Barbecue Nations

Aryanfest was hardly the badass event it billed itself. Shaved-headed men hugged each other like they were at a gay pride picnic.

At which juncture Poindexter related to Mahon that he remembered touring a Titan missile site when he was a Boy Scout, and wondered aloud whether a small group of well-armed elite shock troop skinheads might not be able to storm that site, take it over, and launch on the U.S. capital.

Growing visibly agitated with excitement at the prospect, Mahon advised Poindexter to survey his fellow Arizona skinheads to find out which others had toured the nuclear missile site as Boy Scouts, and then pool their recollections of the site's layout -- security towers, perimeter fences, location of launch control room, etc. "It could be done," Mahon said confidently.

Neither Poindexter nor Mahon appeared to consider that, even if their theoretical squadron of shaved-headed ninjas could get past armed military security, wouldn't it take incredible technical expertise (not to mention top-secret launch codes) to fire a Titan missile? After all, it's not as if there's a big green button on the control panel that says: "Nuke D.C."

Aryanfest took place outside Fountain Hills.
Aryanfest took place outside Fountain Hills.
Skinheads in wife-beaters danced with each other to 
the beat of hate bands at Aryanfest.
Skinheads in wife-beaters danced with each other to the beat of hate bands at Aryanfest.

Also, it occurred to at least one of the four sets of ears listening to the plan that the Titan site Poindexter recalled touring as a lad might, in fact, have been the Titan Missile Museum just outside of Tucson -- where the warheads are most definitely not still active.

Details, details.

"I can't be involved directly, but I like the way you think," Mahon said. "I like you skinheads. You guys do good work."

While Mahon and Poindexter plotted their attack on Washington, Hansi, a special guest from the fatherland, took the stage. In his late 20s, the German Nazi's glacial blue eyes, chiseled visage, short-cropped light hair and powerhouse musculature combined to make him appear more caricature than flesh. It was as if he'd leapt to the stage off the yellowing paper of a Third Reich propaganda poster for Proud Aryan Youth.

His accent was thicker than his forearms.

He began, "I am coming 3,560 miles vrom ze snow en Deutschland to ze desert en Ari-zoh-nah to tell you zat en Deutschland, ve are under ze pressure from ze nigger gangs and ze Turkish gangs and ze Zionism just like you."

A skinhead in the audience shot Hansi a zeig heil (natch) and cried out: "Deutschland Uber Alles!" (Germany Over All!)

Hansi shouted back, "Dank you!"

Then he pointed to the banners decorating the stage. "I like zese colors, ze black, ze red, and ze white, ja? In Deutschland, ve have our own famous black, red, and white flag, perhaps you know ze flag?"

The crowd cheered and the five or six skinheads closest to the stage yanked up their shirts to reveal gigantic black swastikas tattooed on their chests and backs. Gripping the microphone nervously with both hands, Hansi rushed into the climax of his remarks.

"I am coming here to say to you zis flag shall rise again, in Deutschland, and in America, and in all ze lands of ze Aryan people! Hail ze new dawn! Hail ze new dawn! Hail ze new dawn!"

A barrage of right arms shot skyward with every "Hail," and from the adoring squeals and lustful glances directed toward the handsome Hansi from the Women for Aryan Unity booth as he left the stage, it was obvious that this member of the Master Race would (if girls are his thing) have little trouble boning an Amerikaner Gretel that evening.

But it was California's Tom Metzger rather than hunky Hansi who proved to be the biggest celebrity at Aryanfest. At 65, Metzger retains the notorious swagger that has made him a skinhead legend over the past three decades. His rasping voice rat-a-tat-tats racist rhetoric like a machine gun that need not be paused for reloading.

Metzger clearly delights in his bad self, and makes no attempts to soften his message for the media, which has followed him from a civil trial in Portland, Oregon, in 1990 to violent appearances on Geraldo to Hollywood. In the late '90s, Metzger says he was the inspiration for the character played by Stacy Keach in American History X. Metzger says he worked with the filmmakers, helped train the actors and furnished skinhead extras. There are points in the film, Metzger says, that accurately depict reality ("Strong points that are good for our side"), like when Edward Norton's character, who, after discovering two black men breaking into his car, makes one of them bite the concrete curb and then stomps his head into mush. Metzger calls the curby a "normal reaction."

This kind of tough talk is what made Metzger such a hero for Aryanfest attendees.

At this point in his career, Tom Metzger has no need to prepare any speeches. "I'm going to wing it," he said before he went on stage. He wound up talking about his opposition to the Iraq war, and why he backs Reverend Al Sharpton for president: "Sharpton's the only one to mention race, the only one to recognize there is a white race."

Metzger calls himself a white exterminist, rather than a white separatist. He favors the "lone wolf" or "covert cell" approach to winning the race war. Metzger sees himself as an ideologue and a public figure who influences others but does not control them -- which is key to avoiding litigation should his "associates" act on his suggestions.

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