Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Electrocutes Self in Bathtub, Goes Straight to Hell (Um, in New Play)

Damn, I love James Garcia. The Phoenix playwright seems hell-bent on fulfilling my fantasies in his annual American Pastorela productions. Last year, the villain was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who keels over of a heart attack, and is later tortured in Hades by Adolf Hitler.

Being an atheist, I can't see this ever happening in reality -- the post mortem torture, I mean. But it sure was fun to watch the imaginary payback for Arpaio's numerous nefarious deeds. Hey, life's short. You've got to get your jollies where you can.

This year, state Senate President elect Russell Pearce is the bad guy in American Pastorela: Show Us Your Papers!, which begins a two week run at the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center this ThursdaySaturday, December 4. 

Garcia's satirical romp has Pearce, the primary pusher of Arizona's breathing-while-brown legislation SB 1070, taking the same ride to the hot place as Joe. This, after Pearce electrocutes himself in the tub when he drops his electric razor in his bath water.

I know what you're thinking: "Russell Pearce takes baths?" Of course, he does. Every Saturday, I hear, whether he needs one or not.

Pearce makes a deal with El Diablo (you know, a second one), and sets off to prevent the family Hernandez from reaching the birthplace of the Messiah, even though they were granted amnesty under President Ronald Reagan. 

See, it's a Christmas story, a traditional retelling of the shepherds' quest to reach Bethlehem and pay tribute to the Christ child, albeit with a comic twist. Pearce here plays the Grinch, as he's the natural enemy of all Latinos, and determined to deport even the undeportable via unconstitutional legislation.

"Pearce is so easy on a lot of levels," explained Garcia of his choice of the Mesa muttonhead as this year's black hat. "My personal opinion of the man is that he's a bigot. And he's making laws that are ultimately destructive to the state...but beyond that, he's a walking caricature [of himself]."

In other words, for wags such as Garcia, Pearce is the mother lode. The prejudiced pol offers up more material for his detractors than George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama combined.

Other famous folks to be depicted in Garcia's latest include Governor Jan "We Have Did" Brewer, U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General Terry Goddard, who's invisible. Just like he was during his failed gubernatorial bid.

Worse for Pearce, perhaps, than expiring by way of bathtub execution, is that he will be played by actor Larry Penunuri, who Garcia describes as "a very brown man."

Reminds me of that famous Dave Chappelle sketch where Chappelle plays a blind, African-American KKK member who is unaware that he's black. Heh. Someone should send Pearce free tickets, just so we can watch his head explode.

(For details on tickets and showtimes for the production, click, here.)

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons