The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta, GA • November 19, 1999

“Pull Up a Chair at the ‘Twisted Balloon'”

Next time you pass a clown — maybe at the circus, a parade, or a kid’s birthday party — watch your back. Because they might be clowns like the ones in Greasepaint: sullen, belligerent, alcoholic clowns. Angry clowns. Clowns that smoke, and flick their ashes in your drink; then steal those drinks when you turn away.

Another outstanding Jim Stacy project (the man behind the Star Wars -themed Grand Moff Tarkin), Greasepaint combines all the best features of a trip to the circus and a Flannery O’Connor story. Sounding something like Tom Waits on a bad acid trip, they sing songs of freak love and a grisly murder. A warning to the kids, “here’s a balloon, don’t choke on it.” A warning to the adults, “don’t fuck with a clown, you’ll get bloody greasepaint.” The rest of their songs are likewise flavored by the depraved life of a circus entertainer.

There was more to the show: some disturbingly sexy simians — monkey girls who passed out popcorn and cotton candy to the crowd; a mime soundman who cried real pretend tears when Mr. Technical Difficulties dropped by for a visit; and a lineup including some of Atlanta’s best Star Bar veterans. And believe me, it’s worth the price of admission alone for the sight of a six-and-a-half foot tall clown sucking down a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

At the end of the night, I was left with one thought: damn, it must be hard to play drums in those big shoes.

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