Mark Sexx: A Liberated Male He's Not

Patrick Goldstein writes about pop music and film regularly for The Times.

Mark Sexx isn't afraid of anti-rap crusader Jack Thompson.

The outspoken rap hotshot, who runs No Face Records, knows he could be the next target for Thompson, who single-handedly initiated a series of obscenity trials involving 2 Live Crew.

It's easy to see why. Sexx's X-rated acts include his own group, No Face, whose new album offers such raunchy songs as "We Wants to (Expletive), Wake Your Daughter Up" and "Fake Hair Wearin' Bitch," which teams No Face with 2 Live Crew (the two groups are shooting a video together this week). Sexx also produces Bitches With Problems, whose new single is the equally foul-mouthed "Two Minute Brother."

"Jack Thompson is always sending out faxes to prosecutors trying to get them to go after more rappers," says Sexx, a 27-year-old rapper who grew up in the same Hollis, Queens neighborhood as Run-DMC. "But if he really cares about saving our society, why isn't he sending out faxes about the homeless and drug problems?

"I'm not scared. He got (2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell) because he was an independent black entrepreneur without a major record company behind him. That won't happen to us."

Sexx has reason to be cocky. Unlike 2 Live Crew, who were distributed independently until Atlantic Records signed them this summer, Sexx has the biggest conglomerate of all behind him--Sony Records, whose Columbia label distributes No Face Records, thanks to a label deal Columbia has with rap kingpin Russell Simmons.

"If anything happens to us, you can bet (Sony) won't take it lying down," Sexx says.

Thompson isn't impressed by such bravado. "The fact that a major label distributes them makes it easier to go after these guys because you take away the bogus argument that people like Luther were prosecuted because he was a small black entrepreneur," says Thompson. "Based on the lyrics I've read, No Face is down in the sewer with Luther. People aren't going to put up with them, whether the moral midgets at Columbia are involved or not."

But what makes No Face especially controversial is that the group's critics aren't limited to white conservatives like Thompson (who even opposes record labeling).

Even when presented with clean versions of recent No Face singles, most black-radio programmers have refused to play the records. Many black-music execs and performers, most notably Guy's Teddy Riley, have bluntly criticized No Face's lewd party-rap tunes, which portray women as money-hungry, foul-mouthed sex objects.

Specifically citing No Face and Bitches With Problems as groups which "maliciously exploit children and degrade women," Wynton Marsalis' manager Edward C. Arrendell II, who is black, recently blasted black execs who will sign any group "whose music contributes to popularizing ignorant, dysfunctional behavior whenever the possibility of a bonus looms. These individuals' actions have a strong kinship with the African tribes that sold African people into slavery."

Call Sexx unrepentant. "If you think this (stuff) is bad, wait till you hear what we could do next," he says.

But isn't No Face presenting the worst sort of negative role model for impressionable young fans? "That's unfair," Sexx says. "People are always demanding that rap artists--or sports stars--serve as role models for kids. But I say your only role models should be your parents. It's not my fault if they haven't raised their kids right.

"When my sisters go home to my mother, they don't talk to her the way our girls talk on Bitches With Problems. They know rap is entertainment. If I played a pimp in a movie, no one gets confused--they know I'm playing a role. But when you're a rapper playing a part, suddenly you get blamed for everything you say. My job is to make records that make people laugh, not be their father figure!"

Don't think that means Sexx actually has an enlightened view of women. Asked why so many No Face songs portray women as gold-diggers, he retorts: "Every woman wants money--there's a bitch like that in every neighborhood. From the time we first go to school, everybody is taught to go after the almighty dollar. Look at Ivana Trump. When she was getting divorced, Donald offered her $25 million. And what'd she say? 'I want $100 million!' "

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