The author with Blowfly, the filthiest 74-year-old rapper alive
This weekend, a 74-year-old man pointed a wriggly finger at me and asked me my name. I nervously laughed and told him it was Deenah. "Inez!" he said. "Do you know what?" Then he started to sing: "Last night I fucked somebody who looked just like you / She smelled like you too, I thought it was you!"
Generally, when old men say things like that to me, I walk away. But this was no ordinary geriatric—this was the legendary Blowfly, né Clarence Reid, the self-styled "world's first dirty rapper," and the man behind such time-tested parodies as "Hole Man," "Shittin' On the Dock of the Bay," and "My Baby Keeps Farting On My Face"—that last one's a take-off of "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head," BTW.
Blowfly's ABC's of pussy
Blowfly was born in 1939, and started his career in the 60s, writing and producing for R&B legends like KC & The Sunshine Band, Bobby Byrd, and Betty Wright. He also wrote his own hit songs like "Nobody But You, Babe," which was later sampled by the Wu Tang Clan, and "Living Together is Keeping Us Apart," which found its way into a Dre and Snoop track. But his alter ego was Blowfly, a filthy rapper who released parody songs so outrageous and disgusting they make 2 Live Crew look like the Rock-afire Explosion.
I met Clarence this weekend at the WFMU Record Fair in New York, and he immediately selected me as a target for well-meaning sexual humiliation. I followed him to his second show at PS1, an institution that should be commended for curating a show with a 74-year-old man screaming obscenities in a superhero costume. Over the course of the day he told my boyfriend he had a puny dick, directed him to go down on me by singing a version of Weird Al's "Eat It," and sang "Silent Night, Hole-ey Night," while pointing at an unmentionable part of my anatomy.
He was one of the weirdest old dudes I've met in a while, so I tried to interview him while his band was loading out of the show. He didn't exactly answer my questions, but mostly used them as a launching pad for random musings and songs that were only sometimes comprehensible. Sometimes he would launch into stream-of-conscious, multi-voice digressions where moments of clarity were sandwiched between fragments of folkloric storytelling, recitations of biblical psalms and passages, dirty sing-song vaudeville sketches, memories of being a country boy in the deep south, and even a tender song directed towards my own mother. This interview is almost unintelligible, so I'll apologize in advance for what a lovable lunatic this guy is.
Photo by the author
VICE: Hi Blowfly! Can you tell me your life story in one sentence?
Blowfly: Well, I was born in the Ku Klux Klan area in Mississippi. All of the blacks around there liked the blues, and I was the only little boy who hated the blues. I would do hillbilly songs and change them around with dirty lyrics. I did it to piss the white people off, but they liked it. One of my first songs was for Minnie Pearl and Ernest Tubb. I took this Ernest Tubb song, "Walking the Floor Over You" and I changed it around to "I'm Jerking My Dick Over You." The lyrics went like this: "I'm jerking my dick over you / I keep telling myself it ain't true / I jerk it so much, oh, it turned black and blue / jerking my dick over you, Shoop, doo doo." I love that.
I'd sing it at clubs, and the white people, they'd say, "You're the nastiest little fucker," and then they'd give me money. I'd go home with about $200. You're making $5 a day in the country back then and you're doing great. I got home with almost $200 and my grandmother said, "Where did you get this money from?" She think I stole it. When I told her where I'd got it she said, "You're a disgrace to the human race and you ain't no better than a blowfly?"
What the fuck is a blowfly? I remember the blowfly lays eggs on dead things and I started crying. They ain't never see me cry because I'm a mean mother fucker. But a white girl told me, "When comets struck the earth and killed all the pre-historic dinosaurs and everything, human life could have never evolved, too many germs, but blowflies came and laid eggs and turned into maggots who ate up all the germs."
That's how I started as Blowfly.
Wow, OK. Well, you played a record fair and a museum today. Those are pretty different shows. Where do you feel more comfortable?
I'm gonna tell you. I learned to be confident in both of them. Be yourself and keep up the laughing. People love to laugh, like this old white lady, I thought, I wish I could do something to make her laugh. I told her, "Miss. I went to your house to deliver a present last night."
"What did you say?" she asked.
"I said, you wouldn't come to the door and I heard a noise coming from the bedroom and I was shocked at what I saw."
"What did you see?"
"I saw you fucking Santa Claus underneath the mistle toe last night!" She started to grin.
"Ah, take this." She gave me $100 and I said I need it, but I can't take it. "You're a good person," she said.
I said, "How dare you say that to me? I'm a scumbag fucker." She cracked up.
Erm... Why do you dress as a superhero? Tell me about being a superhero.
It started when I was real young. I used to watch Superman and change it around: "Dick of steel would not ignite. Lois Lane filled his dick up with kryptonite."
I don't care how old I get, I still watch cartoons. "Oh Minnie was super freaky, super fruity. What happened to Mickey made her suck the dick off old Goofy!"
OK. How do you feel when somebody is offended by what you do?
It's very seldom they're offended. The preachers say, change one word in the original bible, and it's an unforgivable sin, you're going pay for it. Most people that come around me, they end up laughing. The most righteous stuff in the world is dirty stuff. When I went to Germany in the 60s, they booked me on the Berlin stage. I pretended to be Hitler: "I did my time, I paid my dues, I spent my life killing niggers and Jews. I'm the baddest motherfucker in Nazi nation. Watch Adolf Hitler do the funky Haitian." Oh, they cracked up. The Germans tried to get mad, but they couldn't help it. Don't matter how dirty the shit is, it be truthful.
Anyway, you're special. Your mama still around?
Yeah, she is.
What's your mama's name?
Her name is Shirah.
Here's a song for Miss Shirah: "You're more special than anyone can imagine. You're the queen of my special pageant. I say this with all my heart. Angels from heaven knew from the start. Miss Shakira, there's no one more special than you, thank god."
She gonna crack up.