Electropunk act Punk Bunny's prime mover Gil Sandoval admits to leading with his cock. Onstage, his center of gravity seems to originate in his genitalia, and his newest adornment is a phallus sheath that resembles a rooster. The present incarnation of the band finds Sandoval—who's better known as Luigi—laying down self-described “fag disco” with his mic, moves, costumes and carnality as his only onstage instruments. His costume for this tour involves overalls, spandex, glitter and, perhaps most importantly, an exhibitionist Speedo thong. “What defines life more than sex?” he quips by phone from Hollywood.“Sex sells, and I like to make fun of it.”
Sandoval identifies as pansexual. He thinks it's probable everyone is born with at least bisexual potential, but environmental influences limit some people's sexual exploration and identity. Sandoval's libertine tendencies aren't the only aspects of his personality to inform his work. He's also passionate about politics. On Hung, Proud and Sloppy, raw sexuality, sarcasm and jocularity permeate the work. “Suck It” finds former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a compromising position or two.
Like many Americans, Sandoval sat glued to the Internet, refreshing and anxiously awaiting the 2012 election's outcome. He talks excitedly about the increased gay representation in our governing bodies and the legalization of gay marriage in three states and recreational marijuana use in two states: “It's a real turning point.” There's a new generation of 18-year-olds voting for the first time who don't share the racist, homophobic and misogynist beliefs of previous generations, he notes.
Beyond his schtick, there's a rhetoric. Freedom of speech and expression, as well as eradicating homophobia, are big deals for the normatively controversial artist. Ultimately, though, he keeps churning it out because it's a lot of fun. Punk Bunny's videos employ oodles of innuendo and simulated sex to sidestep censorship. A quick scroll through the band's Facebook page reveals the aesthetic to be laden with iconography that’s popular in gay culture. Photos of Morgan Fairchild (in a form-fitting pleather jumpsuit), Tonya Harding, Natalie from “Facts of Life,” Joe Dallesandro and Courtney Love accompany status updates.
Prior to this almost decade-long electronic outing, Sandoval drummed in several traditionally structured, guitar-drums-bass bands. The most notable was probably lo-fi emo group The Haunted Tortillas. Today, he prefers the freedom of electronic music and says it allows him to put more emphasis on performance. The outcome of any Punk Bunny concert is largely dependent on audience feedback. “Your performance is what the audience gives you,” he says. Burque's been good to him at previous gigs. He's grateful to have befriended Beefcake in Chains frontman Steve Eiland—who apparently makes killer carne asada—when they shared a bill here in years past.
Transgender polio survivor and tenured underground Hollywood icon Goddess Bunny, a.k.a. Sandie Elizabeth Crisp, joins Sandoval on tour, providing backup vocals. She made a name for herself as an independent film actor and drag queen. Crisp tap-danced in her youth but is now wheelchair-bound. New Mexican photographer Joel-Peter Witkin immortalized Crisp in “Leda,” a 1986 revisioning of Leonardo da Vinci's “Leda and the Swan.” It’s one of Witkin's most well-known works. Marilyn Manson sought Crisp out for an appearance in “The Dope Show” music video, and DJ Muggs cast her in “Puppet Master,” also featuring B-Real and Dr. Dre.
Sandoval and Crisp met at a bar in Hollywood. “Bunny was always harassing me. I had to put her in the band,” he laughs. Sandoval's playing Memphis, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo., on this tour, and he's a little nervous about performing “Suck It”—with key lyric, “Sarah Palin is a fucking dick”—in places where Romney cornered the local vote. Whether you consider Sandoval a transgressive sexual activist or simply a hedonistic punk-rocker, he’s bringing his explicit show and fixation on Dionysian pleasures to Burque.