On Saturday, October 22nd , I participated in the event known as 7 Minutes in Hell, at Space 55 in downtown Phoenix. I was one of eleven or so performers who were given carte blanche to do whatever they wanted onstage for the space of 7minutes. It was the first time I had participated or even witnessed this show, and I was impressed with what I saw.
Like any such open mike type show, there were the usual folks who seemed to try a little too hard to be outré, or irreverent, but on the whole there were some really talented people on the stage that night. One of my favorites being the opener, Shawna Franks, who actually is part of the Space 55 staff, who did a piece that she called Marlenesaurus, which consisted of her dressed like a chanteuse with a Brontosaurus mask on her head, topped off with a little blonde wig. She basically had a record player playing Marlene Dietrich singing her old chestnut, “Falling in Love Again” as she pretended to be singing and slinking about the stage with this little dinosaur neck poking through venetian blinds and feeding on the stage decoration foliage during the instrumental passages in the song. It was brilliant and very funny.
I also enjoyed the performances of my old friends Ashley Naftule and Kevin Flanagan, who did a piece about a murderer who is meeting up with someone who is supposed to help him clean up his mess, but they keep getting thrown off point by the song “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” by Enya, which is playing in the background.
Hanna Leister and friends did a comedic scene about a racy job interview, with a twist ending that I got a kick out of, and a woman whose name unfortunately eludes me at the moment (Peena?) did an amusingly eccentric rant about Sarah Silverman and pee.
Just before I was called backstage to prepare for my set, a young duo named Samson took the stage. I only got to see their opening number but was pleasantly surprised to see them play an old folk song which I myself used to sing back in my days as the singer for the band known as the Dark Young. I forget what they called it, but I know it as “The Unquiet Grave” and learned it from the debut lp by the English folk-rock band Gryphon. Samson’s version seemed to be some Appalachian variant or something with some of the more poetic language reduced to a more common tongue, but the melody and the essence of the lyrics were there.
For my set, I went on dressed as a priest, explaining to the audience that despite my current attire, I was not a man of the cloth, but I had spent $30 on my Halloween costume and was going to get my money’s worth out of it. I read three pieces, “No Candy from Courtney”, “Witch’s Tit”, and “The Golem of Prague”, all of which seemed to go over well. I gave a brief introduction for each poem, and was still able to get it all in within the allotted time span. The audience was responsive and laughed at the appropriate moments and expressed some marked appreciation for the Golem piece. I shall include all three pieces here after my review, for your perusal.
My set was followed by the Arcana Collective, who also performed at the HP Lovecraft tribute show in August. I liked their performance a lot more this time though. I believe the theme was “what is an arcane collective performance?” or something to that end. As usual, they had dancers, pseudo rituals, someone barking rants from “the Book of Lies” and general artistic and metaphysical mayhem. The flow and the ideas seemed to be better realized this time and I really enjoyed everything that was happening on the stage. As a footnote, Shawna Franks is part of the collective and Ashley & Kevin were asked to participate in the general mêlée onstage as well.
The last act of note was a slight of hand man who through the course of his act peeled off his clothes until he was stark naked. The emcee, Pete, almost had a stroke when the old fellow dropped his briefs, but the audience vociferously opposed his interference in the performance and the nudist was allowed to finish his set unmolested. I unfortunately cannot say the same for his volunteer from the audience!
I was taken aback by all of the compliments and general good will I received from everybody that night and really was made to feel like part of the family. I was asked to participate in a few of the upcoming shows and even told to bring the priest costume gain! LOL I think this is the start of something new and interesting coming into my life. I shall play it by ear, and try not to jinx it, but I am hopeful that it will rekindle the creative spark in this old heart of mine which has been dormant for so long.
Here are the poems I read at the show. For “No Candy…” I omitted the chorus and the nonsense vocalizations that accented the song as it was performed by 40 Grit/Rumpleforeskin in order to conserve time.
There’s something I must show you; there’s something you must see
I’ve got a witch’s tit you know, just behind my left knee
It’s still quite warm with life although it’s sometimes used to wean
The sanguivorous whelp of a loup-garou at nameless rites obscene
No Candy from Courtney
No candy from Courtney – no time for trick or treat
No candy from Courtney – he’s not dispensing sweets
No candy from Courtney – don’t ring upon his bell
‘Cause if you bother Courtney, he’ll give you holy hell
No candy from Courtney – you might think he’s a prick
No candy from Courtney – but don’t you play no tricks
No candy from Courtney – and don’t get in his face
‘Cause if you piss off Courtney, he’ll beat you with his bass
No candy from Courtney – but kiddies don’t you grieve
No candy from Courtney – on this All Hallow’s Eve
No candy from Courtney – just thank your lucky stars
‘Cause treats down at the Brainerd House are tainted candy bars
No candy from Courtney – he won’t tell you again
No candy from Courtney – so steer clear of his den
No candy from Courtney – and don’t come back next year
‘Cause if you call next Halloween, he’ll give you cause to fear
THE GOLEM OF PRAGUE
I am Joseph, the mute beadle of the Maharal; conceived of in a dream, I am the answer to his prayers. God is not my creator, although it is through His mercy that I exist. A child of the elements am I, and of the men, who from them are derived.
Seven times did the fire sign encircle my form, and I began to glow with a fire in my frame.
Seven times did the water sign encircle my form, and the fire was quenched.
Seven times did the air sign encircle my form, circumferring the sacred scrolls of the Torah, and reciting the Kabalistic incantations, which would set my being into motion; then, simultaneously, they uttered the holy verse of creation, and I lived.
I shall only be suffered to do so until my people are free of the dark cloud of the Blood Libel. Then I shall lay myself down, and my fathers shall reverse, and thus undo, the rituals which bind me to this world. Returning, as they themselves must eventually do, to the lifeless clay, from which I was fashioned.