Greasepaint send up the clowns

Jim Stacy, the master showman behind Grand Moff Tarkin, and Mike Geier, the leader of the swing ensemble Kingsized, might at first seem unlikely partners. But Greasepaint, the clown-themed group they created together, allows both musicians to perform under favorite alter egos — Geier as "Puddles the Clown" and Stacy as "the Reverend Uncle Laffo," a persona he created while leading a now-defunct musical circus act called Big Top.

"Big Top was a lot more upset about the death of American circuses," says Stacy when asked to distinguish between the two. "Greasepaint has come to grips with that ... and realized the only suitable reaction is to stay drunk."

The band debuted late last year, opening for the Squirrel Nut Zippers' Katherine Whelan, with a set Stacy partially composed during his Disneyland honeymoon. "I wrote 'Rodeo [Clown]' standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean," he chuckles.

Contributing to the group's inebriated, Tom Waits-ian sound are bandmates "Zanax the Clown" on guitar, "Shitstain the Clown" on piano and "Leaky O'Lean" on bass. Stacy's bride Ginger also performs with Greasepaint, dancing onstage in a skimpy costume and chimpanzee mask. "Sexy monkeys," observes Stacy, "we invented that!"

Despite their popularity, Greasepaint's application to the upcoming Atlantis Music Conference was rejected. "We paid the processing fee in Clown Money," Stacy says.

To enjoy Grease-paint live, fans should visit the Earl this week, where, as part of the Red Kamel VIP series, the group is setting up a "Midway of Oddities" for VIPs to walk through. "You'll see specimens," Stacy reveals, "jars of elephant trunks and chimp ears ... It will only be seen once, and it's quite a collection!"

Another way to experience Greasepaint is online. The group recently acted in three episodes of Bikini Bandits ("Crime doesn't pay — unless you have big boobs!"), a short film series directed by Steven Grasse, which will appear on the www.atomfilms.com website. "In one of them, we play a band of gay clowns who are immune to the Bikini Bandits' feminine wiles," laughs Stacy. "And in another we get involved in a Waco-style battle with federal agents. In the first one, though, we play colonial Americans — with Puddles as Abe Lincoln."

Lincoln, in colonial times? Stacy shrugs and grins. "The suspension of disbelief is great in these things."

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