The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2019

Archive for the 'Carnival' Category

Recent photographs – Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire, Circus Metropolus

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I’ve made a few recent exceptions to my event-photography hiatus (does this surprise anyone?) and you can take a peek below. You’ll find Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire’s “Sideshow” at Cellspace, Circus Metropolus’s “Funhouse” at the Oakland Metro, and a special bonus vignette.

Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle at the SF Regency Ballroom

Throbbing Gristle — the pioneers of noise as music and of shock theater (who are credited with the invention of industrial music, along with Cabaret Voltaire and Einstürzende Neubauten) — who had broken up in 1981 (coincidentally after last playing Kezar Stadium in San Francisco) are back on tour. To quote Jon Longhi of NBC Bay Area (where my photos ran!) “Throbbing Gristle wasn’t just showing all these young techno kids that they could still do it, they were showing them how it’s done.” See the photos here.

Illy of Circus Metropolus at Cellspace

Vau de Vire Society joined forces with the Eric McFadden Trio at Cellspace for some stellar performance and fantastic music. If you weren’t there, you missed out. I have some portraits I shot here, including those of the chanteuse Jill Tracy and Andrea Zerilli (Oryx Incruentus).

Bad Unkl Sista at the Oakland Metro

Circus Metropolus — joined by Bad Unkl Sista (pictured above), Dreamtime Circus and (obviously) Gooferman — took over the Oakland Metro for a production called “Funhouse.” I again took mostly portraits, though I did shoot Bad Unkl Sista’s lovely butoh performance.

My grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep

Finally, for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, a very small gallery of my grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep. He’s a veteran of the Merchant Marines, WWII (United States Army, German Theater), and the Korean War, where he was an MP and drove a jeep just like this one. I wish to thank him here for all that he’s done (and show some nifty pictures of his toy!).
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Bohemian Carnival & Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and ABC vs. DNA

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Gravity Plays Favorites at Bohemian Carnival

Photos from February’s Bohemian Carnival and Hubba Hubba Revue Mardi Gras are online!

Madame Chartreuse at Hubba Hubba Revue

You may have noticed by now that a very large portion of my photo galleries come from events at the DNA Lounge, the staple of independent underground performance and live music in San Francisco’s SoMa district.  You also may have noticed that they recently received an all-ages license, which is important as concert-goers are usually in the age group of 16-25, a large portion of whom are under 21. The DNA Lounge was originally denied the license, but won it on appeal. That’s when the funny business started.

The DNA Lounge has been accused of running a “disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals,” and are trying to permanently revoke their liquor license (essentially shutting them down). Besides the obvious “wtf?” such a statement should elicit from any thinking individual (“what right do they have legislating and enforcing morals,” I hear you ask) it appears they’re doing so not only in retaliation for appealing and winning the all-ages permit, but doing so by specifically targeting the gay and lesbian club nights.

From the DNA Lounge blog :

  • Though it is clear to me that ABC’s investigation of our gay events is retaliation for our successful conversion to an all-ages venue, the events they are citing us for were 21+ events.
  • The majority of the offenses they are charging us with were dancers flashing for just a few seconds. We’re talking about some guy mooning the audience for three seconds. That’s the level of these offenses.
  • The people doing these things were not DNA employees.
  • The ABC considers “several” fully clothed pelvic thrusts, as a part of a comedy routine, to be an illegal “simulated sex act”. There’s hardly a music video in the world that would pass their standard.

posted by Jamie Zawinski, owner. Read the full post to learn more.

The DNA Lounge employs people, and is a second-home for many of us. This petulant gesture by the ABC reeks of discrimination and retaliation, and is an utter waste of our tax dollars.

What you can do.


A Year in Review Part 2 — 2008

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I shall continue where I left off in Part the First, no less tired this time around, but a scant few hours before my self-imposed bedtime — and if I don’t finish it now, then when? Indeed.

Once again, the full gallery of my Year in Review photographs can be seen here — I have selected one photo per thousand I shot all year (45,000 in all), picking ones I thought particularly interesting in the story they told, amusing somehow, or just a personal favorite.

The first image is Magdelene Veen, formerly of Abney Park, at the Emerging Illusions fashion show with Creatureform Designs; she reposted several of these photos titled “I am some sort of demon crow.” Her act was that of a ballerina; and this shot, though backstage, reminds me of the same flow and movement (though I’m not sure she even knew I took this).

We of course love the Dresden Dolls, those purveyors of punk cabaret and one of the first mainstream underground (yes, I’m aware of the contradiction) acts to combine musical and non-musical performance acts on their stage — for, in 2005, as a fan of the Dresden Dolls, how else would I have been introduced to Vau de Vire Society but by seeing them perform onstage alongside a favorite band? The rest is history. Pictured here is Brian Viglione at the Fillmore, where I was brought in to shoot the show (and I had dinner with Brian, Amanda and Meredith Yayanos beforehand: they’re all amazing sweethearts).

Hiding ‘neath the swirl of the skirt here is Leila Bazzani of Black and Blue Burlesque, performing with the Yard Dogs Roadshow at Lightning in a Bottle 2008. You may notice a similarity to a certain other photo of mine, which just so happens to be her partner in crime, Tuesday Blue.

Please see the rest after the cut (even if it’s just to browse the photos…).


New photo galleries — GWAR, BRAF’s Artumnal Gathering, Bohemian Carnival, Hubba Hubba Revue, and 5&Diamond’s Anniversary

Monday, December 1st, 2008

All jam-packed in this extra-special bonus post! Separate descriptions and writeups coming soon.

GWAR, Kingdom of Sorrow, Terror, and Toxic Holocaust at the San Francisco Regency Center Ballroom in November.

Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, at which my 24-70 2.8 Zeiss was knocked down and broken.

Hubba Hubba Revue’s Girl Gang at the DNA Lounge.

Black Rock Art Foundation’s (BRAF) Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve, at which I ran a portrait station the entire evening.

5 & Diamond’s 1-Year Anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

Hay Maze / Stripmall Architecture galleries, and upcoming events

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This Saturday saw the second installation of the Crazy Hay Maze party in Half Moon Bay by Circus Metropolus and Anon Salon. The Nexus party the week at the same location a scant week earlier stole much of the thunder this this party, for people were fairly wrecked after the first (or so I’ve heard). I ran a photo studio tucked into one of the rooms in the maze; pictured above is Star St. Germain.

Last week at the DNA Lounge was a show with Bloodline, Claire Voyant, and Stripmall Architecture (sometimes Halou) and they played music. And it was good. All three of them. Fans of Halou are still raving about the show. Click image above or here for the gallery.


And now, for some upcoming events at which I’m shooting (or you could just check the calendar):

TONIGHT: GWAR at the SF Regency. I’ve been hired to shoot them. I find this hilarious. (Monster costumed thrash metal? Oh yeah). Going to have to watch out for the sprays of fake blood, however.

TOMORROW: Hubba Hubba Revue at the DNA Lounge.

SATURDAY: The Black Rock Art Foundation’s Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve; my photos will be on display, and I’m running a small on-location studio for portraits.

SUNDAY: Five and Diamond’s 1-year anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

Displayed Labors — photo gallery of hooks, blood and piercings

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Not for the squeamish! See the photo gallery here.

Thursday night at the DNA Lounge was a sideshow-themed event called “Displayed Labors,” featuring a myriad of performances potentially distressing for the faint of heart. From Australia came special guests world-record winning sword-swallower The Space Cowboy and aerial artist Electric Dollhouse; the suspension was by Chi Kitty Andy, and the beautiful peacock-feather pierced belle (pictured above) is Courtney Crimson; from Bootie Mashup Derby we had Trixxie Carr; other burlesque by Devilla de Dallas and AZANA; live music by Cloud Archive and nes one; and DJs Siren, Random Intent and Sleepyhead with Mimosa. The ambient dancers scattered about were the Lusty Lady girls.

Other performances included half-naked girls burning themselves with showers of sparks from steel plates on their bodies, cast by angle grinders; “What’s in my Pants?” a game that did indeed involve a kitty fetus, as well as a cow tongue and lucky charms; contact juggling by Isaac and Tyler, who later did a bed-of-nails and cinder block breaking routine (also painful, they inform me); a trapeze performance by the ethereal wraith-like Gretchen; and burlesque involving buckets of fake blood, intestines pulled from panties and a real heart from the bra (it made an entertaining “squishsplat” sound when it hit the stage – and Chi Kitty put it in his pocket. Kids these days).

One bit of drama occurred when an audience member pulled two peacock feathers — and attached needles — out of Courtney’s back during her performance. From my vantage point at the back, it was hard to see, but it looked like in turn the perpetrator’s head got smacked into the stage. Then in trying to deal with the girl who pulled the needles out, a security guard got stabbed in the hand twice and the back once (with someone else’s now bloody needles). The DNA Lounge handles it all very professionally; who knows what that girl was thinking. Courtney then took it as inspiration (I suppose) and proceeded to yank out the rest of the feathers (hence all the blood). To quote her backstage, lying bloody and nearly naked on a padded table: “It’s easier than dancing burlesque.”

Congratulations to Mike and Shannon Vau de Vire, for it was their nineteenth (!!!) anniversary. They are two of the most fabulously hard-working and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Working in the San Francisco underground leads one to encounter an array of unusal performances.  I first met Andi when he joined us (that being Vau de Vire Society) at the Exotic Erotic Ball with Peaches last year (they stiffed us a considerable sum of money, those bastards). They then asked me to attend the opening of the Phoenix Grounds (caution: more blood and hooks) gallery, a venue which unfortunately lasted but a week. And to those who wonder (it’s an exceedingly frequently asked question): yes, it hurts. However, the endorphin rush is said to be incredible (I wouldn’t know…), so much so in fact that I’ve seen performers completely out of it because they were so overwhelmed by the feeling.

Photos from Bohemian Carnival

Monday, September 15th, 2008

See the gallery here.

This past Friday saw the latest installment of San Francisco’s underground circus extravaganza, Bohemian Carnival. Hosted by Gooferman and Vau de Vire Society, special guests included our frequent cohorts, the inimitable Fou Fou Ha!, Keno Mapp (and his album release) acrobatic pole-dancer extraordinaire Blaze from Portland, and Vau de Vire’s periodic co-conspirators, the Dr. Madd Vibe Orchestra (fronted by Angelo Moore of Fishbone).

It was an excellent show. If you didn’t make it, why not? You missed out. Our next installment should be in a few months.

Update — Friday at Burning Man

Friday, August 29th, 2008

The weather’s been beautiful this week. Connectivity to the Internet has never been more piecemeal or intermittent, so I’m keeping this brief. See my flickr stream for near 70 new photos.

The Temple Basura Sagrada at Burning Man 2008

Burning Man 2008

Revolution Fundraiser for Big Top Magazine at Fat City, San Francisco — photos

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

See the gallery here.

Last Friday — 8-8-08 —  saw a fine lineup of performers including Vau de Vire Society, Gooferman, Bad Unkl Sista, Fou Fou Ha!, Lapsus, The Tongues, Dr. Abacus, and more. This was a fundraiser for KSea Flux’s project, Big Top Magazine, which recently won the SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay Award for local zine.

We rode in on the Fandango Freedom Bus, adorned with clown-noses and rocking out to tunes from Bootie mashup, then joined the fray; and our compatriot Monica of Lollyphile fame (purveyors of the delight that is absinthe and bacon-maple lollies) took over the unattended coat check booth and proceeded to work it without permission or pay. These are shenanigans of the responsible variety.

Pictured above is a performer with Lapsus, the dark belly dance troupe.

Vau de Vire Society and friends at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles — photos

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

See the photos here!

Vau de Vire Society, Gooferman and Fou Fou Ha!, joined by our darling friends Cirque Berzerk and the Wandering Marionettes, were brought in to perform at the Electric Daisy Carnival in downtown Los Angeles. We had been warned: it was candy raver central, with music so loud it hurt. I thought that demographic had died a decade ago, but alas: a bastion of plush rainbowbright remains amongst the fifteen-year-olds in the arid southron lands of this fair state. Who knew?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, please see Wikipedia’s candy raver entry. Know that we hid in performer areas as much as possible and no, I took no photos of them (potential legality issues aside (plus, if their mothers saw what they were wearing…)).

UPDATE: From Mike “Vau de Vire” —

Rumor has it that the Electric Daisy Carnival had 75K attendees which made it the largest attended non-sporting event in LA since 1930 and largest rave in LA history.  The producers said, as they always do, that VdV was the highlight of their event.