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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

The party at the end of the world

From Burning man to Detroit in time for the rapture

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: Photo: Travis R. Wright, License: N/A

Photo: Travis R. Wright

In the dragon's mouth: Artist Ryan C. Doyle

In what appears to be a fading, sleepy industrial building in the back of the Russell Industrial Center, a group of artists are raising a dragon. The beast is 22-1/2 feet tall and a little more than 69 feet long, weighing in at 8 tons. It's an "art car," built onto the frame of an old Dodge W-300 Power Wagon with a 318 engine. There's a 1,500-pound second-story DJ booth encased in steel wicker, mounted on a Marine Zodiac attack boat under the monster's spine. The whole contraption can carry more than a dozen riders, with seats in the mouth and in a party couch on the back, where riders can make the tail sway back and forth. Hydraulic systems bring the front of it to life, and the driver can use a fire system to shoot flames from the fearsome creature's mouth.

Later this week, the fantastic creation will star in an art show and studio-warming party celebrating the beginning of the end of the world as predicted by Christian broadcaster Harold Camping.

In addition to the dragon, which will serve as a DJ booth and art project — sans flames — there will be an art machine called "The Regurgitator," a pulse jet-powered g-force generator that can give a forward-seated passenger as much as 5 g's. Another team of artists from New York will bring their "Fuck Bike," a foot-powered dildo-pumping sex machine. There'll be videos, installations, performances — including an end-of-the-world confession booth — as well as sets from DJs from Detroit and as far as Brooklyn. And artists are coming from across the country to join a crew of newly minted Detroiters in a show that will challenge doomsday itself.


The creator of the dragon, as well as the head of the crew that has come to Detroit to build it, is 31-year-old artist Ryan C. Doyle. As artists go, he looks like one tough customer: He's 6-foot-6, broad as a biker, wears a beard and a shaven head, dresses in black, and has a nose that's clearly been broken a few times.

He may seem intimidating, but when he starts talking, it's with the easy and friendly manner of a Midwesterner — gentle speech, modest smiles and an intelligent glimmer in the eyes.

Doyle first came to Detroit last year to help 27-year-old Bay Area artist Monica Canilao transform an abandoned house — along with such other internationally recognized artists as Callie Swoon, Ben Wolf and Richard Colman — into a piece of art as part of Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert's Powerhouse program. The husband-and-wife team had been turning abandoned houses into art projects, but a sponsorship from Juxtapoz Magazine kicked things into high gear and drew the talented crew. After arriving to help Canilao, Doyle said he "fell in love" with Detroit.

"I'm from Minneapolis, and Detroit reminded me of that kind of small city where people still hold the door open for you," he says.

Meeting with local artists, such as local artist-fabricator Chip Flynn, Doyle was able to secure this industrial space where Clay Street meets the railroad, where he could work cheaply compared to the rents in the Bay Area and Brooklyn.

And Doyle is a guy who needs a lot of space for his outsized projects. In addition to "The Regurgitator," which he made for the Device Art festival in Zagreb, Croatia, he created a motorized art barge he piloted — and crashed — at the Venice Biennial. And, as part of a group called Plan C, he assisted in creating a radioactive carnival ride made from metal he and others scavenged from Chernobyl. His work is very high-concept, and always with an element of danger.

As he gives a tour of his work space — dubbed "Detroitus," a play on the city's urban detritus, but also sounding like a beast itself — he explains that the dragon is an art project called "Gon-KiRin," which means "Light Dragon" in Mandarin, or, with a slight rearrangement of the Chinese characters, "East Rising." He says it's a pun or a double entendre of sorts, thought up by his partner and funder on the project, Hong Kong-based LED artist Teddy Lo.

After the nickel tour of the dragon, Doyle takes a seat out back on the acres of blacktop behind Russell's main buildings to tell his story. A gifted student, he was impatient to get done with school. He skipped the third grade, he humbly jokes, "probably just because I was bigger than everybody else." He attended Minneapolis' Perpich Center for Arts Education, then won a merit award to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, on an academic track many would envy. But he says he was frustrated by having to take courses he felt he'd already mastered at Perpich, and he hungered to go on the road.

So he ran away and joined the circus.

If that sounds overcooked, bear in mind that Doyle had met the circus in 1999 at the Burning Man Festival, a weeklong bash where artists, ravers, DJs, fabricators and freaks meet to create a temporary city in the middle of northern Nevada's Black Rock Desert. And this was no ordinary circus: This was the End of the World Circus and Know-Nothing Family Sideshow. (There's that doomsday theme cropping up again.) The show was out-there stuff, featuring a guy who could lie on a bed of nails and suck his own dick, a woman who could hang a six-pack from her pierced labia, and Jessica Juggz, who could stick a miniature butane canister in her vagina to become a human flamethrower. Doyle's part in the circus was tall-bike jousting, and he traveled with them from 2000 to 2002, undergoing a journeyman apprenticeship of sorts. He spent off-seasons in New Orleans, where the circus wintered, building parade floats and working in a bike shop, and also jousting as a member of the Black Label Bike Club.

Impatient to learn more, he traveled to apprentice with such pioneering industrial performing groups as Kal Spelletich's Seemen and Christian Ristow's Robochrist Industries. Doyle says he found some veterans to help him figure out how to build stuff on his own "while I was helping build their stuff." He also bounced to Brooklyn, where he worked at the Madagascar Institute, helping mount shows every few months. At New York's, he helped their talented architecture fabricators create custom metal work for architects and artists.

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