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Memphis Flyer Crucifried

Joe Christ's stories about fantastical people and mutilated maniacs are the kinds of stories that creep into our subconscious and spawn urban legends.

By Chris Davis

JANUARY 20, 1998:  Alert! Right-wing activists buy your posterboard and El Markos today! Joe Christ is coming to the Young Avenue Deli on January 21st to screen his sick films, which contain footage guaranteed to offend everything for which you stand and foster unseemly notions in our city’s precious and corruptible youth.

With impossibly small budgets forcing him into the role of uber-auteur, Joe Christ writes, directs, performs in, edits, and plays on the soundtracks of all his films/videos. “I like to think the viewer is getting around $25,000 worth of movie for the $3,000 or so I spend on them, since I do all the work myself. … I like for people to get their $5 admission’s worth,” Christ declares.

And just what does the viewer get for that hard-earned fin? Sex, Blood and Mutilation is a shockumentary exploring the extremes of “body play,” a curiously PC euphemism coined by Modern Primitive progenitor Fakir Musafar covering all manner of self-induced physical trauma – from piercing and tattooing to branding, slicing, and the employment of sundry devices to perforate, amputate, squeeze, and otherwise alter that which the good Lord gave you. There are even shots of an anonymous man who has gone and had his thingy lopped off. But wait, isn’t body modification old news? Hasn’t it spread faster than a two-dollar slattern throughout the ’90s, culminating in a frenzy of tattoo ink and pierced labia, lasting about as long as Perry Farrell, but leaving indelible marks on the collective body of an overcaffeinated and underwhelmed Gen X? Sure. But Sex, Blood and Mutilation does offer a chance to observe Genesis P-Orridge, of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV fame, playing with his metal-crusted pee-pee. Also, the late Tattoo Mike Wilson, Coney Island’s pain-proof geek and illustrated man, is preserved for posterity, performing highlights from his show, which include such daring feats as the dangling of his doodled-on naughties over a bear trap. And there is, of course, the aforementioned anonymous Bobbittation. Cutting edge? Hard to say, but for fans of alt-culture extremes, and especially REsearch Magazine’s exhaustive Modern Primitives, Sex, Blood and Mutilation should prove to be a pleasingly unpleasant diversion.

Joe Christ
Photo by Amy Shapiro
But wait, there’s more. Your quarter-saw also affords you a viewing of Christ’s comic look at the brutal murders of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald’s (think Fatal Vision) pregnant wife and two young daughters way back in 1970. Acid is Groovy…Kill the Pigs is named for the words chanted by a mysterious woman in a floppy hat who was present while masked drug addicts armed with baseball bats and blades went about the bloody business of hacking MacDonald’s family to pieces. At least that was the story a nicked-up and somewhat rumpled MacDonald told as part of a not-quite-clever-enough scheme to divert suspicion from himself, by sending authorities on a snipe hunt, searching for a fabricated band of killer hippies copycatting the crimes of antichrist-apparent Charles Manson and family.

And that’s still not all! If Sex, Blood and Mutilation isn’t enough, and Acid is Groovy …Kill the Pigs still isn’t enough for your five bucks, Speed Freaks with Guns opens a peephole into the life of a Texas methamphetamine addict cum serial killer with a thing for making “home movies.” Made, according to Christ, “to fuck with” the drug-addled weirdos who were apparently abundant in Dallas during the ’80s, when meth was “King.” Christ says, “I play a character who is a composite of eight of the most wacked-out speed-freaks I knew in Texas. Everything my character says is a verbatim quote from one of those people I knew, except that this guy has committed a bunch of murders. …”

On one hand, Christ appears to be little more than a modern-day P.T. Barnum with a VCR, peddling his grainy videos (“…Looking like something someone shot in a single day with a home-video camera,” according to the freak-devoted Web site Monsters On The Net) from behind the bullet-proof glass of the art world’s loftiest notion – that any expression, born from an unshakable need to reflect nature, no matter how crudely rendered, offensive, or sensational, can be art. Gaudy treasures born of vanity like Faberge eggs take refuge beneath this same canopy, as does the lowly macramé. On the other hand, the man who once ran for governor of Texas on the “Christ is the Answer” ticket demanding euthanasia for the unemployed, has all the makings of a fine folklorist. Christ’s stories about fantastical people and mutilated maniacs are the kinds of stories that creep into our subconscious and spawn urban legends.

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