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Donald Cumming of The Virgins

Naughty by Nature

A virtuous name, placement on the soundtrack for teenage TV drama “Gossip Girl” and publicity photos that make the band look fresh out of algebra class help soften the band’s image, but there is no hiding the sexed-up New York swagger that lies at the core of The Virgins. You can hear it in the bass on “Rich Girls", a standout from the band’s self-titled debut (think the Stones circa 1978's “Miss You”), and singer Donald Cumming's blatant innuendo. The Virgins return to San Francisco on July 28th for a show at Café du Nord. Cumming spoke with SF Station on his way home from buying razors and Cherry Coke in New York.

SF Station (SFS): It sounds like you have a lot of fun on the road…

Donald Cumming (DC): We definitely have fun on the road. The last couple of days, I’ve been trying to adjust to not having so much fun. Not that I’m not having fun now; it’s just a different kind of fun.

SFS: You having a little bit of tour detox?

DC: Yeah, exactly. I’m kind of ready to chill out. We’ve been touring for two and a half months and it would be good to take a break for a minute. Playing shows and touring is so much fun, but it just wipes you out. You don’t realize it because you’re having such a good time, but once in awhile you wake up feeling a little stiff.

SFS: The “Private Affair” video looked like a good time, too. Did you learn any tricks from the dancers?

DC: I wish I did. I don’t know what I was doing, but for whatever reason, I didn’t get there until after the strippers were done filming. I didn’t get to see any of their moves, and if I had, I probably would have done a better job because I had never stripped before. If I would have gotten there earlier I could have learned some moves from that dude [in the video], Alexander the Great.

SFS: It still turned out okay…

DC: Yeah, I was really happy with it. Alexander was an interesting guy. He wouldn’t show his dick for some reason. I think he had it in a sling or a dick holder.

SFS: Were the ladies a little more willing?

DC: Yeah, the ladies were a little more loose. I saw the X-rated version on the rough cuts. The video is based on a New York public access show from the late 80s and early 90s that we all grew up watching. It had strippers that would go on the show for extra exposure after they were done working at strip clubs and it had commercials for different escorts.

Our video was always intended to be like an X-rated video. That’s why it kind of bummed me out when Alexander wouldn’t show his dick. It kind of limited what we could do with the X-rated footage. The girls got totally naked and we have explicit takes, but it doesn’t make sense to have that without Alexander also having his explicit performance. I just wish I arrived earlier to pick up some dance moves and convince him to pull his dick out. It kind of fucked up the whole concept.

SFS: It could have made for an interesting DVD.

DC: Yeah, next time we’ll be sure to get the dick shot, and then we’ll be in business.

SFS: The idea for the band first started when you met Wade down in Mexico on a photo shoot. What were you doing down there?

DC: My friend [photographer] Ryan McGinley invited me on a trip he was taking to Mexico. It was about 10 days of basically being naked on the beach and in tropical settings. We took little boats through the swamps and went to little islands. We did all sorts of fun stuff and Wade was another guy out there on the trip. We became friends and I was writing songs. When we got back to New York we start working together.

SFS: Does it feel like the band took off fast?

DC: No, I’ve been making art and writing and playing music basically for my whole life. This band and the experiences that we have had are just a logical extension of that. We have had a lot of opportunity pretty quick.

Wanting to rise to the occasion of the different things that we get to do and the opportunities we have been offered has made us closer. We’ve been through a lot of shit together and it has made our focus more intense because we have had so much ground to cover in such a short period of time. The music that we make is something that has been evolving for awhile, but doing phone interviews and shit like that is something that is totally new.

The Virgins perform at Café du Nord on July 28th. Tickets are $12. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 7:30pm.