5 Local Weirdos Who Rose to Legendary Heights

5 Local Weirdos Who Rose to Legendary Heights

Everybody loves a good old-fashioned weirdo. At least the real ones, not the people who are so panicked about not having a personality that they decide to be “quirky.” A good rule of thumb to know whether someone is a true, dyed-in-the-wool, classic weirdo is this: If they’re “being weird,” they want attention. If someone is weird, regardless of how many people are watching, they’re one of these blessed, strange angels. It’s also important that their brand of “weird” doesn’t involve, like, kidnapping children or setting fires.

Odds are if you live in any sort of sufficiently populated location, you’ve got your own local weirdos that inject a little much-needed curiosity into everybody’s day-to-day. Sometimes, though, that weird fish in a small pond can be so fascinatingly unusual that they raise the eyebrows of the whole country, or world. It’s definitely one of the least profitable ways to become famous, but it’s fame nonetheless.

Here are five local weirdos who achieved national fame…

Rent Is Too Damn High Guy

If you want to make a name for yourself as a politician, and you don’t have the benefit of bottomless campaign coffers or a legacy-approved last name, you’re stuck campaigning on pure policy and charisma. Jimmy McMillan provided a version of both that the public took to like flies to honey. First, with an iconic slicked-back do and facial hair configuration, offset with silver hoop earrings, he commanded attention. When someone looks like a lawyer for pirates, you’re going to listen to what they have to say. 

He delivered, to that rapt attention, a policy stance that no red-blooded American could, in good faith, disagree with: that rent was too damn high. The man immediately became a meme, and one of the good ones. A meme of solidarity, of collective strength. Saturday Night Live’s unaging, omnipresent Kenan Thompson proudly took on his mantle. And unlike most internet memes, the essence remains just as relatable today. McMillan himself reflected on his statement with renewed approval in a 2022 interview, saying “The rent really was too damn high. And I knew it was going to get worse.”

Vermin Supreme

Another political weirdo who achieved recognition partly through an unorthodox appearance is perennial candidate for everything, Vermin Supreme. Even if you don’t know him by name, you’ve likely seen a clip or photo of him in various political forums wearing his trademark hat — and by hat, I mean large rubber boot. In stark opposition to McMillan’s exceedingly clear, single issue platform, though, Vermin Supreme’s platform is pure chaos and anarchy.

He approaches his numerous political speaking engagements and campaigns with a desire to cause gleeful confusion. It’s sort of like if Andy Kaufman was a Kennedy. Though Vermin Supreme lives in New Hampshire, he’s more than willing to travel in the name of spreading his core beliefs, which include free ponies for every American and candidates releasing their dental records.

The Lizardman

When most people’s exposure to someone is through a Ripley’s Believe It or Not cover, it can be easy to write them off as a two-dimensional curio. This is likely the case with a man whose images widely populate the internet, often with no name attached other than “The Lizardman.” People are fascinated by any sort of serious body modification, and the Lizardman provides that along with a neat theme, sporting full-body tattoos, horn implants, a forked tongue and filed teeth.

People just looking for a freak show, though, might be disappointed to learn that, ersatz reptilia aside, he’s a human named Erik Sprague. Sure, he’s heavily decorated — and has a genuine fascination with carnival geek culture and stunts — but he’s also got a college degree and is happy to chat on the phone with a Washington Post reporter about his interests.

The Naked Cowboy

Maybe the most enduring poster child for “famous for what?” is NYC’s famous Naked Cowboy. Costumes are nothing new in Times Square, his most frequent haunt, but usually, they’re meant to be recognizable. The stitching may be loose, the eyes wonky, and the inhabitant slightly drunk off a tall boy of Crazy Horse malt liquor, but it’s still Elmo. The Naked Cowboy is instead, well, exactly what he promises. Sure, you could argue his boots, hat and briefs invalidate the claim, but they’re each a necessity in their own way: safety, theme and staying off the sex-offenders’ registry.

For whatever reason, this wholly original character seems custom-made to slot into the hearts of Americans across the country. He’s now a fixture of Times Square and a classic New York tourism experience on par with the Statue of Liberty and getting scammed out of “bus fare.” In fact, it might be hard to argue with considering him for the throne of the most successful street performer of all time.

David Liebe Hart

A lot of the time, street performers and weirdos by trade might be looking for a path into genuine Hollywood success. Most of the time, outside of a Saturday Night Live send-up or a cameo appearance as themselves in a movie gag, it doesn’t quite work out. It’s like making yourself the Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy, if that guy was a naked cowboy. It’s too hard to shake that initial image.

For Christian scientist and genuine weirdo David Liebe Hart, his strangeness was seen and appreciated by maybe the most perfect duo possible: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. He found his way onto their show Tim and Eric Awesome Show: Great Job!, which has both contributed immensely to internet comedy and spawned legions of unwatchable sketches centered around incorrect word pronunciations. Hart went from public access television, where he’d been producing his own shows, to genuine, nationwide broadcast. It also made Hart a bit of an icon amongst the alternative comedy scene, something that he’s turned into successful solo tours.

Scroll down for the next article


Forgot Password?