Marilyn Manson may get most of the attention in the realm of controversial rockers these days (What? A rock musician taking on organized religion? No way!), but GWAR has been kicking it shock-rock style and waving its collective "cuddlefish" in the face of all that's decent for decades, managing to slip underneath morality-watchdog radar the entire time. While Manson keeps busy with the Parents Music Resource Center's objections, GWAR and its manager, Sleazy P. Martini, confront fictional, celestial foes such as Techno Destructo, Skulhedface, the Tyrannosaurus Rex Gor Gor, and the giant "holy robot" Cardinal Syn. Manson makes court dates; GWAR rips off the faces of their opponents or just cuts them in two with an oversized broadsword on stage.
Though fascination with the dark side of culture is nothing new (see prime-time carnage fests such as Cops and When Animals Attack for proof), GWAR exploits this for full entertainment value. Band members Flattus Maximus, Bälsäc, The Jaws of Death, Beefcake the Mighty, Slymenstra Hymen, Jizmak Da Gusha, Oderus Urungus, and a cast of slaves combine music, theatrics, performance art, and high-concept toilet humor to create a stage show equal parts Cthulu, KISS, and medieval dungeon-style horror.
Strangely, GWAR has garnered a loyal following by treating its fans with contempt equal to that given the on-stage enemies. When GWAR isn't pouring great vats of "liquid crack" onto the audience, or giving them a huge foam box that's supposed to resemble an LSD sugar cube to pass around like a beach ball, Bälsäc and the gang are bathing the first 20 rows with blood and other bodily fluids shot from a stage prop's lopped-off limb, freshly decapitated head, or other grotesquely exaggerated extremity. The amazing thing is not the impressive logistics of the production or sensory overload of the show, but how the audience eats it all up, sometimes literally. The exit door after a GWAR concert is one of the few places where a blood-and-semen soaked T-shirt is a badge of honor. It also makes a great souvenir.