Humboldt multimedia personality Duane Flatmo has had the fifteen minutes of fame promised by Andy Warhol, and he just got a few more. Duane (don't call him Dwayne) is famous locally as our most prominent muralist and as one of the stars of the Kinetic Sculpture Race . On the national stage he's parlayed a little music trick he came up with over a quarter century ago, playing " Malagueña " using an electric egg beater, into a series of appearances on major and semi-major television shows. Now he's taken the leap to the big screen (sort of). A clip of Flatmo (on TV) shows up in a movie called The Lucky Ones , which was recently released on DVD.
The story about the troubles facing Iraq War veterans has three battle-scarred soldiers, Colee (Rachel McAdams), T.K. (Michael Pena) and Cheever (Tim Robbins) back in the U.S.A. fighting PTSD on a road trip. About 15 minutes or so into the story, the trio goes into a bar where they find the customers glued to the TV screen watching
America's Got Talent
-- Flatmo is the "Crazy Caliber Talent" guest.
"What they use me for is to show how mundane America has become," says Flatmo of the clip.
(after the jump, Duane on YouTube and the Hand Mixer Malagueña Timeline )
Mundane or not, Duane's trick has put him in the national spotlight more than once. The artist supplied the following (with annotation added):
Hand Mixer Malagueña Timeline
1981 - First time: Open Mic Comedy night - Old Town Bar and Grill -with improv comedian Bobby Klesper.
I was trying to come with ideas for this comedy review we'd been doing. I'd seen some guy on TV playing "Flight of the Bumble Bee," just really fast. It was amazing to me that he could hit all the notes.
I thought to myself, what if I got an electric carving knife and hooked a bow on it. It would go really fast -- I could get an old violin and learn to play "Flight of the Bumble Bee."
Searching around in the kitchen drawers for a carving knife I came across an egg beater. I thought, what if I put picks on that? I tried that, but it tore up my strings. I ended up using pieces of cardboard strengthened with masking tape. It took some work but I got it to work.
1990 - Bayshore Mall - audition for America's Funniest People
1991 - America's Funniest People
1992 - Late Night with David Letterman - the show also included Cokie Roberts, her first Letterman appearance.
"It's really strange when you get a call from something like The Letterman Show. "Can you be on a plane tomorrow?" They flew me to New York, picked me up in a Lincoln Towncar, brought me to the Omni Berkshire Hotel, where I met the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were going to be on SNL and NBC put them up in the same hotel.
1992 - TV commercial for Valley Faire Amusement Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota
They saw me on Letterman. Every time I've done this they've paid me the basic one-day talent fee, about $550 bucks. If you're a union member you get more like $900. So, they flew me to Minneapolis for this commercial. It was like a week before the Kinetic Race — here I am freaking out about getting ready for that, but that was the time to do it. They bought me a new egg beater and an outfit they wanted me to wear. Valley Faire is this theme park. The commercial says, "There are amusements," and it shows me playing "Malagueña," then it says, "And there are amusement parks," and it shows all the roller coasters and so on. That one took 32 takes.
2004 - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - in Tom Green's " The Most Interesting Person in California " segment (other guests that night were Rod Stewart and Adam Sandler)
Side note: This blogger was indirectly involved in getting Flatmo on that show. A Tonight Show scout called the Journal asking for advice on unusual Humboldt folks when they were preparing to come up. I threw out a few ideas: professional owl hooter, treesitter, Kinetic Sculpture Racer and supplied contact info. They ended up using a few of my ideas (Duane was their fave) and sent me an embroidered Tonight Show sweatshirt for my trouble.
2005 - Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge - with Little Richard as guest judge
2006 - America's Got Talent
2007 - I've Got a Secret
This was a remake of the show from the '50s. They had four comedians trying to guess what you do. I met the guy who has the world largest collection of Charlie's Angels memorabilia , a really sweet guy who had all these pillows with Farrah Fawcett and things like that. On that one I got an extra $100 because they couldn't guess what I did. Another guest was some guy who's the world champion card house builder . He builds these mansions and replicas of the Coliseum in Rome and the White House -- does it all with playing cards. He signed a deck of cards for me. Phillis Diller was on there too, with a celebrity secret. Her secret was that she posed for Playboy . She was kind of hot when she was younger.
2008 - The Lucky Ones motion picture - released on DVD 2009
It's weird how something like that goes. I was just having fun on this comedy night and this thing came up and I did it. You never realize where something like that is going to take you. I became part of America's freak show. Here it is 20-some-odd years later and it's still alive, and now it's in a motion picture.