Club Doppelgang

Finally i can post pics of our most ambitious film shoot - the GASA Club Doppelganger. A nightclub routine in the ubiquitous computer. A place where each attendee comes with his/her doppelganger. The music provided by an all animal band.

So many of our friends came out to be animal band gals, or brought their "doppelgangers". Amazing costume contributions from Spoon Popkin and Virginia Warwick.

I won't tarry, and should let the pics speak for themselves. I'll leave you with this to consider - it is felt frequently that Doppelganger "syndrome" is proof in alternate or parallel universes. Dan Conrad, however has told me that he does not believe in parallel universes at all, but feels that people are lazy in thinking of such things, and should put more thought into the mysteries of time.

Doppelganger pairs-

Elisa Urtiaga and _______.

Gerry and Sophia Mak. actual relatives, but.....Doppel still.

Lexie and Kit Mountain. Also relatives. But don't get the wrong idea!!!! Doppelgangers are not actually blood relatives at all!!!!! Not at all!

For example-

Josh Van Horne and jake hotstetter.

The band-

Lioness on the euphonium - Katherine Ralston.

Janet Braunstein.

Virginia in her most well-known guise - squirrel.

Freda Mohr, octodrums.

in the above photo directing the whole thing - Tom "Blur"ram.

The band was a lot of work to set up. We told them to "band sync" like a real music video, and we had them "jam" to Respect by Aretha at about 30% speed - cough syrup style, chopped and screwed.

Best of all was this young lady-

Regina Armenta. She played our "chantuese", and also provided virtuoso pole dancing.

Note our cinematographer, Eric Franklin, going all the way to get "the shot".

Regina and Gina, who played the MC.

Lauren Bender, whom i tried to get into "sexy" attire, opted instead for a more "toothfairy" vibe as the hard-working cocktail server.

Again, here we see me "directing"----

Spoon, our sax player, and Lucy Morreale, the trombonist hang with Regina and m wife, Jackie Milad.

It was an incredibly dense and crazy shoot. I felt that it actually somehow BECAME what we were filming, as the nearly 40 plus people got into their cups and had a a crazy time. It eventually turned into a frantic limbo competition.

Thx to Yeni Mao for contributing the extra wide angle shots above!


Dog fight & no Fall Guys plus Cancer Stix

Hullu again. We recently squeezed a shoot in between some dense busyness and the slightly early birth of my son, Piero. Somewhere, somehow, it occurred to me that Dan's version of the "shitty cap-offs" at the end of the Part 1 Vignettes should be a "dog fight". We knew that sometime in the film one of us would have to eat a lot of dog food, with dog food being a rarity amongst foods for Snacks - one we haven't tried or worked with in our performances. And we knew we'd be calling on Eric Franklin and his amazing Greenmount Ave manse for the shoot, but the idea that Dan would "box" and superior dog in a gambling den atmosphere was a recent inspiration.

Why "cap-off" shittily? The previous post in this blog skims on the shoot we did for Tom's "shitty cap-off", but this one, Dan's "shitty cap off" proved to be a golden afternoon - Possibly Dan's masterwork of prostration for the cause. In Part 1 of the film, the "stooge" protagonists are often used and abuse by many attractive and talented females. Though the treatment is poor, the visuals may carry some erotic appeal for at least someone. The "shitty cap-offs" are meant to strip (pun?) the Part 1 scenes of any eroticism and leave only scatological humor and mystery.

This shoot was assisted by some heavy Baltimore talent, and yes they are attractive and talented. However, be assured eroticism was scaled. The Effervescent Collective's Lily Susskind, Virginia Warwick, Hanna Moccasin, Dan bro Pat Breen and Eric Franklin stepped up to the plate and knocked a few balls afoul of the conventional, dull or tranquil.

So the premise is that Dan's "stooge" enters Eric's world, a claustrophobic work pit, not unlike a burnt to crisp police detective surveillance nest.

Note Wollensak reel-to-reel. Keyboard art by Kate Porter.
Much of the film lightly deals with working "stiffs", though they're merely holograms or algorithms gone sentient, perhaps so by virtue of burden and tedium. Are the algorithms we rely upon to execute our tasking our slaves? Eric's character, much like all GASA objects, are quietly disgruntled, in the Thoreau sense.

Note the ciggy. Now i should tell you that we decided to SMOKE THE HELL out of Eric's house for the shoot. This shoot was so goddamn smoky. Thx to the ladies, Lily, Virginia and Hanna for putting up with all of the smoke. GOD, it was awful....yet beautiful. I personally smoked at least 5 cigarettes, which is five more than usual.

Everyone was instructed to SMOKE.

Above- Virginia in front, followed by Hanna. These are the "dog owners". They push Eric to his edge, and force him to put his money where his theremin is - and he must gamble on what he knows to be an inferior specimen - Dan.

A dog fight ensues, and, predictably, Dan loses. No amount of dog food can Popeye Dan into inspired victory. All the while Pat Breen plays ref in the closet, and even smoke ten cigs at once.

Above is Dan as dog.

Below, Dan and his dominant foe, Lily, become "dogs".

Below, note the floor pad. This was meant as a "wrestling mat" for the dog fight. Note theremin. This is an important component of Eric's losing game.

Lastly, i need to discuss Dan's stellar turn on this date. My goodness, did he ever eat a lot of dog food! He also did a great deal to get the materials for the set together, as i was well tied up.

Best of all, he did his own stunts....that wasn't a joke in this blog description. Dan threw himself down the stairs several times, to get the perfect fall. He packed his GASA "reds" with pillows, laundry and what-have-you. It was marvellous!

Thx to all for the great shoot.


Clockwork Latrine and Sphere Cheese

This scene is thought by Snacks to be the first one of two "shitty cap-offs" to the Part 1 vignette sequences. The "snack" in question for this one is the wonderful cheese ball, a favorite of both Dan and i since the early days of yore. It's an unwholesome thing, yet a food with irresistible texture and panache - leaving it's tell tale trace of orange cheese flavor dust upon the fingers of each volunteer.

The setting was a bit of an inspiration. I'd heard for years that it was possible to get up into one of Baltimore great Downtown landmarks - and thanks to the help of Joe Wall, property manager of the "baltimore Arts Tower", we were able to procure the ultimate steam punk set - an early 20th century Clock Room. I've had deja-vu/past life/lucid dream tethers to Victorian architecture and technology my entire life. Steam-punk, for lack of a better term elsewhere, is a necessary spice in the Snacks GASA melange. This light tangent/pun into Herbert/Lynch universe is unintentional, but one must admit that the Lynch film looks steamy/punky. Imagine if it had been the Dali/Jodorowsky/Giger pile-up , mythically trapped in the 1970s like a mosquito in amber.

Built in 1911 in downtown Bmore....

it's had a few alterations and iterations since. It was originally attached to a big factory which made the "Bromo Seltzer" health elixer....nowadays it's just a lowly pagoda with a bunch o' pricey artist studios and it's run by the city of Balt. The builder of the factory/tower, a Captain Emerson wanted it to evoke this epic edifice from the 16th century....

the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Myself, conveniently in Florence two weeks before the shoot, was able to provide my person as the missing link between these two gemini, and snap the above pic.

The interior of the Clock room is pure poetry for the GASA fantasy, with giant whirring elevator motors, trap doors, amazing Babbage-scapes of loud clacking mechanisms, and even 5 gallons of "worm gear oil"...

The clockworks are now electrical, but the 25 foot long pendulum is still in there. Here's some snaps around the room-

We took the better part of an cloudy afternoon filming the scene, in which Tom is abducted by a Quasimoto-esque Little Howling Wolf and forced to eat cheese balls and shit them in order to drive the rube-goldberg contraptions in the room for an ambiguous purpose.

Wolf had told me many times that he has some deep roots in vaudeville. When he heard about our "comedic" outing in a clock tower with a huge jug of cheese balls and a nice shiny porcelain potty he almost began auditioning spontaneously, showing us just how rubbery and labile his comedic muggings could be.

Well, the result was excellent. Wolf really filled the Steam-punk clock room with his outrageous physicality. He entertained us with (tall?) tales of his theatre resume/exploits and he ate most of our sandwiches. He had to run home at sunset due to the kick-off of the Ravens playoff game, which by the way, they lost.

We also rigged the place up with 50 feet of clear PVC tubes so we could bounce the cheese balls through the room like data going through fiber optics, but unfortunately, i neglected to photo that. Welllll.....

Thx to Wolf and Max Eilbacher for bringing it out to this shoot!


Gummi Boogie Bear Chortles

Greetings candy lovers. The most recent shoot we did for "GASA" involved my wife, Jackie Milad, white paint, a big cube and 10lbs of gummi bears.

As usual, we converted a crevice in the "5th Dimension" (H+H Building, Bmore) into a soundstage for the movie. The idea behind the scene, which occurs in the "Part 1 Vignettes" of GASA, is that Tom (1st person singular narrarator of this very paragraph) confronts a very bleached out "bear nymph" somewhere inside the infinite computer and is seduced into voluntarily eating a LOT of gummi bears, which inevitably cause him severe and psychedelic gastric overload. For this shoot I "took one for the team" and drank what seems like a pint of corn syrup and ate a shit ton of those iconic candies.

Jackie and Sarada Conaway arrived on day two of the construction phase to helped to design an enormous nearly invisible mandala in the corner of the set. The mandala would eventually be a large animated mosiac consisting of several hundred Gummi Bears.

The animation, to be realized via "stop motion", took approximately two hours. The bears are glued to the set with hot glue, incidentally. I felt maxed out on italian cookies from Trinacria Foods that night, so i only ate about 8 gummi bears during tedius ritual, though Dan sacrificed 28 bears to the gummi diety.

The completed manadala was ultimately remarkably durable and if i may, rather christmassy.

Some nights later Jackie arrived and with Sarada's assistance and make-up mastery turned Jackie into this beguiling creature.....

Sigrid Lauren, Bethany Dinsick, and Dan's hermano Patrick Breen came over to help "bleach" Tom. Because we wanted the bleaching to also animate via stop-motion effect, we need the extra hands to move quickly....

Note in the above photo how Pat had to work "crotch detail".

Above, Sigrid makes me even more white. We instructed our assistants to feel free to eat as many gummi bears as they wished. There were many.

This shoot proved to be a "yoga of the body" for me, as i experienced many sensual things i have never felt before. These include having cold white watery make-up brushed into my groin, having gummi bears break down and melt while stuffed into my nostrils and drinking and pretending to puke bright florescent colored "puke" made of nearly pure corn syrup. The sickening sweet taste lingered in my mouth all night long. I got up twice in the night and pounded water to to try to rid the cloying, hideous tooth-rotting taste from my head.

But kvetching aside, some of the stills and imagery from this shoot are among my favorite of the entire film. Unfortunately we have no photos of the puke. The end.


Oktober Wurstnacht

GASA is dogmatic about indoor vs outdoor, i.e. real vs virtual, but the "death metal/sausage/s&m" segment of the "Part 1 Interludes" subverts us by being an outdoor as indoor scene. As with the "sauna shoot", the "sausage shoot" occurred during the mild, lovely Baltimore October times. The spark for the shoot came from Dan, who envisioned a part of the movie in which his roommate, artist Gina Denton, would flog him Dom-style with a long sausage rope. Gina, who loves and listens frequently to death/black/doom metal of the heaviest kind, just seems to exude more "S" than "M", though in person she is not sadistic or abusive as far as I can tell. She just has powerful woman energy and likes wearing black and listening to loud heavy shit.

We chose The BANK, West Baltimore's finest underground venue located at the end of the ghetto rainbow, as the site, and imagined how we could shoot the scene in their "courtyard" and make it look like a strange "room" - since, after all, it is meant to exist inside of a computer program (imagine GASA as a video game with no beginning or end). Additionally, we really wanted to add Gerry Mak to the scene, because he too is a master of metal (throat singing for art-metal band Bloody Panda), a thespian, and an interesting physical foil to Gina - being a very petite male he is rather smaller than Gina, and he would be playing her "igor", or halfwitted assistant (archetypes!). We decided that Doom Metal sounds would fill the scene, and i asked Gina and Gerry to come to the shoot as "feral" as possible. You won't fail to notice in the above photo of them that they did indeed come "feral".

Gina was our MC character in the infamous (though not yet blogged) nightclub scene and in that scene she adorned herself in some scary/beautiful pelts and of course we'd continue that for this shoot too. She is exactly the same character, in fact, for in the GASA universe archetypes abound, ideas bob up and down in the sea of data.

We initially envisioned a starker scene, using the BANK courtyard to suggest the whole scene was happening in a big cement box (which the courtyard is, basically, but a roofless one with a veg/herb garden on one side). However, when we arrived (via the back bungalow of our courteous host the inimitable Little Howlin' Wolf) we got a bit magnetized by a mysterious corner of the thing with an enormous Ghetto Weed Nut Tree of some sort growing out of it. Instantly we went to work building our "indoor" S&M Sausage Dungeon with a tree growing up it's spine. Note in the above photo the St. Christopher's Cross (St. Steven's Cross?), meant for tyin' and whoopin".

Here Gina preps her pelted headdress. Note her leather glistening in the bottom lit TomTom drum light. The light was on faders for percusso-lumination effects. Ta!

Dan hangs the "candelier" in front of BANK bottle mosaic. The combination of the attractive BANK-designed courtyard art, the Nut Tree, the moist October harvest air, and our additions of gloomy dungeon decor quickly spun the location into our perfect setting for the Dan character to get his butt whooped by a screeching, grunting feral duo of sausage wielding and chomping maniacs. Gina provided us with a a great mix of doom, gloom, and Scandinavian guitar sounds to flesh out the moods apropos.

Above: The Nut Tree, glowing in the purple Westside night.

I could hardly comment on Gina in the above photo in a way that would improve on what the photo itself speaks formidably. Note the sausages dangled, which were Gerry's actual dinner.

A parting shot (below) of the back wall of the BANK. The shadows from our lights went well with the mysterious Poe Moon out that night and eerie heat that seemed to move into the city earlier in the evening.

A fun night indeed...and thanks to the BANK folks, especially Wolf, and way ups to Gina and Gerry.