WTF Is the Matter With You? Part 2

Repost from the old site.
That question is directed to Thistle Harlequin.
I won’t upload the movie, and I think it’s copyrighted anyway. It’s pornographic, and we don’t host porn on the site. Rarely, we link to it, if there is some artistic or political reason. In this case, it’s more art or performance art than porn per se.
It’s called Putrid Sex Object, a movie performed by Thistle Harlequin (adults only, and don’t watch unless you want to be horribly grossed out).
This is part of what my artist brother calls the new art – “that gross, sick, fag shit.” He says this is the new thing in art, because everything else has been done already.
Examples include Aliza Shvarts’ abortion jelly exhibit where she gave herself repeated miscarriages via morning-after pills after inseminating herself and then filmed the miscarriages, bottled them and exhibited them in an exhibit. Except the whole exhibit never came off, but that was part of the performance.
Our very own Who Dares Wings is an artist in Seattle who makes Disasterware and something called Spone Funerary Ware – granulated calcified human cremains (cremated bones of dead people) over a porcelain slip in a riff on the time-honored tradition of bone china, which was made in part with ground human bone.
He also makes things like porcelain vases and teapots with Hitler’s face on them with things like “Forgiveness” inscribed below.
There was a guy in New York who was doing some of this art using dead embalmed bodies. He would take the bodies and then pose them in all these weird positions and then take pictures of himself intermingled with the dead bodies. The cops finally had enough of the publicity and raided the guy – I guess what he was doing was illegal. He was getting the bodies from Mexico.
Along the same lines are Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a crucifix photographed in a jar of urine.
There is another fellow, Hermann Nitsch, who takes cow carcasses, slits them open, then makes himself look like a crucifix with the cow carcass as a “cross” background. He ends up covered in blood. His friends stand around him and they all get covered with blood too. There’s blood all over the ground and they shoot a photo of the whole thing and voila, instant art!
Women are bottling their own menstrual fluid and using the blood to make blood paintings. It’s called menstrual art.
Along the same lines, in Putrid Sex Object, Thistle Harlequin, a gay man, plays a woman who is wandering through a haunted house at night getting more and more frightened. Finally, she comes into a room where they are some severed cow’s heads on the floor.
She falls to her knees, starts licking the cow’s head and then starts playing with it, getting blood all over her body. Then he pulls out a penis and it turns out it’s just some fag drag queen. He then puts his penis in the cow’s head and fucks it for a while, pulls out, and jacks off while covered with cow entrails. That’s it.
That’s called art I guess.
Wow, we really are reaching the end of civilization, are we not?
My opinion on all this sick art is much the same as my brother’s. I’m not impressed.
This is just gross, sick, fucked up stuff. Art is supposed to make you react, and in a way, it is supposed to be “beautiful.” It’s not supposed to be ugly, sick, repulsive and nauseating. Yes, we are all familiar with shit, puke, wet farts, mucus, snot, piss, blood, dead stuff and dead people, menstrual fluid, on and on. Why frame it up and call it art? Color me confused. Plus it’s not even funny; it’s just gross.
Truth is, modern art has just clean run out of ideas. There’s nothing left to do. This is all that’s left, pushing the final boundaries. After this? I have no idea. Kill people? Kill yourself? Who knows.
Seriously, there’s nothing left.
Buy a famous sculpture, call the cameras in, gather around you and your artist friends, and smash it to bits? Done. The Surrealists were doing this stuff back in the 1930’s.
Duchamp made a sculpture of a toilet and then he shipped it to a museum. He called it “Toilet” or something dumb like that. Along the way, it got partially destroyed via shipping. The museum called him up all apologetic and said, “Oh, we are so sorry that your sculpture got so messed up.”
He rushed over to the museum, looked at his ruined sculpture and said, “NO! This is perfect! Better than the original!” It went on to become a famous sculpture. Surrealism was always a bit of a joke. The destroyed sculpture is better than the real one – OK, that’s funny.
The Surrealists would run out in the streets of Paris in the 1930’s and assault priests walking by in their habits. Assault them, with fists and kicks. No one got seriously hurt, but the Surrealists called that Performance Art – assaulting a priest in habit. OK, that’s funny too.
There are artist – musician types out there now who hold “concerts” where they show up on stage and then lower these sound speakers from the ceiling. The speakers dangle about ten feet above people’s heads, just out of reach. Then they turn up the speakers really loud with this extremely annoying noise playing right out of reach of the audience.
The audience gets more and more angry while the performer stands up on stage, laughs at them and insults them. OK, I have to admit, that’s pretty funny.
I believe there are similar artists out there who will schedule a show and advertise all the cool stuff they are going to do during the show. They cover the stage with all these props and it looks like a good show is going to happen. The theater fills up with suckers who shelled out $20/ticket.
The performer’s not there.
After a bit, someone comes out and says that the performer was delayed but will be there shortly. This goes on for a bit, and the big gag is that the performer never shows up. On purpose. The audience slows drifts away angrily over about an hour demanding a refund, but there will be none. That was the show. No artist. You got burned. Performance art!
I have to admit that’s pretty humorous. Man Ray would have looked at that and said, “Two thumbs up.”
I saw the Germs at the Hong Kong Cafe on December 31, 1979. It was Darby Crash on vocals, Pat Smear on guitar, Lorna Doom on bass and Don Bolles on drums.
Joanna Went, performance artist, opened for them. She came out looking totally nuts, all made up like a clown, wearing some stupid outfit. Shrieking, “Catatooooonic! Schizophreeeeeeenic!” (that’s all I remember), etc. etc.” with these really wild eyes.
She had on what looked like a football jersey on top with what looked like shoulder pads. She tore open the shoulder pads while screeching incoherently. Inside, the shoulder pads were packed with vast quantities of shredded cheddar cheese. Then she started to throw it at us, the audience. We threw it back at the bitch.
I went to the bathroom.
Darby Crash came in, saw me, and asked in this totally gay faggot voice, “Heeeey, you got any Tuuuinols?” Tuinols are a depressant pill.
I thought for a second, looked up and said, “No, but I have some Tuinol cigarettes. Want to buy any?”
He got this sneering smile on his face, and snorted, “Tuinol cigarettes!?” and walked away.
That was my only encounter with the famous Darby Crash.
Pretty soon, the Hong Kong Cafe was full of flying shredded cheese and you could hardly even see anything. Through it all, Joanna was screeching away. OK, that was pretty funny.
The Germs played next. They all wore black leather jackets with a blue circle on the sleeve – that was their emblem. They were out of this world, of course.
Darby Crash was crouching at the back of the stage with a sneer on his face. Everybody was throwing stuff at him – that was the idea – throw stuff at Darby. We took the ice out of our drinks and threw ice at Darby Crash. He crouched down at the rear of the stage like a tiger, loving the abuse and singing like a maniac.
Germs (GI), produced by Joan Jett, is one of the best albums I have ever heard. There’s also a great cut, Lion’s Share, recorded by Jack Nitzsche, on the soundtrack to the movie, Cruising (1980) – good movie, starring Al Pacino and directed by the great director William Friedkin. The Cruising soundtrack is a great album, too.
Re-formed band, The Germs Return.
Don Bolles turned into an alcoholic and goes to AA meetings with his alcoholic girlfriend. He has a long history of drug abuse and run-in’s with the law. Darby killed himself (see below). Pat Smear went on to form the Foo Fighters.
Lorna, Don and Pat re-formed the band, with actor Shane West as the new Darby Crash, and they go on tour. Here’s the new band, and Lorna is as beautiful as ever. Myspace page. They must be pushing 50 now. Punks til death. Heck, why not?
Later, Darby Crash deliberately OD’d on heroin as part of a suicide pact with some idiot punk chick. I never hung around with these nuts, but some people I know did. They would do stuff like get drunk and hit people over the head with beer bottles – supposedly Pat Smear did that once.
Great article on the Germs from the Orange County Weekly.
We were leaving the Hong Kong Cafe at 2 AM on January 1, 1980. The LA punkers, drunk and menacing, were outside the cafe throwing beer bottles against the wall and watching them smash. We moved away quickly.
We were walking through an alley back to the car, drunk and stoned. Someone came reeling behind us, walking very fast. We turned around. There was a young man about 25 years old. He had glasses on, but he had been hurt somehow. One of the glasses lenses was smashed over his eye.
He was holding his eye with the smashed glasses lens, and there was blood pouring out of the area around his eye as he reeled drunkenly down the alley. We didn’t know if he had gotten beat up while drunk, or if he was really drunk and had fallen down, but he was in bad shape. We got out of his way before he would have crashed into us. He moved past us, careening back and forth down the alley, dripping blood all the way.
“Let’s help him,” I said.
“No way!”
We looked at each other and both said, “Wow! Let’s get out of here!”
We hurried to the car and drove home on the empty LA freeway, dodging the drunken vehicles along the way.
It was the end of the Seventies, but it may as well have been the end of the century.

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7 thoughts on “WTF Is the Matter With You? Part 2”

  1. I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Surrealist abuse of priests. People don’t talk about it enough.
    Also, speaking of Don Bolles, there’s an excellent and extremely creepy vinyl he did called “Professor Cantaloupe” floating about in some record stores. Really good shit…

  2. I find this a fairly simplistic view about what constitutes art. On the one hand, it’s meant to be ‘beautiful’ (like ducks on a wall beautiful?), and make you react, which you certainly do to the pieces you describe. But then you list your visceral reaction, and tell us that because you don’t like that reaction, and ‘are ‘confused’, it can’t poosibly be art. But doesn’t successfull art make us feel something – the stronger the better? Just because we don’t like what it is that it makes us feel does not reduce its validity as art.
    Also, can you please tell me what ‘cultural marxism’ is? I keep hearing this term coming from the lunar right (take Anders Breivik for example – he constantly referred to it it the manifesto he cut and pasted), and it’s referred to repeatedly on your blog. It seems to be a catch-all term insult levelled at small-L liberals (I agree, they’re a pretty annoying bunch really), but I don’t recall reading much about new social movements and feminism in the writings of Karl Marx…so just what does ol’ Uncle Charlie have to do with it?

    1. Cultural Marxism came out of the 1960’s. It’s Identity Politics. The elevation of women’s rights, gay rights, trans rights, minority rights, anti-racism, animal rights and all sorts of other bullshit over and above the class struggle and economic issues.

      1. “Cultural Marxism” is a right-wing swear word. Breivik’s use of the term is a good example. The only time it’s used is when someone is reciting right-wing talking points. Its purpose is to cloud the discussion, or to preempt any discussion entirely. It was adopted when the term “political correctness” started getting stale.
        Cultural Marxism used to mean something. It referred to self-identified Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and others, who rejected the classical Marxist view of culture as a superstructure based on modes and relations of material production. When you hear words like “the culture industry,” that’s from cultural Marxism. But nowadays, when someone calls somebody a “cultural Marxist” it tells you something about the speaker but not much else.

      2. Also, it’s kind of funny that many of the people who curse others as “cultural Marxists” – many of the people whom that Breivik guy used to read – are, literally, more similar to traditional cultural Marxism (Adorno, et al.) than many of the lefties they’re cursing. Most of the left has long ago gone beyond the simplistic Frankfurt School model of a “culture industry” shaping the public with causality going one-way only. Lefties in cultural criticism today see it as more complex and integrated. It’s the people on the radical right, the ones who go around calling people “cultural Marxists,” who themselves still believe in the old-fashioned Frankfurt School model of Hollywood/Manhattan/elites totally determining what people think.

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