Freaks and Geeks

Underground groupie Bob Judd just wants to make Phoenix a little weird

And they've never watched his films.

Bob gets along best with his sister Christy, who is studying to be an osteopath and is into alternative therapies.

After high school, Bob enrolled at Arizona State University, where he befriended a group of like-minded boys -- "the radical fairies of Phoenix" -- all of whom are now dead, mostly suicides and overdoses. Eventually, he moved to San Francisco, where one of those boys, his soul mate, Butch (Judd got the namesake dog just after Butch OD'd and died in the late '90s), had just discovered something called crystal meth. Judd liked it, but he preferred heroin, and he spent much of the next decade in a haze. He holds up his arm, showing off a collapsed vein. Even then, Judd continued to collect interesting friends, like Cockette Kreemah Ritz, who has a slightly different recollection of events back then than Judd does.

Judd kicks back in his home office.
Kristen Wright
Judd kicks back in his home office.
Judd in drag, 1983.
Tony Gowan
Judd in drag, 1983.

"I liked him because he had blue hair, but he was a flaky junkie and I dismissed him fairly quickly," Ritz e-mails back in response to a question about their relationship at the time.

Judd was a guest at several residential treatment programs, including one in Sonoma that Grace Slick went to, he says, although not at the same time.

Eventually, Judd kicked his heroin and booze habits, moved to Phoenix and finally graduated from ASU. He made his movies, then moved to Los Angeles to work for South Park. Aside from some images on his demo reel, the few souvenirs Judd has from that time are scattered around his dusty house -- a stuffed Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo tucked in a corner, a lipstick-covered South Park mug next to his computer. He says he loved working with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show's creators, who threw parties with margarita and sushi bars. But he says Comedy Central treated him poorly, only paying him $15 an hour (he started at $8) to work on what became a smash hit show. That's when he needed a union, Judd muses -- a strong statement for a guy who hates them. He watched his father get screwed around by the unions while he was at Phelps Dodge, Judd says, and while he himself was delivering papers for the San Francisco Chronicle, they went out on strike and it only hurt him.

That's about the only conservative political position Bob Judd seems to hold. He's way to the left of the mainstream left in America, busy taping copies of Outfoxed and handing them around -- although he had no idea during an interview that it was election day, the day of the primary earlier this month. He says he can't run for office himself because of some felony convictions for drug possession and prostitution he got during the San Francisco years, but he's glib enough to stand up against just about anyone in public office today -- he even repeats his sound bites ad nauseam, in the manner of the classic candidate.

"America is the ultimate terrorist," he says -- several times. "We're the bullies of the freaking planet."

Two years ago, he says (although it must have been four), Judd was the southwestern chairman of the Unabomber for President campaign -- an effort designed to cast votes in protest of the existing hierarchy and its potential replacement.

Mostly, Judd tries to do his political persuading through his art, like Jesse Helms Is Cleaning Up America, which features images of Helms inside a glass jar that, at the end of the film, is graphically filled with urine, à la Piss Christ -- one of the images that prompted Helms to try to do away with the National Endowment for the Arts. (Judd used his own lips for the film, but hired a model for the penis shots.) The funniest and most effective part of the movie, actually, comes at the end of the credits, when the message "This project was made possible with a generous grant from the NEA" flashes on the screen.

Back in his living room, post-coffee, Judd screens the films as workmen wander in and out of his master bathroom, where they're replacing the tile. The Charles Manson-narrated Bovine Vendetta was ultimately sold to the Sci-Fi Channel. Judd explains that he called the people who produce Geraldo Rivera's show, where the Manson interview originally aired, to ask for permission.

"They said no, and I did it anyhow," Judd says over the Manson-voiced talking cow, who says, "Satan to me would be God."

The cow had been pictured as the 4-H winner at the 1996 Arizona State Fair.

Phoenix has been good to Bob Judd. He befriended Lydia Lunch when she came to town for an opening of her work last year at Perihelion Arts, the book shop/gallery on Grand Avenue that is as close to a freak headquarters as the city has.

Amy Young, co-owner of Perihelion, knows and adores Judd.

"Loving Bobbee Precious, for me, comes in three parts," she says, "one, because there is absolutely no one else like him in Phoenix; two, because he is absolutely very caring and generous; and three, because he doesn't give a fuck what anyone thinks and he just goes for it; totally puts himself out there with his completely unique style, from personality to fashion. He's got a true love of the subculture, and he celebrates it on many levels. He's a true fan who takes that one step beyond by developing working relationships with artistic minds and weirdoes that he admires, taking an admiration to a mutual peer relation. And he does enough creative work to generate his own fans as well. He's a beautiful freak show. He's Hollywood Boulevard and what used to be Times Square all rolled into one."

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