“I brought my costume, it's in this bag. Well except for the pants.” The song and dance man of the Bay's vaudevillian acid bordello, Broadway Freddie (aka Miguel Strong, or Michael if you're trying to get technical about it) is already seated at a corner table at the Right Spot Cafe when I arrive to chat about Yard Dog Road Show's first headlining show in San Francisco in years (The Independent, Sat/20).
Broadway-Miguel is wearing a striped tie, suit jacket, and dapper fedora, which by Yard Dogs Road Show standards seems vaguely pedestrian. But then he stands up. Electric blue, leopard print, so-skinny-they're-emaciated jeans. “Miley Cyrus,” he confides, tossing his shoulder length blonde locks.
It is fitting that Broadway be a theater of the absurd. He is one of the original three progenitors (in addition to founder-manager-hype man Eddy Joe Cotton, who also wrote the heart-stoppingly wanderlustful memoir Hobo, and filmmaker Fletcher Fledujon) of the theatrically absurd touring troupe with which he makes his livelihood. He is artfully decorative in speech -- as befits a man who has spent the last eight years of his life in pursuit of a vision received en route to one of Ken Kesey's acid tests.
I can't say he gives me too many tangibles to work with during the course of our conversation, which is fine, because he has given me some lovely images to share in the article. The Yard Dogs Road Show milieu he finds “beyond English or current events, a landscape of dreams.” Also, it is “a sequined and glittered ceremony, a joyous one.” Fledujon, Cotton, and Strong met “organically destined to be in the same constellation of stars.” Broadway himself is “an electron,” a good show is when “the wind goes through you – you're not doing it, it's doing you.”
“Would you like a drink?” I ask him. “Oh, well I'm supposed to be” were finger quotes involved here? “On the wagon. But yes, I'll have one. What are you drinking – a beer? Yes, I'll have one of those.”
Things that we do manage to establish: the members of Yard Dogs Road Show – all “fifteen or sixteen” of them, travel together in a vintage Greyhound bus, in which none of them have their own beds save Kid Casbah, this because he is "the golden leopard, untouchable." They are good house guests. One of their pinnacle moments as a troupe was a performance in an old opera house in Braga, Portugal -- a performance that took place under an omnibus of a chandelier on a tour that took them to quite a few grand opera houses, the one in Braga being the grandest.
The gang's all here, in the Sonoma Hills. Photo by Hilary Hulteen
Its upcoming shows – the first time the group has had its own night in the Bay in two years -- is for friends and family, in the looser sense of those words. New material will be debuted, this new material involving a carousel of prancing, bejeweled pony girls that Broadway and I conclude will resemble “peeking inside a Faberge egg,” a rocket man, and the Queen of Pineapple Island. We would be remiss if we did not mention that the talents of Scotty the Blue Bunny, aerialist Abigail Munn, DJ Shawna, and belly dance impresario Zoey Jakes, will be making their appearances over the two-night run.
At this point, beers have been had. We are touching on the art of the interview. Broadway says the back and forth is a skill he cherishes, and that his last two talks with a journalist were conducted from his bathtub and shower, respectively. “Do you know what would make this a truly great interview?” Broadway leans across our table, holding my gaze. “If we got absolutely wasted! The bartender can finish asking us the questions.”
I mention I enjoy Bulleit bourbon and it is liberally applied to our conversation. At this point we must rely on my trusty notebook for the gems that were imparted.
(This in the hand of the friendly bartender, who had been reading an Us Weekly upon our interruption)
Q: How do you feel about J. Simpson's engagement?
B- Holy f...
C- Nick f??? friend Courtney or danced w/ her at club.
Q: What celebs met recently
B- Garry Busey on tour bus in Malibu. Friendly, liked bus. Wrote # on cigarette pack.
C- Paul Mooney – belligerent interview. Stressed out. Kathy Griffin was a total bitch.
B- Oscar Grant? Don't want to go there. What art school CC of A & Crafts
(Drawing of a cell phone with a line drawn over it)
C- 3 beers: surprisingly drunk
S- what kind of whiskey would you like?
(In my handwriting)
(sketch by Broadway of suspended circles and stars)
I think Broadway then banged out a few impromptu tunes on The Right Spot's piano, we drank more whiskey, shenanigans, and we called it a night.
More concrete information is to be had from the Yard Dogs Road Show website itself. For instance, after a bit of digging one can turn up a rider that states that the group requires eight vegetarian and seven omnivorous meals from show venues that do catering, tortilla chips and spicy salsa “of the health food store variety” if not. Three bottles of red wine and 24 bottles of “Stella beer or comparable” either way. To me, this says a conscious approach to health in solid foods, followed by a healthy disregard for matters of the liver.
Here's how the "great" (it really was) interview ended: Broadway and I mutually supporting each other outside the cafe, a freak November monsoon raging around us. “So. Did we cover everything?” he wonders. “I think we did a good job,” I slur at him before giving my final regards to Broadway and tripping away in the rain. I still believe it to be the case.
(Sorry about leaving you the tab, Miguel!)
Yard Dogs Road Show
With El Radio Fantastique, Zoe Jakes, DJ Shawna, and more
Fri/26 and Sat/27 9 p.m., $20
628 Divisadero, SF
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