David Rhoden

MAXIMVS! played our first show at the Big Top.

by David Rhoden. Day .

MAXIMVS! plays at the Big Top Gallery, February 12, 2004.

MAXIMVS! started when the "Three Ring Circus" girls (Kirah Haubrich, Adele Borie, and Tracy Kennan) decided to throw a "Roman orgy", or more accurately a dinner where you would lie down to eat. They wanted to have "entertainments" and somehow Jeff Pounds go tht e idea that they wanted a band. He brought the idea to Trey, who brought it to me. I said I'd do it, but we had to wear togas, duh, and I wanted to play drums. The fact that I didn't have drums or play drums was not my concern.

The show went great, I guess. Doug MacCash wrote it up in the Times-Picayune, mentioning my tendency to put the drumsticks up my nose, in passing. I bet Mom was proud.

The picture above is actually from a later show (February 18), I know that because we used the money we got paid for this gig ($150?) to buy the wood to make the columns.

From the New Orleans Times Picayune:

TOGA ARTY

Dinner comes with experimental theater, comedy, music, art and togas

Friday February 20, 2004

By Doug MacCash
Art writer

Performance artist Heather Weathers' first Art a la Carte art-dinner-theater is coming to a conclusion. A pudding of cinnamon and cocoa-flavored ricotta cheese is being served to chortling diners, who line candle-lit tables facing the small stage. But there's trouble afoot.

Apparently the chianti, which has flowed liberally through the night into the glasses of audience and actors alike, has taken control of the three sincere young women attempting to read the lines of an experimental play. "Shut the (expletive deleted) up," one shouts at the audience, hoping to quell the last-course confusion.

But it's no use. Though the play by Trista Douglass earnestly explores issues as grave as the definition of humanity and the nature of civilization, the tipsy diners are laughing irreverently and heckling the players, who stagger haplessly between the tables. "Burn the bear, burn the bear, burn the bear," members of the audience chant, referring to the teddy bear (presumably a symbol of innocence) one of the young women clutches beneath her arm.

The rowdy burn-the-bear taunt was the perfect climax of the Roman-themed, art-oriented event held Feb. 12 at the Big Top Gallery. The unraveling of the play during the dessert course was a poetic, if unintentional, symbol of the Roman Empire's eventual plunge into chaos. It was also the perfect primer for the Carnival Bacchanal that would shift into high gear the next day.

The Art a la Carte dinner was the brainchild of artist Heather Weathers, known for her mostly nude performances, in which she stamps sheets of paper with her paint-smeared buttocks or models a bikini made of flank steak. Chef K. J. Smith provided the Roman-inspired fare. David Rex Joyner's sketchy abstract paintings that lined the gallery walls glowed elegantly in the dim light.

The first course, a mushroom salad, was accompanied by the well-rehearsed riffing of comedian Fayard Lindsey. The pork chop and risotto main course was served during an incomprehensible, though mercifully short, performance by Michele Boulet in which scraps of paper were doused with brandy and burned in an aluminum Dutch oven while someone pounded a conga drum. Trista Douglass' charmingly bohemian though way-way-too-long play followed over dessert. The evening ended with coffee and a driving rock 'n' roll set by Maximus, a more-than-competent trio, dressed in Belushi-inspired wine-stained togas and plastic laurel wreaths. The self-effacing band passed out ear plugs before their performance.

When the drummer stuck a drumstick up his nose, somewhere Caligula smiled.

The evening's events cost $50, which is steep, though the food was good and the art-theater was amusing -- sometimes deliberately so. Weathers plans to stage similar art-dinner-theater events monthly at the Big Top, with changing themes. The next is scheduled for March 25, with a country fair motif. I love daffy art stuff, so I recommend it.


ART A LA CARTE

What: A monthly art-oriented event including performances, music and dining.

Where: The Big Top (3 Ring Circus) Gallery, 1638 Clio St., 569-2700.

When: The next Art a la Carte takes place March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Price: $50.

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