Saturday, May 15, 2010


On August 16, 1997, The Residents did three performances of a 30-minute stage piece called Disfigured Night for the PopKomm music festival in Köln, Germany. The performance was sponsored by Malboro and filmed by VIVA TV (the German music TV station). The Malboro sponsorship turned out to be something of a problem. The concert was heavily promoted in Germany, with lots of photographs of the band and stories in Der Spiegel and the like. (Der Spiegel even had a link to the RzWeb -- probably the most prominent publicity this site has ever had). However, Marlboro was unhappy with Mr. Skull. They felt that a death's-head didn't fit with the image they wanted to project at the concert, and ordered that all images of Mr. Skull be removed from all promotional material. Any pictures of the skull-head were either dropped or edited so that it was replaced with an eyeball. Der Spiegel apparently dropped its link to the RzWeb because of this. The Residents were none too happy with the situation, but it was too late for them to protest and they had committed a lot of resources to the show, so they couldn't cancel out. The performances themselves went quite well and were a success. Each opened with a Resident coming out and, much to the audiences' amazement, removing his Eyeball-head. Of course, the Resident had a a head-stocking (one of the ones from Cube-E) hiding his features. The first Resident was joined by a second, also wearing a stocking over his head, and the two went to the instruments and video boards. The performance took place in front of a bluescreen on which artwork by Steve Cerio, who did the "Shooting Gallery" artwork for Bad Day on the Midway, was mixed live by one of the Residents. Once they were all set, they were joined by Silly Billy, the mute star of Disfigured Night. Silly Billy has a strange gift -- by touching a person or an object, he can "remember" the most painful events associated with him, her, or it. This makes Billy quite happy, since he feels that by touching these awful memories he is releasing them. As a result, he always has a sappy, smiling expression, which earned him the name "Silly Billy". One day he finds a one-legged monkey (the last fourth Resident) who used to belong to a one-legged golden-haired girl, who's song fills Billy's mind. Billy vows to reunite the two, but he discovers that he is no longer immune to the pain he feels when he touches people -- it starts to affect him directly. Billy's only consolation through the pain of his psychometric experiences is the monkey and when the monkey dies, Billy withdraws into himself. In his little hole, he finds a wrapped present which, on opening, turns out to contain the dead monkey's head. The head bites off Billy's leg, and slowly he transforms into the golden-haired girl whose song had haunted him. The story ends with Billy singing a frenetic version of We Are the World. All in all, it's rather confusing.

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