May 4, 2020
#12 Paul McRae – Art Cars
If you’ve ever been to (or seen photos from) Burning Man, you are familiar with Art Cars. They’re those crazy mutant vehicles you see driving around, like mobile sculptures. There are so many kinds of Art Cars! Some people paint them, some people do mosaic tiling, some people sculpt around the cars, and one person welded two flamethrowers and a stripper pole on the roof of their car! That person is Paul McRae. I spent more than one drunken night pole-dancing on the roof of his car like I was in a goddamn Whitesnake video, so I was shocked to find out that he’s been sober for over 30 years! He is a staple in Houston’s Art Car scene and in this episode, he educates me on how diverse that scene is. My very narrow field of vision made me think that all Art Car events were mini drunken Burning Man’s, but apparently – that was just me. Art Car parades are family friendly events around the country, many schools even use it as an art project for their kids! It just goes to show: you see what you want to see. While I was a drunken mess, I wanted to see the Art Car scene as crazy people looking for a reason to party. Now I see that it’s crazy talented artists from all around the world, finding new ways to bring art to the public. And I have to tell you, I like this view a lot more.
Paul and I talk about that, Mick Jagger, being a control freak, hearing voices, and more:
- Playing on Paul’s car at Daves in 2013
- Houston ArtCar Parade on Getty Images
- 349 of the craziest ArtCars!
- Across The Universe
- Auditory Hallucinations on Wikipedia
- NPR Podcast with Neurologist Oliver Sacks on Auditory Hallucinations
- Alcoholic Hallucinosis in the US National Library of Medicine
- Broca’s Area
- KiKi Maroon on Patreon
- KiKi Maroon on Twitter
- KiKi Maroon on Instagram
- Clown, Interrupted on Instagram
If you like the podcast, please consider signing up to my Patreon. Your donation helps with the operating cost and is the easiest way to say, “thanks for making this!”
KiKi Maroon: Hi, welcome back! If you’ve ever been to or seen photos from Burning Man, you are familiar with art cars. They’re those crazy, mutant vehicles you see driving around, like mobile sculptures. There are so many kinds of art cars. Some people paint their cars, some people do mosaic tiling or sculpt around their cars, and one person welded two flamethrowers and a stripper pole on the roof of their car! Haha. That person is Paul McRae. I had spent more than one drunken night pole dancing on the roof of his car like I was in a goddamn White Snake video, so I was shockedto find out he’s been sober for more than 30 years. He is a staple in Houston’s art car scene and, in this episode, he educates me on how diverse that scene is.
My very narrow field of vision made me think that all art car events were just these mini drunken Burning Mans, but apparently, thatwas just me! Haha. Art car parades are family-friendly events all around the country and a lot of schools even use it as an art project for their kids. When he told me that I was like, “Wait, the schools make stripper cars?” Haha, no. It’s a legitimate art form and I was just dumb. It goes to show, you see what you want to see; and while I was a drunken mess, I wanted to see the art car scene as just crazy people looking for a reason to party. Now, I see that it’s crazy-talented artists from around the world finding new ways to bring art to the public. And I have to tell you, I like this view a whole lot more. So, Paul and I talked about that, Mick Jagger, being a control freak, and hearing voices. I hope you like it. Here’s me and Paul.
[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]
Paul McRae: I had seen one or two “in the wild,” as I like to say. By the way, that’s my greatest contribution to the art cars- I created the term “art cars in the wild.” Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Haha! Okay, so just around in Houston?
Paul McRae: Yes. I used to come to Houston a lot and I saw The Boat Car; it’s still around somewhere. I saw this car driving down Highway 59 one day and I was like, “Holy shit, what is this?” And took a picture out of the window of the car. I also discovered somewhere along the line that there used to be a car park in Downtown Houston where they had art cars permanently parked there. You could drive up and just look at all of these cool cars.
KiKi Maroon: 15 years ago?
Paul McRae: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: Really?! Okay.
Paul McRae: More than 15 years ago.
KiKi Maroon: I know that it’s been aroundfor a long time but I didn’t know it was that prevalent in Houston that long ago.
Paul McRae: The Art Car Parade began in the ‘80s. They said there were more people in the parade than watching it. But then the next year, it caught on and there were thousands of people and then it has grown to what it is now.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, now it’s an institution.
Paul McRae: Yeah, it’s been big.
KiKi Maroon: Okay, that’s a lot longer than I thought. I thought the ‘90s for some reason.
Paul McRae: Yeah. Well, this year was the 32nd year of the parade. I think it’s become a part of Houston’s identity, and I completely support that. I think it’s the best thing about Houston.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Paul McRae: You know, we don’t have the same kind of culture that maybe some other cities have.
KiKi Maroon: One of my favorite events of the year is the Art Car Ball. This is the first year I didn’t get to do it. I was already booked at a different show and I was so sad because I get to be a mermaid and splash around in the water. It’s my favorite because it’s at City Hall – we’re in the fountain in front of City Hall!
Paul McRae: I know. Isn’t that awesome?
KiKi Maroon: It’s amazing! I’m there, flapping my mermaid tail around in the middle of Downtown Houston and there’s art projected on the buildings and bands playing and I’m like, “This is a city-supported event and it’s so beautiful!” That’s how I first met you. I want to say it was our mutual friend Trisha who put us in contact at first because I was doing the radio shows at Outlaw Dave’s and she said that she knew a guy who had a car with a stripper pole on it with flamethrowers on either side and I was like, “Well, that sounds about right for Outlaw Dave’s!”
Paul McRae: Well, I just assumed that when you went public with your sobriety on Facebook and then I posted that I, too, had been sober for a while, that you saw that and were like, “Wow, he’s a wild and crazy dude, and he’s sober!” Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Exactly! Haha. That’s why I wanted to have you on because, one, I certainly didn’t know you were sober. And two, I’m like, “Wait, the guy with the stripper pole flamethrower car is sober? That’s amazing!”
Paul McRae: Haha yeah, that guy.
KiKi Maroon: That guy. Haha! Because, the art car scene has a lot of overlap with the Burner scene, which is a super party scene.
Paul McRae: And the skater scene.
KiKi Maroon: Oh yeah? Really?
Paul McRae: Oh yeah.
KiKi Maroon: I didn’t know there was overlap with the skater scene.
Paul McRae: There’s lots of skaters in art cars.
KiKi Maroon: I did not know that.
Paul McRae: They’re known for their antics and parties.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it’s a party scene for sure. So, when you posted that you were sober, I was surprised and I wanted to hear more about that.
Paul McRae: Well, here’s what you need know about my particular scene, the art car scene- everybody is in the art car scene. You can’t pick an ideology and say, “This is what this is about,” because you’re going to find people on both sides of every topic that you bring up. You talk about drinking. There are plenty of hard partiers, and there are even some casualties. But there are a lot of sober people too.
KiKi Maroon: Really?
Paul McRae: Yeah. My initial impression before I was involved was that they were all a bunch of hippies. That’s not even close.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I thought it was like a Burning Man spillover.
Paul McRae: Yeah,and there’s a lot of that, but you know, if you assume that they’re all hippies or they’re all liberals, you’re going to be sadly mistaken. Some of the people that you wouldn’t expect, you’re like, “That guy is a Republican?” Hahaha!
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! “The guy with a mohawk driving in the bunny car?”
Paul McRae: Exactly.
KiKi Maroon: Did you stop drinking before or after you joined the art car scene?
Paul McRae: I stopped drinking way before.
KiKi Maroon: Oh really? Okay, so you entered in sober?
Paul McRae: Yeah, I’ve been sober the whole time.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow!
Paul McRae: I mean, I quit drinking when I was 25 years-old. I grew up in the ‘70s and I came of legal age in 1980. Back then, it was way more permissive than it is now. Even today, with marijuana being legalized around the country, you still have people wagging their finger at you, telling you that it’s wrong. But it wasn’t like that. I mean, it was just everywhere and by everybody, it was accepted. I’m a huge music fan and all of my favorite music stars were into drugs, and I’m like, “Well, I want to be like those guys.”
KiKi Maroon: Oh yeah. Exactly.
Paul McRae: So, you know, I started smoking marijuana when I was like 16 and I got drunk once or twice. But I didn’t really start drinking consistently until I turned 18, when I became able to buy it legally. Although, even back then I could buy it because when I was 16 years-old. I didn’t look 18; haha I barely looked 16, but I walked into a Kroger grocery store and bought a six-pack of Schlitz Malt Liquor and they didn’t ask for an ID.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha. Yeah.
Paul McRae: I went back to my friend’s house and I still remember – this is the first time I got super drunk.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, Schlitz was the first time?
Paul McRae: Schlitz Malt Liquor. “The bull does it better!” (Schlitz Malt Liquor’s mascot is a bull.)
KiKi Maroon: Haha. That’s better than me! My first time was on Midori. It was disgusting! Haha.
Paul McRae: I went back to my friend’s house. I walked down there, I was about a block away from his house. We went back to his house and we listened to the Ramones first album that just came out. We were sitting in his bedroom getting shitfaced and listening to the Ramones. And I remember, my dad came and picked me up because I didn’t have my license yet. I didn’t have a car either, so… hahaha!
KiKi Maroon: Haha yeah, that’s an important part of that!
Paul McRae: Hahaha! But my dad came to pick me up. It was probably six o’clock or whatever.
KiKi Maroon: Oh,you were day drinking? You started day drinking?
Paul McRae: Yeah, it was on a Saturday I guess, because we weren’t at school. But yeah, we were getting blitzed at noon. Haha. My dad picked me up and I don’t know if he knew. I’ve never asked him this question. But it seems to me in retrospect that I was obviously wasted.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Paul McRae: But he never said a word about it. He just drove us home and we stopped at McDonald’s, and got us some food. He never said a word to me.
KiKi Maroon: That’s funny.
Paul McRae: I don’t know if he was just out of it or he was just like, “Fuck it. It’s alright.”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I think sometimes it’s just easier to not deal with it. I definitely have thought about that – about a lot of things with my parents. They would pick me up from my boyfriend’s house; they knew. Haha. I think they just didn’t want to have that confrontation. They just choose to be blind to it.
Paul McRae: I started drinking when I was 18 – heavily. I went to college and drinking probably contributed to me failing out of college. There were other things going on, but that was a big part of it. I even got a DWI, but it was still probably a year later before I quit, even after all that hassle. DWIs were not as rough as they are today.
KiKi Maroon: That’s what I was going to ask you because mine was so expensive. Probably, I don’t know, a $20,000+ situation.
Paul McRae: Good lord.
KiKi Maroon: Plus probation. And it’s still on my record. My understanding is you can’t ever get it taken off in Texas. It’s a big deal. I had surcharges on my license for years afterwards. My car insurance – this many years later – is still insane. Meanwhile, my dad had more than one DWI and he totaled more than one car when I was a child. And it sucked, but it wasn’t like this massive life-changing thing. There was a lot of like, “Hurry up and get on home,” when the cops stopped him.
So, what was your DWI story?
Paul McRae: Well, they arrested me. I had to spend one night in jail and then I was bailed out the next day by my parents. The fine was not much, maybe $500. But then I had to go to probation once a month and I bitched about that because that was way out in Baytown and I lived in Aldine (areas of Houston – 40 miles away from each other). They didn’t even suspend my license. I never lost my license.
KiKi Maroon: God.
Paul McRae: I’ll tell you my real story of why I quit drinking. It’s way more boring than that – haha – because I’m like Bill Hicks, you know?
KiKi Maroon: Haha. I’m sorry to interrupt, but Bill is my heart.
Paul McRae: Like Bill, “I had a lot of really good times on drugs.” I don’t regret those times that I had where I was drunk. I never did any intravenous drugs, but I did everything else, you know? Cocaine and pills – every kind of pill – and a lot of weed, but alcohol was the main thing.
I drank a lot of alcohol. I was working with my father and we were doing a lot of traveling. I would find myself at the end of the day, I’d get a six-pack and we’d just be sitting in the hotel room and I’d be watching whatever bullshit on TV. And I just had an epiphany, “This is not a party. This is not me having fun. This is me just sitting here, getting drunk for no reason.” At the same time, I decided, or I realized, that I’m an obsessive person and so it’s impossible for me to do it in moderation. I already knew that. I have a great admiration for people who can drink one or two and that’s enough.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I don’t understand. I’ve never understood that. I’m like, “What’s the point? Why are you doing that?”
Paul McRae: Haha. Exactly. I mean, I feel like I could probably handle it now but I don’t want to test that.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it’s not worth it.
Paul McRae: I’ve heard too many horror stories about people that thought they were okay after 15 or 20 years of sobriety and then two months later, they’re back where they started. I don’t want to find out.
KiKi Maroon: Absolutely. Actually, there’s a woman I want to talk to coming up soon who had that. She was 30+ years sober and then just off the rails.
Paul McRae: Yeah. Well, there you go. So I just said, “Okay, I’m going to go cold turkey,” and that’s it.
KiKi Maroon: So was it hard then? Because it sounds like that wasn’t a traditional rock bottom. Something you could hold on to that when you’re out with your friends the next time.
Paul McRae: Well, that’s why I’m saying that my situation was different than yours because at the time, I was spending most of my time working. We were out of town, I was with my dad; I wasn’t with my friends. They were gone or they were back in Houston and I was wherever we were.
KiKi Maroon: Oh okay.So it’s almost like going to rehab where you’re separated from the people?
Paul McRae: Yeah, in a certain sense. So what happened was, I had made the decision probably a month beforehand and I said, “Okay, I’m going to quit December 31. New Year’s Eve – that’s it. That’s the last time I’m going to get drunk.” So that was it. I’ll tell you, it felt bad for a while. You asked how hard it was. It was hard. I mean, I had cravings – strong cravings – for probably three months. And then they just, they faded. And like I said, I had the willpower because I wasn’t around my friends, around all the drinks. I was just back to sitting in a hotel room with my dad. So I was able to weather that. And then after that, at some point, I don’t know when, but the cravings just went away. I don’t crave alcohol at all – I don’t. I used to chew tobacco.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, really?
Paul McRae: That was even earlier. That was, oh god, 35 years ago. And I still crave tobacco sometimes.
KiKi Maroon: Ohhh, yeah.
Paul McRae: In the right situation, I would see somebody chewing tobacco and I’m like, “Oh, I want that,” you know?
KiKi Maroon: Dude. I quit smoking all the time. All the time! When I first quit drinking, I was a social smoker. I would just smoke sometimes and then when I quit drinking, it was like, “Well, I should get something.” So I became a chain smoker because, “I deserve this! I gave up something, I need one thing!” I could rationalize it that I’m “allowed” this. So I started chain smoking and it just got worse and worse. And now, I have quit smoking so many times. I’ll go like a month or two months. And then this last time, I actually ended up having to have surgery. I basically had pre-cancer, the step before that. So they cut out the stuff and it was really intense and I didn’t know how bad it was going to be. When someone says, “cancer,” when a doctor tells you that, you freak out.
Paul McRae: Oh, yeah.
KiKi Maroon: So, I quit. Just quit because when you think you’re going to die of cancer, you feel stupid smoking a fucking cigarette after that.
Paul McRae: Some people do. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Well, I was good. I was good for several months and then in the last month I’ve probably had three and I’m like, “What is wrong with me?”
Paul McRae: Dammit, KiKi. You got it inside you! I mean, you can do it!
KiKi Maroon: I know, but I’m just agreeing with you. It’s like, I don’t crave alcohol anymore. Many years ago, I would have said you were crazy; that I would still want it forever. But yeah, the cigarettes still… and they offer me so much less than alcohol did. Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha, oh yeah. I never smoked any cigarettes and the reason I quit the chewing tobacco is because there was a girl, and she wouldn’t kiss me. And I’m like, “Okay, yeah. This is gross. I’m going to stop doing this.” Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! Oh my god! Well, that’s a great motivator. Haha. Oh my god. Yeah, I’m in that same place. I don’t really think about it, I don’t crave it. I would have thought it would have been hard forever. When I first stopped, I would think about it way too much. If I was in any social setting, it was very like, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” It was an intense, constant effort to not drink. I quit so many times and started again that I was doing a thing for a while where I would put a rubber band on my wrist for every day that I didn’t drink and I just had like, piles of rubber bands. I felt so proud of myself, so I created a system – haha – for every five rubber bands, I would put a bangle on the other wrist. Haha.
Paul McRae: Hahaha! That’s a pretty good idea.
KiKi Maroon: What’s that thing called?
Paul McRae: Abacus.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it was like a sobriety abacus! So I had like, you know, six bangles over here and three rubber bands over here, but then I would drink. And the shame of having to take them off my wrist… I would get so upset at myself. That should have been a sign that I really had a problem. If I was having to do that to try to convince myself to not drink.
Paul McRae: Yeah well, to sum it up for my experience- blackout drunk, that didn’t do it for me. Getting a DWI, that didn’t do it for me. But I was bored. I can’t be bored.
KiKi Maroon: I get that.
Paul McRae: Haha. I’m making light, but you know…
KiKi Maroon: That’s the point of this though! It’s light, for sure.
Paul McRae: I just came to the realization that this is not why I drink, this is not Mick Jagger or whatever.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, you aren’t some rock star.
Paul McRae: This is just some working schmo sitting at home alone drinking. Not that I was ever Mick Jagger. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. Have you seen Across the Universe?
Paul McRae: Yeah I have, actually.
KiKi Maroon: I love that movie! I think it’s so beautiful. I went through this phase where I watched it almost every day. I loved the Beatles. I was in school for costume design and all the costumes were gorgeous. I loved the scenery and everything. It was so beautiful to me and I would watch every day. This is back when I was dealing with a lot of depression and unhappiness with my life. And after a while, I remember one night that it hit me like, “I’m watching people live this beautiful, magical life. And I’m just sitting here alone in my room… watching.”
Paul McRae: Yeah, yeah.
KiKi Maroon: That realization was thetrigger for me, to just turn it off. I was like, “I want to make my life magical.”
Paul McRae: In that way, we have a similar experience there.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, exactly. I get it.
Paul McRae: That’s really great, because I’ve never heard anyone else that expressed it like I have. I was like, “I was going to tell you that I don’t have the typical story. I think mine’s more unique.” But here we are.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I understand. I was watching and I realized “this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Paul McRae: And then you became KiKi.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. And then I went, “I’m going to make magic, goddamn it! And I’m going to go crazy doing it!” Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha. No, I was never Mick Jagger. I was never cool. I’ve never been cool.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. I don’t believe that, sir.
Paul McRae: Haha. No, back in the ‘70s, we used to say, “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” you know. I got the drugs and the rock and roll part down. But I’ve got to say, for anybody out there who’s thinking about quitting, I got way more sex after I quit drinking.
KiKi Maroon: I believe that, from a man’s point of view! Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha! Yeah. I’m sure it’s way different for you.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I think for a guy, it’s like, you’ve got your shit together. So that makes sense. It’s more appealing.
Paul McRae: Well, it’s more like I have my wits about me. I’m not just a dumbass…
KiKi Maroon: Stumbling around.
Paul McRae: Just over in the corner, you know, babbling bullshit.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah. Exactly.
Paul McRae: I can actually talk to somebody intelligently.
KiKi Maroon: Exactly! And that’s why I believe that that’s true for you. Haha! Because that is more attractive. I can tell you right now, there is nothing as unattractive as, “Oh, this guy is going to need a babysitter tonight.” That’s not at all what I want.
Paul McRae: Yeah, I’ve never been hot enough to get away with that kind of thing. Haha!
KiKi Maroon: Haha! But yeah. I’m actually having the opposite issue, where I have had sex twice in about two and a half years. And I still don’t fully understand how to do it. I mean, I know how to do it! Haha. But I’m still learning how a sober person dates. I don’t need to date someone who’s sober, but I have learned I can not date someone who’s fucked up all the time, because that was a realbig problem.
Paul McRae: Well, yeah. I can dig it.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, but I still don’t know how to do that.
Paul McRae: Well, I think you probably have to learn to let go, because you’re very vulnerable in that situation. Especially as a woman, I would think.
KiKi Maroon: Yeahhh, but I’m also a control freak. So…
Paul McRae: Haha. Well that’s another thing. I didn’t mention that earlier, but I think that’s something that worked in my favor. I don’t like the loss of control and that’s why I quit caffeine.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah?
Paul McRae: Because I’m not going to let the tea tell me I have to drink it!
KiKi Maroon: Haha yeah! That’s how I feel aboutcoffee, except it’s winning. I hate it! It makes me so mad. I’m like, “You will not have power over me. Except…I’m really busy right now… so just a little bit right now…but I can stop anytime!” Haha!
Paul McRae: Haha! “Ijust need a bump. Give me a bump.” Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I get that. I think that’s normal. After my talk with Bobby Barnaby (clown/burlesque performer friend – see Episode 9!), I started actively going to A.A. meetings. I’ve enjoyed them. I always have, but it was kind of like a here and there kind of thing, you know? I’d go to one and then like, three months later, go to another one; maybe a month later, go to one. But now I’m regularly going and it’s actuallyworking. I’m supposedly working the steps right now. I just kind of did the first one and then stopped, but I’m doing it!
“Control freaks”, that’s definitely a trend that you hear over and over and over in the room. We are a willful, spiteful people! Haha. Which I guess kind of makes sense because for the longest time, that’s why I excused my drinking. I am such a control freak during the day. I’m just work, work, work and I would never stop. So I would tell myself that I needed that release at night, because I’m in charge of everything all day, every day and if I don’t have that crazy release at night, I will go insane. Rather than changing my lifestyle to where I don’t need to let go of control by blacking out, I just did that for years and years and said that that was me “finding balance”. Haha.
Paul McRae: Trying to find balance on a seesaw.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, and it never ends.
Paul McRae: You were just running from one end to the next.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, and that’s all I did. Go to either extreme.
Paul McRae: Well, another thing that has worked in my favor through the years was – you mentioned depression. I think that I’m truly blessed with the fact that I’m basically a happy person.
KiKi Maroon: Oh? What is that like?! Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha. It’s nice, I guess. I try to empathize with people, but my experience is different. You know, I’ve lived a pretty stress-free life. I have parents who love me and they’ve taken care of me and I haven’t been touched by tragedy very much. I can’t think of anything that’s been all that horrible that’s happened to me.
KiKi Maroon: I find that questionable.
Paul McRae: Haha. Well, everybody has bad shit that has happened, you know.
KiKi Maroon: Exactly!
Paul McRae: But you know, nothing that’s left a scar on me.
KiKi Maroon Again, I question that.
Paul McRae: Physical or otherwise.
KiKi Maroon: I wonder if, perhaps, it’s because you have not drank for …what? You said 25 years?
Paul McRae: 32 or 33 years.
KiKi Maroon: 32 or 33 years. One, you’re not ingesting a depressant, because that’s what alcohol is.
Paul McRae: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: I think that people very casually drink every day, and then talk about being depressed. I don’t say anything, because then people can say you’re being judgy. But I’m like, “Well, you’re also ingesting depression, basically. You’re taking it in on a daily basis.”
Paul McRae: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: Two, by not taking that in, you have a different mindstate that you live in. Things happen – surely things have happened in your life. I think that, perhaps, you are just more equipped to handle them and process things and be a functioning human. Because for so many years now, you’ve had control over it. You know what I’m trying to say?
Paul McRae: Alright nowKiKi, we’re not doing therapy here! Hahaha!
KiKi Maroon: I’m just saying! Shit happens! I think you just might have your shit together and you’re in a good mental state to where you can process it healthily, rather than run away from it. And that’s why you are a happy person, because you’re healthy in your process.
Paul McRae: Well, I mean, well, sure. Yes. Terrible things have happened to me, but they haven’t affected me in those ways. Like somebody, they’ll say, “Oh, I lost my job and then I got kicked out of my house.” Well, that never happened to me. I’ve lost money, you know, I’ve done stupid things. But like we were saying earlier, I’ve driven blackout drunk, but I didn’t kill anybody. I didn’t do anything that left a permanent mark on me, so I was able to just skate past all of that. And I’m in a place now where I have everything I need in my life.
KiKi Maroon: I’m just saying, there are people who can make spilling their coffee in the morning sound like a tragedy. Haha! Things have happened, we don’t have to talk about them. But you are in a different place where you can say, “No, I’m happy and I have a good life.” I think that it is about your state, not about you just being “lucky” and having a great life.
I’m just saying, give yourself more credit for the state you’re in.
Paul McRae: Well, I guess you could say that because I’m sober, I didn’t continue down that path of destruction I was on.
KiKi Maroon: I’m just saying, I don’t think luck is it. Hahaha. So going back, you mentioned Bill Hicks earlier. One of the people that I spoke to – actually on the very first episode – was Andy Huggins, who was part of the Texas Outlaw Comics with Bill Hicks.
Paul McRae: Oh, yeah? Cool!
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it was amazing. So, if people are just starting to listen now and haven’t gone back to check out other episodes, please listen to the first one!
Paul McRae: Does itmean that I’m Bill Hicks-adjacent now?
KiKi Maroon: Yes, you are, because let me tell you – when I found out I was, I got real fucking excited! Haha. So yes, you are!
Paul McRae: Haha yeah, that’s most definitely going to go to my head.
KiKi Maroon: He’s my heart. He’s like – it’s really weird – he’s this… saint’s a bad word, especially for Bill Hicks. Haha.
Paul McRae: Oh no, that’s good. I mean, I’m completely comfortable with that…
KiKi Maroon: That title?
Paul McRae: What do you call it? “Nomenclature.” That way, that manner of speaking, you know, with spiritual reference?
KiKi Maroon: Ooh, “nomenclature” is a good word.
Paul McRae: Whether you believe or not, I think “saint” because he’s elevated. He’s brought a lot to us.
KiKi Maroon: Absolutely.
Paul McRae: Way more than probably a lot of actual saints! Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. So like I said, back in that Across the Universe time, I was very depressed. Not just for a little bit. Basically my earliest memory is, maybe being four or five, crying every single night because I was like, “People are going to die.” I understood death and I could not fall asleep at night. I’d tell my dad, “You’re going to die;” my mom, “You’re going to die.” And they’d be like, “Okay, but not now. You have to go to sleep.” And I’m like, “No! What is the point of anything? You’re going to die! I’m going to die!” It was very weird. Not a thing I feel like most children have.
Paul McRae: I don’t know when people have that realization. I haven’t had it yet. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, no! Haha. I’m sorry! Maybe I just brought you to your tragedy. Yes! Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha. No, I’ve already decided I’m going to live to be 150.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, good for you!
Paul McRae: Yeah!
KiKi Maroon: So yeah, I was just a super, I guess, existentialchild and so I was very depressed growing up. Just a lifetime of super-deep depression, multiple suicide attempts, just not a happy person. Maybe my second year living in Houston, I, unhappy with my life, decided to give away everything I own. I was going to travel the country making hats and selling them at art festivals. So I was packing up everything around my room and I would just be up smoking pot all night, slowly packing, figuring things out. And there was this website called StumbleUpon. It was kind of like YouTube, but the videos were on auto-play and you could select your categories. Mine was like comedy, fashion, travel… And it just plays random shit. I had never heard of Bill Hicks when it started playing a video that was the last bit of his speech from Revelations, you know, “It’s just a ride.”
Paul McRae: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: “Life has ups and downs. Sometimes it’s scary, but it’s okay because it’s just a ride.” He has this whole speech.
Paul McRae: Yeah, I love that one.
KiKi Maroon: And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. I just sat down and watched it probably 10 times just over and over and over again. It just made sense to me.
Paul McRae: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: [tearily] That was… that was…
Paul McRae: It’s okay.
KiKi Maroon: I never want to sound like I’m saying, “You can just snap out of depression.” I understand it’s not like that. I understand that there are chemicals. I understand everybody’s story is different. But for me, that shook me out of it, I realized so much of my depression was a choice I was making.
Paul McRae: Yeah, I mean, marijuana is a depressant too. It works for some people.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah.
Paul McRae: It wasn’t working for me.
KiKi Maroon: Bill Hicks made me realize that yeah, it was just a ride and it was okay. And so I ended up looking him up and watching his full specials and everything. I heard what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. It turned my life around and was the beginning of me coming out of a lifetime of depression. So even though he was dead before I ever saw that video, he’s very, very important to me.
Paul McRae: Oh, me too.I didn’t know him when he was alive.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, then I found out like, years later that he was from around here! He came up in the Houston comedy scene and I was like, “Whaaaat? He would drink Cecil’s (Houston dive bar)?! I drink at Cecil’s!” Haha. And that was extra crazy to me because, at the time, I didn’t know we had a Houston connection. He just was this magical saint to me who changed my life.
Paul McRae: Absolutely.Well, I’ll tell you a personal story. We’re getting down to it now. It is a chemical imbalance. And some people, those souls, whoever they are – god bless them. I feel for them and I hope that they get the help they need to live productive lives.
KiKi Maroon: Absolutely.
Paul McRae: I have mental illness in my family and have to deal with it up close and personal a lot. One night when I was smoking weed, I was driving home alone in my car. I was high. Very high. And I started hearing a voice in my head, and at the time I perceived it as the voice of the devil.
KiKi Maroon: Oh wow.
Paul McRae: And he was telling me, “You’re going to die. You’re going to go to hell.”
KiKi Maroon: Oh my god!
Paul McRae: I was like, “Oh fuck that!” And I realized that it was the weed speaking. That wasn’t enough to get me to quit right then, but that stuck in my mind. Like, “I don’t want any more weed. I don’t want any more weed.”
KiKi Maroon: Wow!
Paul McRae: And of course, you know, it was the weed talking because when I stopped smoking weed, the voices didn’t come back, thank god.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. The voices stopped.
Paul McRae: So, I don’t want to unlock that room!
KiKi Maroon: I used to think I was psychic when I would get really high and that I could hear everybody else’s thoughts. But it was just my insecurity, because I was hearing the other person say like, “Oh my gosh, she’s so stupid. Why would she say that?” Haha.
Paul McRae: Just your inner voice.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, the inner voice would be like, “Oh, my god, why is she here?” Haha. Just a whole room against me, basically. But I didn’t think it was just me being high, I thought I was psychic! Haha.
Paul McRae: That’s the drugs. I felt that same way too. That’s why I couldn’t talk to girls because, “They’re not going to like you.”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Paul McRae: “Fat guy.”
KiKi Maroon: “Why is he talking to me? What’s going on?” Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha. Yeah, you know, I was totally insecure and weed didn’t help either. But afterwards, that self-talk inside, it changed, you know? It became positive. It was more like, “You can do this! You’re not a dummy! You can accomplish something! You can do whatever you want to do. Go out and do something and make it happen. You’re not that guy, you’re not a loser!”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah! I’m glad that you know that. That’s good. I feel like I’m a couple years away from that. Haha.
Paul McRae: It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.
KiKi Maroon: I think it is. I think that if the first step is the negative self-talk, I’m a step upwhere I do have positiveself-talk. I do that I am… whatever – smart and talented and things like that. But then it comes around says, “You are being so conceited for thinking good things about yourself. How dare you think that about you?”
Paul McRae: Haha! Oh my god.
KiKi Maroon: And so I cancel out the positive talk. But, I think that’s just a step before actually being positive and happy with your life. I’m moving up! I’m so close, I’m so close!
Paul McRae: Just shake it off! Don’t listen to that asshole! Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Or am I an asshole for thinking that it’s an asshole, when it’s telling me the truth? Haha.
Paul McRae: Oh, lord. We’re peeling an onion now. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, I’m nothing but onion!
Okay, so this is the part where we do the final question.
Paul McRae: Alright.
KiKi Maroon: I ask everybody the same two questions: if you could snap your fingers and people around the world instantly believed two things – it is their reality, it’s their truth now – what would they be? The only thing is, one has to be for the good of humanity, good for the world; the other one has to be completely selfish and self-serving.
Paul McRae: Oh, man, that’s too deep for me! I don’t know if I can come up with something like that. Well, for the good of humanity, I’d love for our political climate to change drastically. We are on a collision course with fascism in this country and around the world, it’s getting worse and worse. I would even be happy if we just nominated someone that was intelligent, you know?
KiKi Maroon: And now totally selfish?
Paul McRae: Oh, that’s, I don’t know. Can I be 18-years-old with the mind of a 57-year-old?
KiKi Maroon: Absolutely! Why not? Haha.
Paul McRae: Haha! Well that’s a great fantasy. Maybe not 18, maybe 21.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, a little bit older. Haha. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Paul. I really, really appreciate it.
Paul McRae: It wasso good to be here. I wouldn’t miss it. You got me to open up. I’m telling you all these secrets. I’m not even going to be able to share this on Facebook now! My mom will be crying. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah. Let’s not do that. I don’t want her to cry. Haha. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Paul McRae: So good to be here. Thank you.
[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]
KiKi Maroon: That was Paul McRae! We’re sodifferent, but we had so much in common. It makes me think about what Bobby Barnaby said in Episode 9 – “Though our stories are different, the human experience is not.” Paul and I both hearing voices when we’re drunk or high got me thinking a lot about my internal monologue, you know, that inner voice in your head. I started researching it, and it’s crazy! Scientists have found through these neurological experiments that the same part of our brain used when we talk out loud, is used when we’re using our inner voice. It’s called Broca’s area after Pierre Paul Broca, who discovered that link. And not onlyare we using the same part of our brain for both speaking and inner monologuing, but we’re also using our larynx. So when you’re in your brain going off in an imaginary fight with your boyfriend, you’re activating the same muscles in your throat that you use when you call him a giant asshole to his face! Haha.
It’s like your brain and body don’t know the difference between thinking and talking. So what’s crazy is that the parts of the brain that are activated during internal monologue are the same parts activated during auditory hallucinations, like a schizophrenic hearing voices. In this study done in Finland, they found that during auditory hallucinations, everything was normal in the brain, except the part of the brain that understands self-awareness was less active. So the theory is that people who hear voices do so because at that moment, their inner dialogue isn’t recognized as self-produced. Now, I’m a stripping clown, not a doctor, so I don’t have the answers. But it makes me wonder if that self-awareness part of the brain is perhaps being numbed by alcohol or weed, causing a similar effect. Paul and I both heard voices. It happened to me so often that I just called it my weed-induced anxiety, but it would also happen sometimes when I drank. I would laugh it off and say that I was just the worst psychic in the world. “All I can hear is people thinking bad thoughts about me!” but those voices just said the same stuff that I used to think about myself all the time. “She’s stupid, she’s ugly, she should just kill herself,” and some other stuff that wasn’t as nice. Haha. So, it does seem like a less intense version of what those studies were talking about – inner dialogue not being recognized as self-produced. I tried to find information on that link specifically between the lack of understanding the self-awareness and alcohol/weed, which I mean – come on! We all know we lack self-awareness when we’re drunk or high, but I couldn’t find anything exactly like that. The closest thing I could find was something called “alcoholic hallucinosis.” There was this one study that said, “Alcoholic hallucinosis is a rare complication of chronic alcohol abuse characterized by predominantly auditory hallucinations that occur either during or after a period of heavy alcohol consumption. Usually presents with delusions and mood disturbances arising in clear consciousness and sometimes may progress to a chronic form mimicking schizophrenia.”
There are a bunch more science words and then it says, “No study has conclusively demonstrated that an acute illness with pronounced similarities to delirium tremens or chronic illness resembling paranoid schizophrenia. In short, there is no consensus as to the nature of the illness.” In other words, we don’t fucking know. Haha. They did say they believe that part of the reason for so little research is that it seems to be prevalent when someone is actively using, and those people tend not to go knocking on researchers’ doors asking for help. So, I don’t know for a fact that the kind of voices Paul and I both heard are tied to some neurological numbing of the Broca’s area part of the brain, but it is an interesting theory. If you enjoy hearing theories from a stripping clown who dropped out of college, please consider joining my Patreon!
Patreon is a subscription service that funds the podcast, web hosting, storage, audio equipment, and more. You can learn more at patreon.com/KiKiMaroon ! And speaking of the website, the brand-new Clown, Interrupted website launched today! Woo! It looks pro as fuck. Please check out ClownInterrupted.com and let me know what you think. Patreon direct messages are the best way to reach me privately, but you can always Tweet me what you think @KiKiMaroon! And as always, the theme song was graciously provided by The Last Domino. I’ve linked to it in the show notes, along with a bunch of other links about art cars and inner monologue. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you have a great day and I will talk to you soon!