"What is it?" reads a flier for Crispin Glover's two-day stint at Boise's Egyptian Theatre on Thursday, July 26, and Friday, July 27. As in, what the heck will he be doing here for two nights? Another common question is, "Who is Crispin Glover?" (No, he's not Danny's brother.)
You probably know Glover's face from movies like Charlie's Angels, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The People vs. Larry Flynt. You definitely remember him from Back to the Future, in which he played George McFly. And if you're a little more Internet savvy, you might remember him as Thomas Edison in Drunk History, or perhaps as the guy that tried to karate-kick David Letterman in the face--something Glover will neither confirm nor deny happened, though you can see it all on YouTube.
But unless you're really in the know, you probably aren't familiar with his "other works," including hacked children's books, music and films that are experimental enough to do things like cast actors with Down syndrome.
To answer the flier's question: Those "other works" are what Glover's two-day appearance will showcase.
For years, Glover has been touring the world in between major film roles doing Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show, which includes everything from film screenings to dramatic interpretations to slide shows and Q&As. And this week, he'll bring that act, in all its strange glory, to Boise.
"The live aspects of the shows are not to be underestimated," Glover told Boise Weekly.
Night one of Gloverama will feature the actor's dramatic interpretation of several illustrated books he created by writing and drawing over text in existing books to change the narrative, something Glover started doing in the early 1980s. The pages will be projected on a screen behind him during the performance.
"When I first started publishing the books in 1988, people said I should have book readings," said Glover. "But the books are so heavily illustrated and the way the illustrations are used within the books, they help to tell the story, so the only way for the books to make sense was to have visual representations of the images. This is why I knew a slides how was necessary."
Glover said it took him a while to figure out exactly how to make that work, but he found his formula in the early '90s and has kept to it for the most part.
"The performance of the show, of course, varies slightly from show to show based on the audience's energy," Glover added.
After the book readings, Glover will show one of his films. The first night's film will be It is fine! Everything is Fine, which Glover described as a detective thriller as filtered through the existence of someone with cerebral palsy severe enough to make them nearly unintelligible to the outside world.
He added that he will not leave the venue until he's had a chance to meet everyone in the audience.
The second night will follow the same format, but with different content. The centerpiece is the film advertised on the flier: What is It? This is also the film that makes use of actors with Down syndrome, as well as porn stars wearing animal heads and songs by Charles Manson. A tagline on IMDB says the film follows the "adventures of a young man whose principle interests are snails, salt, a pipe and how to get home. As tormented by an hubristic, racist inner psyche."
Glover elaborated that the film is about taboos and is intended to make people feel uncomfortable--even to question if they should be watching the film at all.
"What does it mean to the culture when it does not properly process taboo in its media?" Glover asked. "For a culture not to be able to ask questions leads towards a non-educational experience."
If you think the target demographic in Boise for this kind of performance seems a bit too small to fill the Egyptian, know you're not alone. These films have never been released to DVD or video, and are only available for viewing on a 35 mm reel that Glover travels around with. And the Egyptian is the only venue in town with a 35 mm projector.
So why do it this way? Glover had one word: vaudeville.
"Vaudeville was the main form of entertainment for most of the history of the U.S.," he said. "It has only relatively recently stopped being the main source of entertainment, but that does not mean this live element mixed with other media is no longer viable. In fact, it is apparent it is sorely missed."
And Glover, who gets fairly regular work in the corporate studio movie world, is hard at work becoming something of an artistic Robin Hood to bring vaudeville back.
"If for some reason the director is not truly interested in doing something that I personally find interesting with the character, then I can console myself that, with the money I am making to be in their production, I can help to fund my own films that I am so truly passionate about," he said.
Evil Wine Show host Wes Malvini, one of the event's organizers, said he's admired Glover's work since he was a teenager.
"He's not afraid of being eccentric," said Malvini. "As a young person from a Mormon background, I found that inspiring."
A show this unusual may seem daunting to the uninitiated. Even Glover admits it.
"In the seven years that I have been touring, I have only met two people at the book-signing portion of the show that let me know this was the first thing they had ever seen of me," he said.
But if you want to see a Hollywood actor give a truly strange performance, Malvini said this is your chance.
"He's been in some of the greatest movies with some of the greatest directors, and this is him just being himself," he said. "You're not going to see anything like it ever again."