“That’s right, The Mascara Snake!”

The Radar Station was saddened to hear that Victor Hayden (aka The Mascara Snake) had died on 7th December 2018.

His death was announced by Pamela Des Barres on her Facebook page. She had known Victor since high school and called him her ‘soulmate’. In recent years she had acted as agent for his artwork. However, she gave no details about the cause of his death but Steve Brewster contacted us to tell us the tragic news that Victor had been hit by a van ten days ago and never recovered.

Victor was Don Van Vliet’s cousin. During the late 1960s he was a regular visitor to Don’s house on Carolside and would turn up at Magic Band rehearsals usually with a enough pot in a pipe to get everyone high. At that time he seems to have had a passion for cars similar to Don and would customize them in an eccentric way. John French wrote this recollection on the Drumbo Club Facebook page:

He had a white 1960s era Volvo with the curved back. This one definitely stood out, because Victor had taken a Sharpy ( felt pen) and drawn old-style rivets over the entire vehicle. Don guided me over to the back window. “Look at THAT!” he said. Inside the back space between the seat and the window, Victor had placed a piece of blue velvet to cover the entire space, and in the middle, he had placed a small white doily. On the doily was a doll and some other knick knack – perhaps a ceramic figurine and a dried flower. “Can you imagine what goes through people’s minds when they see this?” Don asked, excitedly.

Don eventually co-opted Victor into the band for Trout Mask Replica and he was given the name The Mascara Snake. Although he wasn’t a musician he played bass clarinet on the album, he and Don skronking and wailing away together. He, also, of course, took part in the legendary ‘Fast ‘n Bulbous’ sequence on the album. He did perform with the band and he can be seen, complete with shower cap on his head and fingernails painted black on the footage from the 1969 Amougies Festival.

Jeff Cotton, Victor Hayden and Don Van Vliet. 1969. Photo by Cal Schenkel

He actually created the original cover art for Trout Mask which at that time was to have been called Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish. The album title was changed and the painting seems to have disappeared. He did however produce the cover art for the later Bluejeans and Moonbeams album which prompted Don to say that the only good thing about that album was Victor’s painting on the cover.

Victor didn’t develop his musical career although for a time he was a partner in Alchemy Records and designed a cover for a Melvin’s release.

Instead he devoted his time to creating his art which he was passionate about. He had great respect for his cousin but was unwilling to talk about his time with Don as he had “no words to express it”.

He was 70 years old and had been living in the Seattle area for a number of years.

More about Victor and his art

Interview by Kevin Delaney from 2000

Victor with the original painting for the Bluejeans and Moonbeams album cover

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