Monday, April 5, 2010
“Pop Goes The Loft” – R.J. Cavender
The last days of March brought with it the end of the month-long “Pop Goes The Loft” Andy Warhol film showcase. Every Thursday in March, The Loft presented a Warhol double-feature, culminating in the final showing of the films “Blowjob” and “My Hustler”.
Tucson band Monster Pussy kicked off the night with a flashback-inducing set of Velvet Underground songs to set the mood and mindset for the full ‘Factory Experience’. I really dug their choice of songs both familiar and eclectic from the Velvet’s discography. Their performance was rockin’ and bombastic, and I especially appreciated the lead singer doing vocal stylings of both Lou Reed and Nico. The illusion was complete when he donned a blonde wig for a full-on Nico impersonation for the song “I’ll Be Your Mirror”. It totally rocked. I fully intend to catch Monster Pussy doing their own original songs when they play at Plush later this month.
Program Director and Master of Ceremonies for the night Jeff Yanc took the stage after the band ended. If you’ve ever been to The Loft for a special event, you probably already know who Jeff is. He’s been the MC for most of the events I’ve attended at the theater including Mondo Monday’s, and he makes speaking in front of large crowds look really effortless. The short introductions that he does before each film always enhance the viewing experience for me, and I appreciate hearing a film’s history and some interesting factoids when someone does their homework like Jeff does.
Up first for the night was the 1963 film “Blowjob”, and it was everything the title implied, and yet both more and less. I found it fascinating, really. The entire film was just one steady shot of a man’s face, as the act implied in the film’s title is being performed on him off-screen. Now, because of the commentary before the film, everyone in the theater was privy to the knowledge of just who was performing said act and why, adding interesting layers onto an already provocative piece.
But, as monotonous as one straight shot of a person’s face, in black-and-white, and as a silent film might sound…it was anything but. In fact, it was more like watching a screen-test from the silent film era or a grainy old photo come to life. The sparse play of light on the actor’s face was always changing, as were his expressions, this leading to moments of hilarity followed by whole segments where his eyes would be covered in creeping shadows. The expressions of ecstasy and agony were interchangeable at times, and what seemed to be an ultimately frustrating off-screen situation made for some pretty interesting ‘living art’.
I talked to some folks during intermission and despite preconceived ideas that both they and I had about what the movie might be like, it completely defied expectations. I’m not sure I could have endured the full eight-hour running time on a piece like Warhol’s “Empire”, but at a lean running time of only thirty-five minutes “Blowjob” held my attention and ultimately…it didn’t suck at all. Sorry, I had to at least get in one juvenile joke.
The second feature for the night was 1964’s “My Hustler” which was an uneven combination of lingering voyeuristic beefcake shots and claws-out witty cocaine-socialite repartee. It was an interesting film, with two separate parts; each based more on conversation and minor details than any real action. I found it interesting, although what passed for shocking in 1964 certainly isn’t nowadays. And while it’s not my favorite Warhol project, the significance of the film and its influence can still be seen today in art that pushes the boundaries of what is considered ‘socially acceptable’.
Both films were presented in 16mm format and the prints were provided courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art Circulating Film and Video Library. Personally, I can’t express how much I enjoyed actually hearing a film projector tick away as I watched a film. Maybe that’s just an experience I don’t get to savor all that much anymore, but it’s sure to be one that I’ll have again soon at the Loft!
Oh and I almost forgot…the POP RAFFLE for the Warhol-inspired prize package was won by Nikki Sanchez. Her name was draw from all those who entered by bringing in cans of Campbell’s Soup throughout the month to the Warhol events. All soup collected will be donated to The Tucson Community Food Bank.
Monster Pussy covers VU's Waiting for the Man from Steven Soloway on Vimeo.
Don't miss the Warhol exhibit "Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends" at the Tucson Museum of Art, February 27, 2010 - July 3, 2010. Visit HYPERLINK "http://www.tucsonmuseumofart.org/" \o "http://www.tucsonmuseumofart.org/" http://www.tucsonmuseumofart.org/ for more information.