Denounced by the Italian church, mad about

AIDS, outraged

by pacifists, DIAMANDA GALAS is as provocative off stage as she

is on.

Words: Vicky Davidson

emonic ululation. screaming fits of frenzied obvious sense. but any of us who’ve been driven out of possession. an intellectual and emotional blood-letting countries under the belief anything you do against the infidel is and a release of fury welling tip against human perfectly right the (ireeks. Armenians. Anatolians. Assyrians stupidity. Welcome to an evening with Diamanda Galas. darkly —~ my father‘s people. they know what it‘s like already.‘ passionate mistress of the deepest. damned blues. Another issue on which she speaks voluny is AIDS. Her She is one of the most uncompromising and provocative brother Philip died of AIDS in 1986 and (ialas is an artists of the last two decades. savaging Catholic imagery and impassioned campaigner. 'l’eople who say Americans haven‘t twisting gothic horror until it screams. Galas has often spoken seen anything horrible happen on this scale forget how the of working as a prostitute to feed her student drug habit. AIDS crisis hit New York. People are worried about anthrax. contracting Hepatitis C through shared needles: talks of yet they were happy to sit back and wait for people to come out violence. rape and assault: has been crucified naked for world- with an AIDS drug.‘ famous photographer Annie Leibowitz‘s lens. Her debut novel I‘or the first time in the interview. her voice lowers as she was titled The Shit ()meI (a translation of the phrase which speaks with horror of having been' told how badly the means the down-and-outs of society); she sang drenched in prevention message has failed with today‘s youth. that in blood for a performance of The Plqu Muss. an opera dealing lirance ‘it is considered really hip now to spread the virus'. She

with the AIDS epidemic. at the Cathedral of St John The Divine in New York. By comparison. Andrew WK. hitting himself in the face with a brick is a nursery school novice. and Marilyn Manson who. like Galas has also been banned by the church in Italy comes on like a pantomime dame.

In conversation she is a juggernaut colliding with a freight train. thoughts and feelings tearing into each other at 100 miles a minute. She strikes with an acid tongue. impaling woolly

says: "There are a lot of perverted thoughts that happen when people get too far away from the tragedy and think of it as a concept rather than as a reality. It becomes metaphorical for them.’ (ialas. who has two Scottish shows at the (‘(‘A in (ilasgow. says her material changes on the basis of what's happened to her on the day and. in the shows immediately after 1]

liberals and anti-war protestors who incessantly state the wait far am September. it took on a wholly different

obvious (‘talking about shit like “America had it coming". even resonance. ‘All my material is pretty fucking

a half-wit knows that America was going to get bombed sooner ”” morbid anyway] she adds wryly.

or later. it‘s not a revelation: these fucking idiots should get Her feverish performances are a release

over there and run chicken farms‘). and the current wave of without which it's impossible to imagine Galas

conspiracy theorists flooding the net with useless hypotheses. being able to function in the mundane world. ‘lt‘s a gift. it‘s an ‘We blame someone. we put the TV on and watch some esorcism. for anyone who goes through this shit to be able to

stupid programme and go to bed and forget about it.‘ she rants. get up on stage and talk about it.‘

‘The people that really pissed me off yesterday were these mid- But she‘s not all hellfire and damnation. terror and rage.

western fucks with their cameras and cologne. giving victory Galas has a wicked sense of humour. and Mariah (‘arey and all

smiles and walking away. That shit drives me crazy. they can the American mediocrity she represents really get her goat. ‘I

go off and tell their buddies they‘ve been there.‘ But New notice a lot of performers have a very narcissistic vision of it.

York‘s resilience. the people grafting to repair it have they think it‘s about them: if they get on a plane. it’s that one

impressed her. ‘Greek-Americans are not crazy big America that will be the target. We have this bitch Mariah (‘arey over

fans. but even I can see the strength there.’ here. she’s the “American way" as far as I‘m concerned. As in Though her passport is American. San Diego—raised Galas' “curds and whey".‘ Should (‘arey's path ever cross with that of

commitment to her Greek-Armenian family roots and their past (ialas. the demon diva would eat her for breakfast.

oppression is the subject of her current tour of I)(f/f.\‘f()ll(’.8‘. and.

she believes. ties in with the ‘War On Terror'. ‘It really has a lot Diamanda Galas plays at the CCA, Glasgow, Wed 14 &

to do with what‘s going on right now. perhaps not in an Fri 16 Nov.

18 THE LIST 1—15 Nov 2001