Hello Lizardman. Iím going to start off this interview by first
asking, what is probably on everyoneís mind; When did you first
start your performing career?
A. The first thing I
ever did, I think was the first thing I ever performed, and would
probably technically be
sideshow. I did a mailbag escape for a troupe of cub scouts when I
was nine or ten years old. I had some goofy book on magic, from
Scholastic Press, that gave me a way to do it. I fell over inside
the bag and the screen I had got knocked to the side. It still
overall went very well. It was well received. Then there was a
break of a few years, but in junior high and middle school I got
into juggling and those things. I was very active in the
traditional theater, you know, the school plays. I actually wrote
two plays that were performed at my school, my junior and senior
year. Variety shows, plays and things like that and when I got to
college I was doing community theater and stuff like that. And it
was about my about senior year in high school and my freshman year
in college I was doing stuff like that but I was also picking up
the weird sideshow stuff.
I taught myself to eat and breathe
fire and started working that into anything I could. Whether
outside the theater or trying to find some place like, ďHey Could
There Be Someone Eating Fire In This Crowd ThemeĒ in the play? And
then I was doing more and more stuff while I was studying
performance art in college from í90 to í94 and I was doing things
like engraving words onto nails and pounding them into my mind
with the blockhead act, to try and do gallery art work. Also in my
weird hobbies and stuff I was doing things like sleep depravation,
and fasting, and I wanted to lie on beds of nails just to lie on
beds of nails. They werenít performance things for me initially
and then they worked their way into my performance art and my
performance art became more and more sideshow oriented until it
became what it is. Basically what I do now is 99% of the time as
an artist is perform in the modern day sideshow. With sort of
stand up comedy and improv, mixed in with difficult stunts.
So, how did "The Lizardman" come about?
A. Dumb personal
esthetic choice. I knew when I was looking at stuff like
piercings and tattooing, I knew there were things I wanted to do.
Like, I was already sticking needles in myself basically just for
fun, just to see if I could handle it, which was the beginning
stages of being a pincushion. It didnít start off as performance
art. It was more like, ďHuh, this guy has skewers through his arm.
I wonder what thatís like.Ē Then Iíd do it and it was like, ďOK,
itís like thatÖĒ
But when I started looking at
tattooing, I came across Japanese tattooing very early and I knew
if I was going to get tattooed, I was going to get one big tattoo.
And I was looking at people like The Great Omi
and I knew I had to have a
theme. I looked into a lot of things, like I considered having a
full body maze done. I considered words, making a story. I
considered a bunch of circles with different images in each one
for individualized polka dots. I thought about pin striping. I
thought about custom flames all over my body. Ultimately I settled
on a lizard because all the other stuff I wanted to do like filing
my teeth, and then when I was able to figure out how to fork my
tongue it sort of started it all. I thought that I could kind of
bring everything together, into a whole, with this reptilian
theme. And I like green and I thought scales would be a good way
to cover a lot of space on my body in between designs.
Is this when you also decided on the subdermal implants? (horned
ridges above his eyes)
Yeah, the implants came later on too. When I first started
designing and thinking about this, back in í90 or í91, there were
NO subdermal implants. But Steve Hayward comes along in the early
to mid nineties, and Iím looking at the work heís doing and Iím
thinking, just like I do with any body modification like branding
or scarification (which just didnít seem to fit into my theme), I
was thinking, ďWell, I could get implants, but where would I get
them?Ē Then I thought about what you could do technically and I
thought I could get horned ridges above my eyes. So I was able to
get a hold of him and he put horned ridges into my face.
Where do you see the future of The Lizardman going?
Well, once Iím finished with earth, probably move on to colonize
some of the outer rings of the universe. Just kidding, seriously
though, we are right now in the beginning stages of the production
of a DVD, which will
large-scale stunts and acts but with more of a sketch comedy sort
of thing to it. It should be, hopefully all together for early
2005. Weíll have it available for sale and order. Thatís one of
the big projects right now. The rest of it is just inventing acts
working on a few new larger scale escapes, but right now weíre
building up the whole Dr. Grift character (Lizardmanís assistant).
Changing the show to be more centered around the idea of Lizardman
as himself, but still Lizardman in character during a show when
weíre on stage and the character of The Amazing Dr. Grift and the
interplay between them. So thatís really only something weíve
added, in terms of Griftís character, so weíre still very much in
the beginning stages of trying to figure out how to exploit it and
use it for the best effect in the show. Finding those little
additional one liners and throw in some bad doctor jokes in there,
and see which ones I can turn into stunts.
Do you consider yourself to be The Lizardman, or do you keep that
separate as a character on stage? Obviously you have to be
Lizardman, because of how you look, but is there any difference
between the Lizardman on stage and off?
The only real difference between Lizardman on stage and who I am
normally, because I donít really care what name Iím referred to
as, is that I am Lizardman, but when Iím Lizardman on stage itís
turned up to a much higher level. So itís like just a concentrated
dose of one part of the person that makes up who I am.
Where do you see the future of the sideshow going? Do you think
the classic sideshow will ever come back to the carnival midways
to be what it once was?
On a carnival midway, because of the problems of competing with
rides and things like that, I donít think youíll ever see what it
was historically, on a carnival midway. Thereís still a buck to be
made if people want to go out and do it that way, but youíre
better off I think with a sort of museum show. A lot of people are
willing to pay fifty cents to see something weird, but when you
get into the up keep of having all those performers to put on a
good show, it gets hard. You know, you pay a buck, you go in, you
see a stuffed monkey or whatever like that, and youíll feel fine.
But the cost to have a full cast of performers there, youíll have
to start charging people like five and ten bucks to get in and if
you donít give them a really kick ass show theyíre going to
rightfully think, ďI just paid five (or ten) bucks for what?Ē as
opposed to a dollar for seeing the stuffed monkey.
now I think with all the overhead of having live acts, I really
donít think anyone should be looking to do it now. I know people
have told me theyíve done it years ago and I ask them why they
want to go back to it. Not that it was bad or anything like that,
but everything changes and evolves. Historically, itís already
happened. The spit has already occurred. This is what live acts,
and performers, and variety entertainers do now and this is what
the carnival is now.
jam it down someoneís throat to make them go back to something
that most people today donít even know of anymore, is very counter
productive in a business sense, Ďcuz itís kind of silly. Yet
people still want to see the acts. They still want to see the
entertainment the sideshow provides, but theyíre not even looking
for it at a carnival anymore. I mean, everybody knows that
association, but most people want to go to the carnival and buy
their ticket and ride their ride, but they donít want to give out
more than five bucks out of their pocket for something like that
anymore. Theyíll come out to the comedy clubs, the punk club, the
rock club or what have you. Theyíll come out to a legitimate
theater and pay the ticket price. Itís like magicians. They used
to be part of the circus sideshow but at one point they knew to
leave that part of them behind and go into the larger theaters,
playing to larger crowds, for a higher ticket price.
me wrong...Iím astounded. I love the history of it. But I also
think from a business standpoint that youíve got to learn to adapt
and evolve. The problem as I see it is a good performer deserves
more than minimum wage, and with all of the overhead and lot costs
and insurance and everything on a carnival midway, you just canít
afford to pay a performer more than minimum wage. But as being a
performer, all I can really say is that like all other sacrifices
you make in your life, you can only do it if you love it. And if
you love it enough and love the idea of doing it, like the
carnival sideshow, you can go and do it as a love.
Have you ever sustained any severe injuries while performing?
Iíve never been hospitalized. Itís almost like the old sports
saying, ďI was hurt, never injured.Ē I was still good to play in
the game. Back in í99, out with Godsmack, the day before our first
day, our rehearsal date, I almost tore my ear lobes off. Thatís
why I have two almost inch long scars that go up into the
cartilage. But being that the show must go on, I super glued my
ear lobes together every night until they healed which took about
six weeks after the tour ended. Which it was stupid to do that,
because I would go out on stage every night and rip open the super
glue open that I used to put them back together. And then finally
after the tour was over, I had enough time off that I could rest
and let them heal back up.
Besides your appearance, is their anything else that is unique to
only your show?
I donít think there was anybody doing the pierced weight lifting
with full helicopter spins like I was doing back in í93, í94.
Thereís the blockhead blow gun that I invented, and I donít think
anyone else has picked up
started doing yet. I donít know that anyone has pulled a car with
their ears yet and I did that a couple weeks ago. I know Nippulini
has done it with his nipples, but I donít think anyone has done it
with their ears. Like I know people have done the Gavage before me
and done it after me, but I think Iím the only person whoís doing
the Gavage 100 or more times a year. Like thatís the most
technically involved of all the acts I do. I donít think itís
particularly dangerous to do. Itís just an all day affair.
Thank you very much for your time. Do you have any final thoughts
that youíd like to share about your show or the sideshow in
My final thought? My Jerry Springer final thought? Jeez, I donít
OK, what would you like people to take with them as they walk away
from your show?
A Lizardman T-shirt! For one low, low price, available online,
shipping included. Iíd like to be remembered after the show. Not
after Iím dead. If someone wants to remember me after Iím dead, I
donít give a damnÖ Iím dead. Ha, Ha, Ha! Seriously though, after
the show I want people to walk away thinking, ďI had a really good
time.Ē I want them to be happy that they spent the last hour of
their lives hanging out and watching me do dumb things to myself.
Interview by Ses Carny. Conducted
Each month we will try and
interview a new performer for the site. Because of the logistics
of it face to face interviews are tough to come by. A good
percentage of the interviews we will be doing will be via e-mail
or telephone. If you are interested in being interviewed for the
drop us a line.