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Centre Daily Times
Centre Daily Times
An orgy of trouble: Caesar Pink and band to hold CD release party
By Dennis Fallon
For the CDT
With the mind of a psychopath, the soul of a poet and the bad attitude of a punk rocker, performance artist Caesar Pink returns to State College this weekend with his band, the Imperial Orgy, to release the band's first-ever CD and book of poetry. As always, Pink brings with him an earful of sex, rock 'n' roll and controversy.
"Gospel Hymns for Agnostics and Atheists" is the first CD from a band that has been around since the early 1990s. How do you have a band that stays popular without ever releasing a CD? Controversy and lots of it.
"I just look at the world and feel really bored. I just want to stir things up," Pink said, speaking from his home in New York. "I think as an artist, it is part of the game in a way. You know, you express something and you want to get a reaction."
Surrounding himself with a multicultural cast, Pink's shows are awash in sexual imagery, religious icons and political satire. Since its formation at Penn State in 1993, the band has been surrounded by not only controversy but a fringe community of artists, activists and outcasts.
Their posters were banned by the university. Gigs were cancelled due to threats of violence from Christian organizations. Women's-studies classes debated and protested the meaning of Pink's lyrics. Even the band's Web sites have been taken down because their servers found their messages insulting and blasphemous.
"When we came out, it was crazy. It was like an explosion. People were protesting. It was a big mess, with lawyers and everything," Pink said. "The band's early days in State College were a crazy time. What's interesting is that in the early days, two of our biggest fan bases were Indian women and Catholic girls. Both groups were going through a phase in their lives when they were exploring lesbianism. You've got to love that."
Despite his band's wild sound and the mysterious and controversial aura surrounding him, Pink is soft spoken, mild mannered and friendly, still carrying a hint of his Lewistown accent with him all the way to New York.
Every year the Imperial Orgy returns to State College, and Pink is happy to get back to his roots.
"It's just a personal thing. I grew up in Lewistown and went to school at Penn State. Performing in State College is certainly not for career reasons, that's for sure. But, it's almost always fantastic. We get a very enthusiastic response. Occasionally, you will have the odd person who didn't know what they were in for and gets freaked out about our show."
With lyrics rich in sexual liberation, rife with left-wing politics, and laden with religious references, Pink has made no bones about how he feels, and his performances reflect that.
There is a dichotomy in everything about Pink: He offends and entices, disgusts and attracts. His preaching of social responsibility is buffeted by a hedonistic and rock 'n' roll mentality, his words straddle the fence between poetry and the profane, and he's mild-mannered in person but a raving lunatic while performing.
"We do a multimedia show with video and performance art, theater, music and spoken word. It has everything. It definitely hits the audience," he said. "There's a lot of audience interaction. In central Pennsylvania, most entertainment is aimed at a pretty mainstream audience. This is something different, and everybody is invited."