Wink, Wink

For proof that people are fools, look no further than the common staring contest, the bored beer drinker's game that takes place in every watering hole in the country. In fact, you can look at a whole hour's worth of film documenting the phenomenon, StareMaster, which takes place in that great cultural mecca of Pensacola, Florida. The same state that, as Jello Biafrapoints out on the website staremaster.com, gave us Marilyn Mansonand Deicide.

But before you get on your high horse about how New Yorkers are far too busy and intelligent to bother with such a lowbrow thing as a staring contest, think again. Because last Monday night at Pianos (I've decided that Pianos is the new Pianos), a whole roomful of people, after sitting through the StareMaster documentary and laughing derisively at the stoner contestant who prepared for his matches with a little help from his "friends" and by playing his didgeridoo, bum-rushed the stage for a chance to compete—including one guy who was actually fromPensacola, poor thing.

A few ladies volunteered, but for some reason they were defeated. Maybe it's because women aren't programmed to do such banal things, but the boys ended up winning every match. Just as well; it's a dubious honor, becoming a StareMaster. The rules were pretty simple (no talking, no laughing, no smiling, etc.), but it was the Dry-Eye Death portion of the contest that usually broke one person. (In case you were wondering, two highly trained judges refereed.)

Surely, I thought, the New Yorkers will be no match for characters like the aging punk Elvis, redneck Adam, and creepy StareMaster Dave, the undefeated champion depicted in the film. Nor will the crowd be as drunk, messy, and loud as the hecklers in the Florida audiences. Wrong again—especially considering that most New Yorkers are from places like Pensacola. Up front, a whole posse of extremely hip, extremely inebriated youngsters had a difficult time sitting up in their chairs, but had no problem catcalling the contestants with all sorts of unprintable names. Go, New York!

Most baffling was the presence of CNN and Fox News. I wondered if the news organizations got that the New York audience wasn't playing this straight. The eventual Pianos StareMaster, William Vernon Lemon "the Third," a long-haired, beady-eyed bearded man from San Francisco, played to the camera, doing his best Miss America impersonation, mouthing the words "I love you" as he held back his tears. He was as baffled by the presence of CNN as I was, but did his best to impress. When I discovered where he was from, I said, "No way can you be a real hick," to which he replied, "But it sure is fun to act like one."

No fool and no hick (even though he's from the South), Larry Teehas risen again from the ashes of clubland for what must be his bazillionth act. This time, he renovates his Electroclash Festival—giving it a new name, the Outsider Electronic Music Festival—and including bands that weren't born and bred at Luxx, his old stomping ground. This year's fest is set to happen in December at Crobar (should that place ever get around to opening), and will feature a few e-clash oldies like Tommie Sunshine, 2 Many DJs, and W.I.T. (notice, dear readers, how I clamp my tongue?). While I like 2 Many DJs, I've seen them 2 Many Times, so I'm happy to report that Tee is bringing some London upstarts—Discordinatedand Punx Soundcheck—that I've never heard but am sure I'll be totally sick of by this time next year. Tee describes the former as being "closer to Nitzer Ebbthan Fischerspooner," which, admittedly, sounds cool. Also on the bill is Black Mustache, Spencer Product's new product, old skool electro-funk LFO doing a live p.a., and new schoolers Fannypack.

Electroclash graduate Peaches—who played last week to a bunch of horny lesbians and Björk (still sporting her weird haircut)—is on her way to opening for Marilyn Manson in Europe. Perfect: He can moon the crowd with his bare ass; she can show her bushy pubes. Now, that's what I call 2 Much Fun!


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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