I Ate Tacos and Talked About S&M with Fat Mike of NOFX
Despite his notorious “live fast, die young” lifestyle, Fat Mike still knows how to stop to take a moment and appreciate the joys of good food.
"I review restaurants by taking notes in the restroom and seeing if there are any surfaces to do drugs on and what you could get tied up to, since my dominatrix wife has tied me up before a meal quite a few times."
I'm sitting outside a Tacos Mexico stand in downtown Los Angeles, stuffing my face with spicy carne asada, lengua, and al pastor tacos alongside my dinner companions, Mike "Fat Mike" Burkett of the seminal punk rock band NOFX, and fellow MUNCHIES contributor Nick Woods of Direct Hit! They are on tour for the band's new book, NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories. I pinch myself to make sure that that I am indeed having tacos with the iconic punk rock figure and that this is not some dream of mine.
Being a smartass with almost everything I bring up, Burkett confirms, that this is absolutely happening in real life.
In between the bites of seared meat and griddled corn tortillas—and the subsequent huge gulps of water and agua fresca that Burkett drinks to extinguish the spiciness of the stand's semi-spicy red salsa—he tells me about a new restaurant review project that he is working on, titled S&M Food Reviews. "I've done about 15 restaurant reviews so far. Another time, I was going down on my wife at a Thai restaurant. There were six other people sitting with us in the table, too. She doesn't get embarrassed much."
Fat Mike's plate of tacos
Burkett proudly calls himself a "foodie." He currently owns a restaurant in Park Slope called Thistle Hill Tavern, and the man has some serious reservations against saying that Los Angeles has better Mexican food than San Francisco. "It's no competition. San Francisco is so much better. I'll tell you why: Everyone lives in the Mission District, so the long lines means that the food is always fresh. Even San Diego has better Mexican food than LA."
He tells me about another time when he ate wasabi-mashed potatoes off his wife's genitals, and another time when he was tied up in full BDSM garb and his wife fed him food.
Walking down Broadway in downtown, Burkett is holding an open container of beer as patrolling policemen stop a homeless man from urinating on the street. They cops don't care that we are drinking in public, so we continue the five-minute jaunt from the The Belasco Theater to Tacos Mexico for dinner. It becomes immediately noticeable that this is not the man's first time ordering tacos. He speaks broken Spanish and opts out on the onions and cilantro in lieu of just red salsa. "You got any cerveza?" Burkett says to the cashier. (They didn't.)
"Oh, whoa, this is hot. These tacos are way too spicy," Burkett shouts out after taking his first big bite of the saucy tacos. "If I was stuck on a Mexican island, I'd only eat Mexican food. It is good for you when you only have a corn tortilla and lean, grilled meat. These, however, are mediocre."
It's good to know that even punk rock icons with the most notoriously 'live fast, die young' lifestyles still know how to stop to take a moment and appreciate the joys of good food.
When asked where tacos stack up in his favorite food spectrum along with pizza and burgers, Burkett responds very matter-of-factly: "Definitely tacos, when compared to the rest of that junk." Burkett tells me that he was a vegetarian for 12 years for moral reasons but that he started eating meat again because his doctor told him that he needed to—again, for health reasons.
Fat Mike ordering tacos
Because of those same reasons, he says that he always chooses tacos over burritos. That isn't to say that he didn't enjoy his fair share of world-famous Oki Dogs: a hot dog, pastrami, cabbage, and chili cheese burrito that served as the official post-show dish for many punk rock icons during Hollywood's early punk scene. Although, he now prefers the burritos from La Corneta Taqueria in the Mission District.
As the evening slowly progresses, Burkett starts to recount what I imagine to be just a taste of how food has become an important aspect of his daily life. He recounts a time when he took his wife and their sex slave out to dinner at the French Laundry but had to leave in the middle of it and take the rest of the dinner to go—all because he wanted to go home and have sex with both of them as soon as possible. He tells me about another time when he ate wasabi-mashed potatoes off his wife's genitals, and another time when he was tied up in full BDSM garb and his wife fed him food.
However, our conversation isn't all sex, drugs, and smart-ass jokes. At the end of the meal, Burkett opens up about how having a nice dinner before a show has helped him temper his alcohol and drug consumption. "I usually spend around $300 to $400 a night to go to a nice restaurant before a show, since it is a nice way to relax and unwind." The tradition of pregaming with fine dining instead of hard drugs started after an intervention that Brian Baker (of Minor Threat and Bad Religion) staged, along with the rest of NOFX.
Fat Mike with Nick Woods in an alley in downtown
"There were a couple of years [when] I would skip dinner and just drink martinis and take Valium instead. Yup, I fell off the stage a couple of times." Burkett takes a quick pause to briefly contemplate things. "Baker and the rest of the band told me to slow down a bit. They told me, We don't want you to stop doing drugs or drinking, but can you eat dinner?'" After that incident, Burkett admits that he started to eat before shows, drink vodka with soda instead of martinis, and now only takes half a Valium instead of a full one. In LA, he loves to splurge on oysters, crab legs, and ribeyes at Water Grill. He also had his first date with his wife at the recently closed Pete's Cafe, just up the street.
The night concludes with Burkett showing me some of his personal photos of his biggest boogers that he has ever picked out of his nose on his phone. (Some were placed next to a quarter for scale.) He then shows me another private batch of photos of him dressed in full bondage with his wife.
Nonetheless, it's good to know that even punk rock icons with the most notoriously"live fast, die young" lifestyles still know how to stop to take a moment and appreciate the joys of good food.