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Identity Crisis 

by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he band really wants to stay incognito, but it's proving difficult. The dresses, for one, are confusing. "Can you tie me in back?" asks the drummer from behind a fake handlebar mustache, after slipping into a slim black halter dress. Then he pauses. The thing is bunching in weird places. It might also be on backward.





"You need to take your pants off, bro," advises the lead singer and guitarist, wearing a jaw-length brown wig that matches his bushy logger beard. "And spin it around."





If all had gone to plan, the band wouldn't be wearing women's clothes at all. Pretty Faces wasn't supposed to be anything that went anywhere. In the off hours of their more serious endeavors, the plan went, the three friends would sit around the green room at the Blvd, hang out, and think up ridiculous things to say about alcohol and women. Then they'd set the lyrics to blistering, straight-forward party-rock tracks. They'd play the occasional show, but people would hate the music because it wasn't meant to be taken seriously.





Pretty Faces was supposed to be a dumb little side project, a romp through drunkenness and sport sex. A way for three, Bill, Mikey and Saber (not his real name), to reconnect with music and the fun that often eludes them in their pursuit of professional careers. It was something they wanted to do for themselves.





Then, though, they passed their recordings to a few friends. They'd written some funny songs about getting wasted, about cock-blocking frat kids, about "High-Cut Skirts and Low-Cut Shirts," and people started to notice. Mikey says he envisioned Pretty Faces as sounding like the irreverent goth rock of Murder City Devils. The five songs they've written sound more like the hair rock of Poison.





It resonated with listeners. By the time I saw their first show at Blvd in late March, people had turned out in force, as much to see the spectacle as hear the rock.





The band had dragged onstage a tub full of ice, Pabst and Miller High Life. When Bill made the call to toast to cheap beer and easy women -- three or so times that night -- and members of the audience were found to be drinkless, the tub became a horn of plenty. They sang their songs and chanted down frat guys. "We went to a party the other night and there were all these Chads doing keg stands," Bill said, "and when they weren't looking we totally snagged their women." The crowd of mostly non-frat guys exploded with applause as band broke into the song "Cock Block." It was a hell of a night.





"There are so many people trying so hard to be this huge pop star," says Mikey, who plays bass. "People are really into how fun this is."





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hich brings us back to the cross-dressing. When public interest outlasted the (savage, trust me) hangovers that followed the band's show, other venues came calling. (A show among the polite air and august reds of Caterina Winery is one of the band's more absurd possibilities.) Which made the friends think the band that wasn't supposed to be anything might become something.





That created problems.





"I don't really want my grammy to see this article," says Bill, from behind the jaw-length wig. She's a follower of her beloved grandson's career, and the topics on discussion in the band's music wouldn't agree with her delicate sensibilities. The more popular the band gets, the more its members cling to the fleeting specter of anonymity. But Mikey and Bill keep calling Saber by his real name -- Drew -- for instance, so that particular mystery dies quick.





The secrecy seems as much about guilt as about not revealing their identities to starchy relatives. You get the sense that these long-toiling musicians are still coming to terms with success that's been so effortless. Getting big wasn't supposed to be this fun.





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he fame hasn't been the only unexpected outcome. By the end of our photo shoot, the band members seem to have gained a little insight into the women they only half-jokingly objectify. "God," Bill remarks without irony, looking at his profile in a cloudy mirror, "I need a corset. I'm showing a little belly."





"This one hides belly," says Renee Reuter, head of Avant Management and, for today, the band's stylist. She flashes a pleated, shimmery little trapeze dress Bill promptly switches into.





Mikey shakes his head. "No wonder women are so insecure," he says, tugging uneasily at the hem of his skirt.





Pretty Faces with Locke, Monuments and Geoff Johnson at the Blvd on Friday, June 6 at 9pm. Free. 21 plus. Call 455-7826
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