Crispin Glover was in town at the Clinton Street Theatre last weekend, presenting the oddest film I’ve seen for awhile, called “What is It?” It deals with Crispin’s rejection of the censorship involved in corporate backing, and his continuing interest in the “aesthetic of discomfort.” Almost all of the actors in the film have Down’s Syndrome, and although both Shirley Temple and a minstrel performer are in it, there is zero tap dancing, which I consider a tease. Crispin is on tour presenting his movie, which for various reasons is unreleasable, alongside his slide show presentations and readings from some of his books.
The evening started oddly when Crispin headed out onto the stage and immediately fell off the one-foot drop at the Clinton Street, hard. The audience held its breath, but when the actor sprung up and started reading from Ratcatching, we laughed in relief that he had executed a pratfall. Later, when he told us that he had really fallen and hurt his elbow, we felt badly. We didn’t know any better. We’re just an audience.
All in all, it was kind of nice being in a small room with Crispin and letting him make a world. He’s interested in Victorian novels, cut-ups, madness, films, sex, and animal skinning. Here’s a reading from the event from an unpublished book, Round My House.
For no reason, I’d like to point out one of my favorite Crispin trivia facts- He was George McFly in the first Back to the Future movie, but declined to be in the rest of the series. When the director opted to make up another actor in prosthetics to imitate the appearance of the original George, Crispin successfully sued for trademark violation. No matter what the pod people think, you can’t steal another person’s face without their permission, both written and verbal.