Although Gregory T.S. Walker is the concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, a violin soloist with the Colorado Symphony, and assistant professor of music at the University of Colorado at Denver, he's not your usual classical musician. Over the years his extracurricular experimentations have led the classical establishment to regard the virtuoso as a "dangerous" artist. Being fascinated with electronica and freakish with an electric guitar, he's produced interactive, underground theater/music pieces since the late '80s. For the premiere of his most recent work, xy techno theatre, Walker had a puppet named Uncle John (a creation of Rhode Island's remarkable Big Nazo Puppets and one of the stars of xy) answer questions from the press. In a rather unhelpful interview with Go-Go Magazine, the puppet stated, "[Walker] is, at his core, an unstable artist who is as much a threat to himself as to others." From what I gather, xy is a love story presented as an action video game. As Walker and Los Angeles techno wizard Chad Carrier move through the crowd, they project images of live-action players, life-size puppets, and some audience members onto a large screen above the stage. In the past Walker's pieces have been known to humiliate the weak of character but delight the music lover, and this one should be no different. xy techno theatre takes place on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Marsh (1062 Valencia at 22nd Street) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-17; call 826-5750.
In the late '80s, when Body Manipulations was still the only piercing shop in town, I rented a room in a piss-alley flat where genital piercings were more commonplace than bread and toilet paper. By the time one of my housemates began working at the store's tiny studio, I had already learned to speak in terms of ampallang (glans penis), guiche (genitals), septum, and clitoral hoods and to shrug listlessly at anything smaller than an eight gauge. Still, on one occasion, even I was moved. It was at a Body Manipulations exhibition at our Tuesday night hangout. As the staff took volunteers and pierced nipples, I yawned expertly from the balcony. Then, however, they performed a branding along the spinal column of one of their more adventurous regulars. I was no novice to the look and texture of elegantly seared scars, but there was something about the sound and smell that finally leached through my jaded veneer. I watched the strange spectacle, scrutinizing the leering faces around me and thinking feverishly, "This is it -- the fall of Rome. Our casual excess signifies the beginning of the end." I know, now, this notion was the product of too much absinthe and gin, but in my memory no single moment captures the hedonism, decadence, and giddy horror of my youth quite as well. Since those early days, Body Manipulations has moved to more spacious climes, imitators have popped up throughout the city, and 12-year-old girls have learned to dream about Monroe studs the way their mothers longed for lipstick. The studio has not, in fact, brought about the collapse of Western civilization.
To celebrate 13 years of unfettered adornment, Body Manipulations presents an extreme circus night filled with Chinese contortionists, aerial rope performers, acrobats, plate spinners, fire jugglers, and gravity-defying balancing acts. Lest you think Body M has lost its edge, you will be treated to a longtime employee pushing 100 needles through various parts of her body; a preferred customer illuminating a light bulb by creating an electrical circuit with the needles stuck in his flesh; and the studio manager performing a double-trapeze act while suspended from large hooks in his back. Of course, free brandings will be available to anyone who wants the number 13 placed on his tawny hide. DJs Alana and Al G will spin late into the night during Body Manipulations' anniversary party on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the DNA Lounge at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-15; call 626-1409 or go to www.dnalounge.com.