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The Imperial Orgy in Central PA
The Imperial Orgy in Central PA
We had a pretty amazing night at The Imperial Orgy performance in State College. Making it happen was a bit of a nightmare. Every step of the way we seemed to hit a snag. Singers dropped out, horn players cancelled, transportation got very complicated. Trying to get 11 people and a ton of equipment to Pa. became very expensive. We took three cars and a van. My Explorer was filled to the bursting point.
We all stayed at the Super 8 Motel. I had a nice suite with couches and such. Heather and I went up the day before so I could rest and take care of some business the day of the show.
When we awoke Saturday morning the hotel room heater had turned the place into a hot dry oven. I stumbled to the heater and turned it off and fell back into the bed. Looking out the window at the sky, the edges of which were tinted pink above the mountain ridge, with a dry throat I mumbled “red at night, sailor’s delight, red in the morning, sailor’s warning.”
Heather awoke enough to blink in the direction of the window. She was dressed in underwear and an old T-Shirt. By way of a morning greeting I pulled off her panties and masturbated her to orgasm. I didn’t want to cum before the show, but the right amount of sexual tension is always good. The night before I took it as a good sign that my gaze was drawn towards every attractive woman that passed by.
I pulled Heather out of the bed and put her hands on the back of a chair by a desk that faced a mirror, then took her from behind. In the mirror I could see that there was a little tear on the collar of her T-shirt right at the center of the neck. As I continued to slide in and out of her I pulled the shirt from both directions tearing the front of her T-shirt open wide enough to allow her small breasts to pop out into the open, providing a delightful sight in the mirror.
This seemed to get Heather all the more excited. I pulled her hair just enough to lift her head up, then I ran my fingernail down the length of her back from the base of her neck to her behind, all the while pushing against her with a slow steady rhythm. The rhythm growing in tempo and intensity until the meeting of my pelvis with her bottom began to make a bright smacking sound that echoed off the hotel room ceiling. As her legs began to shake and she laid her head against the desk in front of her in surrender, just before orgasm I pulled back and fell back on the bed.
Afterwards we went to breakfast at the Ye Old College Diner, a place where ten years before, the morning after the first full Imperial Orgy show, I sat alone in that same diner reflecting on a night that had changed my life.
While we waited for our food I opened the local paper to read an article about The Orgy. Although it was a positive article I was a bit taken back when the first line described me as “a psychopath with the soul of a poet.”
Both of the local newspaper articles focused on the controversial elements of The Orgy, painting us as the voice of the fringe that was a pariah to the mainstream. Accurate enough I suppose, but the articles set things up as a confrontation, as if we might be lynched. I am well aware of the dynamic and the danger, but seeing it in print made me uneasy. It seemed like an invitation for thugs to come and kill somebody. The rest of the afternoon I felt worried about what the night would bring.
At 2PM we went to the club and began setting up the equipment. The band members began to arrive from NYC and by 6 we were back at the hotel with hours to kill. The tension of the coming performance was beginning to build and make me restless. Someone had programmed the hotel TV so that it only played sports channels and Fox news, a cruel sort of hell for me. Finally after some reconfiguring of the remote, the thing ended up on E television that was showing the Fashion Police show. So I spent an hour trying to be interested in glamorous actresses walking down runways while gay men trashed their outfits.
At around 8 I heard horns playing so I went to the room across the hall where Frank (our drummer) was directing a rehearsal for the horn section. As I walked in the trumpet player bleated out a sqonky version of Hail To The Chief.
I plopped on a chair in the corner and listened. The horn players sat on the bed with the music scores spread across the sheets. As they played an abstract jazz section of the tune Good Girl, I couldn’t help but feel excited and proud to have initiated all of this creative work.
I went from room to room saying a quick hello to everyone. In Tony’s room he an Erin were going over a version of the Billie Holiday civil right song Strange Fruit that she was going to do so solo on during the first set.
Back in my room Heather was laying half naked on the bed, her breasts still half exposed in the T-Shirt. For the second time that day I masturbated her to orgasm. Then she crawled atop me as I lay on my back, grinding against my half conscious erection while I watched TV with one eye, again stopping just before cumming.
I crawled into a hot bath in the small Jacuzzi tub. As I soaked in the hot water I held a moist set list in my left hand, running over the night’s show in my mind. Making mental notes on lighting cues and fog cues to mention to the light man.
At 9 we arrived at the club. Heather, Eric (bass) and Isabelle (Keys) were having dinner at the club. I tried to sit with them and engage in conversation, but my energy level was building and I couldn’t sit still. The soundman still hadn’t arrived yet to wire up the equipment. He is a really nice guy, but always a little behind the ball. I tuned my guitar and made some last minute adjustments. By 10PM the soundman was half finished with the set up and the room was already filled with people.
As he struggled with a wireless mic that wouldn’t work, I sat nervously on a chair in front of my keyboard. At 10:30 we were able to do a sound check with a room full of skeptical faces.
“I’m sorry, we’re running a bit late,” I announced. “We’re going to do a quick sound-check, then be back in a few minutes to get started. We played half of Exhibition and half of Mickey Mouse World. The band sounded tight but my voice was a little tense and not quite solid on the key.
Afterwards we all trouped into the dirty basement that we were using as a dressing room and began putting on our costumes. I was dressed in a long western style jacket with some nice leather-work decoration on it. Frank wore Spongebob boxer shorts, a superman T-Shirt and a cape made out of a children’s bed sheet. Tony wore black pants with baby-doll faces sewn unto them, a T-shirt with news headlines glued on, and devil horns on his forehead. Eric had black tights with florescent red rings around the legs that floated freely on string so that when he moved the rings bounced around his legs. The girls looked lovely in low cut lacey tops.
When the show started we had planned a complex multimedia performance opening that I wanted to be perfect. It was our third time doing it but we had never gotten it quite right. As the band was introduced the musicians walked onto the stage in he dark. A video collage of funny stuff about The Imperial orgy began to play. Isabelle was supposed to play an electronic rhythm underneath the video but got confused about her cue.
I stood at he back of the room at the sound-board cursing and feeling helpless. Finally halfway through it she came in with the rhythm. Near the end of the video piece the words “You have been brainwashed” flashed onto the screen in red letters, followed by George Bush with a sly smirk on face, and after that a fat fundamentalist preacher with a bible raised into the air. Over a swirling image of a black and white circle that is often used to hypnotize people, images faded in and out of logos for IBM, Exxon, and a host of weapons manufacturers. Then a robotic looking woman with metallic skin came unto the screen and said, “You have been brainwashed, but tonight we will try to undo this mind control.”
The screen went black and Frank walked into center stage wearing a ski masked with a red LED light stuck to his forehead. On the red screen of the LED light the words “Fuck Conformity” scrolled past. On the video screen George Bush said. “It would be a heck of a lot easier if it were a dictatorship.” Then the entire band came in with a 12 beat barrage of atonal noise, only to stop dead on the beat. In the silence Brittney Spears came into the video screen. She smacks gum and talks and looks like a ditzy brat, “I think we should just trust whatever out president says and just have faith in what he does”
Her quote is greeted by another barrage of atonal noise. During the noise the video screen shows a fast speed video of myself wearing a stiff-boy ska-suit and a stocking over my head as I do spastic, frenetic dances while lighting bolts shoot into my body.
When the band cuts to silence, George Bush takes the screen again. “I’m a war president. I look at foreign policy with war on my mind”
After the last barrage of noise Frank walked to the drum kits and plays a straight beat on the bass drum. On the video screen and woman’s face digitized with psychedelic effects says “It’s a revolution you can dance to,” and the band broke into an instrumental funk jam. Isabelle took a solo using a weird 1970’s snyth sound, then Tony took a guitar solo, then each of the three horn players.
As the jam came to an end the group faded into a pretty piano interlude. Images of outer space filled the video screen and the faces of the background singers faded in and out of the void. On the screen they said, “Do you wanna know a secret?” “We’re all innocent here.” “One, two, three, forever as one,” “Never just one, show me the way.”
At that point Eric began a funky bassline for the song Backwoods Soulshaker. The girls took the stage for the first time and sang in a gospel harmony, “Caeser Pink. Caeser Pink,”
I walked onto the stage and looked out over the audience, scanning the crowd with slow deliberate movements. Then with a motion of my arm the band broke into the full groove. The girls sang, “C’mon C’mon C’mon C’mon people C’mon C’mon C’mon!”
I followed with an aggressive ,:
I come up from a white-trash small-town
But that don't mean that I ain't been around
I seen things that you'd never believe
What I done most men only dream
You better understand that I got a plan
The prophet, the poet, the pop-punk-priest
Tantra vodoo-guru, ooh can you say my name?
If you don't conform you pay a mighty high price
If you stand tall they wanna knock you down
The brighter you shine the smaller that they feel
Until it fills them with the urge to kill.
I'm clenched-fist, yeah, stickin' by my guns
You can bet that I fought for everything I got
The shaker, the maker, the hard line taker
I tear it down to the ground with this sound
And that's my game, can you say my name?
Next we went into three rock songs in which I played guitar. During the next Erica put a set of Mickey Mouse ears on my head and the video screen filled with images of Brittney Spears, Ashley Simpson, boys bands, and teen beat magazines.
One time back in the stone-age
Someone made a chalk drawing on the wall
Here we are 5,000 years later with 300 channels of cable TV
So much stimulation but I feel kind of numb
So much information yet I feel kind of dumb
I know it's supposed to be fun
But sometimes I feel I wanna reach for a gun
Caramel covered, margarine coated
Sugar and spice, everything's so nice
Lots of pretty boys and girls so feast your eyes
During the first three rock songs I was playing guitar and seemed to be struggling with it all. Sometimes you can practice it to death and know it by heart, but still have a bad night. By the third one, a ballad called Happy Endings, I could tell we had the audience’s attention, but we didn’t have them on their feet yet.
The next tune, Bleed Your Love, was a slow funk groove that brought the horn section back into the action. I invited the women in the audience to come up front and dance. As the song progressed I wandered out into the floor and sang to people, sometimes pulling them to the front of the stage to dance with me.
That was followed by Mamma Down, a full funky pop tune. As it came to an end I could see we finally had the crowd up and dancing. The next tune in the set was a moody spoken word piece that would lose the dancers so I made a quick change in the set and added another funk groove Exhibition. During the bridge the music broke down to a quiet groove. The tenor sax player followed me through the thick crowd as I searched for a woman to sing to. I chose I slightly overweight black girl who was sitting in her chair. I got down on my knees and looked into her eyes. After each line I sang the sax player responded with a sultry melody.
As I sang to her I noticed she looked scared, then her eyes became wet, then tears began to stream down her face. Then suddenly she stood up boldly and began to dance in a sexy manner. I leaned to her ear and whispered, “You’re beautiful”
It was an amazing sight to see. It was like watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon.
Having won the audience over with some funky grooves I felt safe to take them into more subversive territory. The band began playing ambient swells and I read out of a black notebook.
In the big picture
Behind the scenes
America is changing
But slow changes are hard to see
Our feeble memories blind us to the difference between then and now
The regiment of day-to-day life lulls us into numbness
And a million mindless diversions steal our attention
They give us video games, prime-time-softore-porn, and homeland security fears in exchange for our very souls
Like a magician’s slight-of-hand they feed us slogans to chant
while they take away our freedom
Behind me Erica sat on a stool and Erin wrapped her in an American flag as if it was a shawl that covered her head and shoulders. Then she placed a large bomb in her arms. Erica cradled and rocked the bomb as if it were a baby and she was the Madonna comforting the Christ child.
We march into 1984 with a smile on our faces.
The factory workers and fast food servers
are told to cheer or be accused of moral treason.
The American dream’s been sold for media dollars
paid for by CEO’s who keep politicians on short-leash-dog-collars.
You might say it’s not true that you’re free as can be!
But Madison Avenue ad executives make no secret of the way they wash our brains.
Our values are created by media-giants who keep entertainment safe.
Clear Channel controls what you hear and Disney and Viacom tell us not what, but how to think.
Between lines I would make wild hand gestures that the musicians would respond to with blasts of chaotic noise that imitated my gestures.
Those in power speak openly of their deceit because they are confident we are so completely controlled that we won’t pay attention while we’re bought and sold.
And every day we prove them right.
We proclaim our freedom while we embrace conformity
And enforce obedience
But put your ear to the wind, read their books, listen to their speeches.
And suddenly they presidents promises have a more ominous meaning
“Greed is good” they say
Democracy should go to the highest bidder.
Let power rule the day.
In the big picture
Behind the scenes
America is changing
As the song came to an end I introduced Erin. She took the center stage as the lights dimmed to a single white spot. With just a quiet jazz guitar behind her she sang the potent lyrics to Strange Fruit, a haunting ballad about lynching made famous by Billie Holiday. It truly sent chills down my spine listening to her passionate singing and the brutal lyrics.
While she sang I put on a ski mask and thick jacket. With my appearance looking pretty creepy with the ski mask over my head, as I sang Dancing Now I looked deep into the eyes of both men and women in the audience. In past experience this has caused fists to be thrown so I am always a little leery of it, but I also know that it has a powerful effect on people.
During the end of the song I crawled on the stage with a toy machine gun. The female singers put on businessmen jackets and hats and pulled string from the shoulders of my jacket so they could control me like a puppet. They would point at people in the audience and I would pretend to shoot the machine gun at them. When I would make shooting motions with the gun the keyboard player would trigger a loud sample of a machine gun that would echo through the room.
As I made my way back to the dressing room during the break a college girl yelled at me, “You guys really suck!”
During the 2nd set we blasted the crowd with funk. For some reason the show was endorsed by the campus bi/lesbian organization and the place was filled with them. And these girls know how to cut loose and party. They really made the night a lot of fun.
The second song was Good Girl, a big P-funk type jam with innovative musical ideas that included an electronic theremin solo over tribal drums, a jazzy New Orleans-march horn section, and at the end the entire band formed a drum line. I played timbales and did a call and response with the band members who had drums slung over their shoulders.
By halfway through the set the audience was in a frenzy. For Yeah Yeah Yeah we all wore signs over our chests that had racial or other epitaphs on them. Erica wore “Cunt,” Frank was “Wop” Eric was “Kike” Tony was “Honkey,” Erin was “The N Word” and mine had three unfolding flaps that said “White beugouise(?) male with oedipal complex, oppressor of the patriarch.”
During the last verse I handed out signs to the audience members to wear. Among them were “Hick, slut, pothead, spic, chink, etc.”
It was a great moment that seemed to fill the audience with a sense of community. For the last song “Sex Salvation” I went out into the audience and women were eagerly biting from the apple that I held in my hand. During the guitar solo Erica and I pushed Tony to the floor and rolled atop him. Then I grabbed his leg and pulled him across the floor.
During a quiet breakdown I pulled my old friend Marnie Bailey into the center stage. Marnie was a beautiful girl who was the dream-girl of my youth, although in all the years I knew her I never laid a finger on her, or told her how I felt.
After years of not seeing her we reconnected a few months before and immediately those old feeling re-emerged. As she stood before me I looked into her eyes and added some new lyrics to the song,
“Your eyes tell a story of a woman waiting to begin
No one appreciates how much you've got to give
When you close your eyes you dream of a life you've never known
Where soft touch gives way to passion waiting to explode
I see what you really are
With my kiss upon your neck
My touch upon your skin
I'll lick your lips before I taste you
Slowly...I want to savor this”
During the bridge the song built to a full funk/gospel climax. I began pulling people onto the stage so they could dance with the musicians. The room was filled with excitement. We had half the women in the audience onstage with us and the groove had the whole room dancing. I pulled Marnie onto the stage, but in her half drunken state and high shoes, she fell on the edge of the stage. In response she began to run away and fell again. When I tried to help her she yelled in a teary voice. “Fuck you, fuck you, you did this to me,” then ran back to her seat. I tried to go to her and apologize but she yelled, “Just leave me alone.”
I was taken aback by the drama and had never seen her behave in this way, but I felt terrible about making her fall.
When the song came to and end I yelled “I wanna be your dog,” and the band broke into a grinding version of the Iggy Pop underground classic. By this time the room was swollen with sexual tension. During the third verse I crawled through the audience on my hands and knees before falling onto my back. As I sang “So messed up and I need you here. In my room I need you here,” two women lay atop me and begin to rub them bodies against me. A third woman in a skirt stood with her legs on each side of my face doing a lascivious dance above me.
As the song came to an end I made the band play faster and faster until it transformed into frenetic hardcore punk and then dissolved into total chaos. As the cacophony ground to a halt the guitar player and bass player lay on the floor on a pile and I rested atop them.
After the show the band went into dirty basement to change out of our costumes. They were full of excitement.
“That wasn’t a gig, that was a rock show!” Frank enthused.
When we went back upstairs a crowd had gathered to ask me to sign T-shirts. One woman said, “Write something dirty,” but for the life of me a couldn’t come up with anything on the spot so I wrote, “Thanks for joining the Orgy.” She looked very disappointed when she read it.
On her way out the door Marnie gave me a painfully tight embrace and said, “I’m sorry about how I acted. Seeing you with those other girls rubbed me the wrong way.”
It’s funny, after a night like that you can feel like a rock star, but when it’s all over and your lugging out equipment, it knocks such arrogances right out of you.
We were followed back to my hotel suite by four of the bi/lesbian girls. One of them I had met on Myspace and I was quite attracted to. Another had long red curls that streamed over her face and shoulders. I think three of the four were ready for sexual adventures, but before anything could get started the rest of the band came in and partied till 4:30 AM. By that time everyone was too tired for any debauchery.
The next morning at about 10AM the musicians began to wander into the hotel lounge for the free continental breakfast. The guys all looked like they’d been through the wringer. But the last to arrive were the girls who looked as fresh as spring daisies and walked in like goddesses among geeks.
I didn’t really know the horn players that well. Adrian is from Switzerland and Stephan from Sweden. We sat around and talked about Europe and the previous night’s events.
As Heather and I headed for NYC the Monday morning 9-5 reality loomed before me like an albatross. It was such a weekend of excitement and fun that it made day-to-day life seem dreadfully boring.
The Imperial Orgy had come a long way since it’s inception ten-plus years ago. We finally seemed able to actually create the original vision I had in my head. Saturday night’s show felt musically and artistically right. We were expressing a message I believed in and people were hearing it and finding meaning and a sense of community within it. What more can an artist ask for?
I no longer expect to make money from artistic endeavors, I only search fro ways to find money to fund those endeavors.
2/6/2006 5:00 pm
now thats a story, cant wait to check out one of your shows|