project image
Johanna Poethig

first performed on January 30, 2015
Pink HumVee limo driving around, San Francisco, CA
performed once in 2015


Xago Juarez (Day Laborer/Revolutionary)

Berkeley, CA


This science-fiction/dystopian participatory performance took place in a pink HumVee stretch limo driving around San Francisco at night. Audience members were asked to come dressed as decadent oligarchs of the intergalactic future, and they complied. As the Emcee/Tour Guide of the evening, I announced that it was wonderful how many of the intergalactic elite had gathered to drink, cavort, and gamble. We were to drink Arcturan workers’ blood* until we were good and toasted, and then play a delightful card game, the winner of which would become the new owner of the City of Saint Francis, whose name had been Anglicized centuries ago in the last wave of gentrification and displacement.

At key moments in the opening speech/ritual I held up cue cards, to both draw responses from the audience and to give them a feel for their collective personae. The first card was predictable enough, to get them in the rhythm of responding: “APPLAUSE.” However, the rest of the cards got weirder and more specific, including “SIGH OF ENTITLED CONTENTMENT,” “GRUDGING MUMBLES OF RESPECT FOR MY ELOQUENCE,” and “MENACING GROWL OF CLASS HATRED.” This made the Limonauts laugh a little as they complied and performed these moments, and helped them to develop the malevolent ruling class characters they were improvising during this predatory jaunt about town.

I asked the Limo to stop at one point, and picked up a “casual laborer” on the street to help me deal the cards for the big game. Some Limonauts were uncomfortable for a moment with this development. The laborer was really a “plant” I had enlisted; performance artist Xago Juarez. I wrote and designed the cards that we dealt out; this was a bizarre card game of my own creation in which the half-drunk players could trade galactic resources, commodities, and populations; there were also cards with which they could poison, blackmail, and otherwise betray each other in high neo-Borgian style.

At the end of the ride, just before a winner could be announced, Juarez produced a weapon, denounced the lot of us, and pulled me out of the craft to be held at ransom by the local revolutionary movement. This farcical piece acknowledged the ongoing crisis of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area, and the resistance to those forces. I plan to further develop this card game/performance in future iterations.

  • a horrible deep-red mixture I had concocted of various liquors and extracts; no actual workers were bled (at least not literally) for this element of the performance.