Costes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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In 1997 a group of Jewish students dragged French absurdist Jean-Louis Costes to civil court for "inciting racist murder" with lyrics from Livrez les blanches aux bicots ("Throw the White Women to the Arabs," self-released in 1989), which contained over a thousand racial slurs. That suit snowballed into a five-year ordeal that cost Costes thousands of dollars and had him facing the prospect of prison. In an interview with his ex-wife (and Suckdog bandmate) Lisa Carver for a 1997 issue of her fanzine, Rollerderby, Costes explained himself: "I wanted to do the worst possible CD, worse than the fascists, just to show them they are not so bad," he said. "I could be much worse. Because, if they look bad, like the worst possible man, then they are like God, like the devil. But, in reality, they are basic, middle people, stupid, with no ideas--even about torture. I can torture a fascist better than he can do. I can imagine very bad things. So I thought I could do a CD the worst and show the skinhead bands are just rock 'n' roll, nothing special." Onstage Costes isn't simply trying to freak people out, though that he does--he's commenting on the ridiculousness of holding anything or anyone (including oneself) sacred. Through song (a term I use loosely here) and performance he builds himself up as a godhead, then systematically destroys this illusion of supremacy, mostly by humiliating himself (e.g., by sticking a plastic recorder up his ass while doing a handstand). Meanwhile, his solipsistic declamations over stupidly simple keyboard doodles and guitar feedback degenerate into psychotically atonal caca talk. Though he's issued more than a hundred albums, videos, and books in his career, this is his first U.S. performance in 13 years; he'll be accompanied onstage by two other libertines in a "opera porno-social" called The Holy Virgin Cult. According to Carver it involves vomit, shit, six inflatable sex dolls, bells, a light show, and small explosives--so you've been warned. Horn and Hoof and the local act Panicsville (whose Andy Ortmann recently rereleased Costes's incredibly irritating 1992 cassette Hung by the Dick on his Nihilist label) open. Saturday, October 18, 10 PM, Buddy, 1542 N. Milwaukee; 773-342-7332.


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Performing Arts
The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
September 05

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