Several young women rubbed their bare breasts with soap suds on the big screen while real soap bubbles floated over my head. Gene Simmons from KISS spits flames at the audience of the on-screen concert while live fire flames erupt from a mouthful of Barcardi 151 Rum. That was just part of the performance titled “Smell-O-Vision” at the Crest Theater on Sunday night.
David Yonge is a Canadian performance artist that brought an unusual night of entertainment to downtown Sacramento. It may not appeal to those looking for the latest film blockbuster, but for the hundred or so of us that braved the remnants of a typhoon to see something different, this was an interesting change of pace.
The show began with Yonge introducing the video “Yellow Diablo Shockumentary”. Yellow Diablo was a previous performance piece in which Yonge played the part of a masked wrestler who stages fights with inanimate objects. The video was of poor technical quality, which was amplified by being projected onto a theater screen. Still, it was clear enough to get the point of what was happening.
Yellow Diablo is shown wrestling washing machines, kitchen sinks, and finally a 1980 Camaro. Think “Jackass” meets “Backyard Wrestling”. Diablo grabs the various large articles of junk in headlocks, does body slams off of the top of a tall ladder, and rips his opponents to pieces with his bare hands. It was funny to watch, but looked really painful.
Next up was a brief musical performance by special guest Shawn Bristow. Bristow stepped onstage in his black T-Shirt with the word “Satan” under a Nike symbol, and started a cassette tape in a boom box. The music was an odd group a capella made up of “ooms” and “ahhhs”. He sang along. Strange, like Andy Kauffman without the phony accent or attitude.
Then Bristow played a recording that sounded like monkeys singing. He began to act like an ape and jumped over the theater chairs while hooting and picking through audience members’ hair. Again, it was strange, but funny.
Finally, Yonge introduced the main event. The Smell-O-Vision presentation was actually a variety of snippets from a number of films. There were clips from films like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Casablanca”, “Castaway”, “Bikini Carwash Company” and “Hamburger, The Movie”, as well as documentaries and old commercials. Most had specific references to some type of odor.
Yonge used a hot plate, perfume, air fresheners, cigarettes, a fog machine and a couple of fans to recreate the scents correlating to what was on the screen. Often he would be running in circles around the audience spraying Glade or blowing cigarette smoke to make sure everyone got a whiff. It definitely wasn’t a show for people with allergies to smoke or perfume. I kept hoping for a clip from a Cheech and Chong movie (Yonge is from Canada, after all), but that was about the only real disappointment in the performance.
As I said earlier, this wasn’t entertainment for the masses. The show was low tech and had a handmade feel to it. People that need a laugh track or action sequences would be bored, I’m sure. On the other hand, if you are open to less mainstream entertainment, this might be a fun night. I enjoyed myself, and I think the rest of the audience did too.
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