As a filmmaker, author, comics collaborator, tarot enthusiast and visionary, Alejandro Jodorowsky earned his status as a cult figure many times over, predominantly for such cinematic head-scratchers as El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre. On the local level, he’s also a major influence on members of Denver’s techno-marching band Itchy-O, whose members are cult figures in their own right.
“Many of us are in love with his work and have been inspired by his films and comics and books for a long time,” explains an anonymous Itchy-O spokesperson. “Even now, a lot of people catch the Jodorowsky reference in the new hats we incorporated into our show a couple of years ago.”
He speaks to "our own deep connections and affinity to esoteric and occult symbolism that we share with Master Jodorowsky,” the spokesperson continues. “We owe a lot to him as a true mystic and avant-garde pioneer. He’s a world-renowned psycho-magician, and he’s been into tarot since he was a young man. Tarot appears in many of his movies." And for those reasons, plus a modicum of pure love, they’ve decided to honor Jodorowsky on his 89th birthday with a shower of handmade tarot cards depicting his numerical birth card, The Emperor.
Jodorowsky’s fervor for the tarot led him to not only build one of the most complete collections in the world, but to also help restore the sixteenth-century Tarot de Marseille, a Rosetta Stone in the development of future decks. With that in mind — as a living, breathing performing Gestalt creature energized by Jodorowsky’s inner world — Itchy-O collectively wants to tap the master’s affinity for the cards as a way to connect with him on what will be his 89th birthday. “This is a sweet affair,” the spokesperson says. “It’s not about us. It’s about honoring one of our heroes."
How can you help? Create an Emperor tarot card of approximate standard size (about five inches by seven inches) in any 2-D medium. The Emperor essentially symbolizes an archetypal leader, but before you start, you can bone up on the card’s characteristics online. (Key symbols include a crown, a beard, the number four repeated in crossed legs, a scepter with an orb emblazoned by a Maltese cross, a throne, and a shield with an eagle.) “You do not have to be any sort of great artist,” promises Itchy-O’s unnamed representative. “You can do it on the back of a napkin… .”
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Send your finished card to Itchy-O by the January 31 deadline at Itchy-O, P.O. Box 9201, Denver, CO 80209, or drop it off in person at Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing, 56 Broadway in the Baker neighborhood. Itchy-O will collect all entries received by the cut-off date and send them in a package to Jodorowsky in time for his birthday on February 17. Objective? Feeling good about having lavished some attention on an 89-year-old legend.
Then you can return the favor by catching Itchy-O on Saturday, May 5, at 9 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. Tickets will be $25 in advance or $30 at the door; watch Itchy-O's Facebook page and the Oriental Theater online for updates.