King of the Blue

It promised to be an unparalleled evening of filth.

Blowfly and Rudy Ray Moore. Two supreme masters of the craft of unbridled dirty talk, two men whose verbal skills transcend obscenity and bring impropriety to a level of visionary art.

Which is to say that they both sing and rhyme and talk about stuff like farts and pussy and shit and gigantic dicks and great big titties and farts and it’s, like, funny. They’ve both been doling out the vulgarity for decades, on records, in films and live onstage.

Tonight, Blowfly is the much-heralded headliner. He will appear in his usual getup, a glittering Mexican-wrestling-meets-Batfink outfit, backed by his flawless funk band, his two gyrating, scantily clad ladies, and no less than Mr. Mixx of 2 Live Crew. It’s a spectacle, it’s a show. Moore, on the other hand, will get up there all by himself. A mic, a stool, a spotlight. Old school.

Now 68, Moore has been at this a long time; his first party record, Below the Belt, came out in 1959, followed by some 20 since then. In the ’70s, he starred in the stupendous Dolemite movies, plus classics like Petey Wheatstraw. And still he continues to tour, despite health problems, keeping the legend alive.

Pre-show, Rudy Ray Moore sits at the far end of the merchandise table at the back of the main room in the Knitting Factory, slumped a bit, leaning on his wickedly decorated cane, draped in slightly understated cream-colored threads tailored with a touch of pimp. He’s got two massive rings on his left hand, two statement necklaces, a cowboy-style hat formed from some kind of faux snakeskin plastic perched atop his head, and delicate, slip-on shoes, also apparently crafted from something allegedly reptilian. He sucks quietly on a Red Bull. Young fans peruse the merch — T-shirts, CDs, DVDs — yet they don’t acknowledge Moore. Don’t they know the man who created what they’re buying sits like a serene street-hustler Buddha mere inches away?

Finally, a kid who’s purchased a back scratcher (yes, back scratcher) approaches Moore for an autograph. The Buddha comes to life.

“I can’t sign no back scratcher! I got to go onstage!” he bellows, lifting himself from his seat. A slow groove blasts from the PA. He gets his introduction, the MC urging the crowd to “make some fuckin’ noise!” They do. Mostly white folks: nerds, fanboys, cult hipsters, some drunk girls. Moore is helped onstage; he seems shaky, he seems weak, leaning on the cane. Then he ambles into the spotlight and comes to life, moving with the beat, grinning. He orders the soundman to bring the music down.

“Turn it down, baby!” Nothing happens.

“Motherfucker! Turn it down! I told you what to do, ’cause I’m gonna give ’em the best of me!”

And that’s exactly what he proceeds to do, rasping out the raw rhymes and foul genius, the crowd eating it up like famished pervs.

“I’m the player! I’m the pussy surveyor! ...I may be too old to cut the mustard, but I can still lick out the jar! ...I got a dick built for lickin’, makes an ass outta Church’s fried chicken!” He plays tracks from his latest release, singing along with himself, scolding the soundman for miscues: “Don’t fuck up my goddamn act!” He challenges the audience’s members: “Who’s got a big dick?!” A guy responds affirmatively. Moore squints at him. “Man, I bet you could fuck a Cheerio and have some room left!”

And so it goes, the player never missing a beat, even when he misses a beat. Moore leaves the stage with a final salvo: “My brothers and sisters, if I’ve offended anyone here tonight, I just wanna say, from the bottom of my heart... fuck you!” The applause and whoops die down, and Moore returns to his solitary seat at the merch table. He sucks quietly on another Red Bull. He’s a weary but grand king. Dolemite. The Avenging Disco Godfather. The Robert Frost of American obscenity, sitting alone again. I walk up and tell him it was a great show. Moore smiles, but does not look up.

“Thanks, brother. I ’preciate it.”

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