theProjects Cultural Design Agency

Caligula

If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s 1st Century Roman-style orgies. It’s that unique mixture of old world hygiene, sex slaves and exotic STDs that you just can’t find at your typical contemporary “sugar party.” No one understands this better than bicoastal production team Caligula, made up of sometime San Franciscan Vin Sol and weirdo production duo Skin & Bones.

Their debut single “The Countdown” dropped on iTunes at the end of ’09, and is now available all over the innertron. Buy here.

Here’s a sample (abbreviated tracks):

Caligula – The Countdown

Caligula – Main Line

And speaking of orgies, I DJ’ed one once. I’ve posted this story before on my original blog, but since I believe I had fewer than 5 followers (and 4 of them were my mom) here is that story again:

Swing Set

The venue was entered through an inconspicuous doorway in North Beach, down the block from The Hustler Club and across the street from The Hungry Eye, another strip club. I arrived 15 minutes early and was greeted by a thin man of about thirty, who, through a thick Russian accent, introduced himself as Ivan. The first room that I entered resembled the darkened lobby of an apartment building, with a stairway leading up to the right and another short stair leading down ahead of me. I was led down these stairs to a small room where a makeshift bar was set up on a folding table, behind which sat an attractive woman in her thirties who was playing bartendress for the night. She was also Russian and said that her name was Irina. Down another short set of stairs was a large room, dimly lit and featuring various ambient decorations – a laser light, ceiling drapes and a projector displaying the animated silhouette of a nude woman dancing against one wall. This was the room in which I was to play.

The DJ equipment was old and featured a technology (perhaps imported from Russia) that I had never encountered before. I am a vinyl DJ but the only equipment available here was a dual-CD player and an antique mixer. During a phone call earlier in the week, Ivan had asked me to bring “radio hits” and so I had burned a number of CDs featuring the hot club tracks of the day. Later on, I would realize that I should’ve clarified with him exactly which radio station he was speaking of when he made this request, as it would become clear that there was definite miscommunication.

After I was done setting up, an attractive older woman who introduced herself as Lana invited me for a tour of the top floor and I eagerly accepted. At the top of the stairs was another large room, with low ceilings and bathed in dim, red light. Following a circular path, we walked through a series of beds of various shapes and sizes, each separated from the next by translucent veils hung from the ceiling. At the far end of the room lay an enormous, round bed covered in pillows. This furnished island was not enclosed by veils as the others were, suggesting that this must be the orgy’s main stage. At the other end, there was a large shower with a removable head and no door — clearly installed as much for recreation as sanitation. As I toured around the room, doing my best to picture what it must look like at the party’s height, Lana explained to me in a somewhat apologetic tone who they invited to their parties and what the purpose of the parties was, as well as telling me that during the week the venue was used to make designer clothing (your typical seamstress by-day, orgy hostess by-night immigrant story).

After the tour, I returned to my station as DJ and, by that time, a few guests had arrived. The rules of the party stated that guests must attend with a partner; there were no singles allowed. As I began playing some mellow hip-hop and lounge music, couple after couple trickled into the room. They were generally well-dressed white men and women in their late twenties to mid-forties, with a few older gentlemen also in the mix — the Viagra in their systems causing more than their confidence to swell.

It was apparent early in the evening that the music that I had brought with me was not going to be well received by this older crowd. The hip-hop club bangers that I had in my small CD pouch elicited little more than stares and annoyed whispers from the guests that were now filling the seats that lined the room’s walls. Occasionally, a courageous young woman would rise from her chair and attempt to inspire the crowd to dance but, upon realizing the futility of her attempts, she would quickly return to her seat and continue staring. It became clear to me that here, more than anywhere else that I had played, the crowd was dependent upon me to inspire a sexual mood. If the women couldn’t dance, then they couldn’t entice men to approach them and without this approach, their admirable dreams of having sexual experiences with strangers in public might remain unfulfilled.

At some point, a fourth Russian entered the room and after quickly shaking my hand, explained in broken English that he was the owner of this building and that this was his party. Sensing the discomfort of his patrons, he forcefully volunteered some programming suggestions, shouting in a thick accent, “More fast! More loud!” And while I found this advice helpful, I was still unsure as to how to deal with my dearth of “fast” and “loud” selections as clearly I had not thought to bring them. Apparently sensing this, he pushed his way behind the DJ equipment and pulled out a book of CDs from beneath the mixer. He handed the book to me saying, “Here! Play this!”

Eager to halt the oppressive staring that was generally focused on the DJ booth and my failing attempts to rock the party, I loaded one of The Russian’s CDs and scanned through the tracks: Britney Spears, INXS, Pussycat Dolls, Clay Aiken, Fergie, etc. After swallowing my artistic pride, I transitioned into Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl” and, like magic, the floor began to fill. I followed this with Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous Girl” and then The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” and by now the chairs were empty and the dancefloor full. It was at this point that I committed to getting as drunk as I could. After filling up on Franzia, I continued the pop hit parade until I was interrupted by Ivan who shouted to me from the stairs that there was too much bass. Bass was pronounced like the fish and, while I thought I had caught a bit of a smell coming from the upstairs, I squinted my eyes at him not knowing exactly how I was supposed to correct that problem. He repeated the word “Bass! Bass!” and finally I realized what he was trying to say, replying, “Oh bass. Yeah, I’ll turn that down.”

Later on as I played a Jay-Z track, the elder Russian — whose shirt was now unbuttoned — approached the DJ booth and stated, “Some people have asked for some hip hop? Do you have hip hop?” He said this with an accentuated pause between the words hip and hop, asking as if he had never heard of the genre and wasn’t entirely sure that whoever had made this request wasn’t just speaking some nonsense. I shouted over Jay-Z’s voice that I thought I probably had some hip-hop and that I would play it next. He seemed satisfied and returned to the dancefloor to be assisted with the removal of the remainder of his clothing.

The Russian’s semi-nudity signaled a trend that was spreading across the floor as, emboldened by alcohol and cheesy pop music, the party-goers had begun to undress and aggressively grind on one another, however gracefully their aging bodies allowed them to. Breasts were made bare and eager hands searched their partners’ private parts as I tried to keep my eyes focused on the mixer and my CDs, aware that killing the floor at this point might inspire a sex-crazed riot. I couldn’t help but look up from time to time, though, and I had to laugh aloud at what I saw. In one corner of the dancefloor a squat man of about 45, who could’ve been mistaken for George Costanza, was dancing with a large black woman who stood over him by a good six inches. As they swayed back and forth to the music, George had his hands placed on her breasts, moving them slightly as if tuning a radio. She seemed mildly turned on by this and smiled stupidly at him. Similar partnerships were found about the room, with attractive women putting their sexiest moves on display as interested men danced awkwardly near them.

Around midnight, pairs began filtering out of the room, hand in hand, and disappeared upstairs. I found that I could accelerate this process by making sloppy transitions and playing offensive music, and this was easy for me to do as I was now very drunk. By about 12:30, the room was entirely empty except for a couple that was attempting to slow-dance to the Ying Yang Twins track that I was playing.

I decided that I was allowed a break at this point and so I went to refill my wine glass and use the bathroom. As I passed by the stairway leading to the top floor on my way, I heard a din of ecstatic shouts and moans and a sarcastic smirk appeared on my now-reddened face. I looked up the stairway but could see nothing and so, Ireturned to the dancefloor where I began to play Radiohead and DJ Shadow and whatever I felt like listening to for the remainder of the night. A few females reemerged in the room and — either exhausted from their experience or disturbed by what they had seen upstairs — sat quietly against the wall.

A little before 2 the room began to refill, although the energy level was noticeably lower. Ivan then came in with my payment for the night and granted me permission to leave. However, now enjoying myself because I was drunk and playing music that I liked, I stayed around for a bit and then put on a happy hardcore CD and walked out into the streets of North Beach.

– White Mike