GUAMBO Is An Act Of Love
GUAMBO Is An Act Of Love – Mothers, Happenings, Dancing
By Jerry Hopkins
Los Angeles Free Press, July 29, 1966
GUAMBO was an act of love, and for those of you who couldn't get in, this is, in part, what the Great Underground Arts Masked Ball and Orgy (Guambo) was like.
Picture a ballroom about half the size of a football field, a room about the size of Canter's two rooms. High, high ceiling. Big windows looking down three floors to the street. At the far end of the hall, a big stage, high in the air.
On the stage at the beginning is Clem Floyd's newly reorganized Sound Machine. Flickering and flashing at both sides of the stage, strobe lights and op art patterns are being projected on the ceiling and musicians. Everywhere else, people dancing.
Downstairs, on the second floor, the packed to overflowing happening room ... a beer bar ... a place where you could sign a legalize abortion petition ... people lined up ten abreast to buy tickets.
"There's this place where you can come to make things happen," said Jeanne Morgan when she was making phone calls B.G. (Before Guambo). Dozens answered her call. Films were shown including Teague's footage of the Canter bust and Gary Taylor with his beautiful Pleasure Faire film. A combo played ... there were light shows ... Del Close did the Mad Doctor ... That crazy leopard girl danced and a conga drummer ad-libbed ... Somebody did action paintings ... and others did whatever they felt. Hundreds of people listened quietly to a sitar and tabla.
Upstairs again. The crowd is larger. The Sound Machine completes their set and a group called The Factory moves in. More people start to dance and the costumes are getting groovier and noisier. Vito and his acolytes are here.
Elaborate, sometimes nearly psychedelic masks. Bare feet painted with flowers. Colorful clothing (or nearly none at all – but no nudes; the nearest thing was a girl in a G-String and a plastic raincoat). Masks made of flowers glued to faces, glasses covered with butterflies, a hexagonal box collaged with contrasting images of humanism and Vietnam slaughter, faces painted half black and half white, tiaras of feathers, jewels shimmering in the dim light, sequined faces ... leather, foil, paper, leaves and thousands of beautiful and bizarre substances.
The Factory finishes its set and The Mothers of Invention go on. This is one of the truly wild scenes of the evening. Frank Zappa in his suit of flowers. His sidemen are garbed similarly and, behind them are five other musicians augmenting the group. Five short haired American Federation of Musician types in black suits, white shirts and black ties. Just sitting there, reading charts, blowing with the Mothers the Mother sound. And the Mother's Auxiliary dancing, dancing, dancing ...
Carl, of "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" fame, is one of the featured dancers now. He is wearing what looks like zebra-skinned long johns with a pop art All-American Superman bib. Two nice ladies are dancing with him, alternating with some of Vito's group ... and from the dance floor comes a man in a mummy suit to join in.
There is less dancing now. People are standing and watching and wondering about all those men in policemen's uniforms. The Los Angeles Police Department is much in evidence, but they do not soften the tempo or the mood, although the $6,000 worth of Bass and Fender amplifiers on stage, are turned down some because it is said the music can be heard two blocks away.
It is all over. Four cops are standing in the middle of the ballroom. Judy Kory approaches them and offers the first cop some of her flowers. He takes them and she moves on to the next. He hits a parade rest and reacts as if she is trying to give him a police brutality leaflet. She looks at the cop and says, "Awwwww, come onnnnn," Very sexy. The other cops laugh and tell him to take the flowers. He turns deep crimson and does as he's told.
A few minutes later, a lady in a Cole swim suit walks up to still another cop. She looks into his eyes and says, "What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?"
It is only 12:30 and GUAMBO is a thing to talk about. Thousands had to be turned away. A lot of police had come in and that bothered some people. A few things were a little disorganized.
But that's okay. GUAMBO was an act of love and not every act of love is perfect. With practice, Guambo will get better. I just wish I'd been that much fun the first time.