The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2019

Archive for the 'Gooferman' Category


Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

It’s my birthday this weekend! I thought I’d share my planned itinerary of shenanigans, were you so inclined to join me.

Friday night: Hubba Hubba Revue at the Uptown in Oakland! I work two jobs that day, and intend to unwind with the Bay Area’s finest burlesque show at one of my favorite Oakland bars. It’s right next to BART, for you west-bay car-less folk.

Then, Saturday 8pm until late, my friends down the road at the Vulcan are throwing a May Day celebration and fundraiser for their theater! See a venue most unique at one of the Bay Area’s finest underground locales, with acts including the Vau de Vire Society, Totter Tod, Gooferman, and the Hobo Gobbelins.

Come by my place starting at 5pm for pre-show cocktails. (Contact me directly for details).

Finally, on Sunday, we will drag our hungover selves to Antiques by the Bay at Alameda’s Naval Base, to sift through old relics looking for gems (like the Settee of Contention). It is our noble intention to arrive before noon, mimosas in hand.

Feel free to email, call or text at any point to find out what’s going on. I hope to see you at one of these!

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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Storytime Festival and Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and a rant on lighting

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Angelo flies above the crowd

Each of the two shows for the Storytime Festival were divided into two halves — the first was akin to an international dance competition, featuring troupes from all over in vastly different styles, while Vau de Vire filled the second half. The afternoon show was Vau de Vire’s first “kid-friendly” and theater-style performance, as well as the largest venue at which we have performed (two sold-out shows of 1,000 people each, and the stage itself was as big as the DNA Lounge). The first show was a bit rocky, in terms of practice and other technical aspects (sound, etc.) details I’m delighted not to be privy to nor involved with (a classic example of “not my job!” and I’d only be in the way anyway).

The first photo above shows one of our lovely Vau de Vire girls doing a front-flip over a flaming rope, and the second is my favorite shot I’ve ever gotten of Angelo Rodriguez flying above the audience — I last saw this in February at the Super Bowl show we did with 944 Magazine, but the circular nature of his path makes autofocus nearly impossible. I managed to capture it this time. Go see the full gallery here.

Hubba Hubba Reuve Christmas Special took place the day before the Storytime Festival (and Dickens Fair the day after) making last weekend one of the longest in recent memory. If you’ve ever wondered why you occasionally find black-and-white photos scattered throughout my image galleries, it’s not because I’m trying to be artistic. No, let me tell you a secret: It’s because I couldn’t fix the color balance or the lighting was awful. The gentleman responsible for lighting Hubba Hubba Revue likes to wash the stage in a single color (never good) and is a huge fan of pink, of all colors (even worse). The vast majority of my post-processing time I spend on Hubba Hubba Revue photos is just trying to fix the color to make skin look like, well, skin and to provide my viewers with something other than a blasted pink landscape of pasties and pretty girls. See below for a few examples of before-and-after:


Before and after, showing post-processing


Before and after, showing post-processing

As you can see, the original images on the left were lit with pink (blue and red) lights, full-on and direct, with the backgrounds largely ignored. I’m no theatre lighting expert (ask Mr. Devon aka Baconmonkey for a separate rant regarding this if you want more detail) but I know that the DNA Lounge has some excellent lighting rigs, and they’re responsible for making a show look as good as it can possibly look. And in terms of photos, while you might not notice a particular color wash when you’re watching the show, a gallery of pictures that are all lit the same become monotonous and it’s difficult to differentiate between the various acts (or even tell what color their costumes were). From a photographic standpoint, the performers themselves need to be lit with pure white light, with colors supporting the sides and background. Or at least give me a white spotlight or throw a few white lights in the mix? A camera’s sensor is a mix of red, green and blue filters, so if you only use one or two colors to light the stage, my camera can only use a fraction of its light-capturing capability, and image quality suffers heavily.

Go see the full gallery of HHR’s Christmas Special here.

Upcoming Events — Storytime Festival, Hubba Hubba Revue and the Edwardian Ball

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Coming up on Friday the 19th of this month is Hubba Hubba Revue — Christmas Special. I shall be your photographer for the evening.

Then, on Saturday, December 20th,  your favorite circus troupe Vau de Vire Society, joined by the buffoons of Fou Fou Ha! and the goofballs of Gooferman will entertain you with not one but two (2!) shows at the decadent Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco. The first show is family-friendly (shocking, I know) and the second a bit more like you’re used to (similar to Cirque du Soleil meets burlesque with a two-drink minimum).  Get your tickets here: I’m the official photographer for this event.

And, coming up in January is the inimitable and fabulous Edwardian Ball, about which I’m sure you’ve heard so much. Three days of yesteryear decadence are yours for the taking, and tickets are available here: I am most delighted to be the official photographer for this event as well (an honor, indeed).

Also upcoming is the Sea of Dreams New Years Eve bash by Anon Salon, at which they’ve asked be to be a photographer (but negotiations are yet underway). It’s very likely you’ll see me there, joining my friends The Mutaytor from Los Angeles.

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.

Upcoming Events and photos from LA Decompression

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

October Events:

  • Tonight: Attrition, Imprint and Unwoman at the DNA Lounge
  • Saturday the 11th: Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer at the Hypnodrome
  • Sunday the 12th: San Francisco Decompression
  • Friday the 31st: Queen of the Damned Ball, New Orleans

November Events:

  • Saturday November 1st: Endless Night, New Orleans
  • Saturday November 15th: The Crazy Hay Maze in Half Moon Bay
  • Saturday November 29th: Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, San Francisco

There will be many more, so check back for updates.

Photos from Los Angeles’ Burning Man Decompression ~

This past Saturday I wandered down to the arid* Southron lands (*except that it rained on Decom — again) for their very own Decom. Gooferman and a few members of Vau de Vire were down there already for another gig, and they joined Mutaytor, the Wandering Marionettes of Cirque Berzerk, and Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque on the Mutaytor stage. Pictured above is Eric Gradman of Mutaytor/Cirque Berzerk, clearly violating the “GLOWSTICK FREE ZONE” that Decom was declared to be this year. Silly clowns.

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.

Burning Man 2008 American Dream photo gallery and post-burn

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Everyone asks me, “how was your Burn?” as if a single answer would suffice and provide a neat package so we could move on and change the conversation, like two people passing in the hall asking how each other is doing: “Good,” “good,” they say, without even slowing.

Such niceties are in no way sufficient for Burning Man — if you want to ask me how it was, you’ll need to narrow it down to a day, or better yet, perhaps one-half of any given day: then I can give you a “good,” or perhaps a “stellar,” “horrible,” “mind-blowing,” “wretched,” or the like. For I guarantee I could use each of these and many more to accurately summarize my experience this year. But to put it succinctly?

Absolutely fantastic.

Last year was quite wretched indeed for me: I had caught cold just before arriving, was horribly stressed out both with work and a nasty situation where I had to threaten legal action to a (former) friend, and coupled with that I was leaving early (missing the burn itself). The result of which was that I never felt that I had arrived, floating through the event and disappearing like a ghost. I was not pleased with the work I created, and barely had a good time. Clearly, I was doing it wrong. (Some images didn’t suck, however.)

This year, I did it right. I was with my friends in a tight-knit camp with lots of real-estate and know-how, who made food and built shade when I wilted in the sun or disappeared for hours to go shoot. I arrived early, relatively stress-free (as relaxed as anyone who likes to be super-prepared can be pre-burn…) and utterly without incident (thanks, Evan!). I had the support of one member of BM senior staff who lent me space in her trailer and her computer that could grab a wifi connetion (thanks a ton, miss Bex).

Some highlights?

The Wheel of Thwarted Ambition, a metal cage wheel with a wood fire inside that, when spun, showered embers across the night sky. It was a simple concept brilliantly executed.

Taking over for David Best this year, Shrine, and a crew of architects (including TukTuk) built the Temple, Basura Sagrada. It was an extraordinarily beautiful piece, made from over 90% found and recycled materials (hence “Sacred Trash”). You may recognize a similarity to the Tasseograph Trash Tea Temple from last year — it is by the same artist.

Shrine and his clipboard The Temple, Basura Sagrada

The DPW Parade during Saturday’s dust storm was a page out of Mad Max, and a hilariously epic good time with a ton of incredibly intelligent, creative people who love drinking Pabst and whisky while yelling at hippies. That, and they do amazing work in brutal conditions. From the DPW and Man Crew, SF Slim had, in the height of coincidence, set his gear down within the very boundaries of my camp (before anyone from Fandango village had even arrived) after they made him move from his temporary camp under the man (his home while they built it). He was quickly assimilated into the Blight and made a fantastic addition, and it was he who invited me out on the DPW Parade at the last minute: I grabbed my gear and ran. (I have your leather jacket, by the way).

Thursday at dawn at the temple is traditionally the White Procession, a solemn gathering of folk all in white to greet the new day at a sacred place. Anastazia (Bad Unkl Sista) had informed me she intended to do a performance; I was there and lo and behold, she did appear with a beautiful, dark and heavy butoh piece. However, I’m certainly one to appreciate irony, so when I spied a group of Pabst-swilling, song-singin’, Confederate flag wavin’ rednecks, and saw they were the White Trash Procession, I couldn’t help but laugh and split my shooting and attention between Anastazia and serious and the white trash and ridiculous. I don’t believe either detracted from the other; in fact, I think each helped emphasize and accentuate due to the extreme contrast (had they been actively interrupting, there would have been trouble). They were not fifty feet apart. It was definitely my day’s moment of zen.

Watching Farktronix (Sugar Shot!) and Evan (“Little Person”) with my friend Star channel Laurel and Hardy and take over the Red Eye Diner Tuesday night because no one was manning it and, apparently, the diner’s neighbors wanted grilled cheese. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into. The best part? A line of forty people out front who had no idea we were in no way affiliated with the diner. (To anyone from Red Eye who reads this: perhaps it’ll explain where all your cheese went…). Who wants a fuckin’ sugar shot?

Finally, showing up to the Dust City Diner late one night, and not fifteen seconds after stepping up to the bar, Kendra — one of the waitresses — calls out, “Is anyone here a photographer? We need a photo taken” and having my (rather large) camera being set down on the counter met with cheers. (It’s not often us photographers get cheered — ours is a background kind of work, appreciated (sometimes) much later). It was serendipitously awesome.

There are an infinite number of vignettes not told here, many good, some bad — for it wouldn’t be Burning Man without them, sometimes minutes apart. Am I glad to be out of the dust, heat, and wind? Yup. (I like showering at least daily, thankyouverymuch). Am I glad to have my life back for a while, all my spare time not eaten with a thousand projects and massive logistical undertakings, preparing for the apocalypse? Good lord, absolutely. Am I looking forward to next year? Damned right I am (though my camera may not be — see below. Thanks for Martin for the photo).

Pre-Exodus, Burning Man 2008

If you haven’t already, see my entire gallery here — 344 out of 3,116 photos (that’s 38GB, folk). You may feel free to blog my images (give credit as “Mr. Nightshade,”) and link back to the gallery; I’d also be happy to sell you a print, or license for publication — contact me and we’ll work something out.

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.