Back when this Donald Drumpf fiasco was still a little bit funny (I think we all agree it’s no longer funny in the slightest), many comedy fans accused Orange Julius Caesar of ripping off insult comedian and lounge singer, Tony Clifton. In order to win the election, Donald appropriated Clifton’s distinct brand of sexism, his cartoonish racism, the ill-fitting suits and magic realist hair, and the misplaced swag of the disgusting old white man who somehow believes women want to fuck them.
As Drumpf grew unfunny, I as a comedy fan grew almost offended by Drumpf’s blatant rip-off of Clifton — right down to the facial expressions, namely that dewy, pink pout, the bottom lip protruding like the world’s most punchable cocktail wiener.
In 2014, I spent a very fun weekend in New Orleans with Tony Clifton. I’ve still never met Bob Zmuda face-to-face. They are though, the same person. Tony Clifton shouts “nigger” whenever, and spends half of every year as a sex tourist in Thailand (when he’s not at home in Nevada in a house conveniently located near the famed Bunny Ranch brothel). The decidedly liberal Zmuda, on the other hand founded, and to this day spearheads, the famous Comic Relief organization that has raised millions for various important charities, mostly homelessness. “I don’t agree with people saying the N word onstage,” Zmuda once told me on the phone, in a voice so similar to Clifton’s. After spending just that one weekend with Clifton, I came away seeing the whole gag as less of an act, and more as Zmuda’s dark pathology.
But anyway, Drumpf. I’d first met Clifton when he rolled into New Orleans performing a big show, the money from which would go to benefit Hurricane Katrina survivors. Tony claimed he ended up on this charity tour as part of a plea bargain in a New Orleans rape case. Supposedly, he’d come back to his hotel one night wasted, and accidentally entered the wrong room, where he crawled in bed with a strange woman who “got the wrong idea,” freaked out, and pressed charges. “That broad was old as dirt,” Tony had told me in his own defense. “I do not under any circumstance fuck anything over half my age.”
Drumpf used this exact same logic to shoot down his own sexual assault allegations! “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her,” Drumpf had said in his defense. “Tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
I grew so outraged at Drumpf’s appropriation that, ever since Tony Clifton’s doppelganger became the most powerful man in the world, I have attempted to reconnect with Clifton and get his thoughts. Tony though has been in Thailand fucking prostitutes these last several months, and so only recently got around to answering my questions regarding Drumpf’s blatant identity theft:
MPW: Have you ever met Donald Drumpf? How did that interaction play out?
Tony Clifton: I did. I was participating in a fundraiser and Marla Maples was on the organizing committee. One day, we met for lunch and she had me meet her at Drumpf Tower. She asked if I wanted to meet “The Donald” so I did. He gave me the old “once over,” surmised me as a threat and unwelcomely shook my hand. On the way out of building, Marla apologized for his behavior, six months later they divorced.
What did you think when you found out Drumpf was running for President?
Like everyone else, I thought he didn’t have a prayer. We were all proven wrong. It just goes to show you, that our entire lives (certainly our political sphere) can turn on a dime. The poet William Blake Yeats said, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre, The Falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…” Tony Clifton is loosed upon the world… (I added that last part).
When he started his run, did people begin mentioning to you how much Drumpf seemed to be “stealing your shtick” (not just his political incorrectness, but his facial expressions even…)
Yes… I started to get calls from everyone who was familiar with my works, the similarities were unmistakable. It was as if he was channeling me. Of course they were picking up on the “political incorrectness” angle and Tony Clifton is all for that. The Jetting out of the lower lip is of course my signature facial expression…I lifted it from Mussolini. CLICK HERE to read the rest of this interview at Escondido Grapevine…
or watch THIS RARE VIDEO of Clifton performing at the Sugar Mill in New Orleans.