Performance artist Cristofer Lix talks and sings about living with AIDS.

As Lix acknowledges, most of the pieces in Papal Smear "revolved around AIDS and the Catholic Church." The latter institution is one he knows well. He was raised as a Catholic and speaks with profound respect about Sister Ann, a nun who has been like a grandmother to him. ("I admire her so much for her convictions, the way she's lived her life, the way she treats people, the way she looks at the world," he says. "It'd be nice to be that strong a person someday.") But his sexual preference put him at odds with the sect's teachings. Eventually, both his parents left the Church; Lix quotes his father as saying, "I can't do it anymore. I can't go listen to what they have to say, because I look at you being my son and I know that it's not wrong that you're gay."

Nonetheless, Lix differentiates between what he sees as the church's evil and the message of Christianity. "'Smear' has been tricky, because I'm not anti-Christian," he insists. "The true nature of Christianity and whoever this Christ/ myth/person was talking about was pretty decent. But it's become such a fucking mess--all about control and power. I've seen so many people damaged, hurt and dead because of what comes down from the Pope and the Church."

Not all of Lix's current project concerns itself specifically with Catholicism, however. An especially strong portion, adapted from a piece Lix conceived in collaboration with Tim Miller (one of four artists targeted by Jesse Helms during his infamous attack on the National Endowment for the Arts), finds the performer describing a march on Washington in a narrative style so honed that each detail seems pivotal, loaded. His storytelling holds one hostage, and his physicalization of his feelings goes well beyond the approximations of a skilled Method actor. "It's hard to re-experience those emotions," he admits. "But I need to do this in order to progress even further. I need to bring these things back up again and play them out for people.

"So much of it is so heavy and intense, but that's what I went through. A lot of it has not been easy and a lot has not been happy. But I'm at a point where I'm happy to be alive. I'm pulling people through a lot of intense emotions, but I'd like for them to come out of the show feeling like there's hope and things are changing and can be better. It's been six years and I'm doing fucking great."

Concave Pregnancy, by Cristofer Lix. 7 p.m. Saturday, May 25, May 31, June 1, June 7 and June 8, Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, $5, 294-9281. The June 8 performance is a benefit for the Colorado AIDS Project.

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