“No, we don’t stop, and yes, we are obsessed with ourselves.” This was Giddle Partridge’s proclamation during the Q & A portion of the Three Geniuses presentation at Cinefamily, and one certainly got that feeling watching the two-hours-and-change of dancing, improvising, and projected imagery that comprised the DVD release show.
A sort of psychedelic cross between TV Party, Liquid Sky, and Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson, minus any concept of structure, The Three Geniuses was a live public-access TV show started in the mid-90s by Dan Kapelovitz, John Schere, and Mr. X. A mash-up of contextually ironic stock footage, trippy camera effects, and spiraling space vortices aplenty, the vital ingredient—what made Geniuses its own special breed of spontaneous insanity—was the footage the crew filmed themselves.
The lucky few present at Silent Movie Theatre night got to experience it reproduced in person, in (sur)real time. You could envision a Gary Wilson concert, on 2C-I, held at the schizophrenic homeless man’s funhouse under the freeway, and be part-way to imagining the atmosphere.
The Geniuses and their friends—from ex-Germs drummer Don Bolles, who did much of the sound design and set decoration on the original show, to regular guest stars like Karen Centerfold and Francine Dancer, public-access stars in their own right—posed, postured, and provided live accompaniment and personal flair to the projections on screen.
Kim Fowley, mad musical genius and subterranean L.A.’s favorite dirty old man, played MC, giving a modicum of method to the madness in the form of Q&A, T&A (bringing whichever young ladies struck his fancy up to the stage for indulgently crass interviews), and a hauntingly good freestyle song drummed up over the bass part to Van Morrison’s “Gloria” (kinda).
This naked lunch of “alternative Hollywood Babylon” (to borrow a phrase from Fowley) may not have been well-received or readily understood by much of contemporary society, but even the furthest from this subculture couldn’t deny the laudable brazenness and unadulterated energy put into the spectacle.—Not to mention the costumes! Perhaps that’s why Fowley asked at the beginning of the show, “Is anyone here from the L.A. Weekly? … Good.”