If you're the church-going type, then it's probably a safe bet that your preacher never proselytized quite like the Reverend Billy. The performer, writer and activist Bill Talen--as his alter ego Reverend Billy--creates politically charged guerrilla theater works with a decidedly anti-populist stance.
With Jimmy Swaggart-like energy and braggadocio, the Reverend Billy takes to the REDCAT pulpit for two shows tonight, accompanied by a 25-person Life After Shopping Gospel Choir. The 2010 Alpert Award winner is currently on The Earth-a-llujah Earth-a-llujah Revival of the West Coast, where he, and his partner Savitri D (the Church of Life After Shopping Director) and their choir rail against consumerism and conspicuous consumption of modern society.
In addition to the REDCAT revivals, Reverend Billy and Savitri D have also been working with CalArts students this week on another project, this time creating a performance piece within the framework of a public wedding on Saturday evening in an Altadena, Calif., park.
During a recent phone interview, Savitri D said that the wedding is a "collaboration between artists Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens and numerous artists. It's an 'ecosexual' ceremony where the brides will be marrying the moon."
Yes. You read that correctly. And none other than Reverend Billy will be officiating the ceremony on Saturday night. (Last year Sprinkle and Stephens married the Sea in Italy at the Venice Biennale and have also married the Earth in Croatia and the Sky in England.)
Though the project is still being developed, Savitri D said that the wedding intervention piece will touch on consumerism and materialism of weddings but won't focus solely on those aspects. "Marriage is a hot button issue right now and will be until everyone has the right to marry who they want."
The first show at REDCAT sold out quickly, but tickets to the second show tonight at 10 pm are still available. The wedding at Farnsworth Park in Altadena is open to the public, but Savitri D suggests that audience members get to the park in advance of the 6:30 pm ceremony. They're expecting hundreds of people as well as heavy monitoring by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Reverend Billy and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir
Highlighting the Alpert Award in the Arts
Tonight (Oct. 21)
8:30 pm (sold out) and 10 pm
Wedding to the Moon by Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens
Officiated by Reverend Billy, Savitri D and CalArts students
Farnsworth Park Amphitheater, Altadena
568 E. Mount Curve Avenue, Altadena, Calif.
Saturday, Oct 23
Here's the trailer from the Morgan Spurlock-produced film What Would Jesus Buy that followed Reverend Billy around the country.