Decoupage! was a fever dream of a public access show cooked up in 1989 by visionary amateur producer Kathe Duba and drag queen Summer Caprice (Craig Roose, if you want to get technical). Envisioning a kitschy 70’s variety show aesthetic, Craig and Kathe scoured thrift stores to furnish elaborate sets—an episode could take as many as twelve hours to set-up, videotape and break-down (those are Cecil B. DeMille terms for public access). The show attracted counterculture legends like “all-American Jewish lesbian folksinger” Phranc and Vaginal Creme Davis (appearing with her “mother,” Susan Tyrrell). Caprice exuded a fun atmosphere of irreverent, arty, DIY weirdness, and the guests really seemed to enjoy themselves.
I’d argue the “jewel” of the Decoupage series was actually Decoupage 2000: Return of the Goddess—a 1999 retro-futurist sci-fi version of the original show coordinated after a five-year hiatus. Check out cult queen Karen Black singing Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang,” with grunge goddesses L7 for her band! If you didn’t know, Karen Black has a fucking amazing voice, and her chemistry with L7 is golden.
The most compelling segment though, is Exene Cervenka (using her actual surname, “Cervenkova” here) performing a spoken-word piece, “They Must Be Angels.” Themes of alien visitation and abduction, psychic abilities and metaphysical spirituality make the monologue a perfect fit for Decoupage‘s retro-futurism, but as Exene expounds, her tangents become more conspiratorial, and you’re left wondering if work like this was the germ of her eventual Alex Jones-levels of delusion. You can never be sure how someone got from Point A to Point Raving, Vicious Crackpot, but man does this piece feel like a red flag; and still, Exene is magnetic, and the performance is mesmerizing.
I’m unsure of exactly how many episodes of Decoupage! were made in total, but there is a Decoupage! YouTube channel with some great clips.
More after the jump…