Elliot Crown is an actor who likes the political, an activist who loves creativity. Mash that together and you get one of New York’s only political puppeteers. His puppets have been widely covered, but people rarely see the man behind the mask. Aside from his political theater, Crown also works “about 14 jobs, like all actors in New York” and appeared in the movie Isn’t It Delicious. Crown, who has been “45 for quiet a while,” shares his East Village apartment with many of the papier mâché masks he created – like the Donald Trump with $-eyes or Hillary Clinton’s Pinocchio nose.
After college, I ran into a friend who said, “I am going to tour the country as a clown in the circus.” And I said, “Can I go with you?” And he said, “Can you ride an elephant?” And I said, “No problem.”
All through the 2000s I performed in a helmet mask, which was a caricature of George W. Bush, with a very brilliant radical feminist troop called The Missile Dick Chicks. They played crazy right-wingers with phony Texas accents. But the whole time they were wearing strap-on penises that looked like cruise missiles. It was completely insane, jaw dropping.
Until the last day of Bush’s reign. That night, I raced to Times Square. It was filled with people. Everybody was ecstatic. So I thought, I will put on the Bush mask. In theater you want the experience of catharsis. People started bouncing off of me, shoving me and bonking on my head. It was pretty rough.
I am a news junkie. I have been very interested in trade, climate change, genetically modified foods, war, complicity of banks, that whole thing. I got deep into Occupy Wall Street. One of the best things I have ever done was on Times Square, where on Election Eve in 2012 we had a 13-foot-tall Monopoly Man. And we had a Romney and an Obama and he was holding them both by their ties. Money controlling both parties.
I am always disappointed how few artists engage. They are having their esthetic approaches, and it’s all lovely and good, but we are in crisis. Then there is also the money aspect to put up a Broadway show. Tickets will be a $100, what kind of a marketplace of ideas is that?
At a recent March for Bernie you performed a “Pinocchio theater” that made fun of Hillary Clinton. How did that come about?
Hillary is completely a machine-politician. And yet she has managed to create this aura of being pro-woman and pro-children. There ain’t nothing progressive about her. The image of Hillary as a Pinocchio is one of those things, where everybody instantly [snaps], “Oh, I get that. She is a liar.”
It’s not just the election. The media is here, which allows me to GMO-stuff and climate change-stuff and Wall Street-stuff. There were 35 cities that had pro-Bernie marches. New York was the only city that got any mainstream coverage, and I am talking about the Rolling Stone sort of mainstream.
I did this thing at Trump Tower. I had that evil money-eyed mask and a sign that said “Trump. Make America Hate Again.” I just wanted to knock Trump, because of the racist thing. I do want him to be the candidate. He will be made into some kind of doormat by Bernie in about four minutes.
He is telling the truth. It’s that simple. You’ve got to support Bernie. Even if he doesn’t make it to the White House. They have stolen elections before. And then there is always the chance of a plane crash. Lots of people who don’t agree with Wall Street have plane crashes. But he has already opened a door that they will not be able to close. He has already succeeded.