One side effect of being a drag queen's husband is that drag is everywhere.
- Posted on Oct 27th 2011 1:40PM by Dan Reilly
The Great Pumpkin is what we're all about Charlie Brown, and since our inception we have been partisans, parishioners and slavish lovers to Him. In fact we were formed during a Halloween show featuring Citizen Fish at ABCNORIO. It was back in the garden that I hear they are getting rid of now. There was a modest bonfire kids were jumping over in time with the music, flames licking their combat boots. Citizen Fish was touring with a full time trumpet player then so maybe they could tell you what year it was -- '95? '96? Not any later anyway. The band was playing inside and they sounded great. I was with Ben Kotch and Lucky Strano. Lucky was hitting on some girl who had a shaved head with a perfectly rendered brain drawn on it. "I love you for your mind" I heard him say as I thought for a moment. "Hey Ben," I said, "You want to get back into this live music thing?" He lifted a flask to his lips before answering. "Yeah" he nodded "Yes I do." and so we went and here I am.
So that would be my first.
Because we are drawn to it by inclination and design World/Inferno began observing the ancient festival of Hallowmas. To all you hopeless squares out there or the few of you have forgotten childhood you might remember the 3 days of Hallowmas as 1) Hell Night or in some parts of the United States as Mischief Night, 2) Oct. 31 Halloween or more traditionally Samhain, and finally 3) Nov. 1 The Day of the Dead. At the moment between the 31st and the 1st of course the Great Pumpkin visits the most sincere pumpkin patch in the land spreading good will and insight to all in attendance. Since 1997 we have strove to create that patch. With varying results of course.
The first Hallowmas worked out pretty well so subsequently I don't remember much about it. I guess by the time the second one rolled around we were kind of cocky or maybe just drunk and thought it would be sincere to hold Hallowmas at one of those famous New Brunswick, N.J., basement shows. Alright, points for sincerity. I love the kids and I would do it all again but will admit a few oversights took place. 1) Well, it was a f---ing basement. 2) The kids who put on the show didn't tell their upstairs neighbors about it so they were kind of shocked when hundreds of underage punks in various shades of costume showed up on their lawn. 3) The kids who put on the show didn't tell their upstairs neighbors that we were going to steal their barbecue grill propane tank to fill up a giant inflatable pumpkin then blow it up in their f---ing basement. No body got hurt -- don't worry -- and that is not my favorite memory of that night. My favorite memory of that night is after the basement was cleared and singed and disoriented punks filled the street and when the police finally showed up in response to a complaint by someone I told them the upstairs neighbors were crazy and I think on PCP then grabbed a dancing partner and her sister and went to different party across the street from where I watched the upstairs neighbors try to convince the cops they were not crazy. Which makes a person look crazy. I think we lit some garbage cans on fire walking back to the van. I'd put that at 1998.
The second year the explosive worked, resulting in a very satisfying mushroom cloud. That year we also hung a band member in chains from a telephone poll and a bunch of kids showed up in limos that waited outside the entire show -- classy!
As anyone will tell you, Williamsburg started to go the dogs with more people who worried about disaster moving into the neighborhood so the next year The Good/Bad folks asked us not to blow anything up. I will admit now that to the letter of the law and not the spirit we instead lit an effigy on fire on top of a dumpster. That time the fire department showed up then stood around confused by the amount of naked teenagers dancing in a circle. Yelling at me about it later in the evening one of the leaders of Good/Bad, Chris Webber, threw a punch at me busting the wall when I ducked and we had to move out soon afterward. He was a good guy, I always felt kind of bad about that. I heard he moved to Seattle and started managing Corn Mo, who was part of the Denton contingent, but we're there all the time and he never comes to shows. The Texans disbanded and the corner where the Good/Bad stood is just a hole in the ground on Grand Street on the way to the bridge.
Even though Jello Biafra was telling me the other day that dropping names is bad form I should add the year we tried to coordinate with the local Goth community and did a show with Nina Hagen at the Limelight for which she and I did a press conference together. I think the only question I got was "What's it like sitting next to Nina Hagen?" Did you know she has a huge Puerto Rican fan base? It's true, love her to pieces.
We've got to past five now but I still have hours before we reach Topeka so I'm going to keep writing -- edit away! One year we were on some weird popularity upswing and got to play on a float on the West Village's famous Halloween Parade. It was great. The Inferno totally thrives on bizarre situations and let me tell you -- they put us on a float with some DJs from the radio station Z100. For those of you not from the New York metropolitan area, Z100 is a modern R&B-type station who did not dig us at all. The idea was, I suppose, that we would trade off numbers and I swear we really did try playing by the rules but they started trying to play their beats over us and kids were stage diving off the float and if someone unplugged their PA at some point -- I didn't see who it was. We also had a gig in Brooklyn that night and Z100 was not sad to see us jump off the float on 14th street and run for the subway, instruments in hand. We were late but most of the crowd was on the same train and who knew there was more than one Masonic Hall in Brooklyn?
Another hour and a half and the moon is lovely over the high plains.
Two years ago we held Hallowmas in Manhattan at The Grand Ballroom. It is a very swank place owned by the Unification Church. The show itself was great -- we spent a lot of money on the tricks and they all went off perfectly but that is not my favorite memory about the night. Like I said, the place is owned by a church. They are very well off, they also own the Washington Post and they are primarily Koreans. I am certainly not judging but you might know them better by the term "Moonies," as they were founded by the Rev. Sun Yung Moon.
So Hallowmas takes a couple days prep before the show and we go in there, trying out the projections and seeing what we can hang from the ceiling -- you know, theater stuff. The next day I get a phone call saying we might have to move the show -- even though it is already sold out --because the management fears we are Satanists and they would like to talk to us. So that afternoon I find myself in an office trying to explain The Great Pumpkin to a very devout Korean lady. "You know, Charlie Brown? No? It's a, ah, a folk character beloved by children . . ." We actually send one of their interns downstairs to pick up the Daily News to prove there is a comic strip called Peanuts. After some discussion and eye squinting they agree to let the show go on despite their misgivings about this 'Hallow'en'. Commerce trumps superstition after all.
Oh, my friend, I could go on but it is time to get out of the bus and go yell and jump up and down for two hours. Thank you for asking and wherever you spend it, have a very happy Halloween -- I'll be singing for you.
Rise me up!
October 12, 2011
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