BLACKLIPS: ITS LIFE AND ITS MANY, MANY DEATHS
Blacklips pictured clockwise from top left: Flloyd, Antony, Lost Forever, Johanna Constantine, Lulu, Kabuki Starshine, Pearls, Psychotic Eve, Sissy Fit, James F. Murphy, Hattie Hathaway, Mouse, Howie Pyro, Clark Render (not pictured here: Lily of the Valley, Ebony Jet, Herr Klunch) Photo by Michael James O'Brien
As a laboratory for its startling array of participants, Blacklips had a wildly diverse aesthetic, depending on the playwright du nuit. The group nonetheless became renown for trademark gore, "bloodbags and beauty," black camp, hysteria, and surrealism. Originally founded by Antony in the summer of 1992 with Johanna Constantine and "Psychotic" Eve, Blacklips, which later became known as Blacklips Performance Cult, ballooned into a collective of 15 downtown artists, gender mutants, and drug addicted hybrids in various states of breakdown and toothlessness, who took turns writing scripts and presenting late night dramas at the all-but abandoned Pyramid club in NYC.
Some of the plays were frivolous and kitschy. Others were brutal and paranoid, pointless, profound, filled with the glint of knives in shining eyes, the ghosts of the dead and devoured, soul-baring torch songs, flaccid filth, genital choppings, bloodlust, one-liners, hedgepigs, chickens, revelations, indulgence, fluff, heaven and horror...
The moments at times were shocking. Sometimes because they were so crap. But sometimes, such as during Frankenstein, or Death! or Pyromania, because the group had evoked a moment so uncanny, so perfect... in that cold stinking bunker Blacklips stirred a screaming dream.
The audience was pelted with buckets full of blood and guts, knives, sperm, jewels, drugs, shit, and love. Players pasted the many hues of filth to their lips and eyelids and pinned sparkling golden maggots to their lapels. Majestic sets were jerry-rigged together from Blacklips' horde of trash pickings: broken wheels, twisted metal, dismembered dolls, pudding-filled chamber pots, tinsel glitz and cottonballs, spindles of gutted umbrellas, piss-drenched Christmas trees, and later the massive sheets of lurid red silk, stained with splatterings of last week's entrails...