Brawl in the Family

The Rude Mechs' Black Eye Ball

Brawl in the Family
Illustration By Robert Faires

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Austin's Rude Mechanicals. The acclaimed theatre company continues to break artistic ground and fill seats in its newly redecorated Eastside venue, it's been on the road and in the planes, and now 2005's iteration of its annual celebration is going to smack you upside the entertainment plexus. You have an ox you need stunned? Bring it to the Black Eye Ball, a fundraiser that'll pack enough punch to send half a herd of Santa Gertrudis to Slumberland. Or something like that, right?Ê

The Rudes' Kirk Lynn puts it much better in the company's promotional hype – which is one of the reasons we love these guys. Lynn's no stranger to the nonmetaphorical shiner, too, it turns out. "The last time I had a black eye, it was self-inflicted," says the affable playwright. "I was working on this little ranch while I was in college, and I hit myself in the face with a post-hole digger."

He was pissed off at himself, then? It was one of those split-personality, crazy-artist-type things? Someone should maybe notify Oliver Sacks?

"It was an accident," says Lynn.

The entertainment lined up for the Black Eye Ball, on the other hand, is strictly on purpose. The Tosca Strings and Glover Gill will provide live music throughout the evening, while partiers swig free Real Ale and nibble fancy hors d'oeuvres, while those with a more nefarious agenda can get their compromising-position photos snapped in the Blackmail Booth.

"The last time I got a black eye from an actual altercation?" says Lynn. "I was in middle school, and this kid named Mark Anderson – a relentless threatener who I've referenced in my play, Major Bang – socked me in the eye in the gym. Pow! Thus," he says, with great sorrow, "thus I turned away from sports and toward the arts."

Thus he eventually hooked up with Shawn Sides and Lana Lesley and Sarah Richardson and Madge Darlington to form the Rude Mechanicals. Thus came the Faminly Trilogy, Lipstick Traces, Requiem for Tesla, El Paraiso, Cherrywood, and all the others. Thus comes the 10th-year celebration of that origin story, complete with live and silent auctions of treasures from Blackmail, Zanzibar, Austin Lyric Opera, Uchi, and more high-toned establishments than even Cassius Clay could've remembered when that was still his name.Ê

And just when you think that the night's over before the proceedings could hold a candle to the long-ago Thrilla in Manila? Up jumps the cash bar with its Black Magic cocktail in a commemorative glass and DJ Graham Reynolds spinning the danceables for round after round. It's a black-tie event, we should point out; but it's specifically a punk rock black tie you're encouraged to attend in. And maybe Kirk Lynn himself, rested and ready, steely-eyed and steady, will join you for a terpsichorean brawl of sorts?

"I've always been willing to fight just about anybody," says the champeen author, thews agleam with sweat as he sets his jump rope near an autographed copy of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Grammar. "You know," says Lynn, "I have a list of people I'd like to give a black eye to. Henry Kissinger's on it. And Anita Bryant, Eminem, and – hell, it's a big list."

Yes, and it's gonna be a big night.

The Black Eye Ball will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, 7pm until the swelling goes down, at the Off Center, 2211-A Hidalgo. For more information, call 476-7833 or visit

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