I want to kill bugs, sir!

     

 

 

Freaks also need to be divided into two categories, the really scary freaks and the just sorta cute & cuddly freaks.
-- Lisa Scovel

 


Freaking Out
The Normals
With Nambla

(or: How I
Learned to
Stop Buggering
and Love
the Opera
)











Pigdog team reporting by Mr. Bad, El Snatcher, Liquor Pig and Frankenstein Jones
Ggreg photos courtesy http://www.ggreg.com
. Other photos stolen.



Raconteur, clown, queer icon and all around weird dude-about-town Ggreg Taylor dropped by the shack to talk about his latest project, Ggreg Taylor's Forgotten Opera, a "masked costume ball" posing as a rave posing as an opera set to take place Saturday, June 14 in a massive warehouse in San Francisco's SOMA district. Although he prefers to be called "Ggreg" when he's not aggressively altering other folks' timespace parameters on the Black Rock Desert, we know him best as Nambla, so that's how we're going to address him for the next few thousand words, dammit.

Liquor Pig:
So, let me get this straight. You're putting on an Opera Rave for over a thousand people? Why?
Nambla: Outreach. I think opera rocks; it's pretty trippy and over the top, and loads of folks think it's just for uppity arugula chomping shiraz sippers, but it's a pretty cool artform. The witches coven scene in Mephistolese featured 100 extras in nude suits, the women with giant pendulous breasts, the men with foot long hooseywassis - WAY over the top.

El Snatcher:
Wowey wow wow WOW!

Liquor Pig: OK, I'll give you that. Anyway, isn't this party, you know, kind of gay?
Nambla: Party will be v v mixed. Burning Man meets the Castro meets Pacific Heights. I'm a big fag but my friends are pretty mixed. The Opera's sending out invitations to their 36,000 person email list in a few days.

Mr. Bad: OK, so, it's a mixed party.
Nambla: I'm leveraging my synergies to build a robust multi-tier solution for the enterprize. I think it will scale well.

Mr. Bad: Will it be operas we know going on? Or original stuff?
Nambla: Yep, think Flambé Lounge-ish.

Mr. Bad: Like, "Aida", or "Carmen", or something else? Oh, wait.
Nambla: The party has theatrical elements, something from Don Carlos, something from some weird Assyrian opera I can't recall the name of right now, and this and that from processionals, guards, mansions....

Frankenstein Jones: I assume there will be lots of fire and explody stuff?
El Snatcher: and naked ladies....
Nambla:
Ever been in a building that was on fire? It's terrifying.

Frankenstein Jones:
OK. So glow sticks....
Nambla:
yeah glowsticks, EL and pretty lighting.

Mr. Bad: Wow. Assyrian opera.
Nambla: well.... not much in the way of nekkidness planned and I think people who do fire inside buildings are stupid assholes. I was in the Hush Hush club 12 years ago when it was called the Emperor and it burned down.

Liquor Pig: So, are you hiring professional Opera artists, or are the theatrics done by volunteers?
Nambla: Professional opera singer recommended to my by Ra$pa. Marisa Lenhard. She sang while the Temple burned last year at Burning Man, coordinates Thunderdome.

El Snatcher: Do you have a live action part in the opera yourself, or are you more like the director/producer guy who runs the casting couch?
Nambla: LOL, I'm a former club promoter who accidentally started programming the Opera's databases. I'm going back into throwing parties, 'cause I'm better at it and it's waaay more fun.

Mr. Bad: Oh, so, what's the rave part? Is the score going to be mostly electronic?
Nambla: It's a dance party. You familiar with Jenö? He spins at Wicked, and he's fantastic.

The Fat Lady Sings El Snatcher: Operas use databases???
Nambla: Operas use LOTS of databases, actually - you ever seen how the lighting cues and curtains and sets are moved? Computers all of them.

Liquor Pig: SELECT from PROGRAM where FAT_LADY like "SINGS".
Mr. Bad: LOST CONNECTION.
Nambla: that would give you an error. Select distinct aria from program where Fat_Lady like "%sings".
Mr. Bad: Yeah, I think that should terminate everything.

Mr. Bad: Orchestral music mixed and wooka-wooka-wooka scratched by DJs? Or something else?
Nambla: Ouchy the Clown's DJing my indie floor the first shift - you can ask him for all the wooka you want. I'm a HUGE fan of MotorHead and Dolly Parton. The indie room is the one I'll be in. Not much for house music, but darn the kids love it.

Frankenstein Jones: I think I'd be afraid to ask Ouchy for wooka.
Nambla: Gosh. Wonder what Ouchy will wear....

Frankenstein Jones: Are there any midgets involved with this production?
Nambla: I've used midgets before.

Liquor Pig: How many of the guests are you expecting to come in costume or mask?
Nambla: I'd say 60% for an event like this, maybe more. Unpredictable, but more than your average party but less than BBBJJJ.

El Snatcher: Nambler, are there going to be any clowns in this thing, or clown naked lady dancers? Or have you converted to the serious side?
Nambla: The Porn Clown Posse's coming. I'm not serious trust me. I'm a well intentioned hooligan.

Mr. Bad: Do you expect to see a lot of crossover from the "traditional" opera crowd?
Nambla: The Opera folks are nervous about me doing this party but they know I'm doing it for the right reasons, and that it'll be a kick. I'm going to a BRAVO! club party Wednesday night to recruit them. They're excited.

Mr. Bad: I think it's brilliant.
Nambla: I think it'll be a great time. You lads ever been to the Opera?

El Snatcher: You know what I liked about Fantasy Island? That in the Pilot 2-hour-for-TV movie Mr. Roark and Tatoo were super evil, and people died ironic deaths.

Liquor Pig: Are they afraid that you'll encourage a bunch of ecstacy-swallowing freaks to the San Francisco Opera?
Nambla: Dave Calkins and I tood 88 folks to Hansel and Gretel, which was a blast. The average age of opera-goers is 55. 70% of the folks sitting in any opera performance have Masters degrees. They want to lower the average age and broaden their demographics.

El Snatcher: Wow, leveraging synergies!
Mr. Bad: Because old people are real gassy and ruin the show.
Frankenstein Jones: Right. They fart constantly.
Nambla: Uh... Just as a hot tip... If you ever get a chance to get into the box seats look at the fabric on the chairs. I won't say anything more than that in print.

Frankenstein Jones: How has the establishment press been treating you? Do they write you off as a fringe thing?
Nambla: They don't get me, but are excited to have a firecracker around. It's weird. They aren't being terribly cooperative. They want the party to be a success already before they'll help much. If it rocks out hopefully I'll do it again next year. ACT's actually more interested in me doing something similar with them.

Mr. Bad: Oh, hey, that's a great idea.
Frankenstein Jones: I think it'd be funny to turn on the local news and see your opera. "More at eleven..."
El Snatcher: ACT!
Nambla: NBC is coming. Evening Magazine is coming. I hope they have a moist towelette for afterward.

El Snatcher: Can you imagine some out-of-towner visitor people going to the ACT after a meal at the Cheesecake Factory, and being confronted by a crazy Nambler the Clown operah? That's fantastical!
Liquor Pig: Are you going to have rooms at the party for "private encounters"?
Nambla: Yeah, I want it to be a freakshow, truly. I think we'll have a blast - I get a good gang together. I've always said it's not a good party unless something breaks or the police com.e

Frankenstein Jones: You should get some cheesy b-list celeb to emcee the thing. Like Kirk Cameron.
Nambla: I was actually working on Tammy Faye Baker, not kidding, but wasn't enough time. I could get a B celeb like Larry Harvey, perchance.

El Snatcher: Hey, but what about clowns... I sense you're tired of the clown schtick and trying to transcend somehow.
Nambla: I'm the meta clown. I've gone through the white light to the other side. Ask Ouchy what Ouchy was based off of. Ask the PCP who the original leather clown was. Ask them if they know their leather clown history. Ask them if they know about Sardonicus, the truly original one.

Frankenstein Jones: So your clownishness is all commentary on clownishness?
Nambla: Do we really need to discuss postmodern identity deconstruction through IM?
El Snatcher: that's exactly what I figured.
Mr. Bad: This is like a WWF interview, but for clowns.
Nambla: Absolutely. I hit F7 a lot.

El Snatcher:
you are a post-clown

NamblaTheClown: Yeah, kinda trapped in the mask. Which is why now I focus more on spoken mime.

Nambla and Friend Frankenstein Jones: Everybody loves mime!
Liquor Pig: I'm sensing some animosity here, are you and Ouchy going to go at it in the ring?
El Snatcher: Ouchy gets a lot of attention... he's sort of the Extreme Elvis of evil clown freaks,

Nambla: Have you heard that Ouchy and I wanna have a smack down? We talked about it months ago... Ouchy has a great name easily understood by the mainstream. Excellent commodity and a brilliant person. LOVE me some Ouchy, and he's a great cook too.

Frankenstein Jones: I think you and Ouchy should race funny cars against each other.
Nambla: My dad was a professional dragster driver (for real), so yer gettin close.

The conversation then devolves into a 20-minute-long discussion on the finer points of top fuel and pro stock racing, before it is brought back onto track.

Liquor Pig: Tell us about what it's like to practice clown buggery.
Nambla: I got laid the night I wore this outfit in that pic by a straight latino bodybuilder who said to me when we got to his tiny studio: "Don't take your makeup off - you won't like me with your makeup off." Additionally, I'll have you know that Rugburns denied me entry into the PCP. She said I "wasn't porny enough."

El Snatcher: How can you not be Porny enough with a name like Nambla?
Nambla: I'm proto-clown. Meta-clown. Perhaps they're threatened. One never knows. But others must be denied to create self-elevating hierarchies. Nambla isn't a good enough name?

Mr. Bad: I think Nambla's a great name.
Nambla: Birthdays? Barmitzvahs? Day care for boys? C'mon

Mr. Bad:
Do you ever get "That's Not Funny"?
Nambla: Yeah, often enough, but why bother with people like that.

El Snatcher: Special Ed wouldn't join this interview because he thought you might rape his ass over the chat machine.
Mr. Bad: "You think you're being funny, but it's not funny." Yeah, yerright, screw those people.
El Snatcher: Pull their arms off! throw them over the cliff!
Nambla: People who don't get it... well hey, bummer for them. Like a woman bought this product from my site and then asked me if I really was a member of NAMBLA.

Mr. Bad: So, umm, if you were four guys like us, and you wanted to make a costume for the Opera Ball, what would you do?
Nambla: What would you wear to Burning Man?

Mr. Bad: Oh.
Nambla: A costume party is a costume party. Eyes Wide Shut?

Liquor Pig: Will you be serving alcohol at the party?
Mr. Bad: (Good question!)
Nambla: Yup, my buddy who owns Mezzanine is catering it. Full booze. 2 soundsystems from JK sound, 4 djs, 1 opera singer, innumerable freaks. Indeed - some nelly liquor company called me today to do some lame ass promotion inside - bah say I.

Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?  N-A-M-B-L-A! El Snatcher: When you talk to the ACT people, do they address you as "Nambla"
Nambla: I prefer being referred to as Dark Lord Princess Tiny Meat in my more professional engagements. But yeah, the "straight" community knows me mostly as NtC, and the gay community knows me better as Ggreg Taylor. NtC is a Burning Man thing.

Liquor Pig: How long have you been doing the NAMBLA the Clown thing at Burning Man?
Nambla: This'll be BMan 10 for me.

Liquor Pig: So, were you like the pre-eminent gay camp at BM in the early days?
Nambla: I was also the co-chair of the Pride Parade, founded Pink Saturday, founded the GLAAD Media Awards, stuff like that. M*A*S*Hcara was the first one I think, and I also started JiffyLube.

El Snatcher: Do you think Burning Man is getting better each year, reached homeostasis, or is on the decline?
Frankenstein Jones: huh huh huh Zach said "homeo."
Nambla: Yeah I'm a big fag, but as my brother said to me in my 19th birthday card - "I don't mind that you're a fag, I just hate that you're a freak". So I identify as freak first.

Mr. Bad: Whatever makes your family hate you.
Nambla: My dad's a white supremacist Christian separatist - did I mention that?

Mr. Bad:
No shit!
Nambla: You can only imagine. Drag racing and shooting at roadsigns, kinda interesting. My mom, however... I've dressed as a fisting bottom for mother's day, did a party called "Mom of Finland" which rocked.

Frankenstein Jones: Holy fuckos
Liquor Pig: Wow, that's super gross!
Nambla: Dad knows me. White supremacists are racist and anti-Semitic but generally not homophobic. Faggotry is a personal choice.

Liquor Pig: There's nothing gross about faggotry, I mean the fisting for Mom thing.
Mr. Bad: I don't think my mom has ever been featured in a porno comic book-themed party, as far as I know.
Nambla: Poor mom, she's a good freak too. Well if you're going to dress your mother like that you kinda gotta explain the outfit. Of course Aunt Kitty was dressed as a piss bottom.

Mr. Bad: That's so Aunt Kitty.
El Snatcher: somebody ask Nambler a hard question
Mr. Bad: Umm, OK.
Nambla: Answer is 42.

El Snatcher: none of this softball bullshit
Mr. Bad: So, here's my hard question. If the idea is to promote opera and open it to a wider audience...won't the people at the party be kinda disappointed when they actually go to a regular opera? I mean, stretching the medium to reach out can have a backlash effect. Where it's so attenuated it's not really the same medium.
Nambla: Depends on which one. And they can decide for themselves. Don't you think a lot of younger people think it's elitist from the get-go?

Take me to your leather, earthling! Mr. Bad: Oh, definitely.
Nambla: Everyone who comes tot he party will be given vouchers for 2-for-1 opera tickets, so they can go for MUCH cheaper.

Mr. Bad: And there's always political problems with the SF Opera.
El Snatcher: I don't think that even the elitists in the bay area go to operah. I mean opera. they would definitely go to operah
Nambla: Some absolutely rock. Don't get me wrong, I'm a hard core bohemian, but Turandot rocked.

El Snatcher: But, yes, it has a taint of elitism.
Nambla: And Cesare was really great last summer.

Mr. Bad: Which is kind of funny, because it used to be a very populist medium.
Nambla: Opera tickets start at $24. Is that too elitist?

Mr. Bad: No, but when you think of going to the opera, you always expect to see the top hat guy from "Monopoly" there.
El Snatcher: $24 is too elitist? That's only slightly more expensive than dinner for two at Sizzler.
Nambla: Yeah, well my idea is introduce people to the medium, have them check it out and see what they think. Make their own decision rather than base opinions on preconceptions

Mr. Bad: If I was running the Opera, I'd have an ad campaign called "Opera Gets You Laid". I don't think you could fail to score if you took someone to the opera.
Nambla: Have you heard about the outfits for "Damnation of Faust" or "The Cunning Vixen"? The children in the chorus had to get signed parental permission to be in Damnation. The costumes are by Mister S Leather if that gives you any idea.

Liquor Pig: Do you think that the Opera Rave will be a good place to take a chick if I want to score?
Nambla: Oh yeah - take a chick - she'll mistake you for sensitive.

Mr. Bad: I think the problem with opera is that it makes people feel dumb.
Nambla: No, opera is obvious. Have any of you guys been?

Mr. Bad: Yeah, I've been.
Nambla: It's actually over the top obvious generally.

Michael Jackson makes rare public appearance El Snatcher: I put on opera to scare the shit out of children.
Mr. Bad: But I think the idea is that you're not allowed in the opera unless you know everything about all operas that were ever made ever.
El Snatcher: In that sense, Nambler, Opera is a perfect medium for you.
Nambla: I'm working on doing audience outreach with Shorenstein Theaters and ACT as well right now, and am going to approach the Symphony and Berkeley Rep to cross promote packages for hipsters. See if we can build audience that way.

El Snatcher: Well, one of the things that makes it elitist is that it is formal. You have to dress up for the opera.
Nambla: Nah, problem is you have to pay attention. Our generation doesn't do that as well. And I don't know guano about opera. I'm just a high school educated nerd who digs art. You don't have to know anything to like it.

Mr. Bad: Aren't there lots of horse-faced women with lorgnettes who scowl at you and say, "Well, I never!"?
Nambla: Yes and then slap you with their reticule as they turn on heel.

Mr. Bad: OK, so, you don't have to be smart to go to operas, or rich, or even dress nice.
Nambla: No, it's one of those "checkin it out" things.

Mr. Bad: And you will definitely get laid. And there are porn clowns (not at all opera events, some restrictions apply). I see this as a win-win situation.
El Snatcher: I think the problem is that the medium is real intellectual. Opera takes vast amounts of brain energy.
Nambla: Zippo brain energy. Do you know what the plots are like? Man falls in love with woman who wants to kill him, they sing a lot, wear fantastic outfits, are chased around stage by 100 people in matching trenchcoats and the woman kills herself at the end before he can tell her some secret or...

El Snatcher: But what I mean is that you have to interpret it. You can't enjoy it viscerally.
Nambla: Interpret how? They have supertitles on the sides - nuttin to interpret. I prefer operas not sung in English because the lyrics tend to be repetitive and somewhat insipid, but sound fancier in French or Italian.

El Snatcher: Well, here's the thing: that was interesting 200 years ago...
Nambla: 400 years ago.

El Snatcher: ...400 years ago, and in another language...
Nambla: Yeah, like Cher.

El Snatcher: ...and so the idea with opera is that somehow you should be able to appreciate the wonders that were created then. And so you have to bring all kinds of intellectual might together to even understand, let alone enjoy it.
Nambla: Nah, stories are stories. The plots of tales told now are not so different that those told by Heracles.

El Snatcher: So when you talk about opera in the sense that you are talking about it, Nambler, it really isn't much different from a Hollywood musical
Nambla: Yeah, Hansel and Gretel is pretty draining intellectually, but gosh gets you down there.

El Snatcher: No, you're not supposed to enjoy the core story.
Nambla: It has formal rules associated with it apparently, that I know little about. And the production values tend to be more interesting (or less so).

El Snatcher: You're supposed to enjoy the multifarious layers of cruft-- the barriers... language, culture, etc... you're supposed to enjoy interpreting that. And THAT is what makes opera hopelessly elitist.
Nambla: I can't argue for or against opera. My job here is to provide an opportunity to try it out. Kick the tires, that sorta thing. Fun is fun. I dig gun ranges, chasing foul balls at baseball games (prefer farm league), ballet, opera, Gwar shows... all of those are fun.

El Snatcher: Yeah, well, what I think you're doing is great. It's sort of re-inventing opera. And that's cool. Opera is boring.
Nambla: Bite me.

El Snatcher: Okay, well maybe we should wrap this up. When can we see this Opera!?
Nambla: See which opera?

El Snatcher:
Your opera!
Liquor Pig: I think he means, tell us about your Opera Party. [This is your plug]
Nambla: What I'm doing is two-fold. I dig bringing a groovy gang of folks together to hang and make new nutter friends. And I like promoting culture, whatever that means. So come, get drunk, meet girls who think you're sensitive, and have a kicking good time.

Frankenstein Jones: OK, that doesn't sound so boring. El Snatcher will be there with his $900 opera glasses.
Liquor Pig: That sounds pretty good. I'll see you there..
Nambla: It'll be a great party. Even if it weren't sponsored officially by SF Opera - but if I can talk those matrons into coming, well ... WOOHOO!

El Snatcher: Somebody do the "Columbo" question... "Just one more thing..."
Nambla: That was entertaining - expected you to be more... well more Spock Mountain and naughty.

Liquor Pig: More naughty? What exactly did you expect? We're not interested in your sex life.
Nambla: Neither am I. More irreverent. More stuff about drugs sex and rock n raul.

Liquor Pig: You're not interested either? That could be a problem. Yeah, what's your favorite drug these days?
Nambla: Fave drug? Claritin. Or actually, Wal-atin. Wonder if they have Wal-ZT.





 

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

tablesalt@pigdog.org


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