So Funny It Hurts: Alice Cunt and Kale Likover, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Hollywood, March 10, 2011
Hollywood Boulevard can truly be a frightening place, as on the Saturday night following last month’s GUTTED event, when I had to swim through a sea of naked lady legs (in 45-degree weather, no less—sluttiness knows no temperatures) and Jersey Shore candidates just to get back to my car. On quieter nights though, when the clubbing types are at home, the street has a sort of tattered charm to it, a more natural and low-key flow of resident detritus.
The talents of Alice Cunt and Kale Likover played beautifully in such an environment. Both artists traffic in shabby, pathos-laden drag narratives that are also funny and beautiful. Cunt kicked off this quiet Thursday evening with a piece that responded directly to the street and its traversers. With Motown girl-group tunes playing on a small ghetto blaster, Cunt hung out on the sidewalk just outside of LACE with two street urchin friends, vamping, pandering for money, and otherwise interacting with a variety of passersby. The artist alternately looked like a really grubby Diana Ross impersonator and a wacked-out homeless person, especially when she sat down on the sidewalk to eat a takeout dinner out of a carton. At one point, Superman and Supergirl even walked by, no doubt on their way home after a long day of working at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
It was a relatively low-key performance, casual and minimalistic, with a slow mise-en-scène quality that often made me feel like I was watching an art film in motion—like Two Lane Blacktop meets Hedwig and the Angry Inch as directed by John Cassavetes. The work ended without much fanfare, making way for Kale Likover’s adorable cross-dressing soliloquies, which took place on a stage in LACE’s interior gallery. Likover, with three costume changes, sang funny songs and read us a story about a girl’s college adventure.
The evening ended with a second performance from Alice Cunt. Solemnly filing onto the stage in dark cloaks and holding a sickle and a knife, Cunt and her followers set the scene for a Satanic sacrifice, complete with a naked girl lying under a pentagram that was then overlaid with psychedelic video projections. Cunt’s cloak was slowly pulled back to reveal the same gold lamé-clad character we had earlier encountered on the street. Motown music, starting with the Supremes’ “Baby Love,” cued up again, as Cunt vamped her way through the sacrifice, the pouring of hot candle wax on her back, and a mock cutting ritual. Maybe it was my exceedingly mellow state of mind that night, but I found this whole odd spectacle so comforting, like a demonic drag bedtime story or lullaby.