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      Pigeons and Pussy - A Night on Broadway with Mike Tyson

      August 7, 2012

      By Mitchell Sunderland

      Associate Editor

      Before Chris Brown gave Rihanna a black eye, even before R. Kelly peed on a teenage girl, boxer Mike Tyson was the person America loved to disapprove of, and for good reason. He beat up American sweetheart Robin Givens, was convicted for raping a Miss Black America contestant, and bit off boxer Evander Holyfield’s ear, among other terrible things. However, it turns out Fitzgerald was full of shit and there are totally second acts in American lives: Lately, Iron Mike has starred as a parody of himself in The Hangover, released a self-titled documentary about his coke addiction, and even apologized to Holyfield. And now Mike has an autobiographical one-man Broadway show called Undisputed Truth: Mike Tyson, following the immutable law that if a noun is famous enough, Broadway will make a play about it. Undisputed Truth was written by his third wife (some nobody named Kiki), and directed by Spike Lee because of course it was.

      The play is clearly intended to clear Mike’s name, or at least share his side of his horrible, horrible life story, and people were totally into it. Tickets ranged from $75 balcony seats to $300 VIP packages that included front row seats and a meet and greet with Mike after the show.

      Many VIP ticketholders arrived an hour early to the Longacre Theatre. One VIP guest, Little John, met Mike a month ago at a boxing dinner, yet paid to meet him again after the play. I asked Little John if the controversy surrounding Mike bothered him.

      “What controversy?” he screamed. “He’s Mike Tyson! He’s just a human!”

      His friend Caser agreed: “Yeah, he’s Mike Tyson!” This is apparently the standard response to questions like, “Why are you so pumped up to see a former violent maniac cokehead rapist?”

      Several other VIP holders looked like gay guys on dates. Either the gays accidentally bought tickets for Undisputed Truth instead of End of the Rainbow, or Mike has a surprisingly large gay following. (I’m not sure they were gay, but they wore matching suits and held tote bags. Is that something straight people do now?)

      Once inside the theater, I felt like I had walked into a weird reenactment of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” music video, only with the drunk white bitches from Flavor of Love thrown in. Large pieces of colorful construction paper hung from the balcony representing different Brooklyn neighborhoods: Bushwick, Fort Greene, and “Bed-Stuy or Die.” The curtain was a big version of Mike’s face tattoo:

      In one of the box seats typically reserved for super-important people, a DJ billed as “Brooklyn’s finest” played Notorious B.I.G. on repeat. I found him annoying, but the drunk white girl behind me loved him. “Tyson! Tyson! Tyson! I love you! Let’s dance!” she screamed until her boyfriend shut her up. The all-American atmosphere confused a French family in the audience, who may have thought Mike Tyson was a character.

      Like most one-man shows, the play consisted of the lead actor strutting across the stage and reciting his life story—in this case a bare-bones account that expected the audience to know Mike Tyson’s Wikipedia page by heart, which I sadly didn’t. Since this was a Spike Lee production, the play also included a Nina Simone soundtrack, jokes about Mitt Romney, and corny lines like, “The way you fight your fights is the way you lead your life.” Dude, Mike, maybe that’s not such good advice for you?

      Other than referring to the first 30-something years of his life as “P.T.” (pre-face-tattoo), Mike had little regard to coherency or chronology. One high point of the play involved recounting tragic events, which flowed into some hilarious Tyson trivia facts. Another one: Mike went from ranting about prison guards to explaining why Florence Henderson, aka Momma Brady from The Brady Bunch, visited him in prison. It sounded like the ramblings you get from that stranger at the bar who gets drunker and drunker and eventually starts talking about the time he killed some guy but never got caught.

      Sometimes Mike’s transitions were mere riffs on the facts of life. I’ve never heard a more vivid depiction of menstruation than Mike Tyson’s three-minute monologue comparing periods to bubble machines. “They’re percolating,” he said. “Smoke is coming out. They look like bubble machines. I can’t tell the difference between period blood, abortion blood, miscarriage blood, and I-just-ate-your-pussy blood.” Damn, how many miscarriages has Mike Tyson personally seen? Also, pussy apparently really fucked up Mike’s life. On losing in the ring, snorting cocaine, and abusing women after divorcing Givens, he said: “My pussy supply was shut down.”

      On a non-pussy-related note, Mike Tyson loves pigeons. He stole pigeons off the street as a child and started his first street fight because the neighborhood bully killed the pigeon Mike found on the side of a street in Bed-Stuy. The pigeon battle turned Mike Tyson into a new man. “Everybody was so surprised the fat kid with glasses could fight,” he said. You see, pigeons are to Mike Tyson what dolphins are to Axl Rose: a symbol for transformation. After explaining he’s now sober and in a healthy marriage, Mike played a video of himself waving a flag as pigeons flew overhead. It was supposed to symbolize his redemption, but it really just reinforced the idea that he’s TOTALLY INSANE.

      Although Mike never admitted to his worst and most famous misdeeds, which the play’s promotional materials promised, his off-topic rants revealed what made him Mike Tyson, a legendary boxer and even more legendary fuck-up. After explaining how every Staten Island resident has a cousin in the mob, Mike told the audience how his mother died in such awful poverty that her children buried her in a cardboard box without a tombstone. After winning a heavyweight championship, Mike exhumed his mother’s body and buried her in the “most expensive coffin money could buy.” Her new tombstone is the tallest in the entire cemetery. Childhood trauma can make a man a maniac, and only a maniac can punch that hard and get that famous and burn through that much money.

      For a moment, this revelation had me walking out of the audience beaming with all the other idiots who just gave Mike Tyson a standing ovation. Then I walked outside to the stage door and saw a woman in a babushka standing in the rain waiting for Mike Tyson to exit so he could sign her playbill, and I remembered that I just saw a madman rant about pussy and pigeons for an hour and a half. It was still probably better than that Spider-Man musical though.

      @MitchSunderland

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      Topics: broadway, play, Mike Tyson, Undisputed Truth, undisputed rapist, undisputed cannibal, undisputed woman abuser, undisputed standing ovation

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