Creature Feature: ODGE

Posted September 30, 2014 in ,
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ODGE performs with the Bad Kids Collective in Salt Lake City. Photo: Talyn Sherer

Salt Lake’s Bad Kids Collective, born from Club-Kid/Gaga fever dreams, Internet-embellished lifestyles and queer performance attitudes, has galvanized Utah drag culture in recent years. The Bad Kids, part autonomous happenings of human bodies, part multi-media selfie-installations, are cultivating a culture of gender performance in Salt Lake where diverse expression reigns, where talent refers not to exclusive abilities, but rather the courage to get onstage and perform one’s artistic vision to completion. For them, every day is a drag, every body a context to apply with costume, cosmetics and ontological anarchism.

SLUG received these transmissions from ODGE through the cosmos and untangled them into language.

ODGE joined the Bad Kids Collective to give shape to childhood imagination. “The character ODGE is a composite of my waking self’s four imaginary friends from when we were a child,” they say. “There’s Odge, 300, Good Peter and Bad Peter. Each one has a long history, because we’ve been writing about them and drawing them since we were 4 years old.” ODGE took the artistic exploration into the realm of performance art because, “there was no other way of portraying the character that people could see,” they say.

The characters that compose ODGE’s persona transcend corporeal existence, and imbue a cryptic psychic history into their visceral performances. “ODGE and the others are 4,000 years old, and they’ve all transcended above humanity,” ODGE says. Each character is explored onstage through various body movements and moods, often through the progression of one night’s performance. “They all look differently,” ODGE says. “300 is a one-eyed cat, Good Peter is like Peter Pan and Bad Peter is just a tar monster. They don’t really exist in the world, so it’s frustrating to place them in a human body.”

Princess Cosmos, the most recent addition to ODGE’s persona, is their only gendered character. “Princess Cosmos is female,” ODGE says. “She was a constellation, got stirred up and turned into a princess, and came to Iceland.” Odge met Princess Cosmos in hell, where they’ve been dwelling since their most recent “death” in an August performance.

Besides movement and backstory, each of ODGE’s characters is a vessel for isolating emotion. “Odge is fear, 300 is anger, Good Peter is happiness and childlike bliss, and Bad Peter is everything that’s bad,” ODGE says. “We try to exude fear and anxiety and the stress of being human. When we do perform as Odge, we usually go from a point of fear and move to a more hopeful thing; they each have their little moment to speak when we perform.”

ODGE likens the progression of life to the Greek symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. “Everything’s a cycle,” ODGE says. “[It’s] always consuming itself, learning, taking in the things that it deals with, digesting it and giving it out in some fashion.” Likewise, ODGE’s performances are no-holds-barred, and strip their characters bare, only to be renewed again. Odge “died” in an August performance, and will be eventually be resurrected in a future performance.

The movements in an ODGE performance are improvised based on their mood, and many of the materials used are simple and organic—among the most used are plastic wrap, black water and blood. “The outfits that we wear are usually put together very haphazardly, as if a child was making it,” ODGE says. “The materials that we choose are primal. There’s almost never anything metallic, anything that you wouldn’t be able to create yourself.” Similar to the dizzying body-masking performance art of Olivier de Sagazan, ODGE’s performances use simple elements to great effect—like full body paint that’s washed off in the duration of a piece or small bags of sugar taped close to the body and sliced open upon the stage. “There’s always a feeling of pent-up tension that gets released,” ODGE says.

ODGE’s process of anonymity extends beyond costuming and includes vocal filters and self-made mixes of all the songs they’ve performed to. “For the most part, we don’t like people to see our face, or to hear our voice,” ODGE says. “It’s very detached from our waking self.” ODGE has performed to the likes of CocoRosie, Björk and Elvis Presley.

ODGE began performing with the Bad Kids Collective nearly two years ago. The Bad Kids have diversified Salt Lake’s drag scene to include performance art that isn’t strictly anchored to drag or gender performance, and provided a creative nest for ODGE. “It’s a safe space where people can be whatever the want to be,” ODGE says of the Bad Kids environment. “One of the best things is that everyone believes in you—we allow people to make mistakes and try different things.”

Witness the badness at the new Metro Bar location on Thursdays and their newly conceived “Q-Lectric” Saturdays. Practice your gender-bending this Saturday at METRO BAR: RuPaul’s Drag Race Stars RAVEN & JUJUBEE on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 at Metro Bar : QLECTRIC : Pass the Sacrament. STARRING: Baltimore Drag Sensation : KLITORIKA BROWNE

Revisit previous interviews with Bad Kids at SLUG’s Creature Feature column.