What’s not to like about a performer who paints himself blue, dons a black cape and puts on a show with his back up band as a video image from a TV screen. All the Torch Marauder had to do was plop in a VHS tape and he could do his thing. Sounds like he’s kicking it old school in the technology department but the Torch Marauder was in his prime many years ago. (I’m not ready to believe that he’s retired from show business.) I made a short documentary about him which meant following him around with a camera, taping tons of his performance especially at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, Virginia where my attempts at lighting would annoy the guys trying to play chess in the bar.
In 2010, I dusted off my video and gave it a sorely needed re-edit. I mean who puts a three-minute video in the middle of a short documentary anyway? Around that time I had a chance to screen it at one of the NW Film Center’s open screenings at the Whitsell auditorium—a great opportunity to see my stuff on the big screen. At that time, I emailed the Torch Marauder and got his impression of performing in Portland as part of his US tour in the summer of 2000. I was ready to share this with the folks who came to the screening but the usual host, Thomas Phillipson, was not there that day and the intern who was present did not follow the usual introduction procedure. I missed my chance to read the Torch Marauder’s email. So, here it is followed by a brief Q&A about the show, the club and his Portland memories.
My show at the Tabor in Portland was a funny story. I can’t remember all the details, but I was listed to play on a Sat and they changed it to a Friday, after I was already on the road. Luckily, my friends there saw the listing and told me to get there on time. Then the band that set it up didn’t show, so it was just me, who no one had ever heard of. There was a big room with 3 local bands, and then a small theatre where I played. I only got paid according to who said they showed up to see me. Even though a bunch of folks came over from the big room to watch me play. Then the girl who handled the money that night told me that’s how they do it, and that she had to pay a babysitter for the night just so she could be there to work the door. I told her I drove from North Carolina, but she didn’t believe me, told me to take it up with the owner, and maybe I’d do better next time. She then said I could come back and play two weeks later. I again told her I lived in North Carolina, and she was like “are you serious?” There’s more details that I’m forgetting, but it was a pretty strange experience.
How were you able to get the gig?
I set up the gig through another band, who must have been friends of friends, because I didn’t know them. I honestly can’t remember how I came to be in touch with them. They were called The Visit.
(There’s the Mount Tabor Pub, and then the Tabor Acoustic Room, which is where I played.) I think I remember them being compared to early Pink Floyd or something like that, but they didn’t show up for the gig, so I never heard them. No other bands filled in, so I just played solo.
Any impressions of Portland from that time?
It was my second time in Portland. I had been there two years earlier in the Summer of ’98. I had friends who were living there then, and I remember having a great time. We saw The Big Lebowski at the Bagdad – that place is amazing! I remember going to a few different McMenamin’s Pubs, and digging them all. We had dinner at the Montage one night. They had communal seating, and they wrapped up our leftovers in tinfoil origami – it blew my mind at the time! We drove out to the coast one day, and that was beautiful. I also dug going up to the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. I think the exterior was used in The Shining. Multnomah Falls was gorgeous. I’m combining memories of my two trips out there because I can’t recall exactly what I did on each trip. Sorry I don’t have any more specific memories other than a ton of bridges, and being told how to properly pronounce Willamette.
I’m under the impression that you were paid little to no money. How did that feel?
I got paid something, probably like $30. I was definitely bummed about it at the time because there was a decent size crowd watching my set. I should have at least made $60! I think I explained the situation as best as I could in my earlier email. But otherwise, it was a fun experience overall. I had a great time, and ultimately, that’s why I was there.
The Torch Marauder as a Teen Idol
See the Torch Marauder documentary: