The lights dim, and the Genitorturers, a dominatrix-led hard rock band from Florida, take the stage in a billow of smoke and flashing strobes. Geni, the group's queen bitch, struts out looking like a diabolical circus barker in a black and red bowler hat, a matching leather corset, and a tuxedo jacket with tails. She snarls through lyrics about sex and control while twirling a bright red cane with an experienced flourish. A showgirl -- complete with red feather headdress and tassels -- slides down to her knees in front of Geni and unzips the singer's leather underwear with her teeth. A small box attached to Geni's corset above her crotch blinks steadily.
"Orgasmeter," suggests a young muscular man encased in a PVC catsuit. "Or maybe, a battery-operated stimulator."
Geni sings and smiles, occasionally rubbing her crotch. She spins a large roulette wheel -- electrotorture, bloodsport, examination, baptism, or penance. A parade of slaves in various guises -- nun, nurse, maid, schoolgirl -- slips on- and offstage, caressing each other's breasts and offering their bare asses to the sting of Geni's riding crop. One of the nurses pulls on a pair of rubber surgical gloves. The crowd presses forward. This is what everyone's been waiting for.
A slender, bare-chested man, with shoulder-length burgundy hair and a Christ-like beard, is led to a large red cross and shackled. The nurse shoves piercing needles through his flesh and leaves them glinting in his chest. Small iron weights held afloat by a half-dozen red and black helium balloons are tied around the needles with fishing line. As punctuation for her lyrics Geni pricks each balloon and the weights drop, leaving threads of crimson blood trickling from the man's wounds. But Geni is not done.
The nurse hands her a hammer and two nails. Geni crucifies the surrogate Jesus, driving the nails through the soft webbing between his thumb and forefinger. The cross quakes under the blows. Jesus screams. So Geni sews his lips together -- singing all the while. Blood and saliva bubble up between his lips. His head falls slack against his chest and the sutures glint in the spotlight.
The crowd bobs to the beat of the bass guitar. Folks stand on chairs and on each other, craning to get a better view, and looking purposefully bored once they do. Those in the front are pushed against the stage, but they seem not to notice; they are rapt. Geni finishes her song and tosses back her mane of white-blond hair. The crowd goes wild.
"It's like watching Roman gladiator sports in Las Vegas with willing victims," says Paul DiManicci, his eyes bright with overstimulation.
Geni pulls the nails out of the Christ figure's hands. In a brief moment of anxiety he realizes Geni's garter belt has become entangled in one of the piercing needles in his chest. His eyes look wild before melting into surrender and Geni moves away. The needle tears through his skin and his eyes droop as in sleep.
Disc sanders are taken to metal jockstraps worn by naughty nurses with stars on their nipples; a schoolgirl with green hair is strapped to a rack and spun around at a nauseating speed; then, it's time for volunteers.
A nondescript young man with a buzzed head and baggy pants jumps onstage. He is stripped of his shirt and told to lie on his back. The nurse stands over him, exposing her freshly shaved vagina. She rubs a gloved hand between her legs then across his face. He grins. She lowers herself slowly over his nose. And urinates. The outpour is majestic in both quantity and color, a seemingly endless stream of Gatorade that splashes over his chest and down his forehead into his hair. Despite the phosphorescent look of the stream, there is no doubt of the act's authenticity, only the nurse's diet. The man is handed a sterile white towel that he uses to wipe piss from his eyes.
Downstairs, in the bowels of "Masquerade," where only appropriately attired customers may enter, the Aesthetic Meat Front is preparing for its show. The walls and floor have been covered with plastic. Three raw goat heads hang in the doorway, and the unmistakable smell of dank, dead animal has settled into the woodwork.
Behind a plastic sheet that separates the performance troupe from the crowd, a group of post-apocalyptic cyborglike neo-tribalists pours preheated pig's blood into the body of a modified television set. Goat heads with knives shoved in their milky eyeballs sit on oil drums filled with animal parts. Decanters containing bestial hemoglobin steam up under a spinning squad car light. Sirens begin blaring. Three drummers file out into the crowd while two women begin painting on the plastic screen in blood.
The smell intensifies.
They tear through the screen. One of the female cyborgs begins the mantra: "You will all be infected." She grabs another member of the troupe and straps her into a wheelchair equipped with tubing. Blood courses through the tubes, filling other tubes strapped to the victim's arms. The leader of the group, a gaunt man with a partially shaved head, intones, "You must all obey." He injects the girl with a hypodermic syringe while topless women in face paint writhe on the floor. A male victim is strapped to a nearby riser, and the leader sprays a mouth full of blood over his defenseless form.
The "infected" are bundled together in Saran Wrap and tossed a huge cow liver. They fight over the meat, grunting and clawing as they smear themselves with gore. On top of a pole, a mannequin head begins spewing plasma, creating a surreal fountain of blood. Sanguine pools form below. The drums beat on. Surrendering themselves completely, the cyborgs roll in the goo.
The smell is completely overwhelming -- dead, raw, metallic. It clings to your clothes and hair and brings to mind things never known by most modern city-dwellers.
Several women in the audience leave the room in a hurry with their hands pressed over their mouths. The rest of the crowd moves back a bit uneasily, except for a handsome, dark man in a nicely cut black suit who weaves on and off the stage area, occasionally caressing a goat head in a seemingly absent-minded gesture. He is dismissed by the staff as a harmless drunk, but each time he touches the raw meat a small shudder runs through his body, and he lights a cigarette. After the show, he walks onstage, through the puddles of blood, and hits one of the oil drums. He is apparently disappointed.
"You have no idea how many rituals I've seen," says the man in a whiskey-thick London accent. "I shouldn't tell you, but I am the cousin of Anton LaVey." Sadly, no one in the crowd seems too impressed.
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By Silke Tudor