Hi, My Name Is Ryan

The clown prince of Phoenix's downtown art scene is sacrificing madcap antics for a Mormon mission

"It's just so hysterical," Avery says. "I'm this innocent kid, and in a way I took advantage of this innocent woman who's the complete opposite of me."

Hubbard thinks that behind Avery's virgin-like façade lies "an evil genius" akin to Andy Kaufman, even citing Douglas Patton as Ryan's version of Tony Clifton.

"I think a lot of times he's playing dumb or he's playing innocent, but I think he really knows what he's doing," Hubbard says. "I don't think he's always as uncomfortable or embarrassed as he seems to be onstage. I think people are playing right into it."

Ryan likes wearing motorcycle helmets because they provide him with security and "special performance powers."
Luke Holwerda
Ryan likes wearing motorcycle helmets because they provide him with security and "special performance powers."
The PHiX was such a mess after the final LYCD show in May that it took Avery and company three hours to clean up.
Luke Holwerda
The PHiX was such a mess after the final LYCD show in May that it took Avery and company three hours to clean up.

The final Locking Your Car Doors show is reaching its zenith, and the PHiX on Grand Avenue is the site of a massive orgy of annihilation.

A raging rabble of more than 50 teenage and twentysomething scenesters, many clad Unabomber-style in hoodies and sunglasses, has spent 90 minutes smashing all manner of home electronics into the floor while slam-dancing to a bizarre soundtrack of Avery's favorite party music (including rocker Andrew W.K. and Europop group Vengaboys) blasting over the PA.

Shattered bits of televisions, sewing machines, computer keyboards, vacuum cleaners and other devices lie in a foot-high heap in front of the art gallery's stage.

The havoc isn't limited to appliances, as this mob has also obliterated watermelons and bottles of soy sauce, as well as tossing powdered sugar and uncooked pasta onto the crowd. These foodstuffs soil the walls like bloodstains but stain the air with a pungent aroma.

Avery walks around the venue wearing a black hoodie and motorcycle helmet, surveying the damage. His face is dotted with chocolate sauce. He's winded and "way outta shape" after demolishing several televisions, but finds the energy to encourage his friends and make sure nobody falls onto the scraps on the floor.

The climax of the evening comes when one shirtless hooligan drives a 1990 Ford Taurus station wagon (purchased at a local police auction) into the former garage and everyone starts wrecking it with a sledgehammer or any other object they can find.

Luckily, only a few cuts and bruises were suffered this evening. Regardless, Avery and company required participants to sign irreverent waivers — warning of possible contraction of "Airborne Ass Herpes," witnessing of "Rampant Mouth to Ass Contact" or any other harm — before they entered.

The PHiX was the only venue willing to book LYCD, as it's been banned from the Paper Heart and Four White Walls on Grand Avenue, as well as Minder Binder's in Tempe, and Skateland in Chandler. The group technically broke up in 2004 (because "we ran out of places to destroy," says Avery), but decided to stage one final show in honor of Ryan's departure.

"For the final LYCD show, we made it to be a pretty big deal as possible, bigger than the last," he says. "But this is just insane. It's the best mess we've ever made."

But transforming a gallery into a hazard-filled junkyard isn't the first time Avery's crossed a line into dangerous territory.

Last Valentine's Day he marched into an open mic night at the Willow House wearing a homemade pink Nazi uniform (complete with jackboots, Hitler mustache, and swastika armband) and delivered a 40-minute monologue about love and romance to a shocked crowd of coffee lovers (some of whom stormed out). A manager at the coffee house instructed him to avoid pulling similar stunts or he'd be banned.

Avery's apologetic for his costume, admitting it was "pretty offensive and weird." His goal, he says, was to overcome his fears of upsetting others and editing himself, in order to become a "more honest performance artist."

Since the Nazi episode, he's gotten more used to people being offended by his performances or leaving in disgust. The latest incident came during June's Uncle Sku's Clubhouse at the Trunk Space when one miffed audience member informed JRC on her way out that she found Caspar the Kid offensive.

Avery says he doesn't care. He isn't bothered by the folks who're offended at his act simply because it's "weird or un-PC or whatever."

The only naysayers that bother him are the ones who say he's "mediocre" or has "no talent."

Namely, Wayne Michael Reich. The local photographer is probably the most vocal critic of Avery and his friends. While he admits Ryan's "a sweet kid," he believes they're hurting the downtown art scene.

"I don't like their bands, I find them annoying, they're idiots, they're loud, they're irritating, and I don't appreciate their so-called music," says Reich, who specializes in both arty photos of architecture and saucy pics of nearly naked women. "Being loud and obnoxious and aggressive, to me, is not being fair to yourself as an artist, it's not being fair to the audience. It's more of an infliction; you inflict your career on people."

Reich has had plenty of run-ins with Avery and company around town. The whole kafuffle kicked off in April 2005 when "Iggy Pop" decided to crash one of the Cone Gallery's monthly "experimental noise jams" which coincided with an exhibition of Reich photography at the space on a Third Friday.

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