The Performant: The sacred and the profane

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Putting the "good" back into Good Friday at “Sing-Along Jesus Christ Superstar” and Zombie Christ Haunted House

They might seem merely irreverent, or downright blasphemous, to conservative churchgoers, but I’m pretty sure the original JC Superstar would have dug the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence -- you know, the water-into-wine Jesus who supported sex workers and preached tolerance and respect for the marginalized.

The Sisters, who have been preaching the same since 1979, really get a chance to shine (and glitter) come Easter Weekend. One of SF’s most singular events, Easter Sunday in Dolores Park grabs the lion’s share of the attention, what with its iconic Easter Bonnet contest, the sainting of local community heroes, and the ever-popular Hunky Jesus competition, being rescheduled as we speak due to spring showers. But for those of us who find it difficult to get up early on a Sunday morning, hardbody of Christ or no hardbody of Christ, the Sisters have expanded their influence across the weekend, creating plenty of opportunity for the nocturnal among us to grab a little of the resurrection gusto for themselves.

Thus it was the holy day saddled with what must surely be the world’s greatest misnomer—“Good” Friday— that played host to two separate events dedicated to the mystery of the risen dead. The Zombie Christ, if you will.

Kicking off the evening at the endearingly ramshackle Victoria Theatre, the second (hopefully annual) “Sing-Along Jesus Christ Superstar” gathered the faithful together to wave palm fronds and cheer for the last days of cinema’s most notorious Rock Star Jesus (Ted Neeley).

Fortunately it’s not bring-your-own, since I don’t know where one goes to source official Easter weekend palm fronds, nor the communion wafers that get blessed pre-show by Sister Connie Pinko and passed around during the Last Supper scene. The Sisters work in mysterious ways. Props and palm fronds aside, the real fun is bellowing “What’s the buzz?” “So, you are the Christ,” and “just watch me die” along with the brooding, scantily-clad, long-haired Jesus freaks on the screen.

Produced by Bad Flower Productions, and co-hosted by StormMiguel Florez and Sister CP, that the Sing-Along is also a fundraiser for the Trans March makes it a Holy Week “must-do” that I hope finds a permanent spot on the Sisters’ Holy Week calendar.

Later that night I found myself hanging with a pack of monster messiahs, in the Gay-Glo labyrinth of the Zombie Christ Haunted House on Market Street. Another fun(d)-raiser the interactive setup included communion with the holy blood of Franzia (died for our sins), a disco inferno, “glory” holes, a giant pope puppet (scary!), strewn body parts, a smidgen of hardcore pornography, and a variety of cannibal Christs jumping out of dark corners and demanding brains.

“Not much there,” I tell one eager ghoul with fantastic bloody makeup.

“Christ not expecting much,” he reassures me.

More than anything it reminded me of the early days of Bunny Jam, when it was still all about pin-the-tail on the Trailer Trash bunny and less of a fashion show, ragged but vibrant; a fun, freaky kickstart to our famously irreverent Eastertide bacchanal.

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