The extracurricular activities of Chromatest J. Pantsmaker are just as colorful as his nom de guerre, if not more so.
As a member of such DJ collectives as the Salacious Beat Slingers and Warsaw Pact Entertainment, the 33-year-old broadcast engineer has spun pulsating breakbeats and glitch-hop at more raves and desert parties than you can shake a glowstick at. He's also participated in plenty of experimental noise jams, built gigantic pieces of installation artwork, and made multiple treks to Burning Man (natch) where his playa name is "Ben Monkey." Chromatest is also quite the prankster at heart, as demonstrated by his participation in the Arizona chapter of the Cacophony Society.
Never heard of it? Here's the lowdown: Created in 1986 by some Burning Man participants in San Francisco, it's an informal group of like-minded practical jokers, countercultural types, or anyone looking to engage in some zany fun. Author Chuck Palahniuk reportedly patterned Project Mayhem from Fight Club on the society and their madcap activities, which include everything from flash mobs and stripper bingo to gonzo sports like mondo croquet and pumpkin shooting. Chapters have formed in cities around the world, including Phoenix, thanks to Chromatest.
He'd heard about such shenanigans from Burner cohorts and decided it was the kinda thing that could make Phoenix a more freaky and interesting city. Along with friend Dr. Doctor (who'd participated in Cacophony in Seattle) they founded the Valley version in February 2007 by holding an Iditarod urban shopping cart race.
Based off the iconic Alaskan sled-dog race, it involved teams of five participants (some in costume) hooked up to the rolling basket and pulling it through the streets of downtown Phoenix while attempting to sabotage other players. Pit stops were held at bars like the bygone News Room, where a few beer-drinking challenges took place.
Drinking is a big part of AZ Cacophony events, as is the desire to dress in costume, cause a scene, and obtain quizzical looks from passersby. Hence the nature of "Santarchy," which is a mass bar crawl through Old Town Scottsdale in December featuring a drunken, chaotic mass of faux Kris Kringles. Come March 15 (or thereabouts) they also hold the annual "Brides of March" in downtown Tempe, where both men and women dress in wedding gowns and (you guessed it) get soused at bars like Gordon Biersch and Rúla Búla.
Anyone's welcome to join in the fun by surfing over to the Web site (www.azcacophony.org), where members discuss over e-mail what's gonna happen at the next outing.
"We're also brewing up some other fun stuff, and we're always accepting fresh ideas," Chromatest posted. "If anybody has some idea about culture-jamming, group-think rewiring, or just downright silliness, suggest it to the list!"