By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The ministers found it in a corner of downtown L.A.'s artists' district, where friends and theater professionals gathered in a 6,000-square-foot space to help them build what became Theory Labs.
"All we did," Gagliano marvels, "was supply beer and pizza, and people showed up to work -- and we sealed the building and didn't let them leave until the job was done."
Theory Labs became a combination studio, construction zone and tree-house fort. "It's a home base for our artistic projects," says Trueheart, "with no censors or network people looking over our shoulders. One of our projects that we thought might never happen was to put a hot tub in the back of a VW bus. We cut the roof off, and now the hot tub is in. The first run of the heating units was done last night, and so far it's working out well."
"Ideally, you'd be able to sit in the hot tub and drive," adds Berlin.
MINISTRY SHOWS, FITTINGLY, ARE CALLED "experiments," and since coming together in 2001, MOUS has staged nine performances at Theory Labs, selling out most evenings solely through word of mouth and the Internet. The experiments have been preceded by a 1950s high school science film and a brass band or jazz ensemble. A MOUS performance is a multimedia concoction of sketches and videos. The live acts run the gamut from a rich couple's difficulty in manipulating their sexual surrogates to an elaborate giant funk musical number that requires the audience to wear 3-D glasses; videos lean toward the blasphemous side, as in one story about a young man's hassles with having Jesus as a roommate.
Although the productions require the support of about two dozen volunteers, the actual science is basic: a video camcorder, a video projector and a 933 MHz Apple computer loaded with Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software. Today, MOUS is ready to move its shows out of its headquarters and onto the road. This weekend it presents its latest experiment, "Bram Stoker's Bakula," at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society's convention in Burbank.
"It's like being in a band, only without getting the girls, the drugs and the money," Berlin says, reflecting upon MOUS's 18 months of existence.
"There's no one funny from California," opines Gagliano. "If you've noticed, everyone funny comes from the outside, and they come here to start their slow decline of wealth and unfunniness. We're at the beginning of that slow decline."
Ministry of Unknown Science performs as part of Los Con 29 at the Burbank Airport Hilton and Convention Center, Academy Ballroom 1, 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank, Saturday, November 30, 9 p.m. $10 admission is good for the show and all convention activities after 6 p.m.www.loscon.org/loscon/29