A few days after what would have been the 100th birthday of influential Naked Lunch author and multi-media innovator William S Burroughs, guests ‘appropriately attired’ for Guerilla Zoo‘s Interzone 100 pop-up event on Friday 8 February arrived at a bunker at a secret south east London location. Following barked instructions, some impressively realised terrorists, deviants, beatniks, mugwumps, government agents, corrupt officials, ladyboys, drag kings, cannibals, time travellers, magicians, gypsies, egyptian gods, arabian royals and sufi dervishes dropped to their knees as forceful soldiers demanded the special passports required for entry to Burroughs’ independent self-governed stateless state, the ‘Interzone’.Pic: Gabriela Jones
Marched along corridors into a Tangiers-style dream space, with stunning decor inspired by the cult writer’s time in Morocco in the 1950s, they were greeted by eerie music emanating from spooky cafe, bar and alley venues within the venue, and soon discovered a new seedy world around every corner, with an abundance of promenading performers, installations, film, interactive art like face-painting, live music and DJs.
While elaborately costumed refugee crews, gun-runners, government agents, drug smugglers, tax-evading tycoons and beat eccentrics mingled with magikal and alien creatures to create intense immersive theatre, the staged entertainment included goth from Rasp Thorne followed by DJs Duncan de Morgan and Lilu Khoas. Among other highlights were Snake Fervor’s spellbinding cabaret and an electrifying chainsaw performance by Twisted Cirque. Civilised Mess and Psychedelic Kidnapping brought a bizarre, dreamlike evening of sordid, intelligent fun to suitably disorienting conclusion.
An attempt to evoke the whole of beat visionary Burroughs’ life and work in one evening event was bound to be a challenge, but if anyone was going to create a suitably overwhelming, non-linear experience within ‘a microcosm of all the world by moonlight’, it was masters of the surreal, Guerrilla Zoo, who’ve previously created Modern Panic and the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.