Mouthful of Midget

Chuey and Cap'n Mike find infamy spinning Wednesday night's Wheel of Fear Factor at Giligin's

"The dog food was absolutely the worst," Eric asserted later, tossing his head and smoking a ciggy with a Truman Capote-esque flair. "The beef bile? That was fine. Tasted like au jus."

After attending several WFF free-for-alls, I'm hooked, and any hump night not spent in Giligin's cantina-like waterin' hole at 4251 North Winfield Scott Plaza in Scottsdale is a hump night wasted. You never know what's gonna happen, and the Field and Chuey team can be a freakin' riot -- like a Ren & Stimpy marathon or a DVD compilation of Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes. That is, as long as you're not some Bible-thumpin' PTA prude with an arm-size stick up your fanny.

"It's a bar, people are drunk, shit happens," states the puffy-faced Field one night, pre-performance. "But people still get pissed off. They write letters, make phone calls, contact every city and state department to complain. They forget, it's midnight on a Wednesday at a bar. We're not a Denny's here."

According to the Cap'n, a tall, thick S.O.B. who resembles actor Randy Quaid, the concept started back in the early '90s when he co-owned a joint called Rowdy's in Tempe, and they had something called Wheel of Misfortune with the same setup, sans leprechaun. When TV's Fear Factor came along, they changed the name of their gig.

Rowdy's is history now. As is the branch of Giligin's the Cap'n once had back in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, though the photos on the door of the Scottsdale locale and in the restroom there tell the tale of some wild-ass times in Siam. Field returns periodically to Thailand, where he keeps a condo, hence his familiarity with all of the bizarre Asian delicacies like sea cucumbers and silkworms that he usually procures from Lee Lee Oriental Market in Chandler.

The Cap'n is a complex fella, usually ribald and eager to entertain, yet frequently morose and suspicious. No matter how many times we told the guy we thought Wheel of Fear Factor was off the chain, he'd end up muttering, "I know I'm gonna get screwed by this story somehow." The dood's the Rodney Dangerfield of club owners.

His affection for his vertically challenged sidekick seems to know no bounds, however. And for good reason. It's the Cap'n's show, but Chuey is most definitely the star, and nothing shines so bright as a dwarfstar. Get it?

"The Lord brought Chuey to me," half-kids the Cap'n. "I'd been praying for years and years for a midget. Then one of my waitresses says, 'Hey, I know a midget,' and brought him down. It was love at first sight. I told him it's gonna be a murder-suicide if he ever tries to quit."

Chuey joined the act about three years ago, and has a devoted fan base of people who come in to have their photos taken with him or just shake the wee man's chubby hand. It's not the first gig like this that the tattooed, pierced, Mohawked elf has ever scored. It was "Holmberg's Morning Sickness" on rock station 98 KUPD that christened the now-24-year-old Santiago Jimenez "Chuey the Rock 'n' Roll Midget" and employed him in promotions like one where chick contestants had to make out with him, and be rated on their kissing proficiency, to win a date at Ozzfest with the PHX Oompa Loompa. Aside from also hosting Giligin's Thursday karaoke night, he emcees events around town, and once had a company called Small World Productions, which would hold "midget wrestling" events at local venues, with Chuey rasslin' regular-size broads.

"That idea came from 98 KUPD," says Chuey, who has his own Web site at www.chueysworld.com. "We used to do creamed-corn wrestling to give away tickets. And we did it in Hooters' wing sauce once. The girls got tighty whities to wear and a white shirt, and I'd be in swim shorts and a tee. Whoever pinned me down the fastest would win a bar tab, or whatever."

"Awesome," I intone. "You're my new hero, mon. Why aren't you in Hollywood or New York? You could be the next Billy Barty or Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf."

"I've thought about it," says Chuey, who has a degree in computer animation from Collins College in Tempe and works as a computer geek by day. "People tell me that all the time. Ultimately, my dream is to be behind the camera, as a director. But if being in the spotlight led to that, that'd be okay. It's not like I have an agent or anything. I seem to get a lot of one-time gigs. Like when I came in the other day, there was this lady's phone number on my time card. She wants me to appear at her wedding reception and jump out from beneath her wedding dress when her husband lifts it to get her garter."

"What about the whole 'midget' thing?" I ask. "Obviously the word doesn't bother you."

"Technically, I'm a dwarf," he informs us. "Calling someone a midget is supposed to be like calling a Mexican a wetback. But I love the word 'midget.' It's better than 'dwarf.' I get e-mails from other little people sometimes, asking why I use the word 'midget,' why I exploit myself. I tell them, 'Someone gave me this gift, I might as well use it.'"

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