Saturday, March 29, 2014

GWAR - "Phallus in Wonderland" (spotlight)

Dave Brockie, aka "Oderus Urungus", a founding member of Gwar died this week in Richmond.

What can I say about Gwar?  Other than it is possibly short for "Gwaaarrrgghhlllgh".  With Gwar, you either get the joke or you don't; Gwar is equal parts band, performance art, long-running (~30 years) inside-joke, and social commentary.  It's like they combined KISS, Gallagher, This Is Spinal Tap, grindhouse, and He-Man and the Masters of The Universe and decided "that's a good start, but what would happen if we took it to 11?" 

Terry first introduced me to Gwar.  He was pretty plugged into the VA music scene during the 90s and I'm pretty sure he's visited Gwar's headquarters, The Slave Pit, in Richmond where they made their costumes, filmed their videos, held GWAR-B-Qs, etc.  I was always simultaneously proud that something as odd as Gwar would come from VA, and sad that VA is such a religiously conformist environment that it would effectively create a backlash like Gwar.

IIRC, Terry told me that Gwar was advanced a small amount of $ to make a music video but instead they made an hour long movie.  That would be 1992's "Phallus in Wonderland", which is now out of print and Terry's copy is probably worth a good bit. The plot: the "Morality Squad" steals Oderus's "Cuttlefish of Cthulu" and Gwar creates the T-Rex "Gor-Gor" to get it back.  I'd say it makes sense in context but, again, you either get the joke or you don't:

I never saw Gwar live, although we occasionally had a chance when they played at the Norva.  I hope they continue, but the future of Gwar is still up in the air.  They play in costume, but knowing that Dave Brockie isn't there would somehow lessen the experience. 

Don't have time for the full movie?  At the 21 minute mark is "Have you seen me?", their "tribute" to missing children on milk cartons.  If you can make it through that, you'll enjoy the rest of their canon.

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