Listen up! What are you doing on August 4? There's a party you should know about. The theme of the party is humiliation, it will take place at Chop Suey, and the guest of honor is Wayne Koestenbaum, who writes in his new book, Humiliation (out next month), that he's spent his life "avoiding humiliation and yet standing near its flame, enjoying the sparks, the heat..." The book is a tiny little thing and it's structured in tiny sections, many sections no longer than a paragraph, but it has the energy of a brilliant mind firing in all directions. Koestenbaum touches on humiliation in pop culture, the sexual humiliations of politicians and celebrities (Eliot Spitzer, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson), racial humiliation (lynching photographs don't just record humiliation and violence, they "perform and extend the damage"), humiliations played out over social networking (like that woman who humiliated that teenager into killing herself over MySpace), the humiliation of poor people, the humiliation of gay men looking for sex in bathrooms, humiliation in Shakespeare, humiliation on the world stage ("A perception that Germany had been humiliated led the downcast nation to transform itself into a machine that humiliated and murdered millions"). I just opened it at random to page 92 and found this glorious thought: "I believe, with Jean Genet, and Jesus Christ, and Oscar Wilde, and a few other martyrs and mystics and troublemakers, that humiliation is a kiln through which the human soul passes, and where it receives burnishing, glazing, and consolidating. Humiliation cooks the spirit to a fine finish."
Koestenbaum is flying into town from New York City for this party, Elliott Bay Book Company is going to sell books, and The Stranger has invited a bunch of other humiliation connoisseurs to join Koestenbaum on the bill. Nate Quiroga, known to most people as Buffalo Madonna from Mad Rad, is going to read a very fucked-up story about his dad that I happened to hear him reading to a small group of poets and fiction writers at a house party in the Central District recently. The very fetching band Tacocat is going to do a one-time-only acoustic set (!) of their humiliation-drenched songs about urinary tract infections and toxic shock syndrome and the like, plus maybe a new song or two. The standup comedian Solomon Georgio is going to stand up and say things. The always-amazing Jose Bold (creator of fringe spectacles like Mountain and the Spider-Man parody Spidermann) is going to do his hard-to-describe mixed-media mindfucking.
Other possible attendees: Lisa Nowak, the disgraced former NASA astronaut charged with burglary and battery and attempted kidnapping after driving from Houston to Orlando to settle a lovers' dispute; Susan Smith, convicted of murdering her children in the early '90s; former teen heartthrob and Valium devotee Corey Haim (RIP); Charles II of Spain, one of the most mentally disabled monarchs in history; and whatever other faces artist Derek Erdman feels like drawing for the gallery we'll have up of the most-humiliated people throughout history.
That lineup is badass, and it will cost only five bones to get in, so mark your calendar.
Get yer tickets here!