Fat Mike’s ‘Cokie the Clown’ set at South By Southwest 2010 was graphic in nature. The stories Mike told and the things he did at Emo’s Annex during SXSW left me shaking afterward. Damian Abraham, lead singer of the band Fucked Up, later described this Cokie set as the most depressing and fucked up thing he had ever seen. This article is going to be very rough in nature and isn’t advisable for the young or the weak of stomach.
It needs to be mentioned that I do not have an audio record of the event, so all the stories recounted here will be to the best of my memory. Most discerning readers will question the complete accuracy of Mikes stories and accounts. While it would be almost impossible to verify these intimate moments I can say that Mike’s friends and other artists that are close to him told me it was their belief that the stories are 100% true. It’s my understanding that this is the first and last set of its type that will ever be performed.
As one of the last sets on the last night of SXSW, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Fat Mike. Clowns creep me out so it wasn’t like I was expecting to be in anyway comfortable. Pinpoint Music had press access to the show, and as such, I was actually sitting on the stage, positioned stage right the entire event. Sitting next to me were several of Fat Mike’s friends and artists he had asked to be there.
Fat Mike, in full clown costume complete with over-sized Chuck Taylors, was preceded by a videographer that was rolling footage as they walked past me on the way to the stage. The moment Mike showed up as Cokie the Clown it was immediately evident that this was not going to be a comedic type of set. His face was adorned in makeup akin to a traditional European whiteface clown but his eyes were empty and glazed over – the emptiness was vacuous.
Entering to a raucous cheer and holding a bottle of Patron Anejo, Cokie poured out about 40 shots to a tray of glasses he had waiting. After taking about five for himself he passed the rest to the crowd who reflexively devoured them like Pavlov’s dogs.
Cokie played about 5 or 6 songs, including a two or three minute acoustic version of “The Decline” which was amazing, “My Orphan Year”, “Cokie The Clown”, and two brand new songs “Drinking Pee” and “La Pietà,” (which means “pity” in Italian). All that turned out to be an ancillary part of the show however. The series of stories Cokie told started off with an account of how back in the mid -’80s Mike and Eric Melvin had witnessed a girl being forcefully carried down the stairs of a club on her way to being raped. As it goes, they both stood there watching slack jawed as she stared at them helplessly, then she grabbed onto both of them and yelled, “Help me!”. The men told Mike and Eric not to say a word. They did exactly that and went upstairs to watch the Vandals perform.
By the time he started talking about his relationship with his father, all of Mike’s friends who were standing near me had noticeably changed their demeanor. Mike talked about conversations with his father that occurred a bit later in his life, presumably his twenties. His father told Mike that after he was divorced from Mike’s mom, she made him see Mike two times a month. His father admitted that all he ever wanted to do was get laid and party, and had no desire to have him as a child. Later in life, when the wife of Mike’s father called him and told him that his father had passed, she wanted to know if he would attend the funeral. Mike was on tour at this point and canceled a show in Fresno to attend the service. He showed up in the tour van, got out, and said two sentences about how he would have loved to have known his Father. Then Mike went back to the van, and did drugs.
Jumping ahead in the show a little bit Mike talked about his mother’s passing. By this point Mike’s eyes were blood shot from fighting back tears. Mike’s mother was in the hospital with a terminal diagnosis. As Mike sat by his barely-alive mother on her death bed, he told her stories about women he used to have “fucked up kinky sex” with. He said it brought a small smile to his mothers face; letting him know she was still alive. After a short while his mother got up enough strength to ask Mike to help end her life. Mike felt it was his obligation, as her son, to oblige her final requests. After talking with the nurses Mike was entrusted with what was believed to be a lethal amount of prescription narcotics to administer to his mother (for those who haven’t been there – being entrusted to administer an overdose of pills while the hospital effectively turns a blind eye is pretty commonplace in these situations). As Mike put it, her brain wanted to go but her heart was too strong. The pills didn’t kill her. After telling the rest of his family to exit the room, the nurse gave Mike a lethal dose of insulin to administer to his Mother. Mike injected her with the insulin and then proceeded to gently hold a pillow over his Mothers face until she ceased to breathe. After telling this story Mike played a never-released or played song that he wrote about the event.
At some point in Mike’s youth he lived in a house with 8 of his friends. One evening while Mike was cooking, one of his housemates emerged from his room with a bloodied face. His friend informed him that he had just fallen while attempting to commit suicide by hanging himself with a bullwhip, which failed because the whip had snapped under his weight. Mike told his friend, “Don’t do that” – he then decided to finish cooking himself some beans. That next day he discovered that his friend had successfully hung himself using a length of TV cable. When Mike and his other friends walked in on this suicide scene they took it upon themselves to pilfer through their deceased buddy’s things and steal what they wanted. Mike said all he took was a vinyl record. The next day Mike stood there and watched as the deceased’s parents were in tears, cleaning their son’s blood from the floor.
Mike ended the show with a story told while mixing a White Russian. Mike was at a concert flirting with a groupie who told him that she didn’t get out much because she had a two year old at home. He asked her if she’d, “ever been milked by a dude”. She then confessed to Mike that it was one of her darkest sexual fantasies to be tied up and milked like a cow. Mike told her to meet him upstairs in ten minutes and he would oblige her. Once upstairs he told her to strip down and proceeded to hog tie her on a table making sure to allow her breasts to hang off the edge over a cup. He then added Vodka and Kahlua, and used the milk to make a White Russian.
As Mike finished his last song, he announced that he had a video that he had prepared especially for this evening. The mood in the building was completely fucked at this point. Upon instruction, his videographer hooked up the same camera he had been recording on the entire time to a 20-something inch TV that was positioned stage left. His camera man rewound through the entire footage to reveal a scene that occurred kitty-corner to the artist entrance of this venue. There, Mike was with his clearly visible naked dick filling a bottle of Patron Anejo, that started about 5/8 full to mask the taste, with piss. Without cutting away, the camera tracked with Mike, in full Cokie the Clown garb, as he corked the bottle, walked into the venue, and served it to the very crowd that now looked on in amazement. As the scene unfolded, some of the crowd cheered but most of us were too disturbed for emotion.