Reverend Billy (William Talen) – Air date: 09-20-99

REV. BILLY (Originally aired: 09-20-99 ! – (as the now famous good reverend was revving up). The Church of Stop Shopping is an activist performance group based in New York City, led by Reverend Billy, the stage name of Bill Talen. Using the form of a revival meeting, on sidewalks and in chain stores, Reverend Billy and his gospel choir exhort consumers to abandon the products of large corporations and mass media; the group also preaches a broader message of economic justice, environmental protection, and anti-militarism, protesting sweatshops and the Iraq War. Though it continues its street theatre activities, the Church has also appeared on stage and has toured internationally. Bill Talen was a Dutch Calvinist Minnesota-born actor who moved to New York from San Francisco in the late 1990s, where he had originally created a character that was a hybrid of street preacher and televangelist called Reverend Billy. This character was performed in various San Francisco alternative theater venues, where Talen had earned a considerable reputation as both a performer and a producer (Life On The Water theater, the Solo Mio Festival, Writers Who Act, etc.). In New York, Talen began appearing as Reverend Billy on street corners in Times Square, near the recently opened Disney Store. Times Square had recently begun its transformation from a seedy but lively center of small-time and sometimes illicit commerce—and also of New York theatre—to a more gentrified and tourist-friendly venue

Reverend Billy & RMO | NYC @ Union Square | Nov 28 2008

For an indexed overview of all un:ART:ig recordings please refer to Buy Nothing Day Join the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, a response to the overconsumerism promoted by the retail industry of Black Friday. Liberate your inner shopaholic from the excesses of holiday consumption and come boogie down instead. The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year to some, but since 1997 it’s also Buy Nothing Day, a chance to escape the packed malls and aggressive advertising. So give your credit card a rest and put your rhythm to work by joining Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping for a free dance party at Union Square. Receive a special blessing (or exorcism) from the Rev for a Debt-Free Christmas. Music makers and holiday costumes encouraged, all ages welcome. On Saturday you’ll be singing Last Night a DJ Saved My Mortgage. Union Square Broadway and 14th Street, Manhattan 3p; $ free
Video Rating: 4 / 5