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House Of Tudor 

Icky flicks, modern pagans, and disturbed piano-duos

Wednesday, Oct 24 2001
When the eyeballs that would become the Residents first came together in 1970 -- in the vanguard's stronghold of San Mateo -- it was for the purpose of making a movie using a newfangled black-and-white video recorder. The film was to be an underground musical comedy called Vileness Fats, but it was abandoned after four years of production, in part because of the group's obsession with better gadgetry. While none of the conceptual artists really considered themselves musicians, they laid down songs on the first four-, eight-, and 16-track recorders available on the market, and sent the results to Warner Bros. The rejection slip -- addressed to "Residents" because there had been no name attached to the return address -- gave birth to the group's official moniker and to Ralph Records, one of the first indie labels in the country. By the mid-'70s, the ever-faceless Residents had been embraced by emerging punk and new wave cultures, but the truly ocular aspect of the group's greater plan had yet to be realized. So, in 1976, the band created The Third Reich 'n' Roll, a 4-1/2-minute film that now lives in the New York Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection as one of the earliest music videos. The Residents went on to make One Minute Movies (which also resides in the MOMA), Hello Skinny, This Is a Man's Man's Man's World, The Gingerbread Man, Kick a Picnic, and countless other videos, each more peculiar and fantastic than the last, most of which have been only rarely seen.

Thankfully, technology has caught up with the Residents. The act's new DVD, Icky Flix, makes it possible to view the Residents as they were meant to be seen. Icky Flix includes a newly restored The Third Reich 'n' Roll, a 17-minute excerpt from Vileness Fats, an assemblage from the Bad Day on the Midway CD-ROM, a new video for the 1978 hit "Constantinople," the brilliant and disturbing music video Songs for Swinging Larvae by Residents director Graeme Whifler, and 12 other mind-bending, big-eyed treats. Of course, nothing's like the real thing, so the Residents will present Icky Flix live in their annual Bay Area performance, using a giant, interactive screen, a mesh cube, and some compelling new instruments such as the Marimba Lumina, a marimbalike MIDI controller and synth. The Residents play Thursday through Wednesday, Oct. 25-31, at the Brava Theater (2789 24th St. at York) at 8 p.m. (no show Monday, Oct. 29). Tickets are $35-50; call 255-0333.

During Madonna's 39th birthday party, hired entertainer Kiki DuRane, one part of the disturbed duo Kiki & Herb, held up a bottle of booze and toasted the birthday girl, saying, "This has helped me through the twilight years of my career, and I hope it will do the same for you." Apparently Madonna didn't have a very good sense of humor about it, but what did she expect from a 70-year-old washed-up starlet trapped in the body of a thirtysomething fag? Luckily Ms. Ciccone's ire did nothing to dampen the popularity of Kiki & Herb, aka San Francisco drag performer Justin Bond and pianist Kenny Mellman. For three years, the Obie Award-winning duo has been performing a bizarre mélange of ivory tinklers -- such as PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" intertwined with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- to sold-out crowds across the country. Between snippets of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Suicidal Tendencies, and Britney Spears, Kiki unfurls a tragic tale of booze and biz-ness, which she lays across your lap like a soggy, bug-eaten boa. And if you don't want to listen, you're likely to get a Canadian Club and Gingers in the eye, even if you're a fan like Lou Reed, Gloria Steinem, or Kevin Costner. Kiki & Herb perform on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Ticket price is $15; call 885-0750.

Continuing a 25-year publishing tradition of "cultural remapping" that brought Search and Destroy to fledgling punk rockers, Incredibly Strange Music to forthcoming lounge lizards, the Industrial Culture Handbook to a pubertal Trent Reznor, Incredibly Strange Films to B-movie fans, and Modern Primitives to every future fetishistic anarchist from the MTV generation, RE/Search founder V. Vale offers us a spiritual solution with Modern Pagans. Paganism, in which the body and the Earth are admired and death is intrinsic, is thought to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, and as such it is a great source of inspiration and idiocy. Vale has captured both with evenhanded, gracious keenness within the context of interviews with 50 practitioners of neo-ancient traditions. Learn about the U.K. Druids, Gardenerians, the Pagan Federation, Witch Camp, the Crescent Hellions coven, technopagans, pagans in the military, pagan parenting, pagan sexology, and pagan music, among other things dark and herbal. To aid you on your way to a deeper understanding of the wild-haired girl next door and to prepare you for the day when pagans have legally recognized churches, charter schools, and foundations, Vale has included a pagan glossary, reading list, film compendium, and Web site guide. If you don't think you've ever met a pagan, think again: The book is full of locals such as Bay Area writer and teacher Starhawk, beat poet Diane di Prima, and Diana L. Paxson, co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism. No doubt, the Modern Pagans release party on Sunday, Oct. 28, at the San Francisco Art Institute (800 Chestnut, between Leavenworth and Jones) at 1 p.m. will be a great place to take lessons on how to approach a pagan altar. Admission is free; call 362-1465.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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