When we first met in 2002, Jamie Dewolf was drunk in front of a theater. As the doormen consulted each other about what to do, Jamie was making a spectacle of himself and some girl he was with. A crowd of onlookers gathered, and Jamie proceeded to verbally dismantle his date in grand public fashion. She was completely into it, playing the perfect white trash Ophelia to Jamie’s cokehead Hamlet. I was entertained and repulsed, and found myself watching while thinking “why haven’t I hit this guy yet? I want to hit him so bad… and yet I’m oddly charmed.”
Jamie had made a name for himself with The Suicide Kings, a performance poetry trio he was involved in along with Geoff Trenchard and Rupert Estanislao. After watching the Kings perform the following night, I quickly came around to a kind of begrudging respect for the dude. In a scene full of crowd pleasing hacks and wannabe self-help gurus, he was one of a handful of poets with the balls to say things that were honest, ugly, and uncomfortable. Click here to watch “Ricochet In Reverse” by the Suicide Kings, directed by Jamie Dewolfe.
In the years that followed I kept talking and thinking about Jamie Dewolf , and everything I learned interested me more. His manic charisma came into focus a bit when I learned he’s the great-grandson of L. Ron Hubbard, and an outspoken activist against the Church of Scientology: VIDEO: L. Ron Hubbard’s Great Grandson Mocks Scientology
But the real clincher, and the thing that led to our eventual friendship and partnership on this tour, was the event Jamie had created in Oakland: a vaudeville battle rap / poetry / burlesque / anything goes event called Tourettes Without Regrets. As my own career drifted further into antagonistic performance art, people would continually bring up Jamie and Tourettes as a place I needed to visit. Finally, in 2006, I did.
Jamie hosts Tourettes on a monthly basis, often in warehouses or hijacked performance spaces because all the respectable clubs in town have thrown this event out. Both times I’ve arrived in Oakland to do this show, I’ve found Jamie scrambling to find a space after the city / venue informs him days in advance that they will not allow the show to take place. I’ve learned not to worry though; Jamie somehow finds a spot, sends out an email blast, and the sold out crowds show up in droves.
They show up for something that’s more than the sum of it’s parts. Open mics, rap battles, and burlesque revues are the kind of shows that very easily fall into cliche territory, but Jamie & his co-hosts are somehow able to play each genre’s weaknesses off the other. By creating a truly chaotic and irreverent atmosphere, Tourettes always seem to arrive at something that is captivating to everyone in the room.
My favorite sidekick of Jamie’s is his sister “Sissy,” who serves as a kind of magicians assistant/sexual idol throughout the show . The sexual tension between the two of them onstage is as palpable as it is awful, and definitely leads to some magic moments.
Even as I write this out I know I am failing to convey what Jamie & Sissy are about to bring to the Church of Love & Ruin shows, and am sitting here with glee, picturing the shock on people’s faces when these two take the stage and start doing their thing. Jamie & Sissy will be hosting the entire show, so you’d be a fool to treat this like a hip-hop concert and get there a minute before the headliner goes on.
When we last spoke on the phone, Jamie was saying he planned to lay down the groundrules right away. “You don’t get to be a detached hipster at this show. You don’t get to sit in the back and lean against a wall making comments about what’s happening onstage… I wanna create an atmosphere like anything can happen, anyone can be in the show, and we’re all in it together…”
I’ll leave you with that, and a a clip of Jamie inciting the crowd to give his grandparents lapdances.
Next time we’ll talk about Vockah Redu, eh?
See you at the altar,
THUR 2/10 – NYC, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall w/ The Metermaids – Doors 8pm – 19+
$10 advance, $12 door.
FRI 2/11 – BOSTON, MA – The Western Front – Doors 9pm – 21+
$10 advance, $12 door.
SAT 2/12 – PAWTUCKET, RI – The Met – Doors 8:30pm
GENERAL ADMISSION $10 advance, $12 door.
SUN 2/13 – PORTLAND, ME – Space Gallery – Doors 7pm – GENERAL ADMISSION
$10 advance, $12 door. $18 for Couples!