Henry Lattimore Lavalier—a.k.a. Dr. Lava—enters the room in the standard-issue orange jumpsuit worn by all inmates at Glades Correctional Facility. Escorting him is a two-man honor guard wearing expressions that seem to say “I’d better be getting overtime for this.”
Strip away his red lab coat and goggles—and the maniacally cackling mien we’ve all become accustomed to watching on CNN, screaming ultimatums—and you don’t think: Here stands a SUPERVILLAIN. Or even a mad scientist, as it happens. With his peach-fuzz stubbled scalp and wire-framed glasses, and an expression that could best be described as a combination of a world-weary smirk and a pout, Lavalier looks like a none-too-successful accountant. [Later he will object to this description: “You journalists describe everyone as looking like an accountant if they don’t look like anything else. It’s such a cliché.”] Despite the No Smoking sign clearly posted by the door, his guards allow Lavalier a cigarrette; his court-appointed psychologist views this as a harmless and gentle balm on Lavalier’s obsession with all things smoldering.
The question for this interviewer is: Where do you start? “How about from the beginning?” Lavalier suggests caustically.
DR. LAVA: No one is born wanting to destroy the world. First of all, you’d need a satellite- or moonbase to do it from. And those aren’t exactly easy to come by. Unless by “destroy the world” you actually mean something more prosaic, like wiping out “life as we know it” or “humanity” or something really pathetic like “civilization.” Then I suppose you’d only need maybe an underground base, or something on an island . . . but the point is, you don’t pop out of the womb with thoughts of blowing it all up. That doesn’t happen until . . . maybe two, three?
ROLLING STONE: That early?
DL: The world was a horribly unjust place long before we were born, you know . . . it’s just, when do you become conscious of it?
RS: And you did? At two, three? You remember the exact moment when it happened?
DL: Oh yes—I was playing in the back yard when my older brother climbed over the fence with a stray cat. He’d been shooting off roman candles, and he took one and shoved it up the cat’s ass, lit it . . . [shuddering] . . . it was then that I knew there was no law, no justice, in the world. And that the only way to fix anything was to start by burning it all down.
RS: Odd that that would scar you. It seems so in keeping with your love of fire . . . and blowing things up . . .
DL: I have never approved the wanton torture or killing of animals. Never. Didn’t I give the residents of Tacoma one hour to release their pets?
RS: True . . . though you did send wave after wave of flamethrower-wielding chimps into the Pentagon.
DL: Chimps? Chimps might as well be human. They’re as culpable as the rest of us. Trust me—you don’t spend months brainwashing an army of chimpanzees without delving deep into their twisted psyches. If anyone or -thing can be said to “have it coming,” it’s chimps.
RS: And the Pentagon brass?
DL: And the Pentagon brass. Chimps in starched uniforms, that’s all they are.
RS: You’ve steadfastly denied all interview requests before this one. Why choose Rolling Stone?
DL: I think because all of us—supervillains—really see ourselves as rock stars. Not any of this putrescent current crew . . . but Bowies, Johnny Rottens, David Byrnes . . . mostly Bowies, really. You’ll get a few Ozzies and Alice Coopers. And then there’s Bono, of course.
RS: I can’t think of any supervillains who model themselves on Bono—
DL: No, not idiots who model themselves after him. Bono himself. The height of his genius is matched only by the depths of his madness.
RS: But Bono fights for human rights . . . against world hunger . . . poverty . . . AIDS . . .
DL: Oh, so he’s got you believing that, too? I thought the music press was hip to his true, nefarious intentions.
RS: Which are?
DL: Election as the first rock-star-pope.
(Continued on page 67)