Strange Famous Records

Humanitarian Work in South Africa

2011 kicked off in a very unique way for me. For those who’ve been following my facebook updates you would have seen the pictures from my trip to Durban, South Africa. The purpose of the trip was to assist orphans infected with HIV and get them treatment. I was with a group of poets who were there to make  a connection with the kids and relay the story to our people back home. This was filmed for a documentary directed by Jamie Catto and will be released in 2012. When I have a chance to collect my thoughts I will post the full story along with the song I wrote, “Water Into Wine.” Until then, check out the photos & read the captions for additional info.

Feb 14

Church Bulletin #3: Get to Know Ms. Nicholle Pride

When I’m not on tour or trying to promote something,  I make it a practice to never leave my house.  There’s people out there, y’know.

Which is why it’s a testament to my good friend Madge of Honor (a performer you should know in her own right) that she somehow got me out of the house and into a venue of any kind a few years ago, just to watch a show.  I don’t remember the exact circumstance, but I know she must have worked hard at it.

The event she brought me to was Perestroika, a monthly alternative drag show at Boston’s historic Jacque’s Cabaret.
[youtube width="380" height="380"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1hh_2ph22E&feature=player_embedded#[/youtube]

The mark of a great stage performance, to me, is when performers show that they

1.) have mastered the form they’re attempting and

2.) are pushing it’s boundaries and using it to challenge the audience.

The normal drag format is something familiar enough to make it a Bachelorette Party destination; that’s a MAN up there!  Dressed like a WOMAN!  He’s lip-synching a song and dancing up on people!  Laughs!

In the hands of a great performer, though… what happens is something like Miss. Nicholle Pride.  Thomas-Andre Bardwell created Nicholle, and is an actor-playwrite who fuses spoken-word, song, and traditional African dance into his performances in a way that is smart, subversive, and jaw-droppingly sexy and energetic.

As a heterosexual man, I’d read/been told about/understood in an intellectual way what it meant to be “genderqueer” and sort of… taken people’s word for it.  “Oh, that’s how you feel?  Ok.  Well, I don’t feel that way… but I can appreciate that that might exist.  Do you!”

But it’s entirely another thing to watch someone like Miss Nicholle Pride, and for the first time really understand that a wider spectrum of gender exists.  As you’re sat there in the audience watching one of the most intensely feminine things imaginable, and one half of your brain is reacting to that while the other half goes “wait! that’s a man doing that to you!”  It was an honest-to-god moment of epiphany for me,  giving me a window into a trickier, less polarized idea of gender than the one I’d lived my whole life with.   I felt challenged as an audience member in a way that I’ve been striving to challenge audiences for my entire career.

She knows what she’s doing to say the least.  Watch the way she turns her back to the crowd and presents a feminine side in the first video, then whips the hood off and turns around to reveal a wigless ‘male’ rapper impression.  Or her incredible performance of “This is a Man’s World” below,  portraying a glitter bearded, corset wearing, swagger on a hundred thousand, MONSTROUS reincarnation of James Brown.

Needless to say, I left Jacque’s Cabaret in awe of Thomas Bardwell’s craft and determined to work with him.

The videos and photo available online come nowhere close to doing this lady justice, but the Church of Love & Ruin audiences are about to get leveled by the realness.  Vockah Redu, The Cru, and DJ BeesKnees are already in the van heading north.  Jamie & Sissy arrive in 3 days, and I’m headed to my last practice with the What Cheer? Brigade.  Here we come, muhfuckas.

[youtube width="380" height="380"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yo2UT3UIRM[/youtube]

THUR 2/10 – NYC, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall w/ The Metermaids – Doors 8pm – 19+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

FRI  2/11 – BOSTON, MA  – The Western Front – Doors 9pm – 21+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SAT 2/12 – PAWTUCKET, RI – The Met – Doors 8:30pm

GENERAL ADMISSION $10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SUN 2/13 – PORTLAND, ME – Space Gallery – Doors 7pm – GENERAL ADMISSION

$10 advance, $12 door.  $18 for Couples!
BUY TICKETS

Feb 04

Church Bulletin: Get to Know Vockah Redu & The Cru


Vockah Redu & The Cru were the last addition to the Church of Love & Ruin Tour, along with DJ BeesKnees.  Daniel of the What Cheer? Brigade brought them to my attention just as the tour was coming together.  During their numerous performance trips to New Orleans, members of the What Cheer? gradually became aware of the Sissy Bounce movement.  “We’d find ourselves on these weird shows with all kinds of crossover… where someone from the punk band that played would be DJing hip hop… marching bands… bounce emcees… other weird acts… and we’d constantly be running into Sissy Bounce acts and people like DJ BeesKnees.”

For my part, I’d been enjoying Bounce music as a fan and studying it as an emcee for years, and jumped at the opportunity to include it in a show.  If you’re not familiar with Bounce as a genre, use the internet or something.  Emcees like Juvenile, Birdman, and Lil Wayne have all been described as Bounce or kept a foot in Bounce through the years, but I’d also recommend you check out artists like Cheeky Blakk and Magnolia Shorty and get familiar, ehhhh?

“Sissy Bounce,” is a sort of subgrene or scene-within-a-scene, characterized by openly gay emcees on the mic.  For more on that aspect of the story, check this Vanity Fair piece featuring Vockah.

As for Vockah Redu, he couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the Church of Love & Ruin.  The Times-Picayune put it nicely when they said “Vockah Redu & The Cru combine street-level ass-shaking, combining spiritual and sexual energy with straight-up New Orleans Bounce roots, like if Prince and Erykah Badu had a baby and raised it in the Magnolia Projects.”

I might add Afrika Bambaataa to that list, as well as a few others.  Whoever you compare them to, Vockah & The Cru get it.  I couldn’t be more excited to bring them to the Northeast and my audience for the first time.  Don’t start no stuff won’t be no stuff!

Video for your face:

[youtube width="400" height="400"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEA6tDH7VFw[/youtube]

[youtube width="400" height="400"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Os2MtCNcI[/youtube]

11 DAYS LEFT TO GET YOUR TICKETS AT DISCOUNTED PRICE!

THUR 2/10 – NYC, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall w/ The Metermaids – Doors 8pm – 19+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

FRI  2/11 – BOSTON, MA  – The Western Front – Doors 9pm – 21+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SAT 2/12 – PAWTUCKET, RI – The Met – Doors 8:30pm

GENERAL ADMISSION $10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SUN 2/13 – PORTLAND, ME – Space Gallery – Doors 7pm – GENERAL ADMISSION

$10 advance, $12 door.  $18 for Couples!
BUY TICKETS

Jan 30

Church Bulletin: Get to Know Jamie & Sissy DeWolf


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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0WyOClKt3o[/youtube]

Next time we’ll talk about Vockah Redu, eh?

See you at the altar,

B

THUR 2/10 – NYC, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall w/ The Metermaids – Doors 8pm – 19+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

FRI  2/11 – BOSTON, MA  – The Western Front – Doors 9pm – 21+

$10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SAT 2/12 – PAWTUCKET, RI – The Met – Doors 8:30pm

GENERAL ADMISSION $10 advance, $12 door.
BUY TICKETS

SUN 2/13 – PORTLAND, ME – Space Gallery – Doors 7pm – GENERAL ADMISSION

$10 advance, $12 door.  $18 for Couples!
BUY TICKETS

Jan 24

RIP 2010. Long Live 2011!

2010 was a hell of a year. Alas, a new year is upon us and not a moment too soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 01

“WAR OF WORDCRAFT” video and a salute to 2011

“World of Warcraft” Vs. “The Best of Times”

What better way to end my year than by offering up a video for “War of Wordcraft,” which is a parody of my “Best of Times” song.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_D6orab2Ks[/youtube]

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 29

Dream Journal #6

Dreamt I arrived to do a show at a venue I’d never visited before.

I was working with this promoter for the first time, and immediately realized that he was some kind of high school drama teacher. But he was also a priest.

For religious reasons, but also to fill the void left by his presumably failed or abandoned acting career, he was insisting that I add a number of last minute local openers to the bill.

The opening acts included, but were not limited to:

* A physically violent autistic boy who was already onstage rehearsing some kind of Thanksgiving play with a little girl dressed as Pocahontas. I watched in slow motion as the boy had a wild seizure, grabbed the girl by her shoulders and began shaking her and gnashing his teeth in a kind of trance state.

I then watched several club staff tackle the boy and painstakingly pry him off the girl for a number of minutes. When it was finally over the boy was ushered past me in restraints, still rolling his eyes and chomping at the air.

The promoter said: “He does that from time to time, but he’ll be ready again by the time doors open.”

* A nun masturbating with a crucifix on a trapeze. I shit you not.

“Will she just hang there all night?”

“um yeah! we thought it would be nice if she could.”

At this point I start to feel out of control in the dream, and start complaining to the promoter. I start rambling angrily at him, trying to formulate the many reasons and ways I’m uncomfortable with these additions… Just then I notice, appearing from the backstage area:

* A slam poetry team

Here’s the funny part: the slam poetry team is the thing that makes me bolt for the door.  I see like 10 of them stumbling onto the stage in matching cardigan sweaters, looking all lost and stupid like a family that can’t organize itself to take a Sears christmas picture.

I fly into a rage so suddenly that I almost fall down. I physically recoil from the stage as if a bomb had just gone off on it and pushed me backwards. I run/stumble out of the venue screaming:

“You’ve got to be kidding! This is too fucking much! No fucking way are we–”

And nearly run into a monkey in a costume riding on the back of a baby elephant. It was baby sized but it’s face looked like an old elephant. Maybe it was just a midget elephant.

“–OH GOOD OF COURSE A FUCKING ELEPHANT!” I push open the door and flood the venue with sunlight.

/Wake up.

Happy Holidays to yuh.
I will have a big big announcement about some big big shows in the New Year.

<3,
b

Dec 23

“The Man Behind the Eyedea”

Micheal Larsen (1981-2010)

Last night I dreamt I was sitting with Mikey on a public park bench somewhere. I interrupted him as he was talking to me and said Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 23

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