Saturday, November 14, 2009

Culture Lesson: GWAR

Oderus Urungus (GWAR) by Miles Tsang
Photo of Gwar's Oderus Urungus by Miles Tsang

GAWR is an American metal band well-known for its raucous live shows, use of fake blood and colored substances, and elaborate costumes. The group is not Old People friendly, but is mildly enjoyable in its bad behavior revelry.

A list, for quick learning:

  • GAWR was founded in Richmond, VA. in 1985
  • Singer and founding member David Brockie, 46, performed in Death Piggy, a band that used "crude props" and performed "mini-plays" to accompany its music.
  • Brockie is GWAR's singer and performs as "Oderus Urungus." Urungus has a cuttlefish for his male reproductive organ. The prop sprays a fluid substance into the crowd. (Most of GAWR's props do.)
  • Brockie was arrested in North Carolina in 1990 and almost deported—Brockie was a Canadian citizen at the time—for obscenity.
  • And Brockie is, fittingly, a correspondent for Fox News' Red Eye. It does not appear thatRed Eye recognizes that Urungus is a fictional character, with a man in a suit. Video below.
  • Costumes are created from foam, laytex, and rubber. (Insert GWAR-appropriate (dirty) joke HERE.)
  • The group includes theatrics during its live show. In addition to spraying substances on the crowd, celebrities are "lampooned." Former President George Bush has often been a focus of the show, as have Ronald Reagan, Hitler, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Osama bin Laden, and Bernie Maddoff. The celebrites are impersonated via puppets and band members/assistants in costume. When I saw GWAR at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, in December 2007, one "celebrity" included Hawthorne Heights' Casey Calvert. Calvert died accidentally in his tour bus the previous month. The crowd booed and I was effectively done with GWAR.
  • "Lampoon" is another way of saying beheaded and frequently getting a giant wang shoved up the butt. But there's also fire dancing and generic freak show features! Because the point is more about a horror funhouse, no matter its probable resulting revulsion for Old People.
  • In addition to the above Jerry Springer video, GWAR has appeared in Viva La Bam, Mystery Date, S.F.W, Zoolander (without costumes) and Empire Records. The group also wrote a song for Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door.
  • The group was nominated twice for Grammys but lost to Metallica and Nine Inch Nails.
  • GWAR performed at the 2009 Gathering of the Juggalos.

GWAR live Toronto, 2008 by Miles Tsang
Photo of Gwar's crowd covered in blood by Mark Coatsworth

Additional Resources:
Official Web site
Gwar Wikipedia article
Oderus Urungus of GWAR becomes correspondent on Red Eye,

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