This post inaugurates an occasional series, PEOPLE OF MY LIFE, which will sporadically happen at Lesbrain. Through PEOPLE OF MY LIFE, I channel the dead, but still preeminent, oral historian Studs Terkel. I become
As Studs Gerbel, I talk people, people who are so ordinary they are extraordinary, into telling me about their lives. I pester them about the cool things they do so that the world can become as obsessed with them as I am.
A local entertainer with an amazeballs voice, it can do what sandpaper does, was my inaugural victim. Mind you, this lady also speaks, almost exclusively, in deadpan.
Nag Em clopped over to our home hauling some beer and a queer. After kicking off her giant shoes, she and her gay sidekick nestled into our living room couch, readying to partake in the season premiere of Glee. People in her line of work love Glee.
We plied ourselves with alcohol and lotion,
(well, when it came to me, just lotion), loosened up for the show,
and got oral with our stories.
Studs Gerbel: Nag Em, I’m gonna interview you.
Nag Em MacDeviant: Okay.
SG: Alright. Let’s get the most important thing on the table. You are a female clown, so, I have to ask, does your flower squirt?
Nag Em MacDeviant: It does. It blows confetti, too.
SG: I find people who are from the Midwest and the East Coast very exotic. If I correctly recall, you migrated here, to Wrong Beach, from one of these regions. Remind me, which one are you from and how would you characterize it?
NEM: I’m from Ohio. It’s blue-collar, low-class, white trash glory.
SG: In the movie Goodfellas, Joe Pesci’s character goes berserk when he believes people are finding him “funny.” You, however, live for this. How did you get into doing what you do? Describe your work.
NEM: My clowning is built into the punk community.
I dance with the Yeastie Boys, which started a year ago. Yeastie Boys is a super clown band, made up of clowns from different bands. They do fun covers of punk songs and make them circusy. When I first moved into town and heard about these clowns, I instantly decided I had to meet them. They engage in many antics. Now, as for me, I serve as the clown of crowd control. When I’m on stage, I provoke the audience. When I’m off stage, I make sure everyone is decent but rowdy. I make sure the guys in the band are getting nailed by beach balls. I stoke the mosh pit. There’s an attitude. I’m not a typical clown. Its not all oversized shoes and one-piece suits.
SG: Why do you think so many people suffer from clown phobia?
NEM: I myself suffered from clown phobia pretty badly. I was at the state fair, and there was a clown working the dunk tank. He riled up the audience, and he was mean and hurtful, and he told my brother that if he didn’t play, he was going to put his Ninja Turtles in the microwave. I hid, and he yelled, “I CAN SEE YOU, LITTLE GIRL! YOU’RE RIGHT BEHIND THAT TELEPHONE POLE!”
Then, there’s this other part of clowns. They’re supposed to spread good cheer, but they’re almost too cheerful. (Nag Em giggles and smiles too hard, perfectly demonstrating a horrific state of cheerfulness.) And let’s not forget Pennywise. We’ve terrified people at our shows. They run and scream the other way.
SG: If I clowned like you did, I’d fear clown bashing. When I say clown bashing, what comes to mind?
NEM: Random people giving you shit. I’ve never dealt with anything like that. People either laugh or are confused. There are places where I’m tentative to clown but its never come down to clown bashing.
SG: Well, I must share my imaginings when it comes to clown bashing. When I think of clown bashing, I see an innocent merrymaker on his way to work. He’s clomping up the street when a gang of anti-clowns besets him, holds him down, and brushes the curl from his hair. One yanks off his jolly red nose and tosses it in the bushes. Another basher pulls a hacksaw from his pocket and takes it to the clown’s shoes. He cuts them down to normal size.
(Nag Em is giggling and smiling too hard, demonstrating horrific cheerfulness. I think she’s frightened.)
NEM: That reminds me, we have an ongoing feud with mimes.
(I cannot believe the things I’m learning. Oral history is so astonishingly powerful.)
We had a mime/clown-off in front of Fern’s Cocktails. We strolled up, and the mimes were there, (Nag Em scoffs the next word) pretending. They think they’re doing performance art, so, they’ll pick a song and in their mimey way, perform it. From across the bar, it was on. Fortunately, though, things didn’t get too out of hand. I’m a liaison. I know all the mimes, and I know all the clowns.
There’s something that needs to be noted here. The punk scene in this area is very performative. Like, take the Radioactive Chicken Heads. They dress up as giant vegetables and poultry. And they were on Tyra. There’s also Desperation Squad. They get tortillas thrown at them. Donuts, too. Perfomance art is really taking off. (I don’t think Nag Em intended the pun.)
SG: How long do you plan on clowning?
NEM: For as long as I can, but I don’t think I’d do it outside the band. I guess, as long as I’m with the band.
SG: If you were to convert others to female clowning, how would you go about indoctrinating them? Is there a manual? Can clowns read?
NEM: Clowning can’t be learned from a book. First, the potential clown would have to be exposed to a show to know what they’re in for. They’d need to meet the band. A clown needs to meet the people they are representing. Otherwise, a clown is like a soldier who doesn’t know what she’s fighting for.
SG: What advice to have to aspiring clowns?
NEM: Drink hard. Fight hard. Clown hard.