Friday, April 10, 2015

The Madison-Felix Awards: Free Beer!

The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next five blogs are dedicated to their memory. 
        One of the reasons for the resounding success of each Madison-Felix awards was, apart from Brian’s rapier wit, was the presence of an open bar. Nothing brings a person around for some evil humor like a few pints of free alcohol. The mantra of the Madisons, screamed out over and over again with increasing vigor and violence as the night went on, was “Free Beer!”
            Unfortunately the phrase was not entirely accurate. We had often joked that Madison’s operated on a budget of $5, but in reality the renting of a hall, a buffet, and an open bar, didn’t come cheap. Thus each “invitation” to the Madisons cost around $20. And it was up to the individual to make sure they got their money’s worth. Most people did their damnedest.
            The selection was not a connoisseur’s dream, but a person was given a choice: Wine or beer. What kind of wine? Red, of course. Sometimes there was a blush as well. What kind of beer? The alcoholic kind. The kind you didn’t mind the taste of after the fourth glass. But then to sample a crafted beer wasn’t the point of the exercise, to be pleasantly shit-faced was.
            The essence of “Free Beer” allowed a person to wallow in the guilty pleasure of an extremely nasty film clip or laugh out loud at the nastiest joke Brain could spit out. Perhaps they would have laughed anyway, but the beer gave them the extra excuse. A reason to tell themselves or to a date who was appalled by the show (more than a few of them over the years).
            “Hey baby. I was really drunk. I didn’t really understand what was happening. I was only laughing because everyone else was. Those people have some issues.”
            It would certainly help to explain some of the uproarious cheers, applause, and laughter that some of our winners received. One that struck me was the infamous finish to the 7th Madison-Felix awards. For “Best” Picture that year we presented a putrid gem from the depths of Tokyo called Entrails of a Virgin. I had randomly purchased a copy of the film at a convention and just looking at the cover of it (not the one pictured here) made me queasy. It was a Japanese horror porno flick with no subtitles, but you didn’t need to understand the “plot”.
            The scene we selected occurred at the end of the film and involved a woman, in a dank cement warehouse, masturbating with a severed arm. The limb then grows into a demonic-zombie creature for some reason and inserts the same arm inside of her vagina. The monster then proceeds to pull out her intestines and other sundry organs through the aperture. A horrific sight. The crowd’s reaction? Cheers, clapping, whoops of enjoyment. How much of that was the beer talking?
            Another example is a snippet we dredged up from one of the nastier crags of the internet. It wasn’t from any film or TV show, but was shot on a video camera (this was before every cell had a camera attached). I believe that it was part of some injury insurance scam which went horribly wrong. It begins with a man walking out of a store. The camera follows him down the sidewalk and he steps into the road without looking. Bam! A red Toyota smacks him so hard that he flips over backwards, his leg bent in an odd angle, and his head splatters across the asphalt. Over the audio of the street sounds some joker (not us) had placed a happy little jingle reminiscent of the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. People’s reaction to this? Outraged mumbling? Finger wangling? A lynch mob? Of course not! There was a colossal roar of laughter when the man’s head hit the pavement. Even my mother let out a grudging bark of humor. Did alcohol have anything to do with the reaction? Naturally. There was a reason why we always kept the worst for last.
            Such as in the case of the banned cartoon Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat a classic piece of early forties racism which contains every old-school stereotype of black people. The paper thin plot revolves around a fashionable young urban black lady who returns to her home of Lazytown to wake them up from their idleness with the hep new beats of modern jazz. This was procured for us by the late Jeff Death and was the last cartoon on a battered VHS tape of old public domain animation he had fished out of the dollar dump bin at his local Blockbuster Video. Howls of laughter from the audience.
            But probably the best example of a booze fueled applause generating piece was the celebrated winner of the 2nd Annual Madison-Felix Awards, Brutes and Savages. This was a little number put out by Gorgon Video, the same people who brought us The Faces of Death series. And like those fine films Brutes and Savages is a hodgepodge of scenes of brutality (some fake, some not) compiled together under the schizophrenic auspices of being a documentary. We showed two different clips over the years, both of which received standing ovations but for different reasons.
       The first was a scene supposedly showing a manly rite of passage of some Indian tribe in the Amazon rain forest. The first thing that strikes the viewer is how the film stock keeps switching. First we see the boys looking around nervously, venturing into a muddy river. Then it jumps to some sepia toned stock footage of alligators running into a river (no doubt lifted directly from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom). 

     We see the boys pointing and yelling. Then we see an obvious alligator puppet moving down the river unaware apparently, of the camera directly behind him. There’s a close up of a boy screaming. Then the film stock jumps to a person, who is noticeably not the same boy, being mauled by a rubber alligator head in a crystal clear pool. You can see the alligator’s teeth bend on the man’s arm as he struggles. There’s a shot of a rubber hand floating in the river, then back to the pool where the rubber alligator chomps on a fake human head. And it ends with the smug narrator informing us that 70% of the tribe’s youth did not survive the rite of passage. Which in my book means that they would’ve been long extinct. Everyone loved it for its obvious falseness.
            But the one which caused the most cheers was the (not-faked) scene of llama fucking. Apparently a group of villagers in the Andes Mountains have a yearly fertility ritual where they take turns simulating sodomizing a llama. It is shown… well not in pornographic detail, but enough so that there is no mistake what is happening. This is how the film ends with a view of some villager’s buttocks rhythmically thrusting back and forth into the camera lens. All the while the narrator describes the act as a perfect symbiotic relationship of man and nature, and how the men were showing respect to the earth goddess.
            And as the ass cheeks fade away, the narrator says, “This may seem odd to us, but what if these men came to our culture with our wars, and our crime, and our pollution? Who would then be considered the brute? And who the savage?”
            This rebuke of our culture is rather ironic, as not twenty minutes before, when showing some Incan pottery depicting homosexual acts, the narrator condemns the Incan civilization as a barbarous, brutal culture, which died out because they had degenerated to such foul practices.
            So according to Brutes and Savages bestiality is a noble tradition, but homosexuality… that’s just pure evil. Needless to say the llama immediately became the show’s mascot.
          Stay tuned for more Madison-Felix material. Free Beer!