A pasty-white dot set against a towering black backdrop, Har Mar Superstar -- Minnesota's other short sultan of sultry sex jams -- is making HiFi Buys Amphitheatre tremble. It's Oct. 18, the first date of two-week string of opening spots for Incubus, and the crowd doesn't know what to make of the man often described as the Ron Jeremy of indie rock.
Women cheer and guys jeer, not knowing how to react to the portly, balding balladeer crooning like Stevie Wonder over a Timbaland beat. From 30 rows back, two teenage girls display a mix of amazement and admiration. "That was the most pathetic fucking awesome thing," one says. "For a guy like him to go and do something like that, he's really got balls. I think I even saw them!"
Having stripped from a red choir robe and white suit to faded, sweat-stained bikini briefs, Har Mar -- the tuft of hair at his spine's base shimmering in the light of a psychedelic oil wheel -- is all headstands and grandstands. Accompanied by only a mic and Minidisc, fist pumping, hips humping, Har Mar makes 10,000 Incubus fans scream as he performs songs from his self-titled debut and latest, You Can Feel Me.
Of course, of those 10,000 screams, two-thirds are in disbelief and one-third in outrage.
"Buy my fucking record. I rule," Har Mar yells as he collects his belongings and bolts. On later tour dates, Har Mar will come up against incensed officials, who will force him to pay indecency fines and threaten him with jail time for his R. Kelly-meets-Sly Stone antics. But tonight, Har Mar -- who usually headlines venues the size of The Earl and MJQ -- soaks it all up in his dressing room, joint and scotch in hand.
"All club shows I did before, I was always pretending I was in front of 10,000 people," admits Har Mar -- aka Harold Martin Tillmann -- with a nervous laugh, smiling beneath a sparse, somewhat sleazy mustache. "So now I've done it, but nothing's changing. I'll go and entertain, but there will always be meatheads yelling. Once you shut them down, though, everybody claps for you -- not them. The meatheads are just pissed and confused because they're getting hard watching me."
Whether anyone other than confused meatheads is getting hard over Tillmann is anyone's guess. But they're definitely watching his moves. Over the last year, he's been quite the socialite -- touring with the Strokes, meeting Renee Zellweger after a show in Toronto, being profiled in Spin and Rolling Stone, answering sex advice for Jane magazine, and flying to New York and L.A. for private functions, where he partied with starlets. It was at one of these Hollywood events that Tillmann met the guys who run Record Collection, a Warner Bros. subsidiary that subsequently picked up Tillmann from the Kill Rock Stars label, promising him the promotion muscle he felt he lacked.
On the music end, Tillmann has collaborated with everyone from Nathan Grumdahl (Selby Tigers) and Howard Hamilton (Busy Signals) to Joel Petersen (The Faint/Broken Spindles) and Eric Olsen. But it was his Record Collection connections that landed him the Incubus dates -- and on the "MTV Video Music Awards" red carpet with Kelly Osbourne, whose bedroom was the setting for some of his publicity shots. Soon enough, Tillmann was crafting beats for Osbourne. He even was asked to submit a beat on spec for Jennifer Lopez.
"Kelly's song is called 'Language Lessons,' and it's a lick-the-sweat-off-my-balls type song with the chorus in French," says Tillmann. "J.Lo's song is 'Candy Coated,' and it's a caramel-and-chocolate standard semi-veiled semi-racy pop song."
What would those Incubus fans who booed him think if they knew how close Tillmann was to their MTV idols? And what about the reaction of the indie kids for whom he usually performs?
"I don't care if somebody calls me a sellout," he says. "What I'm doing doesn't cater to MTV kids, indie kids. I don't care what jacket you throw at me. I just want people to have a good time."
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