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Looking Back to 1992: Gwar bloodies Jannus Landing

The following story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on May 18, 1992. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Maurice Rivenbark.

And good news for fans: Gwar is coming back to Tampa Bay. The costumed, cartoonish metal warriors just announced a show at the Ritz Ybor on Dec. 6. Ghoul, He Is Legend and U.S. Bastards will open.


By Tom Zucco, Times staff writer

The show began innocently enough with a security guard being disemboweled by a man with spiked shoulder pads, leather underwear and a face only a crustacean could love.

And then another hapless fellow, supposedly an audience member, was decapitated by the same crab-faced man.

As they staggered around the stage, both victims spewed gallons of red liquid into the audience, which showed its appreciation by attacking the stage, attacking one another, and passing one another over their heads like so many sacks of grain.

And then GWAR got serious.

While the really big shows, Genesis and the Neville Brothers, were playing their stadiums and posh concert halls Sunday night, in Jannus Landing’s darkened courtyard more than 1,000 members of the combat boot brigade settled in for a nice, quiet evening with GWAR _ a band that makes Alice Cooper look like Up With People.

Wearing rubber monster suits and trained in the classic slice and spew techniques, GWAR, which band members say stands for God With A Racket but may be just an intergalactic power verb, is part soft porn, part hard rock and mostly your worst nightmare.

Which is exactly what many discriminating concertgoers want these days.

People like 20-year-old Toni DeFreitas, a Clearwater student.

“Awesome,” she said, wiping away the spray of the headless man. “This is too wild.”

No, too wild came later when:

Someone dressed as a policeman was clubbed and impaled on a spear.

The band fired objects into the crowd using a 7-foot catapult.

A female band member, dressed in spiked shoulder pads, spiked boots, and tastefully appointed spiked bra, beat a man with a chain. She then did a fire dance as a large rubber goat was sliced open.

This is the dark “other” side of current music. The side few people talk about _ that cuts its hair funny and only comes out at night for bands like GWAR.

Only there may be no other band like GWAR.

The band consists of five musicians and “a virtual horde of morons (18 in all) attempting to support us,” lead singer Orderus Urungus (he says that is his real name) said before the show. And they’ve cut three albums: Hell-O, Scumdogs of the Universe and their latest LP, America Must Be Destroyed.

“GWAR is a rock ‘n’ roll band disguised as a joke,” said bass player Beefcake the Mighty (he also claims it’s his real name). “And we’ve trapped ourselves by creating a fandom of 10-year-old, acne-imprisoned, heavy-metal mall people.

“But hey. That’s okay. They give us all their money, and in return, we spew blood on them and help them live out their pre-pubescent fantasies.”

Urungus said: “It’s like any piece of great art. You will draw the conclusions that you will draw from it. And I would be some kind of art Nazi if I was preaching to you exactly how you were supposed to react.

“We’re just trying to express ourselves as the true, sensitive artists that we are.”

Jeremy King

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