I question the correlation between alcohol consumption and creativity, but there seems to be a demonstrable co-evolution between collective drinking and emergent creative scenes. For better or for worse...
In Downtown Los Angeles during the mid-2010s, there was a need for weekly bar programming that catered to a crowd that had exhausted the pleasurability of trivia. Not to knock the entrepreneurs who built out turnkey events where groups of work-a-day drinkers would huddle together each week and vie in largely predictable challenges, but the want of spontaneity and anything approaching emotional honesty was dearly felt.
Enter the owners of Wolf & Crane in Little Tokyo, who graciously offered me a position bridging the gap between sophisticated drink programs and the presence of overwhelming urban blight in the lives of anxious and emotionally weary bar-goers.
The idea was simple -- teams competed for terrible prizes found in local thrift stores. Old school jams and improvised social commentary established a spirit of forbidden irrelevance. For a year, regulars and randos alike had a safe space in which to participate in an approximation of old pagan masked rituals where good, socially-conscious, caring individuals could disinhibit for a brief interval and exorcise their inner demons. For our trouble, LA Weekly named us 'Best Bar Game Night of 2014."
Not just a one trick pony, the same creative team offered a couple installments of the performance art heavy Mr. Willie's What's In The Box Bingo.
Around the same time, the famed Bar 107 in the Historic Core was suffering the ill effects of a month-to-month lease signed with an unscrupulous landlord. In the months before the bar's untimely demise, I was brought on to co-judge the much-beloved Gong Show Karaoke on Wednesday nights.
I performed as "Chrome Diesel -- Hollywood Coke Lord," a brash and insensitive libertine whose father was going to buy out the lease for the bar. Chrome pictured below with Trucker Sschweinsteiger (legendary bar man Brian Traynam) and screenwriter Jared Stern in the loft of Bar 107.
As a word of caution for other would-be performance provocateurs, ingesting raw flour over the span of many hours for comedic effect can have a devastating impact on your personal health.
If you are one of the proud and many who took part in Gong Show Karaoke, please enjoy this ultra-rare video of Andre's traditional performance of "Sexual Healing," which garnered a flurry of crumpled up dollar bills.