Art of Bleeding @ Steve Allen Theater 10/26/06

When I first read about this, I thought it had to be the best thing to do during the Halloween season. EVER. I couldn’t believe I was only just learning about this:

Art of Bleeding
“The Magic Ambulance Theatre & Halloween Highway: A Cautionary Tableau of Automotive Carnage”

Thursday, Oct. 26 @ the Steve Allen Theater

Description: “The pre-show party in the parking lot will recreate the greusome sights, smells, and sensations of a multi-vehicle freeway pile-up. Staged amid wrecked cars and enhanced by various effects (multimedia and sanguinary), “Halloween Highway” offers both a cautionary example and a chance to indulge your inner rubbernecking ghoul, visit with the dead and dying, and callously rub elbows (or what-have-yous) with sexy nurses tending the injured.”

Inside at 9:30 pm, “Magic Ambulance Theatre” begins, featuring slutty nurses, an ape, a robot, and puppets. L.A. Alternative says: “The Art of Bleeding’s principal characters weave chatty stories that are equal parts The Muppet Show, softcore porn and Laurel and Hardy, combining pratfalls and guffaws with eroticism and aggressive, playful confrontation. Nearly naked nurses cavort with puppets – “Abram the Safety Ape” and “RT the Robot Teacher” attempt to lecture on achieving True Safety Consciousness – and in this fall’s shows, the ante is upped considerably … while previous shows have been stellar, these upcoming performances represent Art of Bleeding at a grander, more disturbing scale.”

The evening will also feature live performances by Margaret Cho, Danny Shorago of the lounge-punk-comedy band The Fuxedos, the infernally talented stripteuse Satanica, the macabre puppetry of Los Ninos de la Tierra, and the monster-masked musicantes of The Tulsa Skull Swingers.

Um, awesome. Where the fuck have I been??

I gave up a free ringside seat at Lucha VaVOOM to attend this event. While I’m not quite sure it was worth it, the Art of Bleeding was quite an experience.

Part performance art, part comedy, part “Red Asphalt” comes to life, the Art of Bleeding is a combination first-aid/vaudeville variety show and educational foundation teaching the unconscious.

Attendees were greeted with a multi-car freeway wreck in the parking lot outside of the theater. The comedic host interviewed those dead and dying who laid trapped underneath mangled and overturned cars, whose pleas for help went unheeded as the slutty nurses on scene were too busy playing hopscotch with bloody body parts to pay them any mind. The Grim Reaper himself made an appearance in the middle of the show to lead some of the dead off to the next realm. As the ambulance workers left, the accident victims were left with the musical stylings of an old man with a banjo.

Then things started getting weird.

The second part of the evening began with a live performance by the Tulsa Skull Swingers. Donning skeleton masks, the band played crude avante-rock n’ roll with lighthearted lyrics about death and fucking. Next, a writhing cocoon onstage expelled a scantily clad Margaret Cho, who proceeded to do a striptease to Radiohead’s “Creep.” (At this point, my friend Matt who accompanied me to the show informed me that this was the most frightening thing he’d seen all evening.) Up next was yet another strip performance from the incomprable Satanica. After working herself up a sexual frenzy with the aid of a framed painting of Jesus Christ, she poured a glass of red wine all over her body, throw the wine bottle to the floor and writhe around in the broken glass, rubbing the shards across the entirety of her increasingly bloody body.

The final bit of the evening was the Magical Ambulance Theater performing the nonesensical celebration of R.T. the Robot Teacher’s birthday. A man in a gorilla suit (Abram the Safety Ape), a doctor puppet, the slutty nurses and an oversized Safety Bee executed a half-assed script entirely too long to maintain my interest.

However, I am glad to have experienced the Art of Bleeding – though I likely never will again. And in case you’re wondering, this troupe, in all seriousness, is committed to advancing safety education. The entire schtick is based upon group founder Abram S. Lugner’s cognitive principle of “phantasmagoric acquisition,” a model of learning in which information is imprinted much more suddenly and unforgettably than through conventional intellectual exercise. As stated by the troupe on its website, “Though many look for easy answers in tourniquet and CPR, we believe each act in the mortal drama summons its own unique climax. Because we offer no placebo against life’s ills, The Art of Bleeding has been labeled ‘a traveling medicine show without any cure.'”

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