Played two nights at a wonderfully funky theater in New Orleans called Happyland. It’s an old movie theater that someone used as a lumber storage facility for many years and than sold to a cat named Jeff Mattson who proceeded to add his own eclectic collection of salvaged items from mechanical scrap to pipe organs to the building’s contents.
When we arrived the place had recently been cleared out of everything but a nearly integrated layer of dust. The audience was accommodated by an assortment of chairs, some very rustic looking benches made out of old floor joists, and a port-o-potty. MC Trachiotomy AKA J Poggi had given Jeff some PA speakers. The places sounds and feels wonderful. Like CBGB’s, the stage is at the back of the room, floor slightly slanted toward the stage, and there’s a long bar on the right, with a sort of awning over top of it. Also like CBGB’s, this is the kind of place where every honest musical endeavor will sound and feel perfect.
Mad haPPy were performing a version of our R We Done Yet show as part of the InFringeFest, which is an attempt at reinvigorating the New Orleans In Fringe Fest that our dear and nutty friend Michael Martin has, along with a team of artists and technical volunteers, put a good deal of sweat, heart and faith into. We were booked as as “headline” act of sorts, which I suggested was probably not a great idea as we haven’t been in New Orleans or very active in years and we didn’t expect to be much of a “draw”. We weren’t. But the performances went well and I’m really excited about being connected with Jeff Mattson, as he is one of the original members of Crash Worship, one of who’s events Zef and I attended in the early nineties and which pretty much set the bar for what a musical event could be in terms of ritualistic transformation. The music seemed to combine hypnotic tribal rhythms, industrial noise and distorted vocals and the place was full of heavily tattooed and pierced people in various states of nakedness. There were fires burning on the floor and bags of wine were passed around. We were around twenty-one. It was unforgettable.
This was the first Mad haPPy trip without kids, who stayed with mom for a night and a half. We crashed at Otter’s house, which she practically lost a few years ago after the recession and a serious car accident leading to three years without making a mortgage payment. At one point we had done a run of Joys of Armageddon shows there when she had the Backyard Ballroom open, which is how we were originally connected with Michael Martin, who played Macon’s drag queen father in the show. Now Otter is living in the theater space and supporting herself by using the house as a full time AirB&B, with four room/suites in the house and a four or six bunk bus in the yard. It looks and feels awesome.
She’s been studying Santeria for many years now and has altars and botanical plants all over the place. We spent the daytime Friday with her, sharing stories. And damn are there stories. When I first started hanging with Otter back in the early nineties she had permanent fangs and regularly did a “vampire wanking” routine where she would cut herself and drink her blood – significant amounts of it. We were doing these parties at a dungeon called Paradise Lost where we’d be in various states of clothing, heroin and crack highs, piercing, sex and mystical exploration. I remember one time sitting in a hallway with an erection, Otter’s fanged mouth on my penis while simultaneously piercing my nipples, and me thinking this is really amazing, but I’m feeling completely lost and depressed.
My favorite quote of the weekend was Otter’s, “One foot on the other side and the other on a banana peel.” Some how a bunch of us are still alive. Wisdom is the final goal of every action.