Slipp'd Back Under The Mattress
Kinda the Point This Time: Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink: terrible live act. Terrible at being alive - surprise! Now I will remind you that it's not the point, just like I hear it's not the point to listen to Sonny Rollins or Lightning Bolt or Anthony Robbins on CD.
The weird thing about Nick's take is that I suspect we're vaguely yin/yang about it, acknowledging similar concepts in different ways. The Ariel Pink-as-idiot-savant is totally hollow, though probably what a lot of people basically think about him. Still, the Ariel Pink-as-artiste/con has its own complications, namely that he's been doing this for years with next-to-no audience. While he's not actually "backwoods" or a "madman," his ambition and tenacity is a sorta tragic existential blooper; if his comic jones is selling out shows and putting on bad performances, ours is relishing in the fact that he ostensibly loves embarrassing himself (and skipping his show next time around).
The pornstar comparison that Nick suggested was sort of exactly what I was thinking when I left the show, because like porn, Ariel relies on the distancing powers of his medium to actually exist (again, ghosts); it's why we have additional, crucial concepts like "stripper." I don't think he even had to play the haggard version that night, but on other levels, it makes sense. Ariel's nothing without his rouge, because that's all he is - cut him, he bleeds makeup; seeing him au naturale is a psychically chalky experience.
Of course it's a schtick; that's never been in doubt to me. Still, any schtick can produce a real reaction via concept or not. Ten minutes before I left, I was blathering on about how Ariel Pink is like Vito Acconci's Seedbed, where he lay under a ramp in the middle of the gallery and masturbated while talking about the people that were actually in the gallery, who could hear him but couldn't see him. And we know that all good ghosts are heard and not seen Seriously, who wants a long-haired Italian guy standing in front of you fantasizing aloud and masturbating?