But times have been tough. The 55-year-old L.A. resident hasn’t worked for Tim and Eric for a year (he got laid off, he says), so he can’t afford to let any opportunity pass him by. These days, he’s been putting up Christmas decorations on store windows to scrape up enough money to cover his December rent.
“The rotten Republicans are cutting off everybody’s unemployment starting January the 1st, so I’m walking on a tight rope,” he says. “It is scary.”
Hart, an avowed Christian Scientist and a believer in UFOs, has been a fixture in the margins of Hollywood for decades. With his goofy croon and his puppet collection (including several giant animals, an alien and a little guy named “Chip the Black Boy”), he commands a formidable cult following. At Tin Can Ale House, where Hart performed on Nov. 23 with a rock band headed by Adam Papagan, his young sidekick, a gaggle of 20somethings eagerly shook Hart’s hand, bought up his handmade CDs and autographed photos and sat down for quick $5 portraits.
What’s the allure? The weirdly hilarious puppetry and silly songs, of course, but also the man himself. He’s a harmless eccentric who lives in his own world—and he’ll happily welcome you in. Just ask him about the Corinians, an alien species that lives on a planet 411 light years from Earth.
“They look like Italians,” he tells me at Tin Can. “Real white skin and black hair. They blend in so well.
“Their women are beautiful,” he adds, noting that he once met a Corinian woman at the La Brea Tar Pits. “This woman looked like Bettie Page.”
Aliens allegedly abducted him when he was a child. They took hair, blood and skin samples. In the years since, he’s become an expert on the alien universe. He pulls a glossary of Corinian words from his backpack. He shows me the Corinian alphabet, printed on one of his autographed photos. He tells me that the Corinians have been engaged in star warfare for 200 years with the Omegans, another alien species who are ancestors of Irish and Scottish peoples.
“They got people brainwashed that the UFO phenomenon isn’t real,” he says, without explaining who “they” are. “It’s real. It’s where most of our technology comes from. And most humans are descended from them.”
As a performer, it isn’t clear whether Hart’s trying to entertain or simply being himself.
On the Tin Can stage, he told anecdotes about Asian girls, bedbugs, trains and his divorce, punctuating each with the line: “And I wrote a song about it.” Then, as the band rocked out, he’d repeat the story he’d just told, almost word for word, but in song. After requests from the packed crowd, he concluded the set with a rousing a cappella take on “Salame,” his trademark song, in which he belts out the Corinian greeting: “Go into the light, until we meet again.”
For all his crowd-pleasing moments, Hart can come across as a bitter man in conversation, as he hurls accusations at religious leaders and former employers who’ve crossed him. His rage shows through in Monsters, a record he and Papagan released this year. Over the grinding punk riff and fevered drums of “Politricks,” the opening track, Hart takes on one of his biggest adversaries yet: Republicans.
“The Republicans lie!” he shrieks. “They don’t care about the poor and needy!”
It’s a telling track: He may live in his own reality, but he knows he’s got bills to pay.
David Liebe Hart performs with Flesh the Racist Crayon, The Yiffs and DJ Thomas K Bohan at Soda Bar on Tuesday, Dec. 14. www.myspace.com/liebehart