GWAR's Balsac The Jaws of Death

Today is the 30th birthday of Michael Derks, better known as Balsac

the

Jaws of Death, guitarist for GWAR (God What an Awful Racket), the

sludge-

metal performance-art group that stages concerts which could be

called

spoofs of thrash-metal acts. GWAR's music is scatological, sexually

explicit and loud -- in short, not meant for everyone.

The group formed at Virginia Commonwealth University, where a

collection of

art

students, musicians and dancers came together to display their

creative

talents and comment on metal music. In addition to Balsac, principal

members are vocalist Odorus Urungus (a.k.a. David Brockie), guitarist

Flattus

Maximus (a.k.a. Peter Lee), bassist Beefcake the Mighty (a.k.a.

Michael

Bishop) and drummer Jizmak the Gusha (a.k.a. Brad Roberts). Other

participants include

Techno-Destructo (a.k.a. Hunter Jackson) on vocals, Slymenstra

Hymen (a.k.a.

Danyelle Stampe) on whips and Sexecutioner (a.k.a. Charles Varga) on

chains. They are

managed by Sleazy P. Martini (a.k.a. Don Drakulich).

GWAR claim to be "all-powerful interplanetary warriors, descended

from aliens

stranded in Antarctica and initially created from the lowest filth in

the universe, who have come to Earth to sexually enslave and/or

slaughter the human race." They perform in crazy costumes of latex

and

papier-mâché and their stage act includes simulated pagan rituals

involving

corpses (complete with faux bodily fluids), a

three-foot phallus and a big mechanical maggot. Several cities have

banned GWAR from performing and the band has been fined for

obscenity in

North Carolina. Police in Athens, Ga., even stopped a 1993 concert.

The

American Civil Liberties Union has assisted GWAR in

challenging some of these charges.

The group's albums include: Hell-o (Shimmy Disc, 1988),

Scumdogs

of the Universe

(Metal Blade, 1990), The Road Behind (Priority EP, 1992),

America Must Be Destroyed (Metal Blade, 1992) and This

Toilet Earth (Metal Blade, 1994). GWAR's musicianship, which

emphasizes guitar histrionics by Balsac and Flattus Maximus, is not

among the best in the business, and their singing is often

unintelligible.

Songs include "Penis I See," "Saddam A Go-Go" and "Pocket Pool."

GWAR's stage shows can be highly amusing and have more to offer

than

their recordings. In fact, GWAR were nominated for a Grammy in

1993 for

the feature video "Phallus in Wonderland."

Other birthdays: Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets), 39.