When performing at Circus Circus’s Fright Dome, Lizardman is in his element. But what would happen if you took Lizardman out of the Fright Dome, out of Circus Circus and off the Strip? What would happen if you took him, say, grocery shopping at Whole Foods on Charleston and Fort Apache? That’s what I did.
They call him Lizardman because he tattooed green gills on most of his flesh—face included. They call him Lizardman because he bifurcated his tongue with an argon laser. They call him Lizardman because he filed his teeth into sharp fangs. They call him Lizardman because he implanted Teflon “horns” under the flesh above his eyes to simulate horned ridges. They call him Lizardman because he looks like a lizard.
“People come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re just doing that to get attention,’ and my response is, ‘So what?’ There’s nothing wrong with trying to get people’s attention, as long as you do something with it.”
Lizardman got plenty of attention in the produce section, but not the bad kind. People looked, but they didn’t gawk. Old women didn’t cross themselves, and babies didn’t cry. In fact, Lizardman made most people in our 10-yard radius smile. Which surprised me. Maybe I’ve watched The Elephant Man one too many times, but I was expecting to hear “He’s a monster!” and “God save the children!” and that sort of thing.
“It can’t always be like this,” I said. “Surely some people say mean things.”
“Oh, I’ll catch a sneer,” Lizardman replied. “I’ll hear somebody say, ‘That’s disgusting’ under their breath. I’ll have religious people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’ve ruined your body; you’ve desecrated your body; you’re going to hell.’ But I ignore that. I don’t interact with crazy people.”
“Are there any negative comments you do respond to?” I asked.
“The other day I heard this older woman say to her friends, ‘Look at his ears,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, and they still work.’”
In the frozen-foods aisle Lizardman and I passed by a mother pushing her baby boy in a shopping cart. The boy dropped his toy on the floor and cocked his head to the side. He didn’t look scared; he looked fascinated. And then he too smiled.
“What other comments do you get?”
“I actually get a lot of non sequiturs: People walk up to me and say, ‘GO JETS!’—stuff like that. And ever since I’ve been getting TV coverage, the most common thing I hear is, ‘We saw you on TV.’ I get a lot of ‘Good for you’s, too—you’d be surprised.”
“And what’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said?’
“There was this one guy, a fan of my MTV True Life episode, and he said that I inspired him to open his bookstore. He was from Minneapolis, and he had a lot tattoos, and he said, ‘If you can do that, then I can do this.’”
Before we reached the checkout, Lizardman and I discussed many things, including linguistics, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, schadenfreude and The Anna Nicole Show. Here are the highlights:
Lizardman on celebrity: “Nobody walks up to David Copperfield and says, ‘Levitate that car,’ but people walk up to me all the time and say, ‘Shove this up your nose.’”
Lizardman on rudeness: “I have a hard-line stance on rudeness. The minute you walk up to me and you’re rude, I say ‘fuck off’ and ‘go away.’”
Lizardman on politics: “I am a firm believer in personal freedoms and people exercising them to the fullest extent. I have what people consider an extremist view of the First through Fourth Amendments.”
If you want to see Lizardman’s act, head to Circus Circus’ Fright Dome through October 31, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Lizardman will be there. You’ll know which one he is—trust me.
Oh, and if you run into him in the hotel lobby after the show, don’t ask him to shove anything up his nose. Give the guy a break.