Document of Delusion
An in-depth look at Skinny Puppy's Last Rights tour

Introduction and Pre-History

Skinny Puppy's Last Rights tour of 1992 is well known among fans for being the band's last tour before their 1995 breakup. It was also their most extensively realized theatrical presentation and one of their musical triumphs. Featuring bizarre, grotesque props and coordinated with a spooky, ethereal backing film, the tour was Ogre's own "document of delusion".

Ogre had recorded his vocals for the album during a period of severe drug addiciton. Such problems had been long standing and very public, yet on Last Rights he seemed to have reached an even more extreme low. He has described this period as being disconnected from reality, reporting of visions of paranoid fantasy. Ogre has also said that it was during this period that his relationship with his wife ended. These daily experiences, fueled by so many drugs that he would later express surprise that he survived, were brought into the vocal booth and clearly form the lyrical basis of Last Rights.

After having recorded the album, which quite typically involved a great deal of conflict between Ogre and his fellow musicians in the band, cEvin Key and Dwayne Goettel, Ogre toured Europe as a member of the 'super-group' Pigface. His drug abuse continued on this tour, culminating in his contraction of Hepatitis A. He then finally sought drug treatment. He credits this experience and the people involved in Pigface with allowing him to finally get clean.


Overview

Skinny Puppy's Last Rights album was released in early 1992 amidst long-persistant rumors of a breakup. It was not without some surprise that fans greeted the announcement of a world tour. Ogre's return to the fold sans his habit seems to have rejuvenated interest and energy in the band that many had assumed was gone for good. Having been to the edge of death and back, Ogre now seemed determined to report on his experiences.

Ogre enlisted Tim Gore, who had worked on the previous Too Dark Park tour, to design the creatures and props that would form the basis of his presentation. The Too Dark Park tour had shocked many with its quick-cut backing film compiled from thousands of film and video clips. The explicitly gorey footage had earned the band infamy, however, Ogre seemed somewhat dismayed that people enjoyed it for the wrong reasons. He did not want his performances to tickle the audiences fetishistic sense of shock alone. Indeed, one of the most common criticisms of the band's performances were that they relied on shock value. This time around Ogre seemed intent on making it understood that his presentation held a message beyond gore for gore's sake. To this end, Ogre enlisted William Morrison to create a backing film that would create an unsettling and spooky atmosphere but not hit the audience over the head with shocking scenes of brutality. This film would also be 'interactive', connecting directly to the live events on stage.

The film was created at the same time as the video for Killing Game. Morrison said that the video was intended to be somewhat of a sample of the live show. An early sketch by Tim Gore for a creature in the video shows a completely different concept. It is unknown to me at what point in the production this sketch dates from or how far along the idea got. Tim's sketch is of a character based upon Ogre's conceptual description of the video, which itself reflects his description of the song's origin given in interviews.

Click for Full-Size "...silent listeners, watchers with ears, faces, camera, microphone. their limbs graphically connected to these devices..." Ogre's description inspired this sketch for an unused Killing Game video idea.

The film was rear-projected and provided a close to full-stage backdrop for Ogre's activities. At either side of the film stood cEvin, behind his drumosaurous, and Dwayne, surrounded by keyboards. Near Dwayne was a small TV set, which played what seems to be another pre-made film compiled from video footage in the vein of the TDP backing film. Each side of the stage was also occupied by the main props of the show, a virtual reality machine and the 'Tree of No Cares'.

Ogre's concept for the stage show clearly had a narrative progression. And while Ogre has talked at length about the show in abstract terms he has rarely spoken concretely about what each element represented. Clearly the show dealt with his battle with addiction and the fractured sense of self he experienced during this deluded period. On stage, Ogre's addiction was represented by a virtual reality helmet. At various key points in the show, Ogre would enter the apparatus. The show was timecoded to coordinate with the backing film so that while he was inside the machine, the audience could see Ogre's face appear onscreen. The audience was witness to Ogre's gradually intensifying torture each time he entered. Something could be seen attacking his face inside the virtual world. When he emerged from these bouts of indulgence, Ogre returned to the stage somehow altered from the experience.

Click for Full-Size A shot of Ogre being attacked in the backing film during one of his V.R. excursions.

Photographer unknown, please email me for credit.

Yet the virtual reality machine was not Ogre's only means of torture. On the other side of the stage stood the Tree of No Cares. This was a towering horrific creation which evolved directly out of some elements of the Too Dark Park show (the set of which involved decayed trees and an organic 'Chair of No Cares' in which Ogre was abused). The trunk of the tree was adorrned with ghostly faces, moaning in pain and scrawled with words such as 'Greed', 'Sex', and 'Survive'. The branches of the tree extended out and down from the top like the limbs of a spider. Hanging from these limbs were various objects on hooks including a variety of monstrous 'Torture Heads'. The limbs of the tree spun a full 360 degrees, dangling these images of torture above the audience and in front of Ogre. Throughout the show Ogre spun the tree, dodging the heads as they passed and stopping to manipulate particular ones for specific songs and portions of the show. This tree gave Ogre the ability to highlight particular elements of imagery for certain moments and then return them to the spinning collective of painful imagery which haunted him throughout the show.

Ogre was consistently driven to use the virtual reality machine, perhaps to escape the tortures of life represented by the Tree of No Cares. As he continued to use the machine, Ogre was slowly transformed by it. He remerged with a new costume or prop element each time. This conception of transformation and fracturing of self ran throughout the show. Ogre first took the stage at the moment when his image on the backing film seemed to split. At this point his limbs were attached to his body, cocooned in plastic like a corpse pronounced dead. His arms painfully ripped themselves free in a bloody mess. His face was painted in two equal sides of solid black and white. As the show progressed, he pushed syringes and/or shards of broken mirror through hands and wrists and pulled organs from his torso. At times he seemed to be entranced by his own image on the screen behind him. Before Tin Omen, Ogre came onstage wearing some sort of belt that let him appear to tear pieces of his own flesh from his body. Before VX Gas Attack, he emerged as a mutated, hunched over creature wearing a gas mask and with an arm and face growing out of his back. The false arm was manipulated by Ogre's real hand and the screaming face was actually Ogre's own; it was made from a cast of his face. During Second Tooth, he slipped this costume halfway off, covering his head with the false-face while he sang. At the end of the song he tossed it aside, returning to his normal self. During Kiilling Game he shrouded himself in a blanket, performing the song partially hidden from the audience. Eventually the blanket became drenched with the stage blood which he was by now covered in. Other elements of the show touched upon a seeming disconnect from sexuality. At one point Ogre pulled a pornographic magazine from a hook on the tree and tore pages from it. During the penultimate song of the main set, Circustance, Ogre held up a crucifix on which two figures were engaged in sex. Eventually, blood poured from their bodies and dripped down his arm.

The most infamous element of the show was only present on stage for one song, the last of the main set. The Guiltman was the most elaborate and bizarre creation ever to appear in a Skinny Puppy show. Guiltman was a full-body suit that Ogre wore during Left Hand Shake that mixed drug and sexual imagery to create the monstrosity that the virtual reality helmet had ultimately transformed him into. Guiltman looked like a cross between the underground horror films that had always been part of the Puppy aesthetic and more outlandish monster movies, but with a slightly deranged edge. At the end of the song Ogre exited the suit from behind and his spectral silhouette appeared on screen as the final samples of Timothy Leary described "the billion year voyage". The band later returned to the stage for a propless encore.

The band held a special press-conference/ promotional mini-show before the tour kicked off. The performance was for press and invite-only guests and featured Ogre, Tim Gore, and William Morrison discussing the show before the band performed a segment of the set. A recording of their introduction can be heard below.

Click here for audio The introduction to the press-only show of May 20, 1992, featuring Ogre, Tim Gore, and William Morrison. Recorded and provided by Matt Kolata. File hosted by Scott Graham.

The tour took the band across North America (and included a stop in Hawaii). A European leg was planned (some posters even exist for certain dates), however Ogre injured his knee and it was cancelled, making the final stop at Chicago Skinny Puppy's last live performance ever before cEvin and Ogre reunited for Doomsday in 2000. A full tour itinerary can be found here.


Music and Songs

Amidst all the theatrics, it is easy to underplay the musical side of Puppy's live shows. The Last Rights tour, however, was one of the strongest musically of their career and should not be overlooked. cEvin had been playing more live drums during their shows on each successive tour. On TDP he played live drums almost exclusively throughout the entire show. This was continued on the the Last Rights tour. cEvin's drum kit should not be confused with the typical rock set up. A massive integration of electronic and acoustic drums, the drumosaurous became legendary and added a new and unique dimension to Puppy's live sound (listen to BF vol. 4 to hear some of cEvin's amazing work on it from the TDP tour). With cEvin playing only drums, Dwayne was responsible for all of the live keyboards, samples, etc. Early on they were apparently planing not to use backing tapes but to use a Roland SoundBrush to provide the prepared music from MIDI sequences. This idea seems to have been scratched and Puppy did use backing tapes for this tour (ones newly mixed by Dave Ogilvie), however they seem much sparser than those they'd used previously. Though bootleg audio may be distorting history here, it seems that on the Last Rights tour they pulled back on the dense meshes of sound and instead relied on a few main parts, both played live by Dwayne and on the backing tape, to give life to the songs. They sounded anything but thin, however. Between the drumosaurous, Dwayne's keys, the backing tape, Ogre's voice (which sounds less reliant on effects than on previous tours), and Rave manning the soundboard, Skinny Puppy had never sounded better. This is never more in evidence than in their Braps. They had always had sections of improvisation during their shows. This tour featured a number of sections of Brappage (some programmed for particular points in the show when Ogre needed to be offstage for a costume change). Dwayne often countered his singular melodic sensibilty on one hand with harsher sounds on the other, weaving inbetween cEvin's rhythms. Some of their Braps on this tour rank among their most incredible moments; it's a shame that so far none have been officially released.

The Last Rights tour also had a more comprehensive and varied setlist than Puppy usually offered. The set included five songs from the new album, including the missing tenth track which the audience heard for the first time live. Having played almost the entire TDP album on their previous tour, they included no songs from it in the regular set (Spasmolytic was sometimes included as an encore). They did perform a number of their standard 'classics', the songs which were singles and/or which they had previously performed live, such as Addiction, Harsh Stone White, and Worlock. Also included, however, were a few less well-known album tracks like Second Tooth (which had never before been performed live) and Anger. They only performed one song from before 1987, The Choke (though at a few shows they also performed Assimilate during the encore). This time around the song was given a new pounding drum beat during the choruses, a simple element that transformed the song. Another highlight was Circustance, the churning guitar and drum section of which was given a new dimension by cEvin and Dwayne's performance. The encore performance of Testure breathed new life into one of their trademark songs, including Ogre's new semi-improvised lyrical introduction which compared historical worship of animals such as Bast in Egypt with their modern day treatment. The final show of the tour saw Puppy come the closest that they ever have to performing a cover as Ogre intoned some of the lyrics from The End' by The Doors during the encore's Brappage.

Setlist:

 


Props, Make-up, and Costumes

 

A shot of various molded props drying.

 

A shot of various molded props drying.

Ogre's Make-up

Below is a design sketch for Ogre's make-up. I don't think this was ever planned to be something he'd wear onstage but was rather used in the backing film.

Tim Gore's design for Ogre's facial make-up.

Below are some shots of Ogre in facial make-up. I believe this was used in the backing film while Ogre's face is being attacked while in the V.R. machine. Note the mechanical / cyborg components along the jaw. Was the V.R. drug turning him into a machine?

Ogre's mutilated and bloody side.

 

More of Ogre in make-up.

Here's what Ogre's makeup looked like during the actual performance (though it wore off quickly). The split down the middle continues the theme of the fractured self carried throughout the show.

Ogre live.

Photo provided by Markus Siegert.

Mirror Glove

This glove would allow Ogre to give the appearance that shards of broken mirror were penetrating his arms and hands. Mirrors are a common motif for Ogre, having figured into his theatre since at least the Bites tour.

Tim Gore's sketch of Ogre's Mirror Glove, which seems to have been used in the show in a somewhat simpler form.

In practice, it's difficult to tell if the glove was brought to fruition. While it is clear that something is being pushed out of Ogre's forearms early in the show, that's about all one can see (at least on video). In photos these objects look more like syringes (which also show up on Ogre's extremities after his transformation into Guiltman).

A live shot that illustrates Ogre's basic costume, seemingly consisting of a lot of Saran-wrap. Note the syringe-looking object near his wrist.

Photographer unknown, please email me for credit.

The shot below, however, does seem to show him pushing the triangular mirror-like object through his wrist. Perhaps this element was changed during the course of the tour or both ideas were featured during the show.

Ogre live.

Photo provided by Markus Siegert.

Split Persona

Below is a shot of the prop Ogre wore to give the impression of a face and hand growing out of his back. He wore this while bent over and partially shrouded. This masked the fact that his real arm was manipulating a false limb, bringing this second fake Ogre to life.

Ogre's emerging twin as it is now. This was made from an actual mold of Ogre's real face. Note the hand trying to claw its way free. Photo contributed by the current owner.

 

A live shot of Ogre shedding his 'twin', the false arm dangling.

Photographer unknown, please email me for credit.

Cross

Below is the crucifix that Ogre held up during Cirustance and which seemingly bled spontaneously. Unfortunately my xerox eliminates most of the detail, but you can make out some of the figures.

This bleeding crucifix is adorned with two figures engaged in sex.

Here's a live shot of Ogre holding the prop from the Boston show.

Live photo from June 8th at the Avalon Ballroom in Boston. Image taken from http://www.brainwashed.com/malachai/skinnypuppy.html

 

Below is a great live shot of Dwayne at the keyboards. To the upper right you can see the crucifix, where it hung until Ogre grabbed it for Circustance.

Dwayne live. The TV monitor above him played a pre-recorded tape separate from the large backing film. This also apparently had an audio track which he was able to punch into during the show.

Photo provided by Markus Siegert.

 

The V.R. Machine

The V.R. machine consisted of a helmet and set of gloves hanging from a cable-covered swing set-esque armature. Perhaps coincidentally, this form mirrors Ogre's live percussion setup of the Bites tour.

The V.R. machine is set-up next to a barbecue.

 

Some guy in a Skinny Puppy shirt takes the V.R. machine for a test run.

 

A close-up of the helmet and gloves.

 

The Tree of No Cares

Below is a design sketch for the Tree of No Cares. Note the brain wired in to the top of the trunk and the tentacles at the base, neither apparently part of the final prop.

Tim Gore's sketch of the Tree of No Cares.

Below are some shots of Tree's sculpted trunk being painted. Note the faces screaming in agony and the scrawled words like 'vermin' and 'selfdissect'.

Below are some shots of the tree, unpainted, set up with the torture heads in a backyard. In the show, the tree was drapped with netting and had additional objects (like a severed human arm) hanging from it.

Whatever did the neighbors think?

Below are some shots of the Tree of No Cares taken during the shows.

A close-up of the Tree's base reveals the attention to detail paid to each of the agonized faces.

Photographer unknown, please email me for credit.

Torture Heads

Below is a sketch of a pair of heads to be hung from the Tree of No Cares. While I don't believe the one on the right was ever made, the one on the left, severed just beneath the eyes is one of the tour's most memorable and effective images.

Tim Gore's sketch of a pair of the Torture Heads to be hung from the tree limbs.

The above sketch becomes realized as the remarkably life-like Torture Head is shown below in production.

One of the torture heads comes to life.

 

I've got a headache...this big!

 

The early trials of laser eye surgery were less than successful.

 

The torture head gets its life-like paint job.

 

Ogre amidst the Torture Heads and a pornographic magazine.

Photo provided by Markus Siegert.

The Torture Head below, which evokes a melting or spectral creature, may have been an extension of an unused design for the Guiltman's head (see below). Note that the section of the body below the face is head-shaped and appears to have openings, allowing it to be used as a mask. I don't know if Ogre ever actually used this one as such during a show or not.

One of the torture heads in unpainted form.

The detail put into these props was extraordinary. Note the texture on this one's oversized tongue! These shots were taken in the garage in which many of the props were created. Note some of the film posters and model kits along the shelves.

Another torture head in unpainted form.

Below is a live shot of Ogre wearing one of the heads as a mask.

Live photo of Ogre wearing a torture head at the May 30th Detroit show.

Photo by Jennifer Jeffery from her collection here.

This torture head was often used during VX Gas Attack, for obvious reasons.

The gas mask torture head gets painted.

 

Detailed shot of the gas mask torture head provided by its current owner.

Guiltman

The Guiltman suit was a complex creation that evolved from a number of other ideas. The 'Infection suit' was an idea for a sculpted, full-body suit to be worn by Ogre. This suit never materialized, but the concept of such a prop became Guiltman. Guiltman also utilized some of the design concepts from this suit. It is unknown to me at what point during the show this suit would have been worn, but the concept of such a sludgy, mutated creature perhaps fits with the chemical warfare motif of VX Gas Attack.

Tim Gore's sketch for the 'Infection Suit', an idea that went unused but evolved into Guiltman.

The Syringe Spider was to be a full-size suit worn by Ogre, suspended from above. It was likely to take the place in the finale of the show that would be later held by Guiltman. Perhaps it was considered too difficult logistically to pull off. Many elements of the costume became part of the Guiltman, however.

Tim Gore's sketch for the 'Syringe Spider', an idea that went unused but evolved into Guiltman.

The Guiltman suit itself integrated both of the above ideas and more. Rather than an amorphous liquidy creature, the Guiltman resembled decaying flesh in monstrouous perverted shapes. In addition he was covered with such drug related imagery syringes (which were integrated into the form much like the Syringe Spider above), IV tubes, tourniquettes, and belts. Taking a motif from the spider, the Guiltman's shoulders are exagerrated and reach a peak well above his head. The sketch below also illustrates how the limbs of the Syringe Spider have now become phallic appendages while the center of the chest holds a gaping quasi-vaginal opening. The Guiltman also has words carved into his flesh much like the Tree of No Cares. The various religious symbols, blades, and other objects seen here (and planned to be removable) were largely absent from the final suit. The head of Guiltman seems to have undergone a number of transformations during its development. Here it is dominated by a giant toothed mouth with the flesh of the lips pulled back and held taught by hooks at the back of the head.

A detailed Tim Gore sketch for the Guiltman suit.

The sketch below illustrates the function of the hooks and adds the idea of shifting a facial feature below the mouth. In the end, the Guiltman's head would look much more human. Note the various gashes in the flesh that are sewn shut.

Tim Gore's sketch of the Guiltman's head in detail.

This detail-less sketch shows a side view of the suit. The phallic / spider leg extensions would largely be absent from the final, streamlined suit.

Tim Gore's Guiltman sketch, minus details.

This later sketch illustrate more changes that would be present in the final version. The phallic extensions are now largely replaced by droopy masses of flesh. The vaginal opening in the chest now has a wagging, serpentine tongue. The head has been completely changed into something which resembles a separate child-like mutated individual growing atop a mindless sludgy mouth. The basic form of this head is similar to, and may have inspired the design of, one of the Torture Heads (see above). Though this sketch is labeled 'Final Draft', the suit would still undergo more changes in its final realization.

Tim Gore's 'final' sketch of the Guiltman.

This sketch is the closest to the final suit. In fact, I'm not sure if this was a production sketch at all or something Tim created after building the suit. It was given to Mike Vinikour and published as the cover of his zine, Spontaneous Combustion.

Tim Gore drawing of Guiltman, used as the cover to Spontaneous Combustion Issue #14.

Contributed by Mike Vinikour

The best look at the final Guiltman comes from Screamer Magazine, which published the interview with Tim Gore below written by Heidi Lynne. Included is an extraordinarily detailed look at the Guiltman suit as well as a shot of Ogre receiving the body cast treatment. Included in the final suit are the chains, IV tubes, syringes, words carved in flesh, etc. discussed above all in a more streamlined and less cumbersome design. Not visible here are Guiltman's backwards-bending knees.

Here's some photos of some guy (whose name I've lost) modeling the front of the Guiltman suit partway through its construction.

Below is a group shot of the band taken on the tour by Sandra C. Davis that features the Guiltman.

From left to right: Dwayne, Ogre (holding a Torture Head), Guiltman (the quiet one), and cEvin. Guiltman later felt that SP was too restrictive for him and left to pursue a solo career.

Below is the Guiltman suit in action.

This live shot shows some nice detail, including the spider-limb projections on the lower right. Did these break off sometime during the tour?

Photographer unknown, please email me for credit.

 

Live photo from June 8th at the Avalon Ballroom in Boston. Image taken from http://www.brainwashed.com/malachai/skinnypuppy.html

 

Below are photos of the Guiltman suit in his final resting place. He seems to have lost his head sometime in the intervening years, but his singular personality remains intact.

Detailed shot of Guiltman as he is now. Photos provided by the current owner.
Current Guiltman close-up. Photos provided by the current owner.

 

Credits and Thank Yous

This page owes a great deal to a number of people including Kevin L. (who provided me with many of the sketches and images of the props years ago), Mike Vinikour, Scott Graham (for letting me co-opt things contributed to Litany for this page), Jennifer Jeffery (whose excellent photos of the Detroit show grace this page), the posters of the Boston shots, Markus Siegert, Andy Gowans, cQ, and many others. The sketches are of course the work of Tim Gore. He, along with a team of people whose names I unfortunately do not have to give credit to, created the props. The backing film is the work of Bill Morrison. And, of course, the whole presentation is the brainchild of Ogre and the music was created by cEvin Key, Dwayne Goettel, and Dave Ogilvie.

Many of the images above were contributed by (or taken from the sites of) people who I've lost contact with and therefore could not get permission from. I also could not get in touch with either Tim Gore, for permission to use his sketches, or the publishers of Screamer Magazine. Hopefully everyone will understand that this page was created for the fans in tribute to the tour and that I have no intention of stealing anyone's work. If you know the identity of any of the photographers whose work I have used here, please let me know.


This page last updated on Thursday, March 20, 2003
by Corey Goldberg