Whitehouse - Live Action 93, 28th September 2001 Red Rose, London, UK.

Sex and violence: that's (mostly) what Whitehouse are all about and, tonight, the Red Rose Club reeks of them. Peter Sotos keeps heckling the crowd, an imposing figure inviting us to come and have a go if we think we're hard enough. Nobody does. He slaps a guy at the front a few times in the face, but still nothing happens. He douses the audience in beer. People laugh. A woman climbs on stage and seeks Sotos' attention. He pushes her violently back where she came from. I wonder if she got hurt, most people cheer. Philip Best, smiling throughout the show, bless him, looks like a jovial beer-bellied Oz Clarke, a bit out of place in this sex and violence orgy. He sometimes raises his arms to the sky and screams as loud as he can. He's funny. William Bennett keeps dribbling beer. Oh, he also does his trademark high-pitched squeal. We expect him to.

Watching three grown mature men behaving like adolescents struggling with a hormone imbalance is a bit awkward. I would even call it pathetic if I was not convinced it is all calculated and they know exactly what they're doing; they are giving us the opportunity to participate in the most extreme violent fucked-up sexual piece of entertainment available to the general public in these Health-and-Safety obsessed let's-cover-our-asses-in-case-we-get-sued noughties short of going to a fetish club like the Torture Garden which, incidentally, I do regularly. And the crowd does participate. This is in fact where most of the sex and violence comes from. A tall blonde is showing off her shaved pussy (or should I say cunt) and rubbing herself against any male she comes across. Lucy McKenzie is here, a model who appeared quite prominently in (and wrote the foreword to) Richard Kern's beautiful photography book Model Release. In one memorable picture, lying on a bathroom floor, legs wide open, she pisses directly at the camera. I did intend to approach her for a chat but I ended up looking after an attractive girl who came all the way from Karlruhe in Germany to see Whitehouse play live. This much dedication demands and deserves my attention. While I'm star spotting, I might as well mention Richard James, the Aphex Twin, watching proceedings from a safe spot right at the back next to the bar. As for the violence, Philip Best gets pulled down from the stage several times, and numerous beer glasses get thrown and smashed on stage. It is incredible nobody gets hurt.

I heard some people who had seen Whitehouse since the eighties say the performance tonight is unfortunately polished. Rather than being unfortunate, it confirms my opinion that the show is extremely well controlled entertainment of the highest order, albeit a fabulously over-the-edge confrontational type of entertainment, reminiscent of Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty. And who could be disappointed with that.

J-P Kapps, 2001 jp.kapps@orange.net

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