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Alice Cooper To Open Christian Youth Center

By Newsferatu, Writer
Tuesday, August 1, 2006 @ 9:32 AM


"Trust me..."

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Excerpts from USA Today:

Alice Cooper is opening a center where kids can learn to play guitar, shoot hoops and find Jesus? Apparently so.

The 58-year-old father of shock-rock is teaming up with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to establish a $3 million youth haven featuring a "school of rock," a concert hall and sporting attractions.

"It's a sanctuary where they don't get shot, they don't get stabbed, they don't have to worry about somebody trying to sell them drugs," says Cooper, who plans to announce the project today (Tuesday).

He concedes that some parents might view him as unlikely, if not objectionable, in the role of a philanthropist bringing morality and religion to America's young people.

"It's a great juxtaposition," he says. "Trust me, I walk that tightrope every day. Part of the fun is the edge of it."

Cooper says those who understand his shtick recognize that the show has always been a blend of farce and satire. They also know that he became a born-again Christian 16 years ago when he quit drinking.

Since 1995, Cooper has operated the Solid Rock Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides money to children's causes and college scholarships to Christian students.

Cooper insists that his stage persona is a polar opposite to his personal life: He has been married 30 years "without cheating" on his wife, and they have raised three children.

The son of a minister and grandson of an evangelist, Cooper says America "needs a good hypodermic needle shot of morality."

That will be one goal for his 20,000-square-foot recreational hall, to be known as The Rock, on the urban campus of Grand Canyon University. It will be open to children 12 to 18 at no charge; the prime target is at-risk teens, whose parents may be in jail or on drugs, and whose brothers are thugs.

"Even kids who grow up in gangs have a creative place in their body," Cooper says. "They have a choice between a 9mm and a nine-iron."

Cooper, who still tours with his band five months each year, says alcohol and tobacco will be banned at The Rock. There won't be a chapel, but counselors will proselytize by example and offer religious guidance to kids who want to learn about the faith.

"We are overtly Christian," he says, "but we're not going to beat you over the head with a Bible."

The project, still in design stages and not fully financed, is scheduled to break ground next year. An artist's rendering shows a concert hall, recording studios, game rooms, a basketball court and a rock-climbing wall.

Cooper says he's seeking corporate sponsors to provide everything from guitars to construction materials. In the meantime, his foundation will raise money with an annual golf tournament and a Christmas music show.

Grand Canyon University will provide the land, security and some of the financing, says Brent Richardson, CEO of the non-denominational Christian school. Richardson concedes that some of the university's patrons and its 10,000 students may be leery of the shock-rock image.

But he says Cooper has an honorary degree from the university and has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships through his Solid Rock Foundation.

"Look at his actions," Richardson says. "I think it's a great thing, and I don't worry about it at all."

Even in the early years, Cooper says, his shows featured no foul language, nudity or satanic glorification. In fact, he says, more than 30 of his songs assail devil worship.

On the other hand, there were songs about necrophilia, sadomasochism and hedonism; his theme was "Nothing in moderation."

Cooper says he and his family will be regulars at The Rock, working with children and helping to produce shows. He says no decision has been made on an emblem for the school, but he would prefer that it not have anything to do with Alice Cooper. Then, with a mischievous grin, he suggests, "How about a cross through my heart?"


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