With a gray, beaded skull in his left hand, a percussion instrument made of fake goat toes in his right hand and mumbled versus of Tibetan throat singing, George “Fodder” O’Brien brought a mock exorcism of Richard Spencer to a chilling end Monday night.
Local absurdist mock church, the Tabernacle of Hedonism, hosted the Spencer exorcism event during its weekly gathering at Maude’s Side Car Bar, located at 101 SE Second Place, at 10:30 p.m.
About 25 audience members sat in the dimly lit, tightly packed downtown bar as O’Brien and other actors performed at the two-hour event.
Church host Tom Miller said he decided to incorporate the mock exorcism into the normal Monday-night gathering, which often feature open mic-style comedy and musical performances and are free to the public, out of love.
Miller said he predicts the actions of his church, which he co-founded in 1984, will root out what he feels is the evil intent of the speech Spencer is set to give Thursday at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
“This guy, Mr. Spencer, has been overtaken by the alien motherhood,” Miller said to start off the special gathering. “I promise you, the speech that is (supposed) to happen — redemption will occur — the speech will not happen. It’ll be canceled after what we do tonight.”
After about an hour of stand-up comedy from Miller and a group prayer dedicated to medicinal marijuana and the church’s god, “Jamba,” the mock exorcism began.
Miller played a haunting track of tribal drone music on the bar’s speakers. O’Brien, who donned a 19th century-style striped coat, top hat and calf-length socks, took the stage, his woven basket filled with ceremonial props.
The self-employed puppeteer and oddities performer struck his Tibetan singing bowl with a wooden mallet about every 30 seconds as he hummed droning melodies into the microphone, competing with the volume of the ceremonial backtrack that filled the room.
O’Brien then violently raddled his goat toe shaker, chanted in broken Sanskrit and mumbled incoherently.
He finally held the skull prop in both hands above his head as he bowed before the audience, and a long silence followed.
The mock exorcism was complete.
“The best way to deal with something like this is to just turn your back on it,” O’Brien said, encouraging the audience to not pay Spencer or his supporters any attention. “Toss it in a dumpster, forget it, learn from it, and don’t forget, by God, to brush your teeth before you go to bed.”
Evan Teal and his two friends left the performance after the first 40 minutes.
Teal, a 20-year-old Gainesville native, said he found the event on Facebook and at first thought it’d be akin to the “Run Like Naruto” events that went viral on social media ahead of Hurricane Irma.
He invited his friends Andrew Rollins, 20, and Mary Dixon, 21, out to see the exorcism expecting a fun-filled Monday night, but left both slightly disappointed and awe-struck at the same time, he said.
“Some of that stuff was pretty crazy,” Teal said. “It wasn’t a bad way to spend a Monday night, though. I’d come back and see another one of these.”
Miller said he views the Tabernacle as a free space for the community to come together, share talent and confront the ideas of political figures like Spencer with mockery. As white nationalism and what he calls “phony Nazism” continues stealing attention on the national stage, he feels satire is more important now than ever.
“This idea of going back to the ’50s and ethnic cleansing, it’s so abhorrent to the way the universe actually works,” Miller said. “We’re all about peace. That’s the crux of the whole Tabernacle in a nutshell.”