Nowadays, the Outhouse is a BYOB strip club in the middle of a cornfield east of Lawrence. But every hardcore Midwest punk worth his weight in Doc Martens knows the joint's true identity: a legendary music venue where underground '80s acts like Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, Fugazi and the Descendents all played. Brad Norman, a film student and former bassist for the Sex Offenders, announced a new project this summer called The Outhouse: The Film 1985-1998.
"The Outhouse was a place where you really felt like you belonged," Norman says. "And it really had a national appeal. I've been booking shows since I was 20, and whenever I book a band like Agent Orange or the Zero Boys, they're always curious about what happened to the Outhouse. I think people need to know about the place. I think it's a great topic for a documentary."
Norman's been soliciting footage and fliers from "the bands, the people who attended the shows, the neighbors, the cops, all involved." This weekend, he's soliciting stories at RecordBar on Saturday (from 1 to 9 p.m., capped with a performance by Ultraman) and at the Jackpot Music Hall Sunday (from noon to 6 p.m.). He'll be filming private interviews in the basements of both venues.
"We want to hear from anybody who thinks their Outhouse story is so good that it belongs in a movie, you know?" Norman says. "And definitely we're going to get people who are full of shit, but we'll also get some true stories from people who were really there, from people we like and who we remember. We couldn't make a movie like this without it being a tribute to the fans. I was at Kinko's working on some posters the other day, and the guy behind the counter saw they were Outhouse posters and started talking about how he'd been out there one night, and there was this big bonfire, and people were chucking Bibles into the bonfire. That's the type of stuff we're looking for."
Norman's also been aggressively tracking down national bands that played the Outhouse back in the day. So far, he has completed interviews with Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds), Tesco Vee (the Meatmen) and Joey "Shithead" Keithley (D.O.A.). Later this month, he's traveling to Washington, D.C., to talk to Fugazi's Ian MacKaye. "Almost everyone we've talked to remembers the Outhouse," he says. "It's a pretty hard place to forget."