'Tales of the SF Cacophony Society' party

‘Tales of the SF Cacophony Society’ party

The underground Cacophony Society, which in the ’90s spawned outfits in more than a dozen major cities and inspired both Chuck Palahniuk‘s “Fight Club” and Burning Man, has been given a fresh look in “Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society,” edited by Kevin Evans, Carrie Galbraith and John Law and recently published by Last Gasp.

The group, which described itself as “a randomly gathered network of free spirits in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society,” popularized the flash mob mentality, often dressing up in costumes and pulling off harmless but profound public pranks.

“The book is a bizarre and much-needed history textbook,” Evans says via e-mail. “It is also a ‘how-to’ recipe book. The information contained within it is a tool for liberation.”

“If it becomes a how-to manual and textbook,” Galbraith says, “then we’ve done our job.”

Chicken John, who in 2007 ran against Gavin Newsom for mayor in what was largely a performance art project (the campaign was called Nuisance ’07), is involved with the Cacophony Society. He’s organized an “unauthorized book release” Friday at the Castro Theatre for “Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society.”

The authors, who will not be present because of scheduling conflicts, say it’s “hilarious” that Chicken John organized an event for their book without asking them and, despite his publicizing the event as “unauthorized,” they heartily endorse it.

The night, with a schedule of activities that spans more than five hours, is broken into segments: The first features screened episodes of “Weird America”; the second includes performances by the Yes Men and Lera Boroditsky, as well as belly dancers; and the third is a rare screening of “Circus Redickuless” – the 90-minute documentary of Chicken John’s circus, which traveled the United States in 1994 to perform, every night, without a script – hosted by the director, Phillip Glau. Those who attend the show (or go to www.agentsofchaos.eventbrite.com) can purchase the book at half price.


Agents of Chaos: Book release party for ‘Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society’: 7:30 p.m. Friday. $20-$50. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F. (415) 621-6120.

This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo by Last Gasp