June 6, 2007
Ace Auto Dismantlers, San Francisco
Otto didn’t die Saturday night in San Francisco at the Drunkyard. Thankfully it was another Chicken John-orchestrated affair, so cheaply and cleverly done.
Otto and Chicken both got everyone all worked up — when asked about safety measures, Otto would launch into a detailed explanation of the angle he’d take, the speed he’d go to ensure he’d land aright, the flame-proof gel with which he’d cover himself before the stunt.
Of course Chicken picked Otto (or Otto volunteered, whichever) for the “stunt” because Otto is indeed the type of person that would say “sure, yeah, okay man” to jumping a Harley Davidson over a Ramp of Death on fire, for real. Because he cares less than most whether he dies or not. But it wasn’t for real, it was showbiz.
What a relief — because another one of the beloved characters in our scene had just come thisclose to meeting her maker on a motorcycle the night before. And as we all pictured her lying half-crushed, pre-surgery, miraculously still alive and cracking wise to the nurses in the ICU while we partied in the Drunkyard, we didn’t think the idea of another of our friends doing a super-dangerous motorcycle trick ON FIRE was very funny at all. But the way it happened, it was sort of … cathartic.
Michelle and this writer arrived to Lost Vegas late and underdressed. Despite the rain earlier, the Drunkyard still showed good attendance for its purported last show (sniff), and nearly all comers outfitted themselves in Vegas-worthy garish-wear.
Lily from the Yard Dogs, who always gives good costume, radiated Nevada / Hollywood cheese — sky-high rich-girl bouffant; piles of gold accessories; bronzer liberally applied; ridiculous white lounge-singer dress. Her lipliner broached her lips’ borders by a mile, while her lipgloss gave her the appearance of just having guzzled bacon grease. In other words: perfect.
Later on that night, her amour — Freddie Price, one-half of the Wink and Yoni show when he’s not the lead singer of Rube Waddell — would glance at her lovingly from the stage, bedecked in a white suit and plastic lei and terrible wig, plonking out painfully earnest Vegas versions of forgotten radio hits, crooning in his dime-store Elvis vibrato while she blew him kisses. Ah, polyester love.
Kimric Smythe built some new steam-powered thing that served as yet another too-elaborate way to cook hot dogs for the drunks at the Drunkyard (remember Flash and Victoria ironing weenies at the Power Tool Drag Races?). Below the contraption, which every so often spit out little hot dog remnants, Cloe’s intrepid puppy lingered and licked up the spoils from the years-old layer of automotive oil and PCBs and other chemicals on the pavement.
Beside this dog-eat-dog spectacle, the Ramp of Death — over which Otto was to “jump a Harley Davidson … ON FUCKING FIRE” — loomed 9ish feet high and 30ish feet long. All-star pyros like Jim Mason and Steve Valdez and Mark Perez readied the hut they’d built at the base of the ramp, through which Otto was to ride after it’d been set ablaze (and therefore catch fire himself), on his way to the top of the ramp and Valhalla beyond. Where’s he going to land?, we asked several gamblers. Nobody knew.
Cyclecide had our two-seater Ferris Wheel set up, and of course we gravitated towards it for most of the evening, aiding Linda as she ran the ride and sassed the riders and cheekily turned people away for lack of whiskey to share.
Moses and Spy — who won a precious can of rust from the valueless prizes table, and carried it around all evening like a baby — got married until Wednesday, and Jarico and Linda wed each other (in clown noses) for 24 hours. Just to try it out.
Sparkle Motion, San Francisco’s most “real” dance troupe, showed off their day-glo animal-print thrift-score unitards and performed a synchronized routine to “Eye of the Tiger” — which reminded us (as we’re sure it did many other chicks in the audience) of our own childhood, choreographing steps to Billy Squier with friends at slumber parties and drawing from the three holy sources of inspiration: cheerleading, Solid Gold, and the Soul Train.
We brought Otto the good-luck charm we’d found on the street at the Love Parade (of all places) months ago: a poster of a bearded, mulleted biker on a Harley that read RIDE FREE TO ETERNAL LIFE with some Bible verses underneath it.
“Don’t die, Otto,” we said, “because we need an Otto and because our friend ___ was serious about the blowjob after the show.” (She was.) He stuffed the poster into his sock and smiled.
Then it was time for the finale. In true showman style, Chicken John emceed the crowd into a froth, backed by a full band, three women dressed as Elvis and singing the Otto Von Danger theme song accordingly, and a handful of go-go dancers in sexy nurse uniforms. Before the stunt could begin, the nurses needed to “check” Otto on a gurney on a raised platform behind the stage and the hoopla.
From the back view, perched on the Cyclecide HQ mezzanine in the rear of the Drunkyard, Moses and Linda and Spy and this writer saw the magic happen. We won’t give away the secret, for fear of retribution, but we will remind you (as Moses did us) of the televised “disappearance” of the Statue of Liberty — a magic trick in which David Copperfield brought his spectators out to a platform on Ellis Island, showed them the statue, surrounded them in curtains, and orchestrated a glitzy razzle-dazzle hullaballoo … during which time the platform rotated evverrrr sooooo slowwwwly. So when the curtains dropped, the statue had disappeared … because it was just over there behind those other curtains to the side. The audience bought it.
As with any event in this crowd, the vehicle malfunctioned, and Chicken was forced to replace the Harley with a motorized scooter. Ghetto-ass Evil Kneivel shit. “Otto,” now fully “checked,” putt-putted through the crowd and into the cardboard-stuffed wooden hut, which the pyros ignited.
Fully ablaze, “Otto” shot from the hut and up the ramp and … split half in two. Half fell onto the asphalt; the other half of “him” got stuck on a nail or something at the top of the jump, and burned quietly while chaos ensumed below. The pyros, now armed with fire extinguishers, put “Otto” out, creating a cloud of white dust through which nobody could see. His red-white-and-blue jumpsuit burned and torn, Otto emerged from the wreckage, victorious.
And we were all scared for nothing.
Rubes. Sometimes we’re rubes too. We’re glad, after all we’ve seen, that we can still get conned.
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.