You may not know his name(s) but you definitely know Matthew Silver, aka the Great Performer, aka the Village Idot, aka the Man in the White Dress, aka this year’s Mr. Lower East Side. He’s the crazy-eyed carrot-top who strips down to a speedo in Union Square and terrifies tourists by playing with props like a rubber chicken and an ostrich costume, all the while promoting the “wackadoodle love movement.”
In the beginning, many dismissed Silver’s BWAKing, proselytizing, and fart noises as a common loon, but years of doing his thing in the streets, the subways, proper venues, and even the Apple store have made it clear he’s really just a dedicated performance artist and self-confessed clown. He’s even received a grant from Franklin Furnace.
Despite a few mini docs, we still don’t know Mr. Silver’s deepest motivations for stripping down and acting the fool, so it’s kind of great that “Dr.” , the comedian and performance artist who often conducts unlicensed therapy sessions in front of live audiences, invited him to lie on her couch as a part of a podcast series she did for BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Her conversation with him is revealing, to say the least: Silver talks about being criticized by a dad who considered him a “space cadet,” wanting to be a child star like Macaulay Culkin, being diagnosed with a learning disorder and placed in special ed, being the class “dweeb” in high school and middle school, having a “freakout attack” and being sent to the hospital after smoking too much weed, being “filled with fear” when he first started performing, and then eventually coming into his own and realizing it was his mission to “make as many people laugh as possible.”
But what you’re really wondering: he hasn’t “had a lot of experience with women in general,” but he is “kind of seeing a girl right now.”
You can hear the podcast — along with others Levy conducted with everyone from a hospice nurse to Miss New York State — at BAM through Nov. 1, or listen online here.