Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

A name like Caeser Pink and the Imperial Orgy conjures up thoughts of fun and perhaps controversy—and the collective certainly delivers, combining vivid and political stage shows with genre-melding music into a riveting, media-blending experience.

The group’s music is opinionated, and live shows add projections and other media. Clips on the internet show band members, dressed in every color under the sun, walking onto a stage one by one from the audience; one video shows the band chanting about love … with dildos strapped to their faces.

Imperial Orgy came about as Pink’s way to express his creative ideas and feelings.

“I had been doing film for a couple years, and I really enjoyed that feeling of being in front of an audience,” Pink said during a recent phone interview. “The concept was really about freedom—to not be limited to any musical genre and to be able to mix any type of art within the multimedia performance, to just do what I want and not worry about the commercial consequences of that. The name Imperial Orgy comes from a Henry Miller book about Russian royalty before the fall, and it seemed to fit well with Caeser Pink. It wasn’t until after we adopted (the name) that I saw it really made sense for the group and the idea of doing whatever you want musically and artistically.

“I played in a punk band for a few years before I went to college. I lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so there was really no direct access to arts. I was doing the best I could to learn about the different arts that interested me. The concept for the group was always about performance art, like theater and dance—a mix of anything we could throw in there, not only to get the message of the music across, but to have different layers of meaning. What’s in the video can add another layer of meaning of what’s going on in the music.”

Pink’s most recent release is a NSFW music video for “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” a politically charged song that critiques supremacist ideology. The video features Pink and his band skewering the views of white supremacists and others—singing, “I don’t wanna live like that.” The video includes the band members and others displaying signs with slurs on them—and even verbalizing some of those slurs—before joining arms and singing the chorus in unison. The timely song and video were actually released before the protests regarding the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

“I wrote that originally as a straight-up Beatles parody, and it was a song that has evolved a lot until I was really happy with it,” Pink said. “It’s definitely a song for the moment, and it has really caused a lot of controversy. Sometimes people don’t really understand it in a live setting, but I feel like the video really gets the point across. … We filmed the video all in one day, and it was a weird experience giving out these slur signs to actors we had brought in. I had a sick feeling in my stomach handing out those signs, but everyone really understood it. There was a moment where I was watching the group singing and dancing with those signs on that even choked me up.

“Live, all the musicians start the song by putting on those signs. We stretch out the song at the end, until it’s just a vocal a capella. Then I’ll start handing out signs to the audience, and have people coming to join the line of all of us wearing the signs and locking arms. That can be a really beautiful moment to witness.”

The band has been no stranger to controversy ever since its debut back in the early 1990s. Religious organizations have protested Caeser Pink and The Imperial Orgy—and even threatened violence toward the group.

“I get death threats all the time over the internet,” Pink said. “Now it’s more personal, one on one over social media, but back in the day, it would be banning us from radio, etcetera. It seemed like whatever we did, someone would ban us. There was a time when I was a kid when it was funny, like Alice Cooper outraging society. Everything has been done now, though, and nothing’s really outrageous except ideas, and that’s what pisses people off.”

The word “eclectic” could describe Caeser Pink’s career, even if it’s a bit of an understatement; the group has produced films, TV shows and even books. He’s even been to space; in a sense: In 2010, Stephanie Wilson, an astronaut on the space shuttle Discovery, took an Imperial Orgy CD, All God’s Children, with her.

“When I was in third-grade, I dreamt of being an astronaut,” Pink said. “I’ve only ever wanted to be two things in my life: a scientist or an artist. I kept hearing that this space thing was gonna happen for years from our keyboard player, who’s friends with an astronaut. It wasn’t until the day of that I realized how cool and unusual this thing is. (Wilson) played an EP that certainly had a message relevant to the world. It was a very meaningful experience.”

If there’s been any constant throughout Pink’s career, it’s the use of satirical humor.

“I’ve always been a big fan of satire humor, and I’ve used it a lot to deal with political messages,” he said. “I always had a theory that when you entertain people, you can open up their minds to different types of music and messages.”

The band has not released much new recorded material in the last decade, but Pink promised that more new music is on the way.

“We’ve really struggled to capture what we do live onto tape,” Pink said. “We have an album officially coming out soon which I feel is going to be the one that really captures what the Imperial Orgy is. It’s been frustrating, but a learning process. It wasn’t until I could really take control of the audio engineering that I could really capture the sound more, and put it in a conceptual way that matches what we do onstage. When you play live, you can do a lot of different styles, and it works for people. When you do that on a recording, it gets very tricky. For me, it was a matter of just forgetting about genre and throwing everything together, and tying it by concepts and messages.

“Genres are a prison that other people place on you, and when it gets in your mind, it controls how you play.”

Pink talked a lot about success during our chat, so I asked him what his definition of success was.

“One of the jokes I say is, ‘When you’ve had so many failures, they look really great put all together,’” Pink said. “What is important is trying to reach an audience and getting your view out there. However, we have a lot of musicians, and they gotta eat. It would be lovely to be able to pay those people what they deserve, and to be able to tour on a wide scale.”

Pink said the group, of all things, is getting ready to start a Roku television network.

“It could be a total failure, or it could bring in some money that would allow us to do things like tour,” Pink said. “It’s a mix of an arts variety show, live performances and more. Our old television show from 2002 will also be on our channel, alongside a live-stream option. The station is called The Imperial Orgy Underground Arts, Music and Culture. When we did our TV series, digital editing was a very hard thing to do, but we managed to reach all over the world and build a network with many public access stations.

“We also formed a nonprofit organization and sponsored an art gallery in Brooklyn. Every weekend, there are group shows of young artists and music. We’re thinking of broadcasting those performances and interviewing the artists on the network as well. We’re not only doing our own thing, but we are promoting artists whose work and messages we take to heart. If artists support each other, everybody rises.”

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You’re out of a job. You’ve been stuck inside for weeks. You’ve re-watched Tiger King so many times that you’re starting to ask, “What was the crime here? Loving big cats and the Seth Wadley Auto Group too much? Free Joe Exotic!”

Shut-in delirium can only countered with new streams of entertainment—preferably at no extra cost, because that gub’ment check will only go so far.

This month, streaming TV services Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, CBS All Access, Shudder, Sundance Now, Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel have extended their free-trial windows to 30 days. New streamer Quibi will let you have up to 90 days free, which is nearly enough time to figure out, “What the fuck is a Quibi?”

Beyond all that: There are also plenty of totally free, no-strings streaming TV apps out there to take advantage of through Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast or however you stream (laptops and phones, too). Content Shifter has rounded up 12 for your quarantine needs.

Pluto TV: What was originally just an odd app with a never-ending Mystery Science Theater 3000 loop and a few other iffy feeds (like the Conspiracy Channel—maybe avoid it right now?) has exploded into a rainbow of free TV, movies, docs, music, sports and doggos. (Yes, Dogs 24/7—you need it right now.) Pluto TV was seemingly pre-designed for broke homebodies … conspiracy?

Crackle: Crackle has been around for more than 15 years—and you’ve still never clicked on that orange button. It streams hundreds of old-to-semi-recent movies and TV shows, as well as a handful of originals like tech thriller StartUp, dumb comedy Ski Master Academy, and the sequel no one asked for, Joe Dirt 2. Crackle also has both The Net (1995 film) and The Net (1998 series)!

Tubi: With thousands of movies, TV series and a surprisingly loaded music section (as well as all three Decline of Western Civilization docs!), Tubi is like the last Blockbuster Video at the edge of the world. For every familiar title (Donnie Darko, Minority Report) there are hundreds of obscurities (like 2017 Russian superhero anomaly Guardians), not to mention the Rock of Love oeuvre.

Roku Channel: If your streaming device of choice is a Roku (the unofficial streamer of Content Shifter … still waiting on that endorsement deal), the Roku Channel has stacks of movies, TV series, kids’ stuff, fitness programs and an unhealthy mix of reality shows. (Trees and Forest meditation? Sure. Diagnosis Unknown? No thanks.) Minus a Roku, the Channel works in a web browser.

Shout! Factory TV: A cult-flick aficionado’s digital dream, Shout! Factory TV is stuffed with cheesy action and exploitation “classics” like Bloodfist (parts 1-8!), Cyberzone (space bounty hunter tracks down android hookers!), and Neon Maniacs (self-explanatory), among hundreds of others. If your objective is to shut off your brain, Shout! Factory TV works like a vodka and valium tonic.

Comet: Speaking of sci-fi goodness, Comet is a space-centric channel that broadcasts to rabbit ears (‘member them?) and streams simultaneously. The movies are schlock standards (Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Futureworld, etc.), but the TV series are solid: Battlestar Galactica (the good one), Stargate SG-1, and the underrated ’70s Night Gallery, among others.

Adult Swim: There are well more than 100 original series from the past 20 years available on the Adult Swim app—and a few don’t even require herbal abetment (very few). Currently, AS is streaming full seasons of quintessential series like Metalocalypse, Squidbillies, and the immortal Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule, plus newer shows like Tim and Eric’s sitcom takedown Beef House.

The CW: Unlike most other TV networks, The CW makes all of its shows available to stream the day after broadcast for free—even Dynasty, a reboot no one can prove actually exists. Full seasons to date are available for some newer series, like Batwoman (worth checking out), Nancy Drew (ditto) and Katy Keene (another show of questionable existence). Beats an antenna.

CW Seed: The CW’s secondary streamer, CW Seed, is home to some legit classics that never even aired on the network: Schitt’s Creek, Pushing Daisies, Constantine, Girlfriends, and others. CW Seed also features a few flops that are still good for a laugh, like Hellcats (clashing cheerleaders!), Moonlight (sexy vampire detective!) and Sinbad (not the comic who didn’t play a ‘90s genie).

WhoHaha: Women aren’t funny? Get the fuck outta here. Actress/director Elizabeth Banks created WhoHaha as a “Funny or Die for girls” in 2015, accepting submissions from indie female comics and curating the content. Like Funny or Die, not every digital short lands, but WhoHaha series like Untidy With Marie Kondo (not really Kondo) and No Chill are uniquely hilarious.

Night Flight: Way back in the ’80s, a weekend cable show called Night Flight kept millions of rockers, stoners and outcasts indoors with a slapdash mix of rock ’n’ roll kicks, cult-flick imagery and subliminal anarchy. The Night Flight app recaptures it, but only a portion for free (access to the full library is $40 annually—anarchy costs in 2020). Still, a taste of a rad flashback ain’t bad.

Red Bull TV: The outdoors were pretty cool, from what I remember. Red Bull TV goes to extremes with mountain biking, skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, skiing and some insane shit called “ice cross” that’s essentially frozen Rollerball. It’s all high-quality video immersion with little in-your-face Red Bull advertising; check it out to re-familiarize yourself with air and weather.

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