The walls of the Hideout, a dimly lit bar on First Hill, are loaded with framed things: paintings, photographs, mirrors. If you find yourself sitting on the toilet of the ladies' room on a weekend night, you will see a painting on the opposite wall turned around, mooning you with its canvas rear end. The bathroom lights will unexpectedly dim, and that painting's backside will begin to glow.
The high, haunting voice of Klaus Nomi will glissade out of unseen speakers, and the video will begin: blue swirling water, floating glases of wine and cocktails, and Nomi's sarcophagus, with a reclining likeness of the German countertenor in his usual costume of stark whiteface, severe shoulder fins, and oversized black bow tie. "Remember me," Nomi sings, "but forget my fate." The song ends, and a vase full of white roses wearing aphorisms—"you will feel the warmth and you will not know where it comes from"—begins to sparkle and glow. You are invited to take a rose on the way out.
Remember Me (Klaus Nomi Bathroom) is a video-performance installation with you as the performer. "It's a funeral ceremony for the alcohol you consumed in the Hideout," said creator Korby Sears, sitting in the bar last Saturday night. Remember Me relies on a motion sensor hidden by the commode. "Just entering the room won't trigger the piece—it's not for people using the sink, or lipsticking up in the mirror, or coking up, or making out. It is only for people eliminating their bladder or bowels." (While researching Remember Me, Sears timed how long men and women took to use the bathroom at a house party. Both genders averaged two minutes and 30 seconds.)
For Remember Me, Sears chose Nomi's version of Dido's lament from the English opera Dido and Aeneas. A brief history: About 3,000 years ago, a lovelorn Tunisian queen named Dido stabbed herself in the heart and set herself on fire because her lover (named Aeneas) had to leave and invent Rome. About 300 years ago, an English composer named Henry Purcell wrote a lament for Dido, with the words "Remember me, but forget my fate." About 30 years ago, a German new-wave opera singer/gay icon named Klaus Nomi released his version of Dido's lament on the B-side of a single called Simple Man. A year later, he died. Remember Me has a sense of humor, but it isn't a joke—it's the terminus of a chain of passings that began thousands of years ago.
Sears and his engineer Brad Purkey discussed running a concurrent installation in the men's room by rigging a theremin, controlled by urine, into the toilet. Sadly, Sears says, they ran out of time.