AS220 at 25

By GREG COOK  |  August 13, 2010

KEITH MUNSLOW, performed at the first AS220 event and hosts the monthly Empire Revue: There has been ebb and flow in terms of clubs being open. But there have been times when AS220 was one of only two or three places to play in Providence.

SCOTT LAPHAM, co-founder of AS220 darkroom and former resident: The Impotent Sea Snakes were a drag/gay kind of glam band that actually ended up being kind of dangerous. They had stacks on monitors that were showing hardcore gay porn. And on top they had a flaming pie plate with some kind of petroleum or something in it. This was when it was a little more edgy to be openly flaming just in-your-face gay. And the audience generally speaking was a little uncomfortable, although they were there because they wanted to see it and were pretty attracted by the whole spectacle. The lead singer had tons of condoms that he was trying to give away by walking through the audience and handing them to people. And people were really reluctantly taking them. Then I heard him say as he was passing me, "This is worse than Cleveland."

PRINCESS PEARL OF PROVIDENCE, former AS220 resident: I think my friend Wayne took me there [to Richmond Street]. I think Bert Crenca was playing the piano that night and I started singing and at the time I had a very high falsetto voice. And he was great. He was like, "Oh, you're awesome, you're so great, you're wonderful." Pretty soon after I did a show there. At the time, I've got to say that was in the '80s, most drag queens just kind of lip synced. As I recall I even did that. But we also did some different things. I remember I made a kitchen set out of cardboard boxes. I painted them to look like a fridge and an oven. I made some recipes. It was called "Princes Pearl's Pool of Talent." I was all of it, except for I think I had one special guest. That was it. That was the pool of talent.

MUNSLOW: A lot of Meatball/Fluxus nights come to mind because we were really trying to push the envelope of what people would tolerate. We did a thing one night where we played full-contact nude jacks, where we built a wrestling ring in the middle of AS220 and two of the guys stripped down completely naked and got oiled up and then played jacks. Everybody else in the company dressed in drag. I was sitting up in a giant scaffold kind of thing, I had my organ up in that scaffold and I was in drag and I was playing baseball stadium organ music while this was going on. We played, I don't know how many rounds, but it was a lot of rounds of jacks. And the guys that were playing had dog collars and chains connected to their wrists, so if they committed a penalty their chains would get shorter, so playing jacks got harder and harder and harder. And we were all smoking cigars. I think it was called "Ejacula."

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