Best Urban Oddity - 2012
Phoenix's downtown art scene is alive with unique and colorful characters, whether it's a homeless artist adorned in aluminum pull-tab chain mail or some punker sporting a multicolored Mohawk. None of these freaky folk, however, is as memorable as Don Roth. After all, it's hard to forget an encounter with a septuagenarian spoken-word artist who's known to many as Space-Alien Donald and refers to himself as "the world's oldest gay Canadian rapper." A regular at such eclectic art establishments as Space 55 (natch) or his own funky venue Funny World, the spacey septuagenarian has a yen for performing eccentric and humorous beat poetry set to warbling keyboard beats. And he usually does it while wielding a plastic lightsaber and wearing a rainbow hat and a silver lamé sarong. Roth possesses a lifelong fascination with outer space after spending decades as a technician in the radio astronomy lab at UC-Berkeley, and that obsession bleeds over into his performance art pieces, which typically concern intergalactic affairs. Needless to say, the eccentric artist crowd populating downtown has embraced him as one of its own.