As you will remember a couple of weeks ago I brought you the first part of my interview with The Scary Guy, that I hope you enjoyed. Today I bring you the second one, where we talk about media, fate, changing names, and work…
I asked Scary about changing his legal name to The Scary Guy. He told me it was on the 22nd February 1998, in Tucson, Arizona in court. News, TV and other media were outside and it was quite full. The judge asked him some questions and he replied. She noted this was the strangest name change she’d presided over but the reasons were sound. I asked him if he missed his given name and he told me that his mother had chosen it but inside he was still him. His mother named him after her own father. On his father’s side they were descended from the UK. His mother was also interested in genealogy and had traced her tree back to 1610. She had found 17 ancestors called Thomas Buckingham, and thirteen of them were reverends. And again, ironically, Scary now lives across a church. He felt there was a sense of connection.
In the book there are reflections about fate and I asked him if he thought he was meant to be who he is and to do what he does now. Scary replied: “I am a purpose. This is not a job. This is my life, my life’s work. Not many people live their life’s work.” He told me that only when he is asleep, maybe then, he’s not at work and some people might feel that’s an obsession but that’s how things are. “This is who I am.”
He described it as a journey and he said that when he went to a tattoo artist and decided to have a tattoo on his face (which he clarified the whole process took several years, 7 or 8) he said it was because at the time, it was his way of saying “fuck you society” because he didn’t like the society he lived in. Once the process started there was no going back. “This is how I ended up looking. This is my life. This is the place where I put myself. I take responsibility for all my actions. It is meant to be this way.” He noted there is no way to live as anything else other than maybe covering his head with a paper bag, but that could call even more attention to himself! (In the film and the book Scary discussed how at first he had many tattoos on his body but these would be covered over when he went to work for an IT firm by his shirt and tie, until eventually he decided to have a tattoo on his neck and this was when he left that kind of job, knowing there was no way back to that kind of corporate employment.)
In further discussion of the issue of fate he told me that many people from different religious beliefs had told him his role in life is the fruit of a higher power. He said he always accepted their beliefs and would never try to contradict them and he recognised these were their belief systems. He commented that perhaps death is but another birth, and that he found it difficult to believe that once we die, it is simply as if we had never been, difficult to believe that it was all for nothing, unless we believe we’re only here for the reproduction of the species. He mentioned how his neighbour Roy had died recently, a man he felt close to and it had made him think even more about the subject of death and the purpose of life.
Scary told me he believes everything everybody does is residual, and nobody is more powerful than anybody else. Everybody’s actions have impact and power; it helps to form other people, to make a shift. Although everybody has the same power some people are better known than others.
I had seen in the video and read in the book about the variety of people he works with and asked him what kind of job give him more satisfactions (although they will come at the right time) and he told me he is due to go to the United States in August to work at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC. He told me Lieutenant Colonel James Armstrong had asked him to go and provide training there for two days because they felt Scary’s message could help. He told me this is a very highly specialised work and he feels it is an honour to be invited to come into their community and help. It is a huge thing, because as Scary noted, he is not the kind of person the institution might think of in such circumstances. “Hey, bring in a tattooed man.” No, that’s not the kind of people they are supposed to defer to for help. He doesn’t fit in with the image most people would have of who they would call for help.
I asked Scary if he had had much opposition/criticism from any official sources or other quarters to his work. He told me that the CNN had engaged in what appeared to him to be blatant “character assassination”. He told me when they contacted him to do a 20 minutes feature of him, he suspected they might be planning to present him in a bad a light, but he did not mind. He told me of his 5 days full training program (the amount of training required that would get somebody conversant enough with the basics of what he teaches) CNN attended and filmed three full days with two cameras; nearly 60 hours of film and then edited it and cut it completely out of context. They focused on some of the sketches, stories and techniques where he role-plays some of the common negative behaviours that people produce. In the show, this allows people to reflect on their own behaviour. However, taken out of context as CNN did, they minimised the content, meaning and message – probably because they did not feel he should work with children, all based in judgement of how he looks.
Scary said that although many people think the media are “neutral” and just report on facts, that is not the case now and it is doubtful it has ever been the case. They are always reactionary and they have their own agenda. He said that despite knowing all of this, that he still went ahead because there is no such thing as bad publicity and of the millions of people who might have seen the programme, even if as little as 10000 people saw through that kind of reporting and felt curious enough to do more research, that would have more than justified the effort. He told me he tells the media: “You think you’re going to use me, but I’m going to use you” and it is a trade-off. He explained how he told the Manchester Evening News in the UK that if they wanted to sell many newspapers they just needed to put a picture of him making a scary face in the front page with the headline: Murder, Killing, Suicide, Death and in very small letters: see the story on page 3. And it worked! Papers always look for negative information to put on the front page because bad news sells. The media might want people to be scared of him but when they read the story; they are going to get a different message.
This is the link to the previous post:
And links to get to know Scary better:
Join Scary on his Facebook Fan Page
Scary’s Biography: 7 Days & 7 Nights
Thank you very much for reading, thank you to Scary and Cathryn for their kindness, and help, and if you’ve enjoyed it, you know what to do: like, share, comment, and of course CLICK!