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Zeus, for example, was a horndog. Like that time he came to Earth to seduce all those comely maidens while disguised as a white bull that smelled of flowers. It was really something. And that girl Io was such a fox - until Zeus turned her into a cow to thwart his suspicious wife, that is. That Zeus. What a prankster.

Then we have Hercules slaying the Lion of Nemea, the Hydra of Lerna and the rest of his 12 labours in the original ancient Iron Man competition. Still, I'd like to think that the Norse gods could take the Greek gods any day of the week. Thor could kick Hercules's ass. After all, Herc needed that magic ring - a piece of jewelry, for god's sake - and couldn't get along without that silly centaur he always hung around with. "Herc, Herc! Not with the ring, the RING!"

Mythology was common in heavy metal, the closest modern music has come since Wagner to the attitude of the old gods, the fun gods, the decadent gods who weren't afraid to go over the top to entertain the puny mortals.

Wielder of hammer, body-building champion, star of stage and screen, subject of his own comic book and practically a cartoon hero himself, Jon Thor knows exactly what he got into when he chose his name. "It's thunderous like the music is thunderous," he says.

Performing Halloween night at the New City Likwid Lounge, Thor is an old-school metalman, perhaps even the principal of the old school, master of the excessive and theatrical performance style that once dominated the metal scene, which has since become a little too grim for its own good.

The Rock Warrior's gig is all about fun.

Thor speaks via a very tiny lightning bolt over the phone from Vancouver. "I'm trying to portray positiveness. I'm not trying to be negative. There's other heavy metal bands that sing about derogatory things and that's not my thing.

"I believe big-time in the show aspect of concerts. I'm going to go all out with the show, as far as costuming and strength feats, like bending steel and blowing up hot water bottles and bending some mike stands. Then of course there's the music, too," he chuckles.

Ah, yes, the music. Electric guitars hewn from the mightiest of oaks, pumped through Valhalla's own stack-o-Marshalls, the throbbing beat of doom from the largest double kick drums Odin could imagine, the deepest bass tones reverberating from the bones of the Earth - this is all part of the power of the hammer that is the music of Thor.

The '90s were not a good time for the old metal gods, who were vanquished into self-parody and submission by the cynical sprites of "Generation X." The mighty Thor was not immune.

After starring in a succession of B-movies - you may remember him from such films as Zombie Nightmare (1986), starring Tia Carrera and Adam West - Thor went deep underground and has only recently enjoyed a comeback in the new millennium. His plans include movies, CDs, books and touring around the world to rock his fans a second time.

Thor was combining heavy metal music with a warrior persona long before the WWF ever clued into it. He says he's proving now that "people are into the concept - and young kids, too, who weren't even born when I started."

And where would a living Son of Odin be without his groupies, his "Valkyries"? A lonely Thor, that's what. Thor has performed with a variety of rock warrior women over the years, including one Cherry Bomb, also known as "Pantera," who was a centrefold model for the magazine Cheri. Legend has it she possesses "the biggest Bristols in all of rock 'n' roll," Thor says, and so does Kerrang! magazine. Thor himself denies he's ever been part of the pornography industry. Comic books, fantasy lore and extreme-sports movies are one thing, but porn is where Thor draws the line. "I know a lot of performers who have been centrefolds. I must admit that. But myself, I've never been associated with it. I'm a straight and narrow entertainer."

There are those who would dare to laugh at Thor - including the opening band at the concert, the Hunters, which is a parody of an '80s metal band - unwise as that is in the face of a man who has the strength of 10 men. Well, two men, anyway. He claims he can rip a licence plate in half. Not as young as he once was - "I like to say I'm in my 40s, but of course Thor is ageless," he laughs - he still works out three times a week.

Thor, however, wields a sense of humour about what he does and will not smite you with his mighty hammer should you snicker at his shtick.

"There's a certain tongue-in-cheek element to it and I have to sometimes laugh, too," he says. "I have a good time.

"When you come to see a concert and put your dollar down, I go totally overboard. I wanna give the audience everything I can possibly give them - even to the punishment of myself at times."

Thor is just one part of the pantheon of heavy metal bands playing during the nights leading up to Halloween. For some of them, every day is Halloween.

- Edmonton Sun
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