Readers might know Tony Clifton, from Jim Carrey’s portrayal in Man on the Moon. Well, the crude, obnoxious, lounge singer is back from a long hiatus. The alter ego of Andy Kaufman will be touring across the United States in support of Comedic Relief, with his newly adopted daughter, Keely, burlesque beauties, The Cliftonettes, and the eight-piece Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra. I recently had the chance to catch up with Tony Clifton and asked him about his upcoming performance at the Wilbur Theater (October 21st) and his soon-to-be-released charity album.
Where were you all these years?
Working Third World countries as the “International Singing Sensation” and faith healer. They eat that shit up overseas. That reminds me: Why is it Jesus can’t eat M&M’s? Because they fall through the holes in his hands.
How would you describe your show to someone?
One critic called it, “An explosion of mind melting mayhem.”
How did the tour with the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra and burlesque troupe, the Cliftonettes, come about?
The Lord works in mysterious ways. Someone slipped me a Mickey Finn one night on Bourbon Street. When I stumbled back to my hotel room, I mistakenly entered the wrong room, and some old broad freaked out. The cops hauled me in front of the judge, who was going to throw the book at me. Luckily, those Comedy Relief people pleaded that I do community service for them instead. So I’m now the front man for the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra, a charity fundraiser….. Adding the strippers was my idea.
What songs can we expect at the October 21st show at Boston’s Wilbur Theater?
Everything from Sinatra to Led Zeppelin. We got a great band with great black horn players that are gonna blow the roof off of the Wilbur. With that much brass, it’s an opportunity to play some Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Also…wait till you see the Cliftonettes. Absolutely knockouts who know how to take it off nice and slow.
How did you come to adopt Keely Clifton?
I was tooling around in my Chrysler 300 on Route 10 between Biloxi and New Orleans when, standing in the middle of nowhere hitchhiking, is the hottest young chick I’ve ever seen. I pulled over, let her in. She was on the way to the store, getting something for her ma and pa.
Well, she never got there, not after she and me started sucking on a bottle of Gentleman’s Jack. I told her I’d put her in the show. She’s one hell of a singer and dancer and, like I said, her body is to die for. Recently, I signed the papers, so now she’s officially my newly adopted daughter. She lives with me at Cliftonmere. I’m teaching her to be a lady… you know, stuff like hygiene and how to keep it clean down there.
How did you get R.E.M., and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins to appear on your upcoming charity album?
Well, Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins came to my recent show in L.A. and was blown away, telling everybody he had to work with me. Frankly, I never heard of the dude. As for the Smashing Pumpkins, Gallagher has been doing that gag for years, using watermelons and a sledgehammer. But Corgan is coming out to my recording studio in November, and we’re going to lay down a duet on his hit song “Today” for a charity album.
As far as R.E.M. goes, I already recorded “Man on the Moon’ with them. Everyone who’s anyone will be on the album. They all want to work with me. Men want to be me; women want to be with me.
What was it like opening for Andy Kaufman and Rodney Dangerfield?
I opened for Kaufman at Carnegie Hall. That sheeny bastard rode my coattails to the big time.
That reminds me: What’s the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew? A Jew goes UP the chimney… I can get away with that joke because I had a relative who died at Auschwitz…. Yeah, he fell off the guard tower.
Dangerfield was a cool cat, totally different from his stage persona of the poor schlub who never got respect.
What is your favorite song to sing?
My favorite song is always the new one I’m working on at the moment. We have a repertoire of 200 songs to choose from. I always end the show by singing “I Will Survive”. It’s become my signature song, mainly because I perform it at the end of the Jim Carrey movie, “Man on the Moon”.
Who is your tailor?
Richard Lim, tailor to the Hollywood stars. At his High Society shop, he’s suited up everyone from Sinatra to JFK, including Ray Charles and Don Johnson. In fact, Richard made the jacket that Kennedy was wearing in Dallas. And I’ll tell you, even though Jack took a bullet that blew off his head, that jacket held up pretty damn good. Richard does good work.
What do you think of your portrayal in “Man on the Moon”?
A one-dimensional caricature. Wait till my film, “The Tony Clifton Story”, comes out some day. I’ll make Daniel Day Lewis look like George Hamilton.
Do you think you’ll go back to a steady gig in Vegas anytime soon?
Vegas is in bad shape right now. A lot of those Indian casinos stole away the customers. We should of finished the injuns off over a hundred years ago when we had the chance.
Can you insult this third-rate journalist?
Being a third rate journalist is insult enough. You must wake up in the morning thinking, “Is this all I’ve made of myself?”
Do you have any words of wisdom to leave the readers with?
You’re only as old as the person you fuck.
By: Shawn Roy – firstname.lastname@example.org