Michelle Shocked outside Moe's Alley Thursday night. Photo by Georgia Perry.
Alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked had been scheduled to play Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz tonight, until her anti-gay rant at Yoshi's two weeks ago led Moe's owner—and every promoter who had booker her—to cancel her show. But no one could have seen the latest twist in the story coming, as Shocked showed up at the club anyway this evening, making a bizarre appearance outside that only served to further mystify those who had once been her fans.
Dressed in white laboratory scrubs with a sack over her head and duct tape with the words “Silenced by Fear” covering her mouth, Shocked sat down on the ground outside of Moe’s while crowds arrived to see performances inside by lesbian “butch power pop trio” Beaver Fever and “legendary queer party band” Fruity Flavors (whom Moe's owner Bill Welch had pointedly booked to replace her). Shocked strummed her guitar and motioned for patrons to respond to written prompts she had tacked to the wall behind her with poster board. The signs read:
“What would you say to Michelle Shocked if you had waited to hear her side of the story not what was reported? Were you there?”
“Is Michelle Shocked obligated to publicly state her personal view about Prop 8?”
“Does speech really scare you that much?”
“Is it possible Michelle Shocked was a target of fear-mongering in the name of a protection racket?”
Shocked told the Weekly, via the dry-erase board she was using as her only means of communication, “ They shouldn’t have allowed it to be triangulated until my side of the story was represented.”
Shocked also indicated that she intends to stay silent for a total of three days.
Tony Russomanno, a local gay rights activist, lives nearby Moe’s and came over once he heard that Shocked was here. He stood over her as she loudly strummed her guitar.
“I feel pity for her,” he said plainly. “If she had a hat out here, maybe I’d throw a dime into her hat.”
Russomanno responded to this, speaking loudly over her strumming so she could hear, “Michelle Shocked said she was on vacation, coming to Santa Cruz. And I’m wondering what she was on vacation from, since her show was cancelled due to her homophobic rant. So she doesn’t have a job to be on vacation from…She’s strumming away. I haven’t heard anything too artistic yet.”
Moe’s owner Welch, who refers to Shocked as a friend, said he cancelled her performance because the venue “will not tolerate bigotry or hateful views from anyone, regardless of musical talent.”
As Shocked played, he told the Weekly, “This is unexpected. She just showed up. Why? I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s gonna solve any of her problems…She’s a very talented musician but I think she said some things that were pretty dumb…It’s sad, the whole situation.”