NUDE CONCERT SHOCK
In a cafe society scene worthy of
Henry Miller and Anais Nin,the
classical duo with punk attitude-
Misha & Ingrid Bodnar, otherwise
known as Béla Lugosi -performed
last tuesday at a release party for
their new album,We Suck Hard,
Bodnar announced that they were
about to play Dvorak's Dumky trio,
"just because Gerald Carpenter
said he disliked it."
In a display of pure, convention
free art and humor, the ensuing
performance featured a stripping,
Rubenesque music page turner,
while cellist Bodnar himself took
off one item of clothing for each
section of the trio, until the last
movement , when he was
performing in the buff.
Adding to the punk/classical
ensemble's growing reputation,
they performed last Friday at
what they refer to as "Santa
Barbara's Loony Bin" (the
County's Mental Health facility),
and their "home away from home."
There they performed Brahms and
Iggy Pop and had two felons in
orange suits shouting "lewd
comments and stupid questions."
This past tuesday, Bodnar
performed in the 13-year
reunion of Venus Bitch (the
band with balls) in full drag,
where Bodnar tried to "connect
with his inner lesbian self."NUDE CONCERT SHOCK
- Duncan Wright
Santa Barbara Independent
"They're decent people at heart, with a wicked sense of humor and the audacity to believe that punk and theatrical attitudes can be woven into the realm of classical music making."
- joe woodard
The band Béla Lugosi was created in the streets of Santa Barbara CA, in 1984 by cellist Misha Bodnar. The small boy was discovered playing his cello in front of a bar, by the Hungarian gypsy virtuoso cellist Gabor Rejto. Under the tutelage of Rejto, Bodnar progressed in his music studies at an alarming pace, eventually becoming the youngest student ever to enter the U.S.C. music program. After a violent fight with his family over money owed to his father, Bodnar ran away to Paris to study at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. During his time at the conservatory Bodnar won the Royaume de la Musique, a nationwide competition sponsored by Radio France.
After graduating , Misha worked with the Marseilles Opera Orchestra to survive, but quickly became disillusioned with the attitude of his fellow orchestra players. He decided to ditch the paycheck and go back to his roots; playing in the streets for small change and sandwiches.
The streets of Marseilles were full of musicians of different sensibilities and cultures. It didn't take long for Misha to hook up with a group of rabble rousers named Venus Bitch. He stuck a pick-up on his cello and snatched the lead guitarist's amp thereby becoming the first electric punk rock cellist ever. With this band Misha travelled Europe opening for acts like Suicide, L7, Lords of the New Church, The Legendary Pink Dots, and punk legend Johnny Thunders.
After the tour Misha felt his home town calling and decided to take the best of Venus Bitch home with him. They crammed into a tiny studio once inhabited by Charlie Chaplin and renamed themselves Béla Lugosi. They recorded eight albums and took over the local clubs and press for almost a decade. The city of Bodnar's youth was changing, becoming more gentrified and sterile, and clubs began to shut down (or Béla Lugosi was banned from them). But they won't give up and continue to haunt the dark allies and dank clubs still remaining in this sunny seaside town to this very day.
One thing Bodnar takes seriously is the quality of performers he works with, and though Béla Lugosi is a motley gang of musicians, dancers, strippers, cross dressers, comedians, guerilla theater actors and painters, they are all artists at the top of their game.