Portsmouth local Robert Cooper, who works under the pseudonym Robert Bang, says he sees Portsmouth as an area that is really transforming in a way that is supportive of individuality and creativity. Bang says he encourages people to live their dreams and celebrate who that are, even if who they are is a look-a-like.
Bang is commonly recognized as the guy around town who looks like Marilyn Manson; however, that is not his only facade.
“I’ve always worn make-up,” Bang began.
However, for Bang, it was not to look feminine. He wore make-up to mimic his idols – superstars from the bands his parents listened to like Alice Cooper, David Bowie and KISS.
“It wasn’t like a rebellious stage either,” Bang stated. “It was just something I was always infatuated with.”
He remembers looking at album covers and becoming more and more curious about the stylings of the artists.
As he got older, Bang explained that people really started to notice that he looked like Marilyn Manson
“At the time, I was living in Wayne Hills, and I was the only person who stood out as far as because of aesthetic appeal,” Bang commented. “Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it was bad. Friends of mine would call me Manson. They would not even call me by my real name. After a while, it was kind of a compliment.”
Bang explained that he had been a fan of Marilyn Manson since he was only 12. When he realized that he could look so much like one of his idols, he figured he should see where it would take him. Bang added that there are KISS fans that try to look like members of KISS, so he seen this as another form of fandom.
Bang clarified that he is a look-a-like, not an impersonator. He does not try to copy Marilyn Manson’s behaviors. And, he also adds his own flair to the image. In fact, he said that he really only copied Marilyn Mansons’s makeup.
With the David Bowie mimicking, Bang says he has copied the signature lightening bolt makeup. He has also copied the star design of Paul Stanley from KISS and has cosplayed as Edgar Allen Poe and the Penguin from the Gotham Series.
As Bang became an adult, he found that more and more people were offended by how he looked. He started to feel like an outcast and became very depressed.
“I decided this town was not really the right place for me to be,” he stated.
Bang had friends in Texas who explained that there was a scene for people that he could relate to and a huge goth club where he may feel like he can fit in.
“I got on a Greyhound back when you could go to the Dairy Queen and wait for the bus,” Bang commented.
He left town on June 3, 2006 headed for Dallas, arriving three days later due to layovers. However, for Bang, it was worth the journey.
“Once I got to Dallas, I could already feel a weight lifted,” he remembered.
In Dallas, no one bothered Bang for his appearance unless it was to celebrate him and ask for a picture. He spent a decade in Texas following the club and convention circuit. He met famous people and lived his dream.
Bang was modeling, dabbling in journalism, doing club promotions and doing some look-a-like work. In the clubs, Bang says he had VIP status, meeting the stars and bands that came through. Among the hit-makers to rub elbows with Bang are Robert Englund, who plays Freddie Kruger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films, Michael Graves from the band the Misfits, Elvira and many others.
“I’ve always loved to be around people and music,” Bang said.
Though life was great in Dallas, Bang says he came home to Portsmouth for family.
“My mom has been begging me to come back for years,” he explained.
Bang had a niece that was turning nine-years-old who did not know her uncle, but idolized Bang in photos the way he idolized the awe striking, makeup faced that stared back at him from album covers during his childhood.
“To her, I’m a superstar,” the artist commented.
Now, living in Portsmouth, Bang is exploring new passions. He is modeling less and shooting more photography.
Now at home, he is finding that he feels more comfortable and excited. Bang says that Portsmouth seems to have changed since he left. He sees more people that are exploring his individuality, something he promotes in others.
“I try to encourage people to be themselves, even if it is a copy of someone else. If that’s what makes you happy, do that. Be you,” he stressed. “If you want to do something bigger and greater, than go for it.”
Bang even says if you have to travel across the country to find yourself, do that. That is what it took for him. So, who is this person who so often looks like someone else?
“I’m kind of a chameleon on the outside, but me just Robert or just Rob as my friends call me, I’m just a big kid,” Bang said. “I like to eat cereal and watch cartoons.”
He added that he may also be a little weird and a little quirky.
More information about Robert Bang and his many projects can be found on his Facebook at Facebook.com/RobertBangPhoto or on Instagram @Robert.Bang. Fans can also check out his website at http://robertbang.com/.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.