Tuli’s Montreal Revolt

This tape features footage from a performance and rehearsal of Tuli Kupferberg's Revolting Theatre. The performance footage was videotaped at McGill University in Montreal on March 5, 1971, while the rehearsal excerpts were taped throughout late 1969 and early 1970. The cast was Kupferberg; his best friend and collaborator, the late Lannes Kenfield (Aka “Lanny”); Tuli’s first son, Joey Sacks; Liz Reisner; Kupferberg’s wife Sylvia Topp; and Sandra Mobray Clarke, aka “Sandy Nisson.”

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a blue screen.

00:26Copy video clip URL In voiceover, Videofreex member Skip Blumberg explains where the footage came from.

00:55Copy video clip URL Opening of the performance at McGill. Tuli, Lanny, and Sandy perform the Revolting Theatre theme song. The first act is Tuli doing “Caca Rocka,” a song from the third Fugs album on ESP-disk, 1966, the Virgin Fugs. It satirizes stupidity of pay toilets and what results when you don’t have the coin for one. By implication, it satirizes capitalism as well. The second is Tuli satirizing regimentation in the school system. Dressed as a schoolboy, he enacts a song from his 1966 solo ESP-disk album “No Deposit, No Return,”– “Social Studies.” The Marine Hymn “From the Halls of Montezuma” plays in the background as recorded Tuli sternly reads a directive by a teacher to his students which he found in the street printed on paper in the west 70’s of Manhattan.

06:00Copy video clip URL Next, Tuli, pacifist, reads a message from the Rabbinical Alliance of America who came out against peace demonstrations against America. This was during the Viet Nam War when a great anti-war protest movement flourished. Still in a Jewish mode, Tuli as rabbi chants as Lanny and Liz humorously enact the ancient Jewish Code of Family Purity which reflects a phobia against menstruating women. At the end of the skit, after the husband refuses the company of his wife, in obedience to the law, she goes off with the rabbi whose drawers conveniently drop.

13:29Copy video clip URL The next skit is Lanny as a policeman, with Tuli as a frightened citizen making a telephone report of a bomb threat. Where does the man live? Forty seven miles north west of Saigon! (It was during the bombings of the Viet Nam War.) Next Lanny dramatizes Mark Twain’s famous War Prayer, a scathing satire on religious justifications (e.g. the ‘spirit of love”) for the abominations of war.

16:41Copy video clip URL Lanny and Liz then confer the Fickle Phallus of Fate awards on the Laugh In program for helping Richard Nixon get elected president, on Rowan and Martin and the producer of “Flying Circle Finger of Fate.” Next, a tongue-in-cheek musical prelude to an anti-police brutality satire. The song used is “Johnny Law, helping every one he can.” Tuli and Lanny are on screen. Kupferberg reappears as a police sergeant “Joe Bolton,” the “good guy” cop who’s nice to children. He satirizes police violence by reading an advertisement for a chemical non-lethal weapon from a police trade magazine. He breaks for “a word from our sponsors,” where he holds up a sign reading “Fuck Communism.” Lanny runs out on stage and tells him that they need to censor this sign. In response, Kupferberg changes the sign to read “Fuck Bleep-ism.” He returns to testing and evaluating the new “non-lethal mace” on “Mrs. Cohen,” played by Tuli’s wife, Sylvia Topp, and Tuli’s son, Joey, wearing an ape-man mask. They fall together, Joey humps Sylvia, the nice policeman can’t stop them and so joins in.

25:55Copy video clip URL Next, Tuli and Lanny visit the Revolting Restaurant as waitress Sandy reads the menu, some culinary gross-outs imagined by school children on the Lower East Side.

29:12Copy video clip URL The last footage sees Lanny backstage with Joey, Sylvia and Tuli. Lanny asks a fellow whose name we aren’t sure of what he thought of the performance. Would it make a good training tool for the John Birch society, a right wing organization of its time, Lanny asks ironically. Tuli and Lanny sing more of the Revolting Theatre anthem. “Revolt, Revolt, Revolting Theatre, judge or fornicator, we televise it. The things you are about to see you better believe it, They are too real and ugly for…” Finally, Lanny has an award for Judge Holland, who gave one year in jail to a man who only wanted to kiss his wife.

33:00Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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