Sex Cells, the sensational nightclub experience, celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday night, and for the occasion, the event was partnering with Goldenvoice at the El Rey. ‘We were public enemy number one last year, but you know what? we are okay with that’, said Danny Fuentes visibly looking happy of the success of his wild baby. The man behind Lethal Amounts has been revolutionizing Los Angeles’ nightlife with these monthly events, and although it was my second time attending Sex Cells, walking through one of these nights is always surprising.
Attending Sex Cells is waiting for the fun to begin while watching the characters slowly filling in the venue, and resident DJ Matthew Pernicano filling in the space with industrial beats and dancefloor moves. The night certainly belonged to DJs and to the crowd of curious, boundary-free people, although I have to say that I found the scene a bit less extreme and outrageous than last time. Their Christmas edition, with performances by transsexual Amanda Lepore and rapper provocateur Brooke Candy, had attracted quite an extraordinary ecosystem! For a good start of the night, Pernicano and Danny Fuentes DJ-ed electronic dance beats, in front of David Bowie clips and movies, as well as short movies of women wrapped into tight black or pink latex bodysuits, touching, caressing themselves or making the freakiest contortions on an antic armchair.
The night always focuses on 3 different things: the DJ sets, the gallery of freaks on the dance floor (and I say this with plenty of affection because it takes some guts to come out as some of these people do – and of course the performers playing short but very memorable sets.
This last installment of Sex Cells was a loose tribute to David Bowie with a vague 70-80s-English-scene theme, and Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus were the perfect DJs for a good part of the night. Two electronic dance artists, Shannon Funchess of Brooklyn-based Light Asylum and Douglas McCarthy of English band Nitzer Ebb, performed songs from their two bands which are no longer active, and since both admitted to have been heavily influenced by Bauhaus, the night was definitively thematic. Shannon started with a song or two and was soon joined by Douglas, for an aggressive industrial duo, back up by Sex Cells dancers on each side of the stage. And considering that Bruno Coviello, the other half of Light Asylum, wrote an electro dance song for the soundtrack of ‘Party Monster’, the movie made about Michael Alig, who was at the center of Sex Cells’ controversy last year, the night had come in full circle.
However, before Funchess and McCarthy, Joe Cardamone made a surprise appearance with a powerful and stunning projection, which honestly was one of the kind. Mid trailer for the exorcist, mid industrial noise track working like a rap song, Cardamone delivered the most impressive performance of the night while screaming ‘I am just trying to stay alive’. Raw and aggressive, the two songs he did built a heavy atmosphere, so dark and mysterious that his short performance let me hungry for more.
Daniel Ash (who was wearing Lethal Amounts’ own, a ‘Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies’ shirt) and Kevin Haskins continued the party past 1 am (I honestly kept lost of time) but, the two legendary musicians became the background for a sort of orgy-esque Russ Meyer/John Water dance party, a risk-it-all voyeuristic show for Sex Cells people and their complete-freedom attitude.
Sex Cells colorful events remain the monthly night-out for counter-culture freaks with a provocateur vibe, plenty of super creative outfits and a desire to push things to the limits. ‘I am a visionary’, once told me Danny Fuentes, and it’s certain that his Sex Cells (a homage to his favorite band, Soft Cell and their song, ‘Sex Dwarf’) is a unique vision which makes anything else looks like complete boredom. Friday one-year anniversary was Fuentes’ first time working with Goldenvoice, and it may be the beginning of a new and fructuous collaboration, which will continue to give a new kick to Los Angeles nightlife.
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