This is the second of two very different interviews I did while covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that I felt were worth highlighting in their entirety. The first was with blogger and activist Imani Gandy.
Longtime prankster Vermin Supreme has been running for a variety of offices — some of them non-fictional — since the 1980s. Wearing a boot on his head and promising a free pony for all Americans (along with zombie power and mandatory tooth-brushing) if elected, his 2012 run for the Presidency came to greater prominence when he glitter-bombed fundamentalist Randall Terry during the New Hampshire primary and showed up for numerous protests throughout the year. I talked to Vermin Supreme while he was preparing for his own "victory rally" in Charlotte.
So why are you running for President?
Because I want to make America a better place, but still even.
But still even?
Still even better.
Ponies, the secret ingredient, of course.
Ah, and why the boot on the head?
When I get in a different environment it serves different purposes. When I'm actively campaigning for the Presidency, after the primary, it's become somewhat of a trademark. Different people read different symbolism into it, “we're gonna boot 'em out” or the jack-booted thugs or a boot on the face, the Orwell reference.
But ultimately it's just something I started putting on my head in a rather absurdist, surrealist tradition. The people liked it and responded to it. Out in the streets, in the police environment, it's a disarmament technique. I'm disarming, through my charms, to officers who might otherwise see me as a threat if I was without the boot. If I was a normal-looking wild guy talking shit over the megaphone, I think I'd be perceived differently than with the boot.
It sort of signifies the jesterishness, the commitment to this absurdist aesthetic, it's a shorthand. Sometimes I've worn a clown nose in the past to telegraph that. It draws curiosity. I get into a lot of conversations, meet potential voters. Of course it draws the media, I've been saying as part of my media critique that the boot is a pile of shit and the media are the flies buzzing around it.