Those words (or at least the order in which they're arranged) come from John Cameron Mitchell (you know him as Hedwig) in reference to the musical People Are Wrong!, but I wish I'd said them first because they'd look great with my name beneath them, emblazoned across the DVD case for Existo. Oh, well.
Last night I gathered with laviorli, pennylane_81, lord_alucard, and renny1780 at hippieprincess1's house for an exhibition of Existo. It's one of those low-budget indie films you've heard of, but can't remember where or when or why you were supposed to see it. I still can't remember who first suggested it to me, but now I know why I wanted to see it. I think you should see it for the same reasons.
The Plot: Back in The Day an artistic genius named Existo led the revolution against the repressive state and lost. After ten years of government reprogramming and a chemical lobotomy he's back, unstable but brilliant and controversial as ever. His acts of art terrorism do not go unnoticed by Dr. Armand Glasscock, an insidious televangelist who acts as the media voice of the Federal Government. With the help of a Bohemian turncoat, Glasscock deploys his secret weapon to subvert and corrupt Existo... "If you see an act of art," says a TV news reporter, "do not try to interpret it yourself. Call 911." The war has begun.
Existo fits all at once into nearly every genre I can think of. It's a comedy. It's a tragedy. It's a dystopian sci-fi musical reminiscent of the best moments of Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Oingo Boingo's Forbidden Zone, and John Waters' earlier (more daring) work, but derivative of none of them. The songs are incredible, and it's some of the best and weirdest guerilla filmmaking I've ever seen. If Broom Street Theater ever poured its annual budget into making a film, I imagine it would turn out something like this. It's amazing (and maybe frightening) to me that Existo was made in 1999 because the politics are more topical in 2005 than I think they would have been then. The film is quite uneven and self-indulgent at times, but these are foibles that come with unbridled creativity. If that sounds pretentious and you haven't seen the movie, do keep in mind that you haven't seen the movie.
The most bizarre thing about Existo is that it's a spin-off from the show Hey Vern, It's Ernest! Yes, you read that correctly. Bruce Arntson premiered his Existo character on that program, and composed music for the Ernest movies. Cowriter and director Coke Sams also cowrote and codirected several Ernest productions, and the cast of Existo is comprised heavily of Ernest alums. Jim Varney even shows up, though not as Ernest. It's very weird to recognize all these actors, to whom I was initially exposed via a somewhat-dumb-but-innocuous kiddie TV show. Of course, since they're not shackled by FCC broadcast regulations, the jokes about Existo's penis-shaped pogo stick are somewhat better.
Anyway, the bottom line here is that I think you should see Existo if you get a chance (though I'm not sure there's anywhere you can rent it in the area (maybe Four Star or Bongo?)). For more information on the film, check out its IMDB entry, or www.Existo.com.