Alice Cooper performs a song in a straight jacket at the 2009 York Fair.
Alice Cooper performs a song in a straight jacket at the 2009 York Fair. (FLIPSIDE - File)
Alice Cooper doesn't sign autographs, say "thank you" to fans or do interviews.

Everyone -- even his band -- knows not to get within 10 feet of him during a show. There would be blood.

Thankfully, Cooper is just the stage persona of a much more personable musician named Vincent Furnier. (He still goes by Alice, even when he isn't wielding an ax.)

Alice seemed more like a morning person than a creature of the night during a recent 8 a.m. (Australia time) phone conversation.

Some might be confused by his split personality, but Alice said he thinks most fans "are in on the joke."

"(Cooper) is an arrogant bastard," Alice said. "He's a phantom (who) is not really there. There's me, and then there's the character."

After shows, he switches out of murderer mode to greet audience members and pose for pictures. But when he walks into the spotlight, his one goal is to thrill fans.

When he gets time to see other acts perform, which he said he does fairly often, he's usually disappointed.

"I'm 61 and my show can blow (their) show away," he said.

He said he wishes more bands focused on stage production. He dug the giant clock U2 used during a recent tour.

The way he sees it, if an artist is charging top dollar for stadium seats, they should put on a show.

"Otherwise, you're undercutting the audience," he said.

The challenge is to put on a different show 100 times.

"You have to find a way do these songs differently every time so nobody gets bored," Alice said.

He usually re-interprets lyrics and draws inspiration from classic horror films to musicals. For the "The Theatre of Death Tour," which hit the York Fair Grandstand Thursday night, Alice brought along huge props and performed four gory death scenes.

But in real life, he's a survivor.

He grew up in Detroit during the height of Motown. As a teen, he liked The Yardbirds and The Beatles.

But when he got a little older, he started to like edgier music by bands including Aerosmith. He wasn't afraid to push the envelope further and created an evil character to play onstage. Back then, people weren't in on the joke, he said.

"I was terrifying everyone -- even the hippies," he said.

But eventually, people caught on and wanted to be shocked and rocked at the same time. As his fame grew, Alice, like musical peers Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, dabbled in drugs.

Being offstage became just as deadly as being onstage.

"You had to decide to live or die," he said.

He said he's glad he got sober, if only to be able to hear all the new music being produced.

He admires other renaissance men like Jack White and Rob Zombie.

"Just remember: I'm the original vampire," he said.

With the barrage of bad horror flicks out there these days, it might be harder to shock audiences. But Alice isn't worried.

He continues to strap on his gear, slather on his makeup and change his voice and posture to creep fans out as Cooper.

"What would all those heroes out there be without a villain?" he said.