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Performance Tarts

Have acts like Bozo Porno Circus and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult run out of folk to offend?

This summer's Inferno tour, so called because it'll pack all of TKK's "hottest" numbers into one sex-crazed night, features long-term bassist Levi Levi, drummer James Fury and the Bomb Gang Girlz, Jacky Blacque and Lady Galore, who are TKK's promiscuous back-up singers. The band will play old favorites from long ago, such as "Devil Bunnies," "Ride the Mindway" and "Kooler Than Jesus," along with new songs from the forthcoming album, The Reincarnation of Luna.

Like 1995's Hit and Run Holiday, Luna, TKK's ninth endeavor, is a concept album. Musically and narratively, it follows the reincarnations of a girl named Luna. Since the character is a different person in each identity, something like a rap-inspired song will lead into aggro-punk, which in turn will precede a soulful psychedelic track.

It's this continual experimentation with styles that makes TKK awfully hard to categorize. Is the Thrill Kill sound psycho-babble-dingbat-funk, as the band once described it, or is it more like psycho-disco-bondagegoth-gogo bitch-death, as described on the fan site America's Most Dangerous Kult? The surest thing anyone can say about TKK is that it's sample-heavy (although Mann says not so much in the future), and its lyrics are naughty but tongue-in-cheek. And the costumes are tight and revealing.

Part performance art, part rock and roll: Bozo Porno Circus's live shows welcome viewer participation.
Neil Waters
Part performance art, part rock and roll: Bozo Porno Circus's live shows welcome viewer participation.
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult makes seeming sexy... blasé.
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult makes seeming sexy... blasé.

With song titles like "Sex on Wheelz," it's obvious the lyrics are not designed to be interpreted literally. Back when TKK was gothic-industrial, before 1991's disco-based Sexplosion!, some people did take the band's satanic lyrics seriously, but really all Mann was interested in was the odd juxtaposition of images. In artiste mode, he explains: "Jesus, the devil, Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Monroe…. What they really represent doesn't matter to me. We erase all that substance. We just use the images."

This is fun music, not meant for deep contemplation. Mann points out that unlike associates KMFDM and Marilyn Manson, TKK was never linked to the Columbine tragedy. TKK lyrics aren't written in a way that allows them be pulled out of context to promote real thrill killing. Unlike its lyrics, though, the band's fashions are a much better barometer of its sensibilities; Mann says Kult members are merely themselves, wearing what's in their closets -- skeletons and all.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and openers Bozo Porno Circus perform Sunday, July 23, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer. For more information, call (713)629-3700.

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