Odd Man Out

Meet piano man Mark Mallman: part shut-in, part showman

Having set out to launch a postcollegiate career in audio production, Mallman instead found himself competing in poetry slams, writing most of an album, and finishing a novel about gay dolphins ("imagine the Odd in book form," he says). He soon returned, nearly penniless, to the Cities. With money culled from poetry-slam prizes and some of his mom's winnings in Las Vegas, Mallman lived out of his car for a while, working at the Walker Art Center as a security guard. "I was literally a tourist the whole time I was writing the album," he says. "It's all about being an outcast."

As he tells me his story, Mallman slaps down letter stickers spelling out the Odd song, "Street Fuck," on his Roland keyboard, which he's decorating for the band's CD-release party the next night at the 7th Street Entry. It's an event Mallman couldn't have forecast a year earlier, and he seems cheery in the glow of his newfound success. Since moving out of his car, he's landed a job editing for television, which has helped free up time and money for his bands and CDs.

When he's not making music, Mallman enjoys the revelation that is disposable income by collecting vintage video games, many of which he mails to Wisconsin for storage at his parents' house. He also spends plenty of spare time making the rounds through the thrift-store circuit shopping for extra ironing boards and fresh performance outfits. "I love the Spice Girls," he says, showing me the pink vinyl pants and child's Godzilla T-shirt he plans to wear the next night. "I love the concept of making yourself into a product."

Glamour-puss and keyboard humper Mark Mallman
Kristine Heykants
Glamour-puss and keyboard humper Mark Mallman

As the Odd market their own product the next night for a crowded 7th Street Entry, I soon realize why Mall Kill needs the extra ironing board. After he smashes one, a stagehand instantly rushes a replacement out--all part of the rock-star theatrics. And if Mallman is indeed a rock star, or at least a rock asteroid, credit goes to his total absorption in the role. When he turns an ironing board over and rides it like a Harley, he looks like he's lost in a road movie. When he slithers his tongue at singer Tommy Siler, he's a homoerotic Vince Neil. It makes sense that when Mallman isn't in his room writing blistering songs about ripped hearts and blind eyes, he seems most at home onstage. Like an eager woman said in the line at the bar, "I don't want to miss anything that keyboard guy does."

Mark Mallman opens for Steve Wynn at the 400 Bar on Thursday; 332-2903.

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