Last week I attended the live taping of the premiere episode of “Bug Sanctuary;” a new live-streamed variety show filmed here in Bushwick. The webshow features performers sourced from classifieds such as Craigslist and is streamed on the creators’ YouTube channel. The wild first episode featured everything from musical performances, Q and A’s, a boxing match, and a persistent exterminator all in a tiny Bushwick Apartment.
Here’s a run down of the night:
8:15pm. 45 minutes till supposed show time and the apartment is slowly being flooded with performers, actors, actresses, and friends. A $10 large cheese pie from OMG Pizza is the pre-show center piece adding to the musk of the early summer house party vibe. There is an elaborate set up going through some last minute tests for the live stream lead by co-creator and director of photography, Chris Tharp.
8:25pm. Friends and friends of friends begin to file into the living room wherever there is space to lay eyes on the first live taping of Bug Sanctuary. Shortly after, everyone who is not performing is kicked out and told to wait outside. Some people use this as an excuse to get tall boys at a bodega off Central Ave.
9:02pm. The stage is set with some minor alterations to the streaming set up. The show is ready to begin. Everyone comes in to the overwhelmingly hot apartment. Punks don’t pay for air conditioning. “It’s not how artists live” someone says to justify the reasoning. A box fan makes an appearance that is passed around.
9:13pm. Mason Mercer, the show’s co-creator and host takes center stage and welcomes everyone. It’s unclear as to what is the stage and what’s not as everyone is sprawled out in the kitchen and living room of the apartment.
9:24pm. After a few technical difficulties, and trying to figure out “who’s connected to the wifi” the show begins with one of the curated performances (not sourced from classifieds) a dazzling musical performance by S. The Supplicant (pictured in cover). It was extremely moody as she entranced the audience with her black dress, black gloves and spell casting ethereal movements.
9:29pm. There is a knock on the door. It’s an exterminator played by Hunter Gardner who is proclaiming that there are bugs in the apartment that need to be exterminated. To the audience’s dismay, including host Mercer, Gardner is forcefully thrown out of the apartment Jerry Springer style.
9:32pm. Up next is a performance by Mason Mercer and Kegan Palmer performing a surf-rock song they wrote together via e-mail correspondence. The two met in person for the first time just minutes before the taping began. Palmer’s style looks like he’s been serving and drinking frozen margaritas beach side in Hawaii for the last 30 years of his life; absolutely incredible. The collaboration sounded like Bon Iver singing over Dick Dale riffs. Use your imagination.
9:38pm. One thing you’ll come to realize about living in New York, is no one is actually from New York. Mason took it upon himself to get an actual New Yorker, Andrew Vacante, to answer some crowd-sourced questions for the uncultured transplants who made it out to the show. Vacante got the typical questions like Mets or Yankees, and do New Yorkers wear Timberlands all year round, but still no insight on Chopped Cheese sandwiches or Lower East Side dollar slices. Next time.
9:45pm. S. The Supplicant takes the stage one more time. This time she enquires about smoking a cigarette inside the apartment during her performance. Mercer hesitates, but for the sake of art says, “Sure Why Not!”.
9:48pm. Gardner enters the room one last time with a proposition about exterminating the bugs. It’s a battle royal featuring Hunter’s boss; George Rosario, a luxury building real estate agent by day – boxer by night, and Mason’s selection; Nola Hanson, an artist and boxing coach. The two began to fight each other in the middle of the surrounding audience.
9:50pm. Chaos ensues for a few minutes. The audience is pumped as there seems to be two different fights happening between Hanson and Rosario, and now a scuffle between Gardner and Mercer.
9:51pm. Mason gets a call. “Okay this is my landlord calling, thanks for coming everyone!”