Mime Way

Robert Shields is an easy target for snarky journos and arts critics. Fact is, it's almost too easy to crack on a guy who found his 15 minutes back in the 1970s by donning white face paint and a too-tight black body suit, miming his way to fame and fortune alongside his former wife, Lorene Yarnell.

The duo even had a variety show in the late '70s, not to mention countless TV appearances around the world, as well as a recurring guest spot on The Sonny and Cher Show. Throw in a little Las Vegas, where the pair once garnered "Entertainer of the Year" awards, and -- like most former celebrities (even sub-B-listers) -- Shields recalls his past life with some bitterness.

"Life was very fast-paced back then. It was almost unconscious," says Shields, now upward of middle age (he declines to specify) and channeling with the red rocks at his home in Sedona. "But I don't miss it at all. We were invited to all the hot parties. We were hot. But sometimes it doesn't always last."

Still, they'll make a go of it again on Thursday, June 17, when Shields and Yarnell reunite for a nationwide curtain call, beginning with a performance at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.

This is the part where we're supposed to goof on a pair of supposedly has-been mimes (as if the mime tag wasn't damning enough on its own), apparently trying to pay off their debts and prove to audiences that they've still got it. But that just ain't right, especially considering that Shields invented "The Robot," that quirky little popping and locking motion that folks still -- to this day -- clear the dance floor to witness.

"[The Robot] is something I'll always be remembered for," Shields says proudly.

Damn skippy. For that alone, we're forever in debt.

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Joe Watson