365 Days of Mike Patton: “Sex (I’m A),” Lovage (2001)

Teaming up with producer Dan the Automator and singer Jennifer Charles, Mike Patton helped put together an album of faux (or maybe they were real) love songs that were sexy and breathless and kind of funny on a record called, appropriately enough, Songs To Make Love To Your Old Lady By.

“Sex (I’m A)” mostly features the vocal skills of Charles, probably best known as the singer of the “noir rock” band Elysian Fields. And this tune happens to be an erotic version of what had been an upbeat dance number that had been released nearly 20 years earlier.

“Sex (I’m A)” is sultry at its finest, especially when Charles and Patton duet the lines.

I’m a man
I’m a goddess
I’m a man
I’m a virgin
I’m a man
I’m a blue movie
I’m a man
I’m a bitch
I’m a man
I’m a geisha
I’m a man
I’m a little girl
I’m a man
And we’ll make love together

There’s plenty of heavy breathing and moaning on this song, and if a tune could sound almost exactly like sex and all the emotions that can go into it (desire, anger, sadness, etc.), this is a pretty good representation.

When the band performed it live, Patton played his part, as described in this Decibel magazine story, via Faith No More Followers.

Patton is onstage wearing a hairnet and a silk smoking jacket. He has a snifter of brandy and an electric toothbrush. The former Faith No More frontman is brushing audience members’ teeth, dipping the brush in the snifter to disinfect between mouths. A tall, handsome and hirsute future Decibel scribe is on the side of the stage taking photographs for a publication that shall remain nameless. Patton turns to him and says, “What about you, hippie?”

In the spirit of me learning something new every day for the 365 Days of Mike Patton, I never knew, even though I’ve heard this song maybe 50 times in my life, that this is a cover of a Berlin song from 1983. You might remember Berlin from the Top Gun soundtrack classic “Take My Breath Away” or my personal favorite, “The Metro.” Apparently, Berlin’s version was inspired by the 1977 Donna Summer No. 1 hit, “I Feel Love,” but Berlin’s lyrics were enough to get the band in trouble.

Particularly when singer Terri Nunn (and then Charles 18 years later) sang, “I’m a bi.”

“The entire song received such a strong reaction,” Nunn told Out Smart magazine in 2019. “We were banned in certain states. A couple of states in the South wouldn’t play the record or [allow] us to play live there. They thought it was awful and blasphemous, and we were the devil’s children. I actually heard that said. Now you look at that and it’s nothing … At the time, that had never been said in a song. I think people were up in arms because they’d never heard a woman talk that way, even though women talk that way to each other all the time—about our fantasies, about how we feel, about how guys are, and all that. But it had never been put to music.”

That legacy lives in on the Lovage cover, along with others who have also recreated the song.

“It’s just a script that different actors are taking on and interpreting. And I love that,” Nunn said in 2011, via Easy Reader News.

Here’s Berlin’s upbeat version. It doesn’t feel quite as naughty as Lovage’s cover (but boy does it feel 1980s-tastic).

Previously from Lovage:

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

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