It was a sunny Black Friday afternoon in the Hawthorne district of Portland. I was temporarily flooded with bittersweet memories as I navigated through those holiday shoppers and spotted Dingo on his tall bike.
I had been wanting to meet this clown, Dingo Dizmal, for some time, ever since I began seeing his images and stories on… yes, facebook again!
He directed me to park at the Subway where his girlfriend, Olive Rootbeer, works. He had the idea that we could be temporary employees for a photo shoot, but we spent so much time in the parking lot that the manager arrived and it didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.
I tried the tall bike… twice, leaping to safety as it crashed to the ground, it’s pedal taking a nip at my ankle. Uh… no, thanks, though it looks funny… The noise attracted a crowd and a couple of folks took rides around. With a small prompt tipped Dingo $5 which he passed on to a lady busker he knows.
He works in the new vaudeville genre. Is that putting it mildly? Is that even believable? Lessee… it’s post-modern, anarchistic, adult oriented… he just completed a run of [Wanderlust Circus] Sideshow Speakeasys at Dante’s. He uses a pneumatic cannon to fire various… um… objects (tampons)… into the crowd. He judges eating contests: a dozen hard boiled eggs and canned silk worm pupa. He’s got a game called “What’s Up Your Ass?” [contestants get to keep what they find there.] He MC’s the weekly open mike at Muddy’s. He plays the banjo and lets Olive drop a bowling all on him from atop a ladder. And his stories went on!
Dingo ran away from home at 14… and again at 17. He deliberately recreated himself in each new town. He worked as a carny, the game where you try to throw a ball into a cup. Then he joined the circus as the concessionaire for a Shrine affiliated show. In fact, he parents brought his belongings to him at the circus. They found him doing laundry with a washboard, and they took him to a laundromat. They spent a few hours together doing the circus’ laundry before they said good-bye. He eventually quit after witnessing the harsh treatment of the animals especially at their winter quarters.
His ex-wife, Caffeine Jones, came from show biz folk, Hollywood set-designers, I believe he said. She had a great exercise for creating a character.
“Imagine they’re making a Dingo Dizmal doll… what would it look like? Now imagine it has a string you pull… what 10 things does it say?”
I imagined what the Jusby clown would say… and the script for the photoshoot wrote itself… Pie in the face? So we sent Olive to the store for whipped cream and caught the pie-ing in the last rays of sunset.
Here’s his sweety, Olive Rootbeer.
Dingo quit drinking when his 1st child was on the way. He was sobered by the sudden accumulation of her basinett, clothes and toys. He sat in the room and stared at it all. He realized, “There’s a person out there who already owns all this stuff. I won’t be able to just pick up and leave town.”
He was due for his weekend custody of both children when we met up for the first time. It took us a few hours until we finally knew what the photoshoot had to be. By then it was “Kid O’clock”, so we wrapped it up in a hurry, and I drove over to the dingo-loving Aussie photographer’s house.