The Gift of Bad

Lots of performance art in the Valley this weekend. Along with Karen Finley at autoMATIC (see story right), Saturday, December 2, will also see the 15th annual Bad X-Mas Pageant at Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt. The show, possibly the longest-running annual performance-art event in Phoenix, is a revue featuring artists in various media, ranging from poetry by the New Subterraneans and Patrick Hare to music by the Pack of Lies Orchestra and Darrel Scarer to dance by Kathleen Marie. Videos by Steve Gompf, Jason and Vox, Inc., will be shown, and there will also be performances by student artists from Metro Arts High School, as well as food and drink.

In spite of the appellation "bad," there's a high-mindedly virtuous tone to the marketing of the show -- its purpose is to "deconstruct, right before your eyes, the concept of gift giving . . . the act of self-sacrifice . . . the emotion once widely referred to as love . . . all in the spirit of beating through your Y2K hardened shells and getting back to the heart of the season." This is done, the producers tell us, by means of "irony, sarcasm and (with special permission from GOD itself) SINCERITY." Also on the agenda is a ceremonial trashing of ordinary products such as crackers, cereal, pet toys and toilet paper, repackaged as "holiday" crackers and toilet paper and so forth.

Appropriately, the proceeds from the $5-per-person admission go to the homeless-assistance programs of the Andre House of Phoenix. The material, by the way, is for adults only, and for non-squeamish adults at that.

The pageant starts at 7 p.m. at Alwun, while Finley's piece at autoMATIC at Ninth Avenue and Jackson begins at 10. To maximize your artsy intake, if you're really ambitious, you could start at Alwun, leave at 9 p.m. or so, and work your way south.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead