‘Tales of the SF Cacophony Society’ book release events in May 2013

In cacophony by summerburkes2 Comments

City Lights Bookstore SF, where modern American literature was born, announces:

Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society LAUNCH PARTY !

Thursday, May 16, 2013, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Boosktore, San Francisco, California


“An evening of irreverent antics

with Kevin Evans, Carrie Galbraith, John Law and friends

celebrating the release of

Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society
Edited by Kevin Evans, Carrie Galbraith and John Law

published by Last Gasp Books

“Come one, come all…..at your own risk.

A template for pranksters, artists, adventurers and anyone interested in rampant creativity, Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society is the history of the most influential underground cabal you’ve never heard of.

Rising from the ashes of the mysterious and legendary Suicide Club, the Cacophony Society, at its zenith, hosted chapters in over a dozen major cities, and influenced much of what was once called the underground.

The Cacophony Society’s epic exploits radically changed the way people live and play in the world. The group inspired Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Burning Man and helped start pop culture trends including flash mobs, urban exploration, and culture jamming.”

What has been said about Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society:

“From Fight Club to Burning Man, Flash Mobs to Santarchy, Cacophony influenced everything subversive, playful and anti-authoritarian in popular culture over the last 20 years – this is the great, untold story of the 1980s and ’90s. Before the Internet vomited headlines by the millisecond and turned the minutia of a million boring Facebook lives into news, we were left the privilege of mystery. This was something The San Francisco Cacophony Society gave me in spades. Over the years, I would catch glimpses, collect pieces of a puzzle I was slowly assembling -— a car crushed flat by an earthquake miraculously tooling down Golden Gate, toasters glued to buildings, news-clips of mock protests and costumed impostors, flyers for strange art spectacles. Now the puzzle is assembled in this gorgeous graphic collection, a book every lover of eccentricity and enemy of the status quo should enjoy.” —Margaret Cho

art from the book, by Kevin Evans

art from the book, by Kevin Evans

Just to give y’all dear readers an idea of the mayhem … Here’s the trailer to Jon Alloway’s long-awaited and recently-premiered Cacophony Society documentary Into the Zone: The Story of the Cacophony Society

Then … Then! May 31, 2013, there’s kind of the official show, which is NOT the official show. Starring the YES MEN!!! We’ll let the esteemed ringmonster explain it — Chicken John, one of Cacophony’s highest-ranked showmen:

So…. here is our next show:

Chicken Johns Cacophony Show Flyer 1

Agents of Chaos is the world’s first unauthorized book release party!

Chick flyer back

The authors of the book “Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society” refuse to have anything to do with this event honoring their work, and may even be picketing outside! But we’re throwing them a party anyway – an epic event, featuring:

• The YES MEN!

James DeWolf from “Tourettes without Regrets” and “Snap Judgment”!

Polly Superstar and her herd of Sparkleponies!

• Cognitive scientist Professor Lera Boroditsky!

• Reason Magazine’s Brian Doherty!

… And more! All hosted by Ivan Stang, founder of the Church of the Sub-genius! Produced by the impresarios who brought you the All Worlds Fair!

Wouldn’t YOU want a party like this honoring the release of your book? Of course you would! WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!?

The San Francisco Cacophony Society never asked anyone’s permission to do anything, so we don’t care that the writers of their definitive history want us to get off their lawn!

Because it’s a book release party, when you buy a ticket, you ALSO get the option of buying the book – a hilarious history of the late 20th century’s premier pranksters including amazing color photos and never-before-publicly-admitted-to-exploits – for half price!

• Order a book in advance, with your ticket, and it’s just $20!

• Buy a book at the show and it will be $25 with proof of ticket.

• Wait until the book’s in stores, and it’s $40.

What are you waiting for! Come see the Yes Men! Come honor Cacophony! They won’t like it, BUT WE’RE ON THEIR LAWN! What are you going to do about it, grandpa?

The whole thing is at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre, on May 31. Pre-show is 7 – 9, featuring incredible video clips from the historic “Weird TV” archive of Cacophony in action! Show is 9-10:30. Post-show … while you get your books signed (we’re not sure from who yet. Maybe the janitor. We’re working on it) … is the tragic documentary about the world’s worst clowns (and it’s all true) CIRCUS REDICKULESS, by Phil Glau.

Buy a ticket! Order a book! Piss off the authors! It’ll change your life!
-Chicken John


art from the book, by Kevin Evans

art from the book, by Kevin Evans


Pre-show (7-9):

Weird TV was a television program in the early 90’s made by Cacophonist and director Chuck Cirino. The short bursts of video brilliance captured many of the early Cacophony events and human interest stories.

The show (9-10:30):

The Yes Men are a group of activists that embrace a very direct approach to pointing out the evils of corporate greed: they pose as spokespeople from the corporation and admit the wrong-doings of the corporation. They pose of banking executives and give seminars on how to fuck people over. They pretend to be capitalist entrepreneurs with new technology for employee maintenance at corporate conferences and make the people listening to them into idiots. These people are a force nature. Their website (http://theyesmen.org/) and YouTube channel tell the tale better than I can. But suffice to say they were influenced by the Cacophony Society and we are very excited to bring them out for this show!

Dr. Lera Boroditsky is a cognitive philology professor currently at Stanford University. She is doing a short talk on how the Cacophony Society has changed the course of human evolution. For realzies.

Polly Superstar is the lady behind Kinky Salon and her herd of Sparkleponies will be live on stage with her to show the power of Burning Man’s stampede! Polly and her Sparklepoinies will explain the true meaning of Burning Man to you in this intellectual salon format!

• Author Brian Doherty, cacophonist, editor at Reason Magazine, and author of four books is our keynote speaker. (His books: This Is Burning Man, and Gun Control on Trial: Inside the Supreme Court Battle Over the Second Amendment, and Radicals for Capitalism, and Ron Paul’s rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired – ed.) He will extol the virtues of the American work ethic as the engine that drove the Cacophony Society. No kidding. Go America!

Jamie DeWolf is a producer on NPR’s Snap Judgment, the host of Oakland’s fabulous Tourettes without Regrets variety show, and is L. Ron Hubbard’s grandson. No shit. Another person heavily influenced by the Cacophony Society, he brings his special brand of magic to our stage.

The Art of Bleeding is a hospital show that takes first aid to a new low. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll be telling your friends about it for years.

Our host is the one and only IVAN STANG, Church of the Sub-genius founder! Ivan will celebrate and pronounce the virtues of SLACK while setting the stage for the other speakers and make you bow before the Saint of Salesmen J. R. Bob Dobbs! Mr. Stang comes to SF for this rare appearance on the nudging of his dear friend and compatriot Dr. Hal. Don’t be surprised if you see Hal in the show somewhere as well.

Post-show (10:30 – midnight):

Get your book signed by … um … somebody … we’ll have somebody … while you watch:

Circus Redickuless is a tour documentary of a 1994 traveling punk rock circus led by the (very young) infamous San Francisco Showman Chicken John. It did not go well. The movie is a heartbreaking saga of disappointment and disillusion. Jump as you watch the young, talent-less circus go cross country to play in parking lots, recycling centers, and tiny bars! Thrill as you watch people walk out of their shows! Hold on tight as you see the clowns get thinner and thinner as the movie progresses! Bear witness to the terrifying spectacle of the cast getting menial jobs in order to pay for a ticket home! Then cross your eyes with amazement as you realize: this was the first of five tours, and helped spur a world-wide resurgence in circus arts and culture! Many followed! They were first!!!

Chuckles the Clown, star of Chicken John and Dannygirl's Cirkus Redickuless - photo by Phillip Glau

Chuckles the Clown, star of Chicken John and Dannygirl’s Cirkus Redickuless – photo by Phillip Glau

Remember: this show is UNOFFCIAL, UNATHERIZED [sic], NOT BLESSED and frankly the authors of the book we’re releasing are straight up kinda pissy that we are doing this. Why? Who knows. They’re old and cranky now. The kids today are playing with iPhones instead of Frisbees, and they aren’t nearly as aerodynamic.

Isn’t it relieving to know that pranksters are still pranking? That when it comes time to write the book on how you did whatever you wanted to do because it was fun, that someone should champion that book by doing the fun thing?

The book and the people it’s about inspired us to do a show like this. Even if they don’t want it. We’re going to honor them, sell their books, and make this important work known throughout the land!!!

– Chicken John, San Francisco Institute of Possibility

BY TICKETS HERE: http://agentsofchaos.eventbrite.com/

art from the book, by Kevin Evans

art from the book, by Kevin Evans

Don’t live in SF? … Cacophony’s going on the road afterwards! … From Carrie Galbraith‘s page:

Hi All,
We have several signings and more in the works. Here’s the list as of today:

May 16th: Book Premiere, City Lights, San Francisco.
May 18th: Panel Discussion, Makers Faire.
May 19th: Readings from the book, Green Apple Books/Lands End, San Francisco.
June 6th: Readings and book signings, Pegasus Books, Berkeley, CA.
June 14th: Powell’s Bookstore in Portland.
June 22nd: La Luz de Jesus in LA.
August – Varnish Gallery and SFAI Lecture Series.

More as it develops. We’ve been invited to the Commonwealth Club but have no confirmation date as of yet. Also to The Explorer’s Club in NYC but again, no formal invite. I expect plenty more invitations around the country. Can’t wait to show off this labor of love. And bring SF Cacophony in to the light. Hope to carry you all with me!!!

Disclosure: This writer has three pieces in the book, originally published in the heady days of arts journalism and editorship at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an independently-owned free weekly paper in San Francisco (which is now owned by a corporate megalith and the I.T. department deleted all my old SFBG articles from the Internets. *sigh*) …

I’ll be reading — ulp, first book reading ever — at City Lights, and maybe other places too. Word on the street is they’ll be closing Kerouac Alley off so the overflow crowd can watch the party via huge projectors on the walls while they drink at Vesuvio’s and raise a ruckus for the ghosts of the mighty Beat poets who blazed the trail before us. ::shivers::


BONUS: Cacophony in their natural habitat, featured on the evening news, 1990s-ish, only a couple years after they invented that thing in the desert:


Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.


Related posts:

June 2012: Cyclecide presents The Loaded Warrior

July 2013: Look who’s in 7x7SF Magazine

August 2013: Chuck Pahlaniuk, John Law, and Cacophony Society at the California Commonwealth Club

November 2014: Tyler Durden Invented Burning Man

September 2015: ‘Carnival Cosmology’ by Gary Warne (Cacophony’s founding document)


  1. The unauthorized book release party of The SF Cacophony Society will reveal more than should be told and guests from around the globe influenced by the Society will be present to amuse and entertain.

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