Bob’s Cabaret (Area 10 – London: Thursday 8th Aug, 2002)

Bob’s Cabaret Week 3.

A lot more people down at the old Whitten Timber yard last night. More like 100 than last weeks 20. 100 people all of whom are telling their friends about what they saw last night. Next week is sure to be crowded. Why?

When I got to the bar, I asked what was on the menu tonight. Some poetry, a dance show, a couple of bands.

The first half comprised of some poetry reading, a human beatbox (actually very good), a couple of guys singing funny songs which were actually funny. If course, I can’t remember the names of any of these people. Compared to last week the quality of the acts was much higher. I think some serious hard work preceded the event.

The human beatbox guy was a revalation. He had been introduced as reading a poem, but he began with quiet clicking noises, and built up to a fast rythmn. I could imagine the look on a latecomer’s face when walking into the warehouse to be confronted by 100 people quietly listening to a man making mouth sounds into a mic.

The act that followed that was two guys like you might find down the pub singing songs about fish and shopping. We’ve all seen the purveyor of the “funny” song on “variety” shows on TV, and I always find them disapointing and trite. Perhaps it is something about live performance, or they were actually very good, or I had smoked a reefer, that meant I was giggling at their utterances. Their apparently unrehearsed performance was surreal yet familiar.

The second half began with an act that required 9 volunteers from the audience. The poet promised he wouldn’t put them on the spot. Eventually 9 brave people sat on the stage, and the poet, Paul McKenna like asked them each a question. He then sent them off and composed a poem based on their answers “to draw a picture of this evening”. This took about 5 minutes, after which he read a short piece that was much deeper than the doggerel I was expecting.

Following this, another reading, this time of what I imagine was a cut up technique as pioneered by William Burroughs. The man reading was very animated and interesting to watch, though I found the rambling poems a bit hard to follow.

The next performance was a “dance” piece. It began with one of the organisers walking out completely naked and putting a record on, then sitting on the sofa on stage. A woman wearing a wrestling mask floated round the audience to the music, then walked behind the naked man and preceeded to stroke his arms. Seeings as there was a naked man on stage I wasn’t really sure what to expect next, and I was realising that watching a live sex show might not actually be the most comfortable experience, but she got out some scissors and started to cut the mans long hair off. She snipped away, then produced a shaver, and went at the man’s hair. When she had finished she carried some of the hair out to the audience. At this point it all went a bit wild. A japanese woman ran up on stage and leapt on the mans dick, sucking at it. He looked rather surprised. There were a few cheers from the audience. The first public blow job I have ever seen…

This marked the end of that act. I think the masked woman was not too pleased by the “disruption” (I think the man was her boyfriend), but she restrained any feeling she was having and let the evening continue. For the art?

The audience was then led up to a platform where a reading of “The Bald Premadonna” under the influence of vodka, a play by the french surrealist Eugene Ionseco. The players were all armed with shot glasses, which were filled up at regular intervals. The play is a critique of the English middle classes and their dull lives. The vodka and the fact that I think none of the players had seen the script before meant the performance was rather improvised. And the Japanese woman was back with a script too. She started reading her lines in a monotone Japanese accent. She began to squat, and the next thing I noticed was a puddle of piss growing around her feet. I don’t know if this was deliberate, part of an act, or involuntary, induced by vodka, nerves, or a schizoid episode. She sat down, and the reading continued, the dialogue of two people discussing their lives which are exactly the same, because they are man and wife, it is finally revealed. But what of the piss soaked Japanese woman. She had removed her trousers, and hung them up to dry, and was waiting for her next cue, playing with the puddle of piss, then soaking an Always pad in it, and throwing it at the audience, splashing us with her urine. Her cue came, and she went into the monotone drone reading again, but shortly she threw the script down and started shouting “Me so horny, me love you long time!” over and over, getting into the crab position and wandering up to members of the audience. I thought my brain was going to melt. After stunning the audience for five minutes she ran down the stairs and disapeared. Another member of the audience got onto the stage and started shouting, and I thought he was going to hit someone, till I realised he to was a poet. It was getting a bit chaotic, and the Japanese woman returned and started shouting “Borrocks! Borrocks!”.

By this point I was starting to wonder what was going to happen next, and some pretty intense things were running through my head. Time to leave I think before someone does something dangerous. The japanse woman had grabbed the ranting man, and was kissing him on the stairs. Her friends sat and watched the performance, seeming to not really know what to do. I still don’t know if it was all an act, or some sort of attack, which makes me feel slightly guilty about writing it up (but I have to don’t I?) We left, and as I was walking up Rye Lane, a police car hurtled round the corner, all blues and twos, possibly heading for Area 10, and I don’t know what…

I think I will be back next week. I have to find out what happened. I expect next week there will be a much, much larger audience. And a couple of people filmed the whole thing.

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