IT SIMPLY didn't work.
When the music stopped Friday night at the San Jose Oasis, it was
painfully apparent that the John Wayne Bobbitt nightclub show had failed to
perform as expected. It shed no light whatsoever on his side of the notorious
sexual mutilation case. It didn't work as theater. And it wasn't even
A meager crowd of 300 people turned out at the First Street dance club to
see what could probably be characterized as the lowest sideshow attraction
on the road to cultural Armageddon. What they got for their $5 was a ragged
spectacle that had about as much entertainment value as a freeway pileup.
In addition to signing autographs and hawking T-shirts, Bobbitt was to
be the object of a dance contest. The point of the dubious "Achieve a
Medical Miracle" exercise was to test the erectile capacity of his
re-attached genitalia. The first woman who could get Bobbitt aroused by
slow dancing would walk away with $1,000.
This was all rather anti-climactic, in light of the fact Bobbitt had
bluntly told a radio audience earlier that day that the organ did not
function in a sexual capacity.
If anything complimentary is to be said of the former Marine and
nightclub bouncer, it's this: He is still the good soldier. Bobbitt,
dressed in black jeans and a striped rugby shirt, gamely went along with
the entire dog-and-pony show. He stood at the edge of the stage grinning
sheepishly as comedian Doug Ferrari ran through a hastily prepared litany
of penis jokes that were so bad they triggered a small bombardment of cups
and napkins. He laughed when the emcee introduced a dancer in a giant
hot-dog costume as "the stuff John Wayne Bobbitt's nightmares are made
of." He even tried to do a little stand-up shtick of his own. (He
needed two takes to get the one-liner right.)
When the time came for the main event, he shuffled around the center of
the stage as a series of four women culled from the audience rubbed against
his body to the tune of Sade's "Smooth Operator." As the cameras
rolled and the audience roared, it soon became apparent that Bobbitt was a
non-operator. The grim encounter was over in less than 10 minutes.
Bobbitt's current barnstorming tour through radio talk shows nationwide
is ostensibly a chance for him to tell his side of the story and raise
money to defray what he claims are $350,000 in medical and legal expenses.
His visit to the Bay Area was sponsored by a San Francisco
urban-contemporary station. The station said it did not pay Bobbitt an
appearance fee beyond travel expenses and lodging. It's unclear how much,
if any, money Bobbitt collected from his Friday engagements on the air and
in the club.
The nightclub show did make one thing abundantly clear: Bobbitt is no
great thinker. He has all the verbal acuity and the star presence of a
Handi-Wipe. Considering his perpetual deer-in-the-headlights expression,
one may wonder if it was his penis or his cerebral cortex that got lopped
off. Like his wife, he wears the garb of the hapless victim well.
In a brief post-performance interview, Bobbitt said he felt the club
event had worked out better than he'd expected. "It was fun. I've done
this before, and I'll probably do another," he said. He claimed to
have heard none of the boos coming from the small yet vocal contingent of
detractors sprinkled throughout the audience.
Why would someone who's already been traumatized submit to being paraded
across the country as a circus geek? And why a nightclub show, of all
things? "Just to get to know people. People should see that I'm not a
rapist or a violent man," he said. The disc jockey who'd been charged
with monitoring Bobbitt's every utterance cut in, adding "Look -- he's
a young single guy; he's got his life ahead of him, and there are many
attractive women who'd like to meet him."
When asked if he felt any sense of shame about the degrading contest
he'd just completed, Bobbitt appeared either not to hear or to fully
comprehend the question. After it was repeated, he thought about it for a
good long time and finally replied, "No. It's all a part of life. This
is fun. This is not serious. There's a time, you know, to be serious, and
this is fun."
When asked if he can envision a time when the public will tire of his
tragic brand of celebrity, Bobbitt replied, "Yeah, I think in a few
months it will all blow over. I plan to go to college and just go on. This
will all end soon."
Judging from his reception at the nightclub, Bobbitt's franchise on fame
may best be measured in days rather than months.