You may know that Tiny Tim was one of the most aberrant things to emerge from the Sixties. You may know that two and a half decades ago, he took his long hair, ukulele and piercing falsetto to international prominence, that he married a 17-year-old named Miss Vicky on The Tonight Show, that he popped up on Laugh-In a few times.
Now here's something that has been kept pretty much between Tiny Tim and Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath, for now, Tiny speaks:
"I think the most underrated thing where I'm concerned, the No. 1 misconception the public has, is that I'm a poor or nonexistent lover. And nothing could be further, further, further from the truth," emphasizes Tiny from a hotel phone in Marlboro, Massachusetts, where he is performing all October at a theme park called Spooky World. His voice is surprisingly low and has the slurred accent and ballsy punch of a New Yawk cabbie.
"I thank Jesus Christ for keeping me from myself. If I had my way, this room would be filled with new contraptions [sexual apparatus] from the Xandria collection, it would be filled every day with new devices, ointments and oils. It would have two, three, four massage tables to please these women . . . it would never stop!
"Like other people collect stamps or baseball cards, this room would have antiseptics, tons of K-Y Jelly, tons of any potions, formulas, perfumes, powders for massages. It would have vibrators, two Oster hand vibrators that go by electric--believe me, I'm not putting you on--it would have chains from the ceilings where women would hang from their legs down. I'd do it just to please them, to hear them moan and groan--it's true, I'm quicker than a rabbit when it comes to the intercourse, but that's not my thing here--I would have them moan and groan in other ways. I mean, this place would be filled!
"And another thing, I would never say goodbye to them. If I got tired of them, I would renew my energy with new contraptions, new devices; it would never end. I can never have too much. And I don't have to have my clothes off, either, as long as they're pleased. If I had my way, it would not be a one-night stand to put in the book and brag to the fellas. The tenth time with these ladies would be like the first. I would never let nobody go, I would hold up no matter how tired I got, bring new ones in, and keep the old ones there. Every thrill with a woman is the greatest thrill the good Lord created, and all this is what the public doesn't know about me.
"But what I'm telling you I tell Jesus Christ."
Beyond the conventional image of some slightly twisted root of a flower child, Tiny Tim is something wholly other.
Mostly--as comments above and below attest--he seems to be a profoundly frustrated sexual being.
This is a man--christened by a Jewish father and a Lebanese mother as Herbert Khaury--whose years are a few months away from 70. For all his adult life, he has been an outsider, a weirdo, a freak to most, yet in the late Sixties, he made that pay off in the world of show business, blending his fixation on the romantic, benign music of the early 1900s with the self-driven need to simply look different. This involved long hair and ghostly white face makeup, worn day and night, something he'd been doing on- and offstage for years.
In other words, this is not an act. Never has been.
And this is where we need to go back a few years, back to 1951, when 26-year-old Herbert, worshiper of an era whose music and style he was born into but just missed, found his calling. And he also found Jesus Christ.
"It starts in '51," Tim says with purpose. "I was a messenger from March of '51 to August of '52, five days a week at 1540 Broadway, which was the office of Loew's theatres and MGM. At Christmas in '51, they had a party for the employees. Those who had talent would sing for the big shots, and, boy, did I want to be a star! So when it came time to do that, I sang a song called 'Never' and I bombed out with my straight voice and short haircut. I was devastated, really devastated.
"Right after that, I said, 'There's got to be a change.' Something was crying inside. The change came on two fronts, not for show business alone, but also for my personal life. I was certainly not good-looking, but I did not want to change the nose because I was afraid of operations. I really prayed about it--and I thank Jesus Christ for the strength--and a feeling came over me. The high voice started to develop around the early part of 1952; it made me feel like I had something original."