My boyfriend calls me Schlitze
Disclaimer: In nice way, he says. Because Schlitze laughs all the time even though his teeth are crooked. Because Schlitze is full of joie de vivre. Because Schlitze loves everybody. Because Schlitze tends to hit people to make his points.

Of course Schlitze is also a bald, big-nosed, three-foot tall, mentally challenged tranny who can't change his own diapers, and plus he's dead, so I could theoretically get offended. But just watch his big scene from Freaks (filmmaker Tod Browning is another obsession, but more on that later), to get a taste of the love...

Watch Schlitze's Big Scene

Did you watch it? Aren't you smiling right now? Didn't you just forget about your 401k, your muffintop, your cable bill, your cavities? Don't you really really want a hat with a feather on it?

I even like the fact that there's a little bit of edge to his glee. A hint of sideshow mania: like lolcats channeling Tom Waits. Check out artist Drew Friedman tapping into the scary side of Simon Metz:


Sigh, Shlitze. Circus freak, mental midget, microcephaletic poster child, you lived in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, you were the only non-animal movie star in Hollywood who never let fame go to your head, maybe just because your head was too small...

If you could combine Schlitze's heart and Einstein's brain, you'd have achieved the apex of human potential. I keep a picture of him on my laptop and every time I click on it I get an oxytocin rush.

And not just me. If you believe his biographers, which is not necessarily a good idea, because so much Schlitze-lore has passed into legend, including origin tales that have him born in Santa Fe, Mexico, and, whoa, Brooklyn he lived out the end of his days being well-loved by two tough caregivers who took him to Echo Park on sunny days. Everyone loved him, the old people, the kids, the cops, even the cholos...He eventually died in 1971. And because, he was forgotten and buried in an unmarked grave.

But his fans, who are legion, got together and changed that. The thread in which they started raising money for a headstone is proof that Good occasionally triumphs over Evil and her prettier stepsister, Neglect. Here it is.


In our hearts, we are all Schlitze.

There's more I could say, and I will, especially because in a few weeks I'm heading down to LA to visit his grave.

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