By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
Charmagne's long brown hair slides off her shoulders as she stretches up from the couch toward the microphone and says, "On the [bulletin] boards, Wade seems like a very nice, polite young man. So certainly, I say: I think he's creepy." She laughs apologetically and says, "Wade, you're too normal."
When Charmagne busts out tarot cards and starts doing a reading for Wade, Blackout yells "Shut up, shut up!" and goes into shtick.
As freaky music starts to play from his laptop, his shoulders stretch back into rigid posture and he modifies his voice with an echo effect as it takes on the slow calculated hiss of Hannibal Lecter. "I want to speak to Wade. Wade, what is the most terrifying thought you've ever had?"
Wade: I'm not that kind of person.
Blackout: Everyone gets sad sometimes, Wade. Everyone gets... lonely.
Wade: I'm really a very happy person.
Blackout: I'm not happy, Wade. I drink too much. Why don't you have some red wine, Wade? It's a little dry, but you will like it nonetheless.
Wade: I don't drink alcohol.
Blackout: What do you drink, Wade?
Blackout: Oh, Dr. Pepper is strange, Wade. Dr. Pepper tastes like something that's been sitting in my medicine cabinet for far too long.
Wade: I don't know what kind of Dr. Pepper you're drinking.
Blackout: I drank Dr. Pepper once. I drank Dr. Pepper with a small European boy who no longer exists.
Blackout tires of teasing Wade and opens the line for crank requests. "Call in and give me a phone number. I will call the person you want me to, and I will ruin their fucking lives... or make them laugh."
Meanwhile, Pharris is on the back porch smoking a menthol Benson & Hedges with Kerry Sampson, a petite brunette who's a self-proclaimed bitch. He explains, "On the show, I'm Pharris the character. I express my own beliefs, and it is my personality, but I allow certain liberties." Sampson doesn't have the same playful dynamic with Blackout. Their fights are real. "I was over here, and I was talking bad about Charmagne," she says. "I was saying that she's fake artsy, and, um, [Blackout] thought I was talking about him. And he got all offensive and up in arms, and he was like, 'Fuck you. Get the fuck out of my house, bitch.' Then I took him in the room and soothed his big fucking ego."
Back in the studio, conversation has turned to George W. Bush, and Blackout articulates a common sentiment: "I know this is all fake, and I'm just dreaming, because he's president. I took too much drugs a long time ago, and none of this is real."
He imitates Dubya. Looking straight ahead as if confronting a camera with petulant authority, he speaks in three-word sentences. "We are here." He pauses. "It is important." He pauses again. "That we are here."
He looks off to the side as if connecting with an audience member and says, "Terror will not hold our hearts. Or our minds."
Then, he looks down at his hands as if pondering humbly what he will say next and adds, "And if the people."
He looks into the camera with grave expression. "The terrorists. Terror us."
Back at the audience. "Then we will stare back at them. With the same lost look."
Straight into the camera, "That they look at us."
Suddenly, Pharris runs into the studio with a car-battery clamp attached to his nipple, and Blackout releases pent-up aggression toward him in a Tourette's-style outburst. "Fuck you. Pharris is fat. I can't hold it anymore. He's fat. He's fucking fat, fat, fat." The host and cohost have a symbiotic relationship: Pharris gets all the attention he wants, and Blackout gets to slap down a contentious personality for the amusement of his listeners.
When Blackout shuts down the show, he joins his friends on the back porch for a smoke, a drink, and conversation. Cars whiz by on the small highway behind the fence. Some nights, a bowl gets passed around. As the night wears on, people slowly file out to get some rest before going to work Friday morning. Free from the daily grind, for now, Blackout and Pharris hang out till the wee hours of morning.
Blackout's live show is different every week, depending upon what mood he's in. One week, he's dressed formally, drinking apple martinis, cranking small-time celebrities, and hosting local bands like I Digress. Another week, he's dressed shoddily, wearing glasses and improvising with the energy of his friends and callers. The fluid structure of the show creates room for all sorts of spontaneous humor, especially when Blackout's fans call in. His show almost always lasts longer than its three-hour time slot: When Blackout is engrossed in a shtick, he'll stay on as late as 2 a.m.
While channel surfing, Blackout came across The Prayer Hotline,a religious program that displayed "SATAN IS STEALING YOUR SOUL" in flashing red letters. The blatant swindle triggered his instinct for satire. He immediately called in as Kilty O'Neal, a slurring alcoholic Scot in the grips of a growling demon.