Sex, Truth & Videotape, Part I

Many a thesis grad project, a late-night drunken discussion and introspective drug trip have been dedicated to this central concept: Reality vs. Media Reality, or When Do The Lines Between Reality and On-screen Reality Blur?

Backstage vs. On-stage, True experience vs. Borrowed experience, The Looking Glass – this concept can roll over many tongues and minds, reminding all that the idea is cliché. But Casey Spooner said it best…”Boy, do I love me a GOOD cliché!”

Here are 3 artists/ pieces / projects that deal with this Reality-On-A-Bend concept rather well.

Part I:

Fischerspooner – Between Worlds Tour

I finally popped my Fischerspooner concert cherry this past Memorial Day weekend. It didn’t hurt and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The band is currently touring and promoting their latest album release, Entertainment. I like LA Weekly’s Chris Martin’s succinct introduction of the show:

“The group’s current show, billed as “Between Worlds,” began initially as a collaboration with SoHo’s famed theater dissidents the Wooster Group and reportedly incorporates elements of kabuki, flamenco and vaudeville into a tale about space travel and the American Dream.”

Beyond the hot words “kabuki” “vaudeville” and “space travel”, the live show is a surreal lovechild between Rehearsal and Final Full Costume. As an audience member, you’re told it’s all intentional. Every flash, every move, every diversion from the lip sync, every sip of water by a dancer – they mean it.

Casey Spooner, DJ Peanuts, and his expert troupe of dancers (3 women and 1 man) entertain with nothing-less-than-decadent costumes, props, choreography, lights, mirrors and video playback techniques. (Warren Fischer isn’t present on-stage, and is known to have a half-hidden public presence – maybe he’s in the sound booth?)

Dress racks flank the sides of the stages, where they are visible to the crowd, and later used, rolling across stage as props.  Audience members can see performers change outfits and take breaks with towels and water bottles among the racks and mirrored apple boxes. Three (or more?) monolithic perfectly, almost-not-smudged mirrors on casters move around, serving as walls, adding and subtracting light and visuals. However, the backs of these rolling monoliths are scratched silver bounce-board foam and tape, exposing more of the gritty construction underneath the show.

Most interesting is the synced playback of the rehearsal footage. For most of the show, the large screen behind Casey & Co. shows rehearsal footage of the troupe – in casual dance garb, messy hair, performing in cold-looking studio spaces that seem to bleed New York Loft. The footage is evidence of meticulous preparation.

In front of the screen, of course, is the live troupe in full effect – they are painted, layered in silver, spandex and nylon, and not a step out of beat. The movements on the screen match the troupe’s performance on-stage. You see that Fischerspooner’s practice made them perfect.

The simultaneous exposure to the rehearsal and the final performance is surreal, on-the-nose, and gives us a lot of information. Between Worlds is a literal title for the tour. The seams are exposed, and even the dirty work is entertaining. Or is it? Do we sympathize with the elaborate performance, knowing how much work goes into the show? OMG IS THERE TRUTH?  I’ll need a recreational substance before I further that train of thought with more banality.

The final vibe I received from the Fischerspooner show is that playing around with Reality and Performance is ambitious and fun as hell. Simply that. Casey capped the show with the truest adage: “And that, folks, is show business.”

Cheeky way of presentation. Lovely!

SO, then, photos. I didn’t take these photos, and I kick myself for forgetting a proper camera and my Flip camera.

Best Kabuki head fixture

Casey and the tape coat. Raised shoulders (on trend) and rows of tape I believe to be VHS tape or cassette tape. It was at this costume change I declared Casey Spooner to be an originator, and Lady Gaga a biter.

Battle royale: Spooner vs. Gaga.

On the FS aesthetic – old video, old song, good any time. And publicly, it’s the Casey show, for sure:

Lisbon, Circa 2007

Personal favorite moment of the concert: Fischerspooner performed an encore, with SHOWGIRLS demurely playing on the LCD screens behind them. Yes, a demure display of SHOWGIRLS. No fuss. Just some of the best Verhoeven you can get.

(I really wanted the Bridge pose screen cap, but none to be found, alas)

I can’t really namedrop SHOWGIRLS and deny the presence of boobs, can I?

Or Versayse.

Many of these photos are culled from this Flickr set and Fischer_Spooner’s Flickr photostream.

Of course, the Fischerspooner main website exhibits much of the tour concept and experience. Be sure to play around with the small grey circle to see the extensive footage, art and work Fischerspooner compiled. There’s a cameo by Madonna.  My favorite background on the main page is the time lapse recorded on 05.05.2009.

I know that this caliber of theater is seen at rave-hippie-festivals, but I love Fischerspooner because there is an air of City Mouse in their music, act and attitude. And I’m a city mouse, what can I say.

Parts II & III on the way. To Be Continued…

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