Tourettes Without Regrets is a Night You’ll Never Forget
Dry humping, cock-painting, pole grinding, panty stripping, lap dancing, tampon-sucking, flesh wriggling, limb twisting, knee-slapping, toe-tapping, jaw-dropping. Lewd, lurid, low-brow, exotic, erotic, quixotic, sickeningly saccharine and sweetly sour. A voluptuous, vaudevillian victory—a night of nocturnal naughtiness; frolicking, fucking, fun and flair–every first Thursday of the month in Oakland.
Tourettes Without Regrets—the variety show founded in 1999 and hosted monthly at the Oakland Metro Operahouse–is a night for lovers, for drunks, poets, perverts, burlesquers, comedians, acrobats, contortionists, exhibitionists, limelight lusters, and the peeping toms that come to see them.
Hosted by Oakland-based slam poetry champion Jamie DeWolf, anything can happen at this popular community tradition, where audience members become performers at a whim.
DeWolf is the great-grandson of none-other than father of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard. The brainwashing, cult-accumulating genes must run in the family—DeWolf, like his great grand pappy, maintains a constantly-revolving cadre of acolytes, friends, muses, and well-wishers—lots of fellow freaks with piercings, tattoos, and hair dyed in the hues of poisonous flowers.
Every type of talent is on display at the show, from the mundane to the mesmerizing, the raunchy to the reverent. Brave storytellers, musicians, and artists routinely share their work at Tourettes—which offers a unique andwell-publicized platform for Oakland’s dedicated underground performers, billing itself as the “fight club of underground art.”
Like a big open mic night, Tourettes seamlessly blends watcher and watched, with no definite line between the stage and floor. Acts will spill out into the crowd, with singers and comedians pandering, jeering, and commiserating with the assembled. The spotlight washes over everyone—everyone’s a star for a single night.
Each show is a blend of new acts, old rituals, and games. Some acts, or skits, like the roast of Jesus Christ, the Candy Cane Suck Off Contest, Underwear Musical Chairs, or the Obama Lap Dance, stick in your mental reel forever. There’s always something fresh for each performance, too. Recurring classics like the dirty haikus, rap battles, comedy routines, and aerialist performances are tried-and-true pleasers people return time again to see.
Thursday, November 2, was a special “All-Star Birthday Show” for Jamie DeWolf (born October 28, 1977). He hates birthdays, comparing them to an alarm he hits ‘snooze’ on every morning. Show-going veterans and newcomers alike rubbed elbows in the cavernous Metro interior to hear his special slam poem on birthdays, ending with the goose-bump-inducing line, “you are a candle I would not blow out.” It’s in his candid delivery, his connection with the audience, that DeWolf shines as a poetic talent.
The crowd swayed and sang Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” at the start of the show—a tradition for each Tourettes. Some guy in a chicken suit, and another in a badger costume, ran around humping people. Lap dances, strip teases, booty grinding were all immediate. The performers on stage took turns pretending to be a geriatric Jamie DeWolf cutting into a birthday cake with a stripper inside.
Stage virgins are encouraged to perform at Tourettes—the call goes out at 8 p.m. performance night for those who want to participate in the poetry slam or rap battle. It’s an endearing thing to witness someone come out of their shell, to discover their third-person presence as they share their passions, from stripping to fire-breathing.
Veteran burlesque performers Lola Martinet and Patty La Melt had audience members frothing at the mouth, sweating pins and pulling at their collars as every stitch of clothing unraveled off their bodies one by one. Stephanie Bailey was a celestial event on her aerial loop—spinning like a whirling dervish and twisting her muscled body into statuesque poses.
Like a circus ringleader, DeWolf reminded the crowd to audibly applaud each and every act as they took the stage, rallying the room of eyes and ears.
“They’re the brave ones up here,” DeWolf yelled at the room. “They’re doing this for your shy, voyeuristic asses!”
The familiar adage, “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” doesn’t work for Tourettes. The show was an experience that, once had, must be repeated—it’s like a drug with almost immediate withdrawal effects. The feeling of spontaneity, the electricity—passively observing becomes impossible. The show sweeps you up into its momentum. There is no wonder why so many people wrap around the block to come each month, returning for a show where the only thing constant is change.
Drunk and sober, gay and straight, black and white—this momentary community blurred people from all walks of life, from all corners of the planet, who joined in on this orgiastic ritual—this spectacle, like an akelarre of witches, a sabat of nymphs, fairies, and satyrs, with all the glitter, pomp, music, drink, fire and flesh. The refusal to treat anything as sacred, to say anything, to let go completely, to stand naked-in front of strangers transforms the Oakland Metro Operahouse into a church where miracles can happen.
There are no advance tickets to Tourette’s Without Regrets. Tickets are $15 at the door, and worth every cent. The next show is Thursday, December 7 at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, 522 2nd St. in Oakland.