The Heavy Metal Band Showering Fans With Blood and Semen
by Nick Schager
There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like GWAR, the metal outfit hailing from Richmond, Virginia, who dress up as space barbarians, act out all manner of onstage obscenity, and spew their audiences with fake blood, semen, and other sticky bodily fluids. For the past four decades, GWAR has carved out a wholly unique niche in the music industry, serving as a nexus point for those who love horror movies, science fiction, fantasy, comic books, superheroes, Dungeons & Dragons, punk, and headbanging. They’re the mutant manifestation of every geeky thing in modern American popular culture, and their legacy of gonzo anti-establishment satire, pornographic performance-art pyrotechnics, gory tongue-in-cheek violence, and absurdist mania are all lovingly celebrated by This is GWAR, a non-fiction introduction to a band that long-time member Danielle Stampe (aka Slymenstra Hymen) refers to as “a joke with no punchline.”
As laid out by director Scott Barber’s (The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story) fun-loving documentary (July 21 on Shudder, following a limited theatrical release beginning July 16), GWAR was the byproduct of a meeting of two idiosyncratic—and, for a time, kindred—minds. In 1980s Richmond, Hunter Jackson was an aspiring and unconventional artist at Virginia Commonwealth University and his efforts to create an out-there cinematic spectacular at The Dairy—a former milk factory that had transformed into a de facto home for artistic collectives, including Hunter’s own Slave Pit—led to an encounter with David Brockie, the lead singer of on-the-rise punk band Death Piggy. By this time, Brockie was already a local celebrity thanks to his theatrics, such as providing audiences with pinatas filled with quarters, candy and cat shit, and he immediately took to Hunter and, in particular, the bizarre movie costumes he and his Slave Pit comrades were creating. One night, Brockie asked to borrow those get-ups to pose as his own opening band, dubbed “Gwarggh,” and a perverse phenomenon was born.