University of Michigan Press author Bill Talen presented his unique brand of evangelism last week at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC. Previewing the event, where Talen discussed his Reverend Billy persona and recent book, The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping, the Washington Post's free daily Express looked at Talen's history as a performer.
"Reverend Billy has hair so high it practically touches heaven," the Express article begins. "He wears a white suit and a collar that marks him as a man of God." But the sins Reverend Billy preaches against are not the usual fare, but rather the modern trangressions of rampant consumerism and corporate malfeasance. Talen, as Reverend Billy, has been active in the Occupy protests and has staged demonstrations in malls, bank lobbies, Starbucks outlets, and other locations where the presence of a sizable choir singing gospel music and chanting slogans are likely to have their message amplified. Reverend Billy's shows are "part worship service, political rally and performance art," Express says, representing a "satiric continuation of the tradition of oration and preaching in America."
The Reverend Billy Project is available now, and be on the lookout for the Elvis-haired preacher at a venue near you.