Monday, April 9, 2007

Event Review: Bunny Jam VII

I must begin by saying that, despite my friendship with Aaron Neonbunny, one of the founders and impressarios behind Bunny Jam, it's an event that I generally dread. Having the heart of a hound, bunnies are not my typical associates, and there's much in the bunny aesthetic that strikes me as being annoying for annoyance's sake. I have had fun at Bunny Jam; in 2004 it was held at a location with an outdoor garden that was truly magical, and last year I throughly enjoyed a performance of Laugh-In with an all-bunny cast that was the best bit of amateur theater I've seen in a while. This year the boyfriend had volunteered to help out with the event, and despite it being a night for Kontrol I dutifully put together a last-minute outfit and made my way down to the porn palace with my friend Kitty riding shotgun. I did my best to prepare myself to get into crazy bunny energy, but when we left at 12.30 and I looked at the line stretching down the block to get in my comment was "really, it's not worth it."

I was very excited about this year's location at the Porn Palace, aka the former headquarters and sets for I had seen the interior once before during a leather flea market, and my imagination ran wild with the idea of what it would be like to have a party there. Sure enough many attendees constructed their costumes with a little kink in mind, but, as Kitty said, this had the effect of making Bunny Jam seem like a bunnified Exotic Erotic Ball, rather much all show and tittilation but with little real sexiness. This may have been because, once everyone got dressed up, there was nothing else to do besides stand and model, and be the object of photographers interests (if you were a cute girl bunny, that is), while we endured atrocious DJs and ever worse performers.

At the beginning of the night only the front room was open, so until 11.15 everyone crowded in while the DJ played a truly horrible set. At one point I thought he had the greatest hits of James Brown on one turntable and the greatest hits of the Muppets on the other, because he kept alternating between these two artists for about twenty minutes. Occasionally he would put on something that would make the dancefloor pick up, only to crush it into oblivion in the next moment with some children's tune. Around 11.15 a performer came on with a ukulele which she proceeded to tune for five minutes before she went into a pathetic rendition of "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. At that point the boyfriend was able to help us escape into the back room where a duo on steel-top guitar and banjo were soundchecking. When the doors opened and they began to perform it was, yes indeed, "White Rabbit" once again performed in a highly grating fashion. Now working on my third or fourth drink I was quite desperate to find a space where I might be able to dance, or have some conversation, or just sit the hell down, so I wandered into the third room in the very back. There I found a complete DJ system set up, but no one playing it. A little more meandering and I was back into the main room, where the guitarist and the banjo player were enacting some scene with what looked like light sabers to a pre-recorded CD. I say "looked like" because the stage was so low that from my vantage point all I could see where things being whirled around like lightsabers appeared above the heads of the crowd every now and then. That was the end of their performance and Lord Kook appeared to do a surprise interim set while another band got ready. He got the crowd moving and several people came back to ask him to turn it up - clearly, I was not the only person who wanted something to do besides standing around and drinking while waiting for something interesting to happen. Unfortunately, as yet another terrible kitsch band was going through soundcheck, he had to keep it low. When that band finally came one I decided that I had had enough of Bunny Jam for the night, collected my friends, and got the hell out.

I know that Aaron Neonbunny has repeatedly said that Bunny Jam is not a rave, and that the intention is to create a performance space. The boyfriend compared it to an attempt to re-create a Merry Prankster's-style "happening." But I don't think it's successful on these terms because so much of the performance is about being consciously weird and assaulting the audience with things you think should freak them out, rather than involving the crowd in the event and giving them something to do besides watch. Its always better, I think, when weirdness happens because you've created a space for it, rather than having it thrust upon you. I love that Bunny Jam gets everyone to dress up like a bunny, and in that there is the creation of a shared identity for the night that can be very powerful. But, for me, that's not enough - once I'm dressed up I want something to do, ways of interacting with others who are at the party, rather than being held captive to someone's not very clever ideas about "weird music" or "weird performances." Given a choice between a space that's about standing, posing, and having others admire your costume, or a space where I can go out to dance, meet people, and interact with them, I'll always take the latter. After a while the bunny puns just don't mean much any more, and I think this may be my last Bunny Jam for a while.

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