Are you suffering? Are you suffering?
I want your beautiful suffering, I want to see your pain!”
On the evening of October 17th, 2009, I entered the intimate Social in Orlando, Florida to witness what was indubitably the most spectacular stage show ever to be made for the goth and punk circles. It was a concert lavishly choreographed by Emilie Autumn and the Bloody Crumpets, an all-female burlesque troupe consisting of Lady Aprella (a pirouetting sharpshooter), Naughty Veronica (a sultry fan dancer), Captain Maggot (a hyperactive Spongebob-hugging pirate), and Blessed Contessa (a self-proclaimed cannibal and fire-eater).
The 2 1/2 hour event was a glitzy Victorian Grimm’s fairy tale brought to life with a tea party, stilt-walkers, circus acrobatics, jewelled harlequin masks, and lots of tongue-in-cheek lesbian innuendos. The group also sang their own operatic cover of Queen’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, which I believe came out as a single not too long ago. More importantly, though, this particular night celebrated the re-packaging of Miss Emilie Autumn’s OPHELIAC, which now comes as a double-disc set with extra songs (including live favorites like THANK GOD I’M PRETTY and MAD GIRL), and a poem extracted from her upcoming book, “The Asylum.”
Miss Emilie Autumn was born in Malibu, California and established herself as a child prodigy when she started playing the violin at the age of four. Over last few years, she performed on late night talk shows and collaborated with post-grunge artists like Courtney Love of Hole, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, and Otep Shamaya. Originally released in 2006 by Traitor Records, OPHELIAC is a spaso-baroque psych ward of anecdotes that delicately marry aristocratic chamber music with abrasive elements of industrial steampunk. Played mostly by Autumn on a harpsicord and laced shredolin strings, this album is a cabaret rock cupcake topped with pearl beads and a pompadour wig. But beware, Plague Rats: hidden beneath OPHELIAC’S sugar and spice are drop spindle lyrics that target themes of child abuse, spousal discord, and the unrealistic expectations which incessantly suffocate wives and daughters in America’s male-dominated society like a whalebone corset. Miss Autumn even revealed in some interviews that the LP was subliminally inspired by the treatments she herself was subjected to during a traumatic stint in a mental institution.
Let’s open the jar of leeches and get to the review, shall we? The CD’s opening title track and SWALLOW both deliver a fondant icing of viola melodies submerged in a synth-staining high tide of menarche. THE ART OF SUICIDE is a sweeping waltz danced by curly haired girls who are laid to rest in their silken nightgowns. OPHELIAC’S popular single DEAD IS THE NEW ALIVE (a song that was eventually remixed by Velvet Acid Christ and Dope Stars Inc.) is a rose-colored funeral anthem that celebrates the natural existence of death and isolation. GOTHIC LOLITA is a stab of suspense sung from the point of view of a 3-year-old girl who was savagely murdered by a sexual predator. The romantically-challenged, madrigal-style narrative, SHALOTT, turns the enchanted folktale on its ear by following the frozen footsteps of a damsel trapped in a tower and learning that kissing a handsome prince may not guarantee her a happy ending. I WANT MY INNOCENCE BACK and LIAR are psycho-metal stalker tracks about obsessive relationships while I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP and LET THE RECORD SHOW allow Emilie to play the black-eyed victim with gusto. Finally, she brings a coquettish composer’s wit to MISERY LOVES COMPANY and GOD HELP ME not only by ripping off her chastity belt but also by kicking over the unfeeling upper-class foundation of arranged marriages.