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Inter-Communal Carnival

Featuring Angels of Light in "Peking On Acid"

Douglass Playground, San Francisco
May 20 1972

At the peak of the three-year run of Kaliflower, in the late spring of 1972 when the hand-to-hand distribution system was bringing the weekly free intercommunal newspaper to more than 300 communes in the SF Bay Area, the Scott Street Commune called for an Inter-Communal Free Carnival. The subsequent day-long event represents the apogee of the Free intercommunal network that had crystallized around the Free Print Shop commune and Kaliflower. The upper field of Douglass Playground was turned into a medley of communal activities under a sea of marquee tents, recreating the atmosphere of a free Moroccan bazaar. Different communal groups provided body painting, musical entertainment, massage, meditation, a communal kitchen—all Free in the Digger tradition. The Inter-Communal Carnival was the apotheosis of the Digger model of communal events—an evolved version of the Invisible Circus which was based on 'everyone a participant, do your own thing, individual and collective autonomy.'

One of the highlights of the day was the Angels of Light performance of their new production "Peking On Acid"—a glorious extravaganza of on- and off-stage costumed drama that took Chinese Opera on an acid-drenched journey through the gender-bending theater of communal fantasy. The Free Print Shop printed the collectively designed program for the show, which provides more insight into the imagination than any perceptible narrative behind the performance.  

 

One of the members of the troupe of Angels filmed the Inter-Communal Carnival. Thanks to his efforts at preserving this footage, we have recently reconstructed a video, presented here:

Gallery of Images

From the film of the Inter-Communal Free Carnival by Jilala Jet von Jalopy

Click on small images for larger versions.

Gregory "Montana"

Steven the Wind

First scene (Jenny, Mary H, et al) 

Tahara

Muldoon serving Majoun

Jenny, Mary, Beaver, Rodney

Jet's Sets

Johnny Dancer (aka Bambi Lake), ?

? and Johnny Dancer

John Flowers ?, Dusty, Wally, Harlow

Tahara

Sister Ed

Johnny Dancer

Sister Ed

?

Martin Wong

Conga Band

Ralph

Sandy of the Cockettes painting face 

Tahara, J. D., Wally, Mary as Pope 

Unknowns and J. D., March of Dragon 

F: Rodney, Tah, Wally (March of Dragon) 

Same, March of Dragon 

Ralph wearing the Hands of God 

Beaver and Tahara 

Tah, unknowns. Heavenly (social worker) 

?, Mary as Pope, Johnny Dancer 

Crowd roaring 

Heavenly (hair), Viking Dan, Mary 

Isis (possibly?) 

Johnny Dancer, ? and NLF flag 

Mary and Johnny Dancer 

?, Ralph Sauer dancing to Conga 

Mary as Pope, J.D., on extended stage 

?, Viking Dan, Sister Ed (Luckin) 

Dorian

Stevie repairing J.D.'s elevated shoes

Tah and the Gamelan Orchestra 

?, Gregory Cruikshank 

Gregory C 

Daughter of ?, Beaver (green) 

Adrian Milton 

Tahara in mask by Martin Wong 

Tahara 

? with Sister Ed 

Sister Ed

Sister Ed 

Adrian Milton 

Mercedes, Adrian 

Unknown 

?, Martin Wong 

Ralph

Tahara and the Gamelan 

Hunce Voelker (sp?) brought Rodney 

Dragon Set by Martin Wong 

Mercedes 

Mercedes with fingernail pose 

Martin's set, ? 

Johnny Dancer as Black Dragonfly 

J.D.  

J.D.  

Martin Wong

J.D. 

Unknown 

Beaver as Froggie

Buzzy Burnett

Unknown 

Beaver

Unknown 



Viking Dan, Jocko (white face)

Rodney in wings

Rodney in chaps, Beaver

Viking Dan, Johnny Dancer

Viking Dan

Paul Darling, Brian Mulhern, J.D.

Jenny

Beaver

Lived w/ Hibiscus

 Johnny Dancer in Dragon costume

Viking Dan, Johnny Dancer 

?, NLF (Vietcong) Flag 

Johnny Dancer 

?, Mercedes, ? in Ship of Fools 

?, Mercedes, Adrian Milton 

Angel Sets 

Mercedes (white), Adrian (crown) 

Unknowns 

Adrian, Luc (standing) 

Mercedes as Moroccan gypsy 

Flower prop hanging down 

Chinese lantern hanging down 

Mercedes kicking up, Jenny purple 

Unknown 

Johnny Dancer in Aura finale 

Martin, J.D. Procession of Auras 

Mallory ? (son of Marquel), Mary

Unknown 

Beaver, ? 

Unknowns 

J.D., ? 

Set by (Muldoon ?)

Mercedes as gypsy 

J.D. and V.D. (sans pants) 

Ajari and the Mantric Sun Band 

Heavenly, ? 

Ralph Sauer

Ralph

Communal tent 

Warrick Broadhead, Toufik 

Massage Tent 

Communal Tent 

Beaver (in and out of costume) 

Jilala (t-shirt), Free Kitchen 

?, Eric getting painted

Julian (dancing) and Musicians  

Warwick

Unknown 

Rodney in mask

Unknown with camera 

Communal Tent, Rodney back 

Jeremy of the Angels 

Warwick, Beaver

Madeline, Rodney, Emily, Kristin 

Madeline, Rodney (balloon pants) 

 Dickie Dworkin, Toufik, Lily Rose

Rodney, Madeline, Luc, Emily, ?, K 

Unknown 
 
     

Announcement for the Inter-Communal Carnival that appeared in the May 11, 1972 issue of Kaliflower:

 
From Kaliflower, Vol. 4 #1, May 11 1972:

Inter Communal Free Carnival

May 20, Noon 'til Dusk at Upper Douglass Playground

A carnival of the communes is coming soon. The theme centers around sharing our creative work energies and projects. Already many communes have begun working on ideas and on getting their acts together.
 
There will be an Arabian desert tent where you can sink into 3 feet of decadently decorated pillows, sip hot mint tea, munch majoon candy, and play along with Moroccan musicians. A massage tent where your body will be rubbed with homemade body oil prepared from a two thousand year old recipe. Throb like a Chinese firecracker while watching the new Angels of Light allstar spectacular cabaret. Free Japanese kites and Tarot card readings. Look at your future in a crystal ball. Dip your and your child's fingers in a rainbow of colors and paint murals. Enjoy puppet shows with no strings attached, float along with a flute while a ballerina glissades on the grass. Finger and pocket a free fabulous trinket displayed by the famous trinkster himself. Pick a bale of popcorn, soak up some saki, and pin a Japanese button mask on your costume. Sing along with Madrigal singers, samba with a Brazilian commune band. Lunch on a loaf of hot commune bread. Swallow a mouthful of soup, jump into the Orient and sample some sushi. Dance the Maypole dance, listen to the rockin' raga of Mantric Sun Band. Ragamuffins have your rags patched by the marvelous patcher, visit the herbalist and take home a fresh herb cutting (and learn about their culinary and curative values). Browse in the Free Store stalls.

Free dance shows and hopefully much more—with your communes' new ideas and inspirations—will happen at the communal carnival. Any commune wanting to do something else for the fest please call 929-8507 or come by 1209 Scott St. Tell us your ideas, maybe we can help find free materials you may need or connect you with people who could help. Needed now are: someone to oversee the children's trinket booth, people to help juice fruits & vegetables (call Anna, at 552-2479), sign painters, creative designer to transform a backstop into a stage backdrop and park entrance. Come out all ye magicians, clowns, jugglers, make-up artists, mimes, and bodypainters.

Bring lots of wonderful vegetarian food and cooling drink. (Perhaps we could pass out recipes with the delightful dishes). Please, everyone bring your own bowl or cup to free us all from the waste of paper cups & plates.

Please, brothers & sisters, because of the food displayed and eaten on the lawn, and the pyramids of trinkets and other free wares being arranged on the lawn, poochies romping will cause many problems. Please leave your dog home.

Douglas Playground is situated at 27th St. & Douglas on the windward side of Diamond Heights. It's a secluded grassy field, surrounded by a ring of trees.


Reviews and photos of the Intercommunal Carnival appeared in subsequent issues of Kaliflower. Here is a review that Irving (in his inimitable handwritten script) penned with enthusiasm and overflowing in praise (with a few inevitable complaints). In a way, the intercommunal Kaliflower network was a product of Irving's imagination, so high praise from him was especially gratifying. [The following from Kaliflower, Vol. 4 Issue 3, 25 May 1972]

PEKING REVIEW

NOTES on "PEKING on ACID," a NEW SHOW PRESENTED by the THEATRE of TOTALLY DISABLED ANGELS of LIGHT at the FIRST INTERCOMMUNAL CARNIVAL, SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1972

THE AUDIENCE: The Angels of Light played to communal brothers, sisters, and friends, and there has hardly ever been assembled a calmer, more appreciative, and less paranoid, audience. And it was not captive. It was sitting on the grass and could come and go freely any time it wanted, and so it consisted mainly of those spectators whom the Angels had spellbound.

THE SUN: It was daytime, and the power of the Angels' performance dispelled forever the idea that theatrical magic happens only at night, in a blacked-out auditorium. The baseball diamond turned into a great Greek amphitheater.

PAINT: No justice can be done to the sets, costumes and make-up by describing them. Considering the humble scope of our intercommunal culture, they were titanic in conception and galactic in execution. The courtesan was a walking Brazilian jungle. Our gasps were answered by still more spectacular sets and still more spectacular poses. Sets and costumes are hard to preserve intact, outside of a repertory theater warehouse, but some attempt should be made to pickle PEKING ON ACID, at least by color photograph or watercolor sketch—for unborn fans of the future.

SPACING OUT: A baseball diamond was the huge space conceived of by the Angels as their theater, and they handled it masterfully, building sets and costumes of a size to fit it, transforming the backstop into a proscenium and the pitcher's mound into an orchestra pit. The Courtesan's procession meandered slowly over the vast lawn to open the second act. The twelve-inch high sandals of the Courtesan, and shorter sandals of her retainers, gave them the added height to cope with so large a space. Greek drama was also played in the sunlight, and the players wore high shoes called buskins.

MUSIC: The orchestra proved that you don't need a bunch of professional pianists in order to provide an aesthetically perfect musical accompaniment. You just need nerve. There was no obstacle that the orchestra and its radiant leader did not glide over or zap away. When two unscheduled trumpeteers appeared on a promontory overlooking the park, and started a loud duet, the new unavoidable tempo was simply picked up by the orchestra.

FREEDOM: The Depression musical has been the stock in trade of the so-called "Cockette—Angel-of-Light phenomenon," and it was offed somewhere between Poets' Theatre and Upper Douglass Playground. For what opened at the Carnival was the whole world of theater, East and West, past and present. How can the Cockettes and the Angels of Light ever be mentioned in the same breath again? The Angels at last squeezed out of their godawful Busby Berkeley plaster casts, a wide swarm of exotic butterflies slowly strolling back and forth through world myth and history, sipping from the glorious bouquets of other cultures the nectar they need to refresh us back at home.

CHARITY: The Angels have made peace with women. The bitter misogyny of all their past shows is gone. In PEKING ON ACID a gifted female impersonator successfully portrayed feminine elegance and beauty. Now they are theater for everyone instead of just half of us. A few months ago this reviewer thought he had had it with what passes for drag these days. It was nice to see this ancient art redeemed.

ENSEMBLE: The show was not marred or drowned out by the din of egomaniacs battling with each other for the limelight. A new, gentler, and more powerful company has formed, with room for everyone to be seen and heard. The egomaniacs were conspicuous by their absence.

PACING: The great flaw of the show was the long lags between acts, and the corresponding failure to burn away the straw from inside the acts. But because Saturday was a lucky day, even this flaw was a blessing. It dragged out the show to true all-day Kabuki length, allowing us to leave when we got bored, and visit other booths of the Carnival. We came back when the action picked up.

HIGHLIGHTS: Everything and everyone that was painted, the printed program, the bigness of everything, the beautiful zany leader of the orchestra, the frog, the red-headed demon, the Courtesan's skillful stilt-walking, the love-making sequence between Courtesan and swain at the end of Act I.

COMPLAINTS: Not enough rehearsing, one actor smoking on stage, a film maker directing the performers to act for him rather than for the audience, the too frequent refraining of Sandy and Jilala from appearing on stage.

WHERE TO: There is a rumor afloat that the Angels are planning a trip to Amsterdam and possible European tour. Nothing would be more detrimental at this time. They would be cutting themselves off from the community they come from and play for, and just before their last amazing spurt of growth has had a chance to ossify. They should wait a couple of years before thinking of foreign travel, at least as a troupe. Their "ticket" should invest his capital in a warehouse theater, lighting equipment, and so forth. And in the meantime, if the Angels want to tour, we know of a dozen West Coast communes they could visit, and in particular we know of a mountain top in Oregon with what could be called a challenging backdrop.


Martin Wong, Tahara, and Beaver (of the Angels of Light) at Roundtop Mountain in Oregon, taking advantage of the offer in "Peking Review" (see above transcription).

 

 

 



 

 
 
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