John Caffery is telling me about Liberace’s chauffeur. How Lib and chauffeur were lovers. How Liberace apparently paid for the guy’s nose job, but bribed the surgeon after the guy was under anesthetics and the surgeon made the chauffeur look like the aging singer. This is a story Caffery tells me — and with “anyone who will listen.” No kidding.
A couple of segues later, he’s telling me about an art exhibit he made out of a calendar month’s worth of mixed tapes called “The Last Days Of Analog”, which is hanging at the Gladstone Hotel. At turns campy and philosophical, Caffery modulates from high to low culture and from glossy mass media to no-fi punk ideals with confidence.
Caffery is the bassist for Kids On TV, which will be performing an all-ages show at La Petite Mort Gallery at Holy Fuck III on Fri, Aug. 25. The band is a voice in the rising chorus of musicians blending synthesizers and punky vocals in what has been called “punktronica” and “discount disco.”
KOTV’s regular members include Caffery, a guitarist, a beat mixer, and a video artist. If a video artist seems out of place in a band, that’s because you haven’t heard of Kids On TV. They stretch the bounds of what kinds of art ought to be at their disposal. Their projects include performance, film, graffiti and crafts.
“A lot of art seems daunting. I know myself I’ve found it that way, and then I just started doing it — and I started asking for advice. I want to encourage people to take up that whole punk rock do-it-yourself attitude,” says Caffery.
If the mantra of scenesterism is “I’m so bored,” Kids on TV’s gigs are for those who have decided “I’m so bored of being bored.” Their shows captured the hearts of the myspace generation, giving them a venue where they can dance and scream, sans irony. Culture vultures have gravitated to their shows — a good sign for the band.
Often nontraditional venues play host to their shows — the Ottawa show is at La Petite Mort Gallery — which means the under 19-set are free to attend, although Caffery would like to do more all-ages sets. The shows often deal frankly with sexual issues, highlighted by their raunchy crowd-pleasing “Cock Wolf.”
“I don’t feel like kids need to be protected from our messages,” says Caffery.
In fact, he feels that since teens often learn the wrong messages about what it is to be gay, opening up the show to high schoolers is important — a way of presenting sex in a way that isn’t bogged down with messages of shame while sidestepping the idea that today’s queer youth should strive to be khaki-clad automatons.
The KOTV crew performed three times during Toronto’s Pride Week, including an all-ages set in the park and a performance at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre. But Toronto audiences may be more familiar with the Kids’ other party, now an annual event — hosted by a multifloor bathhouse-cum-concert hall. The downstairs bar area was mixed genders, with separate floors for boys to get it on with boys and girls to get it on with girls — “a first for the city.”
Equally at home at Saw Gallery as at a bathhouse, Caffery and the gang’s high-energy, sexually-charged electro-punk is likely to be a highlight of the week’s festivities.