Jesus Correa’s 25th Anniversary Spectacular: Interview with an ego

Those who know or know of Jesus Correa (a.k.a. Dr. Hellnaw) probably won’t be all that surprised that he is coordinating an entire show devoted to celebrating himself on his birthday this year. As an artist, singer, songwriter, writer, poet and all-around egomaniac, Correa has impacted nearly everyone in the arts community in some detrimental or inspiring way. The Jesus Correa Birthday show just might atone for some of the wrongs he’s committed to this town, but probably not.

In light of this “momentous” celebration, I sat down with Correa over a few beers at C.J.’s and chatted with him about his feelings of 25 years in review.

Actually, Correa and I decided the best interview would be made up of questions he invented for himself. This worked out well for a few reasons, one of which being that I couldn’t come up with any respectable questions that would get any decent answers.

TRRT: Some folks have called you a renaissance man; you sing, you dance, you’re an artist, writer and an engaging public speaker. Is there anything you can’t do besides spell the word “renaissance” without looking it up in the dictionary?

Correa: Uhm, I don’t know who said that, but that was real nice…I’m sure there’s a lot of things I can’t do, like I can’t juggle, I can’t connect with people emotionally like other people…there’s all kinds of stuff other people can do that I can’t.

TRRT: What should we expect to see at your entertainment extravaganza at the Irish Rose this coming Sunday? Will it surpass last year’s monkey orchestra, or even the low-key affair of two years ago that featured you, an old piano, and three escaped convicts? (Note: The monkey orchestra incident never actually occurred, except in a figment of Correa’s own twisted imagination. The piano and convicts, however, did come together well.)

Correa: I’m tryin’ to do it small, where you can bring your family, where you can bring your grandma; I’m going to keep it clean… I’m going to work as clean as humanly possible, like Bill Cosby. Out of respect for the “Cos,” it’s going to be a clean show.

TRRT: You once wrote gags for Jerry Lewis, and were head writer of the short-lived Hee-Haw 2000. Why, after that shining career in show business (his mom’s basement) did you decide to leave it all and stay here in Rockford? You even turned down the chance to write a pilot for an NYPD Blue spin-off titled Sipowitz in the City recently. Why? (Note: All this is actually true, as long as one takes into consideration that no one but Correa’s split personality actually asked him to do any of it, and he and Jerry Lewis have never met.)

Correa: I just wanted to get back and bring myself down to a normal person. I was getting too Hollywood, and I was schmoozing too much, doing too many drugs, and waking up with the wrong people and hangin’ out with the wrong crowd. There’s really nothing like that going on here; it’s a clean town. It’s made for clean livin’ and it’s where I belong. It’s like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood 2000. It keeps me balanced.

TRRT: You still deny the rumors that you ever set yourself on fire. Where did this rumor start, and why does it persist to this day?

Correa: Well, people say I have a burning passion for life…it’s the fire in my soul. Some people misconstrued it and I got a little too carried away one night in a show, and there were some hippies who thought I was burning on fire. But it was the drugs they were on, like some acid or something.

TRRT (Real question): But you did set yourself on fire, man…

Correa: …Yeah, I DID set myself on fire, but I don’t know why people keep talking about it. He started looking sullen, so we moved on quickly to the next question…

TRRT: Anyway, are you or are you not running for mayor?

Correa: …No.

TRRT: You’ve been asked by many members of City Council to refrain from slow-motion wrestling with your brother; will you defy them, and will there in fact be slow-motion wrestling at the Rose on the 12th?

Correa: Yeah, I’m going to tell you right now that there will be slow-motion wrestling. They can try to stop me, but that’s what the people want, and if they want to see some slow-motion wrestling, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to slow-motion wrestle.

TRRT: You’ve got a slew of guests coming out to perform on the 12th, some of whom haven’t performed in public for many years. Your brother, who retired to a farm a few years back (no, he didn’t), Jacob Pekarsky, is rumored to be bringing back the old “caveman in a shower” bit (???), there is even talk of Pete Selgrat doing one of his gorgeous dance routines. These are people who have tasted fame (no, they haven’t) and said no; why are they coming back for the anniversary show? Is it really going to be all that it’s built up to be?

Correa: This is something special, and they knew it, they can feel it and they can taste it in the water. And everybody can tell there’s something special going on. They got tired of all the fame and people bothering them, but they said, “You know what? Just for old times sake, and just for kicks, let’s do it again like the old times.” Even John Lief’s comin’ back, and that’s like Simon and Garfunkel getting back together. It’s BIG time.

TRRT: This is a variety show, which has always been considered the lowest form of entertainment. Why do you think you can succeed where Dean Martin, Dick Van Dyke, The Brady Bunch, or even Johnny Cash failed?

Correa: I don’t think that I can….no.

TRRT: This isn’t really a question, but I think you are the most beautiful, noble human being, and if there were more people like you, the world would truly be a better place. This was my pleasure, and I am sure that the Jesus Correa 25th Anniversary Spectacular will go down in history as one of the greatest self-indulgent acts in the history of mankind.

Correa: Yeah…(he nods a few times in agreement)…yeah.

(Note from Correa: All questions and comments were written and answered by Jesus so he wouldn’t seem so self-indulgent and pretentious.)

(Note from Molly: That last bit was the most insane and ridiculous rambling of a thoroughly self-absorbed egomaniac, and I cannot believe he actually got me to say it.)

The Jesus Correa 25th Anniversary Spectacular will be held Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Irish Rose, from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. There is a $3 cover. More info: 299-2375.

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