of time. 

64. You were seen at the hospital, you were walking with difficulty. What's going on?
Louise, Castricum, Netherlands

My ankles started swelling like Popeye's forearms during my evening dinner about a week ago, so I had to be rushed to the hospital. The rest of my body had swelling and redness too, but it had been like that for two weeks (I thought it would all go away by itself, because some parts were getting better, and I thought it was from sitting in the sun for too long). At the hospital, I warned the female doctor I wasn't wearing any underwear when I pulled down my pants. She had not ever seen a case like me before, and got in another female doctor to have a second opinion. She had never seen anything like it either. They tested if I was in a state of shock, and found my relaxed attitude hilarious. I was cracking jokes the whole time. Because I was walking around shirtless like Iggy Pop, one of the women asked if I didn't have a shirt somewhere. I pointed at it and said, 'What did ya think, that I like to walk around nude outside with all this skin hanging off my body to be all flamboyant?' One of the docs could barely talk and was fluttering with her eyes the whole time - I think she must've fallen in love with me. Or at least fancied me. Or maybe had a fetish for never-before-seen skin spectacles. She said I made her feel like she was in some movie and admitted she almost wanted to photograph me for educational purposes - 'You may snap some nude pics of me if you want,' I offered. For the first time in their careers, the chick docs had to call in a skin specialist away from his evening dinner for an emergency. To the specialist I said, 'Well, at least you got your money's worth for coming all the way down here, if I had had just one tiny red spot, you'd feel cheated.' It was the first time in his career he'd seen such a severe case too. I told them they made me feel really special. I'm on heavy drugs and doing better now, it's good shit that has me in high spirits. But walking is still difficult, I move very slow but the upside is that women let me lean on them everywhere. When I walk I leave a trail of skin like some magic snowman, so I'm easily found, just follow the path. Especially my ankles and feet look really big. Hope to be more normal-looking next week! My face and penis remain unaffected by the whole thing, luckily. It was a reaction to some virus I got somewhere that they can no longer identify because it's already left my body.

63. Ray, how do you mend a shattered heart?
Angelica Quintana, Los Angeles, United States

Stay away from the person who broke it; to cure the addiction you've got to stop feeding it. If the heartbreaker was emotionally or physically abusive during the relationship - no, you can't 'still be friends', a real friend respects you enough to not hurt you. Put the spotlight on yourself again in the show of your life. Find someone Dutch, blonde, and adorable, to help lick your wounds. 

62. Why are you so fucking amazing?
Devon Wilson's Mini Me, New York, United States

This question has prompted me to make immediate arrangements for our wedding.

61. Are you circumcised or not?
Heather Leather, United States

I'm not circumcised, so I have a bit of extra flesh for you to work that freaky tongue on.

60. If not, how many times a day do you have to wash your willy so you don't get from-unda-cheese?
Heather Leather, United States

Babe, the whole circumcision-for-cleanliness thing is a myth, any willy will collect dirt there if not cleaned regularly. I sport a fresh willy because I usually take a shower every day and soap it in pure coconut oil!

59. How long is your schlong flaccid and how long is it erect?
Heather Leather, United States

Flaccid, it's 4 inches and right now, erect it's 7 inches (girth is 5,2 inches). 

58. Is your ass crack hairy? If so do you suffer from dingle berries?
Heather Leather, United States

These phenomena don't take place on my perfect butt. 

57. Decribe your testicles while you look in the mirror.
Heather Leather, United States

At the risk of sounding too poetic, it looks like two balls hanging next to my cock. One ball to each side. Obviously.

56. Write an ode to your schlong for us.
Heather Leather, United States

I love my schlong. It brings so much joy into my life, and other lives too. The sights we've seen...

55. Do you shave your balls?
Heather Leather, United States

Never have but I would for you!

54. Went to an art expo last week of Prints & The Revolution. Couldn't concentrate myself on the paintings because in the center of the hall the famous Dutch actress Katja Schuurman was 
very slowly drinking a lot of cocktails. She wore just a small white summer dress so you can imagine how my cocktail in my pants started to behave... Do you think it's possible for an old crook like me to seduce such an amazing celebrity? Is there any chance to take her to my home so she will kneel for me and start lickin' my magic cream over and over from her juicy lips?
Hendrik von Mecklenburg, 's-Gravenhage, Netherlands

A few years ago I was having a drink at the American Hotel in Amsterdam. In walks a gorgeous girl, high heels, low-cut skinny jeans, tight shirt, and a cell phone glued to what is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful faces ever to come out of Holland. It's Katja Schuurman. I borrow a magic marker at the counter and walk over to Katja's table. 'I read an interview with you where you were expounding on Sartre by saying that a proliferation of choices can actually be quite confining because then you don't know what to choose.' Flashing her a big smile, I add, 'When I read that, I became a bit of a fan of you. So would you put your autograph on this fan's shirt?' Katja jumps out of her chair and takes my brown leather jacket off a little and jokes, 'It's a sleeveless shirt, how sexy!' At my encouragement, she writes her name as obnoxiously big as possible on my shirt, and adds a drawing of a flower. 'That's so great you liked what I said in that interview,' she smiles. 'It appealed to me because I study philosophy. But actually I want to go into show business like you,' I say. 'Oh, that's funny because for a long time I've wanted to study philosophy. Tell me more about it!' 'Maybe we should trade places for a day, Katja! Well...' What followed was a really fun evening with one of the nicest girls I've ever met - someone who's interesting and interested. Being the biggest sex symbol of a country, she's probably used to a specific type of reaction. If you're just being yourself and treat her as an equal person as opposed to how some would approach a celebrity, it's quite easy to set yourself apart in a positive way and charm the pants off her (figuratively speaking, of course).

53. Is it possible to kill our conscience? I mean that bad conscience that starts to speak to the self as soon as we plan or do things that are positioned in the dark side of humanity. I really hate that inner voice that always puts me back on the path of morally accepted behavior as soon as I try to turn dark fantasies into reality. Last week I went to Boekarest in Romania for a business trip. Drunk a lot of wodka and decided to find me a kinky hooker for a few hours. Met two gypsy pimps who showed me a bunch of girls they kept prison in a declined house. They offered me an amazing babe for 2500 euro. Could buy her, take her with me and do what I want with her. Didn't hesitate, handed them the money and took my new livin' property with me. Had cruel horny plans with that sweet sixteen. Bought her first a pair of them long black leather boots. Licked her swollen lips in the hotel room, stared in those anxious eyes and then that goddamn conscience whispered in my head that I shouldn't do this. What an anticlimax... Talked with her about what happened to her and brought her back to her family. Saw a lot of happy people there but I wasn't because my dark desire was still alive. Had to drink a lot together with some benzos to keep the monsterlibido tranquilo. Do you think all men are puzzled like this? Is it time to seek some professional help? And last but not least: is wanking bad for my health?
Hendrik von Mecklenburg, 's-Gravenhage, Netherlands

I usually masturbate every day and sometimes multiple times a day, and I've never felt better, along with going to the gym all the time, I'm on a permanent endorphin high. So celebrating your penis in that way is healthy! And so is celebrating your penis with another human being, but you have to take context into consideration, and the context you described was unhealthy and it was a moral priority to get the Romanian youngster back with her family. But you were left with conflicted feelings because it seems like your needs weren't met. You're not alone in this, there can be a discrepancy between what a man wants on a primitive level, and what his conscience wants. Although I'm not drawn to buying really young prostitutes for subversive sexual purposes, if I were, and were in the same kind of situation that you described, my conscience would've also intervened, and I hope I would've acted on it as well as you have. Even though a conscience can sometimes provide a temporary inconvenience, in the bigger picture you have to look into the mirror for the rest of your life, and it's a lot more pleasant to be able to do that with a clear conscience, because if you're cruel to others, it will come back to haunt you. The answer is not to want to kill our conscience, the answer is to see the conscience's possible inconveniences to the ego/libido as a small sacrifice for the greater good it does (when followed upon) for the universe (and that includes you). As far as needing to seek professional help goes... you're here, aren't ya? I'm a professional, you know.

52. Willem de Kooning or Vincent van Gogh?
Sunny Suits, New York, United States

I like them both, but I'm more familiar with Van Gogh's work because I like to take foreign girls to the Van Gogh museum.

51. Chez Nelly or Studio 54?
Sunny Suits, New York, United States

Definitely Chez Nelly. Chez Nelly is a legendary late night café in Amsterdam. It was frequented by gangsters, Hells Angels, cultural icons like Herman Brood and Raymond Stolp, and the groovy bartender Jan Lenferink would later become a popular talk show host in Holland. 

50. Kelly van der Veer or Kelly LeBrock?
Sunny Suits, New York, United States

They both look really good, but if I was one of those teenage nerds in Weird Science designing the perfect woman on the computer, it would be you emerging from the red fog in the bathroom, Sunny.

49. Herman Brood or Herman Munster?
Sunny Suits, New York, United States

Herman Brood - the greatest rock 'n' roll star Holland has ever known! As you might know, he starred with Nina Hagen in the 1979 cult classic Cha Cha. Fast forward to 1999, Herman Brood is sitting outside Café 't Spui-tje (which basically translates into 'Cafe Needle', very apt as he liked to shoot up speed) in Amsterdam. He's not the only one sitting there, as it's a sunny (pun unintended) afternoon, and lots of Dutchies have fled from the workplace to chill outside. Nevertheless, Herman effortlessly stands out in the crowd, the Dutch Elvis in shades and a black suit. So I immediately recognize him from a distance as I happen to walk into a nearby place to get something to eat. As if God intended it, the people at the eating place happen to sell a chocolate bar with 'Cha Cha' written large on the wrapping. As I walk towards Herman, heads are turning everywhere. What's this guy doing walking towards the great Herman Brood, and more specifically, what is that he appears to be pulling out of his jacket to point at him? 'I've got a little gift for you.' Herman adopts a sudden Tom Waits-esque pose of surprise. With comic timing, he then grabs the Cha Cha chocolate bar out of my hand, pulls it out and pushes the entire bar into his mouth. As he falls out of character, he looks at me and gets the hugest smile from ear to ear, the kind of smile you wouldn't even expect him to have from his media images. 'Cool,' he says.

48. Saturday nights or Sunday afternoons?
Sunny Suits, New York, United States

Saturday nights. The Sunday afternoons usually suffer because of the Saturday nights.

47. Are you a hundred percent Dutch (aka a hundred percent retarded)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Yep, a hundred percent Dutch and a hundred percent dingbat. But interesting enough for you to read this!

46. If you could be any height (within reason), how tall would you be?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Five foot eleven. Which is how tall I am.

45. How many voices do you have going in your head at any one time (ha!)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Just my own, but you keep interrupting it.

44. Would you bone Paris Hilton if you had the opportunity?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

What do you mean, I have the opportunity!

43. What is your single all-time favorite song, ever?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

David Bowie's 'Ashes To Ashes' always strikes me as being a perfect song on all levels. Even the video is perfect.

42. What's your favorite YouTube clip?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

It's funny people refer to 'YouTube clips', when a lot of the content their users are uploading, consists of unauthorized material. Having said that, YouTube is kinda what I always thought as a kid TV would become if it died and went to heaven. I'd have fantasies of having that kind of instant access to whatever you want to watch. Of course, now that it's there, I'm nostalgic for the mystery that the lack of that kind of access brings. I don't really have a favorite clip on YouTube because there's so much cool stuff on there! At the moment, I'm sort of following Stone Temple Pilots' current reunion tour on there through shaky handheld footage with crappy audio. Groovy!

41. I believe you're right handed - is there anything you do lefty (keep it clean!)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Sometimes the question gives the answer.

40. Will the US ever get back to where we were before president coo-coo bananas fucked us, royally? And if so, how long will it take before we're kicking ass and rocking and rolling, pre-Bush, again?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I disagree with some of the decisions that were made under the Bush Jr. administration, but it's so easy to turn him into a big bad wolf, when he's just a spokesperson for a larger political organ whose policy isn't under his complete supervision. Humans function best under a small group of people who run things with a minimum amount of rules. Maybe an anarchy will get you guys back on your feet again. Raymond For President! I'll sort you folks out.

39. Tits or ass guy? I know the answer but maybe you can expound with an anecdote, like playing piano on your aunt's boobs in the shower at age eight!
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

When we were kids, my cousin and me used to take showers with our aunt. The highlight of these life-altering experiences, was when we got to 'play piano' on her double D cup-sized boobs. We were never the same. But I've been completely in lust with girls with tits and asses in all shapes and sizes.

38. Boxers, briefs or boxer briefs... or 'cowboy style'?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

They're all too small for me... I usually end up wearing no underwear.

37. Nike, Puma, Reebok or Adidas?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I'm really into vintage Adidas, I love the way that old skool logo looks, and the whole aesthetic vibe to it makes it my premium choice of clothing for workout purposes.

36. If you were to be executed, what would your 'last supper' be?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

It would involve legs around my neck.

35. Are you a good cook and if so, what's your specialty?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Yes, I bake a mean egg.

34. If you could have a different name besides Ray/Raymond, what would you choose (and if you say 'Prince', I'm kicking your ass)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

How about 'King', then?

33. If you could kick a famous person in the balls and/or cunt, who would it be?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

The only people I'd be potentially violent with are people that hurt my family, my friends, and/or myself, and there are no famous people doing that at the moment! I usually get along great with famous people, it's more often the not quite famous people, or the people that have associations with famous people, that have the bouts of misguided arrogance - a quality I'm allergic to. Maybe sometimes it takes being famous to really understand that it's bullshit. 

32. How can I prevent myself of getting an ejaculation after twenty seconds as soon as I see a pair of good boobs and smell a sweet pussy? 

Prins Hendrik, 's-Gravenhage, Netherlands

Just think of me, it'll do the trick.

31. Is it normal that I get an enormous painful erection as the radio plays a song of the amazing Anouk?
Prins Hendrik, 's-Gravenhage, Netherlands

It's funny you mention that about Anouk, because I was watching her in concert on TV last night, and got an erection too. I'm not even joking! So yeah, must be a normal phenomenon.

30. Why is it so hard to be tender to a woman as soon as she has undressed herself?
Prins Hendrik, 's-Gravenhage, Netherlands

Because you're a wild beast! That's right.

29. As a sex&cola-obsessed being I've experienced things beyond the borders of human imagination. Been in heaven on earth too many times. I've seen the darkest lust, waiting to suffocate a man in the abyss she's digging behind our back. Planned so many times to drop the bad habit. In vain. Every time the great orgastic hunger defeated me again. Read somewhere that problem children like me unconsciously set themselves to experience an unbearable desire to jump in warm snow over and over. My humble question to you is: Is it possible to become aware of this unconscious mechanism, to trace it and put it on a conscious level while at the same time the unconscious forces go on with their war to destabilize reason (Vernunft) so the horny frog in the eldest evolutionairy part of the brain will take over reality? And if that's possible, is it a good idea to ask God for help? Yours sincerely,
Tony Montana

You asking me this question is already proof that you are aware that you unconsciously create the strong desire that underlies your entwined sex and coke addiction. I can explain to you the inner workings of this unconscious mechanism so you can grasp it on a conscious level, but having that knowledge indeed doesn't necessarily mean you can break the pattern. So bearing that in mind, I shall proceed. The neural chassis (the oldest evolutionairy part of the brain that controls addiction and orgasm, among other things) is geared towards getting satisfaction in the short term. The neocortex (the most recent, typically human part of the brain that deals with reason) is more geared towards the long term effects of behavior. When it comes to being the determining factor in decision making, it's usually the neural chassis's short term longings that win out from the neocortex's long term interests. This is why people continue with their addictions in spite of their neocortex telling them it's bad for their health in the long run - their neural chassis tells them taking the drugs will give instant gratification. So it's possible to kind of be a helpless spectator in your own life, unable to conquer these old forces in you that are stronger than what the reasonable part of your brain wants. What to do? Ask God for help? He might listen but that doesn't change the way He allegedly wired us. So I'll meet you at the abyss and we'll have a good time regardless, knowing that although it might be difficult to overcome these human tendencies, it's not impossible.

28. Why is Bono such a phony?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Is he? Don't judge, just judge judgement. A phony is someone who hides their real motives behind a facade. Bono will be the first to tell you there's a lot of ego involved in his activism, so there's nothing hidden underneath what I believe to be a genuine sense of justice and humanism. U2's Achtung Baby is one of the best albums I've ever heard, and one of the best rock 'n' roll shows I've ever seen was the opening show of their Zooropa tour, at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam, May 9, 1993. So I have much respect for those Irish dudes.

27. What's the deal with Dutchies and their wooden shoes?

Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Where I grew up they have a wooden shoe museum, I visited it not too long ago. Really odd that people would wear that shit. And still about a million people over here are wearing them! I guess they're real sturdy.

26. How much do those red light Dutch girls in the window charge?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

About fifty euros, depending on what you want to do. Visiting prostitutes in Holland will generally cost you less than anywhere else in the world. The Red Light District is quite an interesting place, I've been there a lot, especially because the university I attended is right next to it. Some of the nicest, prettiest, and smartest women you'll ever meet are prostitutes. But having sex with a girl who's just had sex with a bunch of guys before you, doesn't really appeal to my romantic sensibilities.

25. As a doctor of philosophy, using both your acquired arsenal and your personal opinions, at what point do you believe trying to aspire to higher levels of development become unhealthy, given basic human nature and programming? Take, for instance, the Buddhist principle of eliminating desire from one's thought process. For things, for people, for experience, for novelty. It seems to be hard-wired into our DNA (as are many of the ways Eastern philosophies would have us delete), and so transcending such things seems to actually create more problems than it solves, completely steering a seeker away from the ultimate goal. Thoughts from the good doctor?
Trish Reed, Tuscon, Arizona, United States

I dabbled in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism recently, went to a couple of Buddhist meetings out of curiosity and because I'm always open to new things. This type of Buddhism doesn't put so much emphasis on eliminating desire. Not only is it foolish to want to transcend such a thing for the very reasons you mention, it's also impossible, because such an undertaking would be in contradiction with the laws that govern human behavior. It would be an exercise in delusion. What I got from my Buddhist experience is that there are elements to it that I think are okay - especially the emphasis on compassion. But sometimes instead of chanting 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' for someone's happiness, it's better to just put an arm around them and say something kind. To be honest, the elements of Buddhism that rang true to me, were already a part of my personal ideological bricolage, these are things you just know if you listen to your conscience and think about the world. But Buddhism is definitely a lot more appealing to me than other religions, so I respect it in that way. To answer your question, I think when one attempts to create any sort of development that isn't in correspondence with the way human nature is wired, is the point where it gets unhealthy, not to mention a waste of time, because it won't work. By the way, thank you for sharing your photos with me, as well as being very bright as evidenced by your question, you're also an extraordinarily attractive lady.

24. Why are we so worried? About who we are... what we look like...
Kimberlie Sheldon

It's perfectly normal to be worried about who you are and what you look like, because humans are incredibly vain. Part of when that gets out of hand, has to do with modern day living where we can afford to waste our time with these luxury problems. A caveman couldn't afford to ponder the state of his being and hairdo when he was busy trying to get some lunch without being eaten by a bear. Also, in our society people attach so much value to social status, so people become preoccupied with wanting to be seen as 'being somebody' through acquiring wealth, a beautiful partner, etc. Then we also have the proliferation of unrealistic body images through the media, that people want to conform to. I'm certainly interested in who I am and how I look, but only towards myself, not towards some temporary take of society on what one should be. I'm not drawn to conforming to those standards, but neither to rebelling against them. I simply don't give a fuck. I just want to be me. And I encourage you to be who you want to be, even if that means doing things that are in complete contradiction with the way I like to live my life. You are perfect being you. It's in this way of being authentic that I'd like to inspire people to not worry so much and feel more pleasant about their lives.

23. What's your favorite perfect pop song at this moment? Don't say one of your own you egocentric bastard ;-) (My favorite pop song of the moment is 'Cry' by Godley & Creme, pure genius).

Dick Fennema, Amsterdam, Netherlands

My favorite perfect pop song at the moment is 'Rabbit' by Ellen ten Damme, it's from her latest album Impossible girl. The way it's structured, the lyrics, her voice, it's just beautiful beyond words. Ellen has said my music sounds good, so I hereby return the compliment.

22. Is (pop) music high or low culture? 
Dick Fennema, Amsterdam, Netherlands

There are people who'd argue that classical music is serious and precious, and rock 'n' roll is frivolous and throwaway. Even if such a broad generalization were the case - which it isn't - who's to say which set of characteristics has more cultural worth than the other? Music is something I need to express myself and an integral part of my happiness, whether others consider it to be high or low culture - I don't give a fuck.

21. Do you believe in the difference between high and low culture?  
Dick Fennema, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I personally don't even think in terms of those kind of dichotomies, but then again I've always had a postmodernist edge, I don't believe in hierarchies. The whole high and low culture debate is a bit of a smoke screen, because what they're really debating is the intellectual versus the carnal. It's a modern-day equivalent of the church telling you that fleshly desires are bad, and cerebral aspects are good, with some people saying it's the other way around. I say both my penis and my philosophy are good. 

20. If you could cover a Steely Dan song and a Terence Trent D'Arby song (I refuse to use the goofy name he came up with), what would they be?
And why the hell haven't you already covered Steely Dan? You sound a hell of a lot like their singer, Donald Fagan. Do it different, maybe acoustic, without piano or something. 'Hey Nineteen' might be my personal fave of theirs.
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Any alleged resemblance between the way I and Donald Fagan sound is purely coincidental, etc. I don't really feel inspired to cover any of their songs. I was once in love with this girl... and I used to think about her while listening to a song by Terence Trent D'Arby called 'What Shall I Do?' (it's on a later edition of his Wildcard! album). I still can't listen to it without crying my eyes out. I'd do a cover of that. Ladies in the front row better get your hankies out.

19. If we don't have 'free will', what else is there?
Ellen, Limburg, Belgium

The answer to that would be: accepting that life is driven by forces you have no control over. The upside to that is, that all the mistakes you make, are not your fault. The downside is that you can't take any credit for any of the good things happening in your life. And humans love taking credit for the good things (and blaming the bad things to forces beyond their control). When you're not the director of the movie of your life, is there still any fulfillment? Can fulfillment only arise when we can take credit for (some of) the things that happen in our lives? I guess your capacity to enjoy things that have nothing to do with you creating them, depends on how big your ego is. I personally think there is free will, but much less than people like to think; a lot in life is contingent. People can take comfort in that there are some moments where you'll be able to steer things in a certain direction of your preference, but the idea of having total control is an illusion. I mean, think about it, if life is a total product of your will, and two 'strong-willed' guys want the same girl, who is going to get her? The one who has the strongest will? No, the girl is going to go for the guy she likes best, and beyond their best, there's nothing either guy can do about it. The problem is that everybody wants different things out of life. I might want each country to be at war with each other, my neighbor might want peace on earth. If my neighbor and me both have mastered the skill of making reality a total product of one's will, you can't have both those realities coexisting, so there will (pun unintended) at least always be one of us not creating our preferred reality. Hence the whole argument of people being in total charge of their lives, collapses. Conflicting realities would make it a logical impossibility. But I don't believe in the other extreme, a world without free will, either. I believe in free will limited by a strongly contingent reality.

18. Would you agree with me that humanity is the only factor on this planet that is disbalancing it? Humans are the only living beings on this planet with an ego and a sense of time. A plant or an animal doesn't worry about his/her problems (a product of the ego) nor do they get stuck in the past or are they hoping that things will get better in the future... only humans do that. Because humans have an ego, we made country boundaries, invented money and politics. Now the world evolves around it and we are destroying the planet because of it. Making money is more important than stopping pollution. Nature is warning us bigtime... melting ice caps, changing climates... the hunger in Africa wouldn't exist if it wasn't for money... Because humans have an ego, we created religions and we continue to fight wars in the name of God/Allah, however you may call him. 9/11 is no coincidence... Everything is brought to us in a very extreme way now, because we all NEED to become more conscious! The extreme way is the only way to wake us up. If we don't make a jump in our evolution as human beings, humanity will no longer exist. We will either kill out everyone on the planet in wars, or nature will do it for us and make it impossible for us to survive on earth. I really believe that we are becoming more conscious! A lot of books tell us this too. The Mayas predicted 2012 to be a turning point... I'm curious what your ideas about this are Ray!
Diana, Haarlem, Netherlands

The problem with humans is that they're a very aggressive animal. Nature has made us that aggressive because naturally, we can afford to be that, our bodies by themselves can't really do much harm, just like another aggressive animal like the pigeon, for instance. Pigeons and humans without weapons are relatively harmless. But the moment humans figured out how to pick up a stick, they were bashing their fellow humans' heads in with it. About 50.000 to 100.000 years ago the human brain evolved into incorporating the neocortex, the typical human part of our brain that integrates our experiences into an ego, and we started making weapons. So now we're like an aggressive pigeon with access to modern toys that can destroy the world. Which is exactly what's happening. So that's one reason why we excel at fucking the planet up. About the other typically human trait you mentioned, our sense of time... Well, Aristotle said that time is like a meriston. What the old Greek meant by that, is that we humans divide time into the past, the now, and the future, but because we spend most of our time either pondering the past, or worrying about the future, the now eludes us. Other living beings on this planet live from the now to the now to the now, which must be a state of bliss, because a lot of the problems we create for ourselves and our environment, stem from our burden of the past or ego-based demands for the future to be a certain way. Add to that the illusion of belonging to different groups, fraudulent believe systems, and wars with Gods for excuses, and the result is a dying planet. Will the planet destroy us before we destroy it? I've always felt a kinship with the Mayas and I feel that before it gets to that point, humans will have reached a higher state of consciousness.

17. Do the songs/lyrics just come to you, or do you have to be in a special environment, or have things that trigger the songs you write?
Brynn Gibson, Georgia, United States

Songs and lyrics can come to me at any time or place. The methods in how they come about are boundless, and it's like the song itself chooses the best process to be brought to fruition. But generally, I do feel it's best to not force them out, and just to wait for them to come out naturally, like pooping. Lately I've been getting songs as I wake up in the morning, really good ideas come to me from the subconscious or dream state, and it's just a matter of picking up a guitar and humming along to find what I'm hearing in my head. Anything I've ever experienced can trigger the songs I write, from moments of great tenderness to moments that make you want to spit in the very face of life.

16. How do you, being such a big rock star and all, have time to talk with all the 'little people'?
Brynn Gibson, Georgia, United States

First of all, I'm not such a big rock star by any stretch of the imagination, and even if I were, I'd never divide people into the little ones and the more important ones; no one is more important than me, and I'm no more important than anyone else. I'm a bit of a motormouth and love talking to people of all kinds of backgrounds.

15. Will you ever, or have you been on tour?
Brynn Gibson, Georgia, United States

I've done a lot of shows in my life but always viewed them as one-off events. I do intend to do a little tour in support of my upcoming album.

14. Do you have groupies?
Brynn Gibson, Georgia, United States

If a girl is only interested in me because of who I am in terms of status, and not because of who I am as a person, then I'm just not interested. But not all groupies are like that.

13. Can you differentiate sex and love?
Brynn Gibson, Georgia, United States

When you're having sex with someone and it's not about the person inside, you might as well just masturbate or buy a blow up doll. I prefer moving beyond that with a girl, and that's what happens when sex becomes an expression of love between two people.

12. If you knew that you had magical special powers within you, and I helped you access them... what would be the first magical manifestation you would work towards generating?
May all your wet dreams cum true, Hope, Massachusetts, United States

I'd work towards being able to travel out of my body. Those kind of transcendental experiences where the ego sort of dissolves have happened to me while playing guitar. But I'd want this out-of-body incarnation of myself to have all my physical attributes, and to be able to travel to any time or space instantly. Then the first thing I'd do is to travel to you this evening to make a little Stolpy with you - as a token of my appreciation for you helping me access these magical powers. Being able to travel through time and space would broaden my possibilities to create more love and beauty in the world. This has always been the goal for me.

11. If you could 'crack hips' with any current movie star, who would it be?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I'd give Virginia Madsen unlimited access to my beautiful, uncircumcised cock any day.

10. How much can you bench press (in pounds, not that gaylord kilos shit or whatever you Europeans use)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

About three sets of ten repetitions with 130 pounds, depending on how pissed off I am at something or someone.

9. What new music are you listening to?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

A lot of self-appointed 'hip' people would take this as an opportunity to show off how 'open-minded' they are by giving you a long list of trendy bands, only to abandon them when the next flavor of the month comes along. I'm always seeking out new music and I like a plethora of genres but there's not that much stuff out there that truly touches me. When it does, I'm loyal to it and one can listen to it again and again and gain a new insight each time. I'm allergic to pretentious musical elitism whether it's attached to the underground or the mainstream; there's music I love in both, and whether it's good is subjective anyway. At this very moment I'm listening to the song 'aTONn' by a band called AmniOn, which I think is an extraordinary piece of music but that doesn't mean you should like it.

8. When are you going to get your filthy, diseased pecker circumcised, like the rest of Western civilization?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Why change perfection?

7. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I'd be blue because I've got the blues.

6. What's your fave number?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I like certain numbers more than others because of how they sound or look aesthetically, I like the number seven, for instance. But I'm allergic to favoring numbers on a numerological basis, superstitious bullshit like that doesn't interest me.

5. If you could be another rock star for a day, who would you be (and if you say Bowie, I'm going to kick you in your Dutch balls)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

There is no one I'd rather be than Raymond Stolp. I wouldn't mind being Scott Weiland for a day though, have you seen his wife?

4. If you HAD to kiss another man on the mouth, who would it be (and if you say Rourke, I'm going to kick you in your Dutch ass)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Are you coming on to me?

3. What one thing would you change about yourself physically and personality-wise (one answer for each)?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

I like myself just the way I am, there isn't anything I'd like to change about myself physically or personality-wise. However, I've grown significantly both physically and personally over the last year. I work out at the gym regularly these days, so I've become more muscular. And I've become more aware of when I'm being too kind to people who take advantage of that by walking all over you.

2. Do you like video games and what, if any, home systems do you currently own?

Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

My house was burglarized a couple of years ago, and one of the things they took was my PlayStation. This is a good example of how positive things come out of bad experiences. I never got a replacement, and felt all the better for it, because it was too addictive for me and ate up too much of my time. Having said that, one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of my life is where level seven is at on the Nintendo game The Legend Of Zelda.

1. Why are the Dutch people dumb as a box of rocks, yet, still so likable?
Thwipp, Planet Lovetron, United States

Because they understand irony, don't take themselves too seriously and - as a consequence - enjoy a remark like that. By the way, how come American people are so smart, yet, still so unlikable?