Painting the town black

There was a brief article in a recent Xpress with a title promoting a small happening in Pritchard Park on Saturday, Aug. 9, which effectively prompted me to attend the event with my family for what your paper touted as “family-friendly” [Take That, Rockin’ Robin: All-ages Arts Show Takes Over Pritchard Park,” Aug. 6]. Admittedly, the first two acts were very endearing and fun for all ages (one being a folk/bluegrass combo, the second a collection of teenagers performing covers of familiar favorites), but I’m writing concerning the third act—“Dr. B. Sanchez & Co.”

I’m sure your journalist is not to blame, but this performance was certainly not family-friendly. I don’t know if any of the Xpress crew were on hand to witness Dr. Sanchez, but [here is] a slight recap as to what is currently occurring in this beloved mountain town:

Mr. Sanchez travestied the “Star Spangled Banner” by “singing” it through some sort of microphone attached to a drum cymbal, after which he drew a pentagram on the ground and placed a covered bucket on each point. The first bucket contained a metal chain with which—along with an iron skillet—he provoked the audience rudely and eerily (rudeness and eeriness were prevalent throughout). The second bucket contained garlic bulbs, which he smashed with the skillet while quoting old rock songs (one I specifically remember: “I see your love light shine and want to paint it black”). The third bucket contained red and white rose petals, which he tossed upon the audience while one of my most cherished anthems played: Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose.” Mr. Sanchez continued to provoke and scream until revealing the contents of the fourth bucket: imitation blood, which he splashed into the pentagram.

The provoking continued to heighten up to the fifth bucket, [which contained] a whole roasted chicken that he impaled with a crowbar and proceeded to tear to pieces as he ranted and asked what we all wanted for dinner. By this time my wife had taken the girls and left, but I was frozen to my seat, watching to see what terrible offense would come next. The most offensive act came last when, after stripping to only his underwear for a full costume change, Mr. Sanchez presented his voter-registration card and burned it while relating some nonsense about “Hermetics” and the universe.

Who is this person calling himself Dr. Sanchez? Are you familiar with his work? Does he perform these sick jokes often, and are they advertised as kid-friendly? Is this what Asheville has come to? I am confused and (I think) offended by the very presence of this personality in my town. Can we expect more of this? Do you have any answers?

— M.A. Zamani

Arts & Entertainment editor Rebecca Sulock responds: The festival’s organizers believed the show’s acts to be family-friendly and our writer described it best she could. Although the act was surprising and not what it was billed in advance to be, performance art is by its nature unpredictable. The event was free, open and inclusionary, and people were free to come and go.

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One thought on “Painting the town black

  1. LOKEL

    Who, or what body, decides what is appropriate to be “presented” as performance art in this public park?

    And to what agency or individual are the performers held responsible for the content of their performances?

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