"Crush With Eyeliner"

Spin, Dec'98

Playing dress-up may not be the transgressive move it was back in the 70's but Placebo singer Brian Molko says people can still get upset over wham-bam-era-glam. "I'm contiually surprised by the amount of people I wind up," says Molko, an out bisexual who has a penchant for thrift-store frocks and Hard Candy lipsick. "For many guys, I'm the faggot their girlfriend fancies."

While Molko's image is all about 70's style gender-baiting, sonically, Placebo are more fashion-forward. The trio - Molko, guitarist Stefan Oldsdal, and drummer Steve Hewitt - shoot caustic guitars, punk barrages, and deep grooves through a shiny hoop of delirious pop. "There's nothing more perfect than Abba's 'Dancing Queen' or Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass,'" says Molko. He also cops to a disco jones. "On tour on the bus, we get drunk and freak out to Amii Stewart."

Placebo's gushy exuberance has proved irresistible in their native UK, where 1996's self-titled debut went gold, thanks mainly to the buoyant bitch-slap anthem, "Nancy Boy," In the album's wake, Placebo has gotten shout-outs from David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, and Michael Stipe, who helped land the group a gig as - what else?- a glam-rock outfit in the Todd Haynes flick Velvet Goldmine. Perhaps sensing that singing about fame is the only honest response to our celebrity-driven age, Placebo's new album Without You I'm Nothing, revels in hotel-thrasher ennui. Shades of glam decadance? Maybe. As Molko, who was described in one UK report as having "left a trail of spunk and blood" on Placebo's last tour, puts it "We live in a strange bubble."