Who is this man, this beast, this Red Bastard? He is not – to reassure readers of a certain age – Joe Stalin, back from the dead. Nor is he Christopher Hitchens, who some consider a well-read bastard. He is, instead, a roly-poly anti-clown, as red as a fire-truck, a provocateur, a confronter, a producer of surprise barks of laughter.
Who is the provoked, the confronted, the barker? You, apparently.
It’s hard to categorize Red Bastard, but he seems like a modern incarnation of the ancient Court Jester, who wise Kings engaged to deflate their egos, which would otherwise swell to room size under the force of relentless flattery. Those Jesters would be kept on the royal payroll, but you can see the Red Bastard for twenty bucks at the Warehouse starting Thurs, January 13th.
Eric Davis has toured the world as Red Bastard, earning impressive accolades from hard-to-impress sources. The Toronto Sun called him “New York’s Clown Prince” while the New York Times said he was “Very Very Funny.” They loved him in Australia, where Adelaide Now called him “Deranged and Deadly Funny” and in Ireland, where Irish Theatre Magazine called him “One Funny Son of a Bitch.” He is a founder and Director of the New York Clown Theatre festival, and last year won New York’s Golden Nose Award for Clown of the Year. After his limited-run show in Washington ends, he will be joining Cirque du Soleil’s Hollywood production of Iris as – wait for it – the clown.
Red Bastard moves fast for a man of his bulk, so we caught up with him electronically and asked him ten questions:
DCTS: So I’ve been reading some of your reviews. The Gothamist said “we laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe” and “The Red Bastard killed them all over town.” nyconstage.com said you were a “knockout”. Carmen Pelaez said “I guffawed until my face hurt.” So our question is — are you dangerous? Do you hurt people?
Red Bastard: Am I dangerous? Maybe… That’s open for interpretation Have I killed anyone? No. A handful of people have told me they literally peed in their pants. I think that’s the extent to the damage I’ve done. In the end I would say that you are more likely to be hurt by yourself than by Red Bastard. I’m a good listener. I know where the line is.
Your personal motto appears to be that something interesting must happen every ten seconds. You’re in Washington now. How can you possibly make interesting things happen here?
The show won’t be about D.C. politics. It’s going to be about “Who the hell do you think you are?!” You are more interesting than you think. Unless you think you’re very interesting, in which case, you are probably not.
Red Bastard has an unusual configuration. How did he get so large and round? And red?
Red Bastard has a body that is even more fun to move in than my own. I am quite slender, so it’s a delight for me to be curvy and voluptuous. It brings out the sensuous side in me. The red side.
Your shows are known for audience participation. What kind of people do you like to bring into your presentations?
It depends on what I want to do with you! Honestly, just be yourself. It takes all kinds doesn’t it?
What sort of people should probably avoid the show?
Well, this show is for everybody in a way. (Whether they like it or not!) Though I do put a restriction of adults only. Let’s just say the repressed person will have a different experience than the liberated person. Both could be fantastic and rewarding.
There are, of course, many political celebrities in DC. Are there any you would like to bring on stage?
Here’s the real question in my mind: Which D.C. celebrity is going to show with a stretch limo and a wad of taxpayer’s hard earned cash?! I challenge every politician in D.C. to see who can show Red Bastard the night of his life. Lets kick it like a Kennedy! Gargle and Spitzer! Party with Rangel. Grope like a Gore. Laundry with Delay? Get pissed and take a late night wiki-leak on the White House. Come out D.C.! Show your true nature!
You’ve been touring with your show for a couple of years now, and you’ve been to Europe and the States. What have you learned about your audiences on the tour?
There are 3 kinds of people. Those who love a Red Bastard show, those who hate a Red Bastard show and those who have not seen a Red Bastard show. You leave the show and you know something about yourself.
Has Red Bastard evolved during the tour?
To my surprise, I have traveled two roads at once. I am at the same time, kinder and more strict. Quicker and yet I take more time. I am a more studied manipulator, though I reveal a deeper vulnerability. Stupider and …uhm… Less…stupider..er?
Eric, tell us about your background and career, and how the idea to become Red Bastard occurred to you. And why give it up now for Hollywood?
I came from a small town in Kansas without a stoplight. I can be shy and try to be diplomatic in my day to day life. Red Bastard is my shadow self. It can be a great joy to release your inner kraken. I was heavily influenced by Sue Morrison and Philippe Gaulier. Both are clown and Bouffon teachers. My show uses all of my influences in some way or another. Movement, improvisation, dance, connecting and conversing with the audience, writing, physical theater training. It is at times philosophical. It can also be spiritual, intimate, socially political, or psychological. Why Hollywood? Because I’m a whore. A dirty, filthy, money grubbing whore.
So, ultimately, is Red Bastard an agent of chaos? Is he in the Dadaist tradition? Or is he leading us somewhere?
The perfect Red Bastard is a splendid blend of whore, fascist and anarchist. The whore is an entertainer. The fascist has an agenda and the anarchist creates delightful and freeing chaos. See you there!