Mondo Vanilli: RU Sirius's 1993 album for Trent Reznor's label

In 1993, cyberculture prankster/provocateur/publisher RU Sirius, founder of Mondo 2000 magazine, composer Scrappi DuChamp, and performance artist Simone Third Arm, recorded an album for Trent Reznor's record label. They had met at Reznor's Los Angeles rental home, the house where the Manson Family killed Sharon Tate and others. Tim Leary had brought RU along to a housewarming party there and RU gave Reznor a demo tape of his band, called Mondo Vanilli. Reznor quickly signed the band to his then-nascent Nothing Records. Unfortunately, this great work of curious and quirky synth-industrial-pop, titled "IOU Babe," never made it to the record stores. Almost two decades later, Mondo Vanilli has officially released "IOU Babe" for free online. A CD with bonus material is coming shortly.

I was lucky enough to catch a Mondo Vanilli concert at a San Francisco art gallery and I can assure you that it was as absurd as one might expect. RU, wrapped in Christmas lights, was spinning on a rotating gurney of some kind. Simone was mostly frozen in a strange Butoh-esque dance. And Scrappi operated the audio, and also a blender on a pedestal. Ah, those were the daze. From an interview about Mondo Vanilli at The Unheard Music:

 Files 21 56 2156799806-1 I’m sitting outside at a coffee shop one morning reading the local newspaper and there’s a big fuss being made about Milli Vanilli. Their Grammy award had been rescinded because they had been caught lip-synching at their performances. To my Virtual Reality-bent brain, this demand for authenticity seemed completely ludicrous. First of all, this was obviously a prefabricated band making the most absolutely crappy, bland corporate music imaginable, so why did they get a Grammy in the first place... and who fucking cares if they lip-synched?

So I had the concept right then and there, Mondo Vanilli, a Virtual Reality band that would proudly lip-synch, or maybe not even pretend to play live music on stage, perhaps we would exist totally in Virtuality, or else we would do other, more original types of performance to our music. Wasn’t a bunch of guys standing around with guitars or synths a really boring old cliché, even if you had a theatrical front man or woman?

Anyway, I’d remained friends with Dave and he agreed to embark on another project. Neither of us really knew exactly what we were going to do… how this notion of a Virtual Reality band should be realized, but I had a bunch of old song lyrics laying around and some songs I’d done with an earlier band, Party Dogs, that seemed futuristic when I wrote them back in 1980 but seemed contemporary now so we decided to record a bunch of songs under the title Read My Lips. This was, of course, a reference to a George H.W. Bush campaign promise that he had just broken, so we were already playing with this notion of falseness on multiple levels just with the title and the band name.

Mondo Vanilli: "IOU Babe" (SoundCloud)

Mondo Vanilli: "IOU Babe" (Internet Archive)

Mondo Vanilli: "IOU Babe" (Pirate Bay)

"R.U. Sirius on Mondo Vanilli and music" (The Unheard Music)


  1. Is it bad that I completely lost interest in this story once I realized that RU Sirius is not Yahoo Serious?

  2. IIRC, Milli Vanilli wasn’t busted just because they were lip-syncing at live performances, it was because they were complete fakes.

    1. @grimc Both, really. They were exposed when a vocal track went bad during a live performance, and started to skip, and the video of it became public. From there, it was just a short time until the real singers started coming out and taking credit. (I think.)

      1. That’s how I remember it, too!
        Then the producer (who had really caused the whole farce by hiring two pretty dances to front for the band) kicked out the front men and rebooted the act as “The Real Milli Vanilli”…

  3. I, too, saw an R.U. Sirius performance in San Francisco in 1993. It was in a gallery on Divisadero near the Lower Haight, IIRC; I know I walked to it from my nasty little heat-free apartment across the street from Noc Noc. It was my first week in San Francisco.

    I don’t know if it was a Mondo Vanilli performance, since Sirius was the only name/face I recognized, but it was a trio of him, another man, and a woman, so chances are good.

    Here is where our “concert” experiences diverge wildly. I think the second guy was singing, or yelling, or something, but it’s a blur compared to what I vividly remember: R.U. Sirius sitting in a crib, clad only in a diaper, smearing chocolate “poop” all over himself and crying for his mama. “Mama,” meanwhile, had removed her pants and was plucking hardboiled eggs out of an Easter basket, inserting them into her vagina, and then “laying” them on a plate outside the crib.

    I witnessed this in silent awe, standing no more than 5 feet away from the players in this narrow little shotgun-apartment gallery with maybe 15 other young confused hipsters, for 20 or 30 minutes. When things looked like they were about to take a turn towards “audience participation,” however, I quietly but willfully made a beeline for the exit.

    It HAD to have been a prank performance, a spoof on the grand folly of bad performance art, because otherwise, if it was sincere, it was the wankiest pile of poo I’ve ever witnessed. But at least it gave me a great “And that’s when I realized I was truly in San Francisco” story.

      1. Hey Quiet Wyatt… I want to use your story in the Mondo 2000 History Project book, ok?


  4. I as a big fan of R.U. Serious’ and St. Jude Milhon’s book “How to Mutate and Take Over the World” which my Dad bought for me as a teen along with Plastikman’s “Sheet One”… Come to think of it, Dad also bought the “Whacked Mac Archives” for me as a kid….

    He can’t complain when I’m arrested for hacking or civil disobedience. His fault!


  5. Anyone who samples Can is cool by me. Sadly, most industrial pop I listened to in my teenage years sounds pretty dated today.

  6. As a young ‘Mondo 2000’/RU Sirius fan, who came to love all things Mondo in 2001 long after they were gone, I have to say that this is just awesome. It makes me happy in a way I haven’t felt since mid-adolescence. The Nineties were a better time.

  7. It’s worth pointing out that “IOU Babe” is not available for free, but for $5.

  8. @Anon, it was free earlier. They just recently must have started charging based on all the sudden interest.

  9. Hi,

    Im Link C, and Ive been assisting Mondo Vanilli with this release…Bandcamp only provides 200 downloads for free, after that we have to purchase more download credits or the system charges listeners for the download…Im just waiting to hear back from RU on how to proceed with this, we were not expecting such an overwhelming response…Many folks have already purchased the album, and we thank you so much for the support! Were working on getting it free again, hopefully within the next couple of hours! Until then, please enjoy the record…

  10. Woohoo!

    I emailed RU and asked if this was available anywhere about a month ago.

    So glad it’s online again, and finally getting a CD release.

    Anon – Even the internet archive doesn’t have Skippy DuChamp’s old download site for the album. Yeah I’m part of the sudden interest. The system works. ;-)

  11. Looks like theres already a seed up on the Pirate Bay…thats one way to get the album..I just searched ‘Mondo Vanilli’, came right up

  12. soo, was the cover done by Bart Nagel?
    he is also a wonderful thing.

    R.U. Sirius for President

  13. OK, at RU’s request (and thanks to Link C), the whole shebang is now on Soundcloud, Pirate Bay, and also the Internet Archive. Free MV for all eternity! Baby, take off your pants! Baby, take off your underpants! Thanx!

  14. Trent Reznor did something similar to Jane’s Addiction a few years ago. He’s your best friend until you do something he doesn’t like or he gets bored.

Comments are closed.