Monday, February 28, 2011
"Your skin is very white." "My parents were white."
A mess o' thoughts here. Let's see if I can be Al Chemical (arcane reference combined with jazz-loving Kool smoker image..1 point only. Metaphysical references don't apply in score system in this case...rats!) and combine this stuff into pure gold, not lead.
This should be a panel discussion ("Nice panel. There...I discussed it."). But seriously, folks. What is the fine line between acting, art and insult, when portraying any ethnic group that is not your own? Where are the borders between Al Jolsen in blackface and Anthony Quinn (a Mexican) playing a Greek in Zorba, a Russian in The Shoes of the Fisherman and so forth? I remember during Space Pirate Radio, a Chinese lady was offended by Peter Ustinov playing Charlie Chan and told me as such. "But what about Peter Sellers?" I asked. "He has also played Chinese." Her response? And I swear, this is true. "But he's funny."
So there is the secret, folks! If you can keep it sublime and still elicit the yuk-yuks...banjos and buckteeth and bombay oil can still grab a giggle. "It's a small world, after all!"
On the radio, through the power of the imageless voice, I committed every ethnic slurpee you could drink of. Hee-hee! This was fun! Mea culpa. Mia Farrow. Mira Sorvino. I admit it!
On stage in 1973, in Nothing is Sacred, as well as on Space Pirate Radio in 1974 and on, I did the Karma Denominator. This Hindi Guru, the inventor of Cosmic Unconsciousness. The man who turned the Beatles Off and On to drugs. The pitchman for Krishna Krispies, the only breakfast cereal that didn't snap, crackle and pop, but rather chanted Hare Krishna. And when you added milk, your bowl looked like the sacred Ganges river. (Karma is pictured above, appearing on the Ben Hummer Matinee Movie.) And in the same play we did a parody of spaghetti westerns called Never Trust A Blonde Mexican (a double slap...2 points).
Or back to Space Pirate Radio and Doctor Wu-Who? The Time Lord who didn't have two hearts but two bladders. "Come in handy on long trips. Notice in re-Tardis, there are no bathrooms. No kitchen, for that matter. Anyone ever get peckish?"
Or Wally Wang, who could teach you the art of foreclosure and fiveclosure and sixclosure? "It could just go on forever."
On Space Pirate Radio in the '70s, I played a record by Yellow Magic Orchestra, an import that dealt with a Watergate-like scandal that had happened in Japan. The YMO members did a comedy sketch on the bribes and corruption that had been exposed in the Japanese government. In English, though released in Japan, the YMO members mocked the Japanese head of state, saying how stupid the Japanese people were, calling them yellow monkeys and commenting on the size of their genitalia. An Asian women heard me play this and mistakenly assumed it was me doing a bad racist comedy bit. She called me and claimed that it was in horrible taste and that I as a Guy-Jin, shouldn't be doing such a racist bit of comedy. I told her, it may be racist...but that it was done by Japan's number one musical group and that the offensive album I was playing had been the number one selling album for several weeks in Japan. Knee jerks. In one of the few times KTYD stood behind me, this reactionary was told to check the facts before going into boil over mode.
So, if I am a racist in my humour, than it must be admitted that I hate dumb white Americans. When I make fun of neo-Nazis and KKK types, I must hate all Caucasians. If I parody Nixon (who hated just about everybody... Jew, black, Mexican, Communist and gay), well, I must be attacking Quakers. If Rush Limbaugh was black (Rush Limbo) or Glenn Beck was Italian (Glenn Bikini)...now that could have been ugly.
Otherwise, just look at recent news. Your friendly tyrant of yesterday, is your enemy of today...and vice versa. Nothing changes. Nothing personal. It's just business. And me? So sorry. Closed for the day. Ran out of whatever I was supposed to sell you. Useless goods. Over a hundred dollars a barrel. Have I got you over a barrel? No. But someone else has.
Daily shooters at the Ali Ak Bar & Grill (...1 point).