By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
As for Reform's candidate for governor, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Germann doesn't seem too ruffled about being upstaged. "I don't think I could beat him in a wrestling match," Germann chuckles. "Anything else, I'd probably be able to take him on."
Fancy Ray McCloney
People's Champion Party
"What would it say about the state to put this androgynous African American into the governor's office?" asks the androgynous African-American gubernatorial candidate, who argues that such an unprecedented move could only amount to a huge public-relations boost for Minnesota.
Fancy Ray McCloney's crisp white shirt is open four buttons to the wind, baring the smooth torso of the self-proclaimed "Human Chocolate Orchid." He sports a neon-bright, lounge-lizard red vest, black slacks, and lots of gold: three rings, a bracelet, a watch, and the large diamond-studded star that swings from his neck. A pencil-thin mustache quivers above his upper lip; gold highlights accentuate his gravity-defying pompadour.
"This is my political attire," he boasts. "I have matching red underwear."
"If I don't look good, folks get disappointed. It's true! It's not easy being Fancy Ray," insists McCloney, best known to the public as host of the cable-access show Get Down With It!, which has been on the air for nearly a decade. But Fancy Ray has transcended his roots as a Little Richard impersonator and created his own signature character. Around town, he's achieved a measure of celebrity through sheer chutzpah; as such, he believes he has a responsibility to his public: Dress to Kill, or fade into obscurity.
Like all politicians worth their stones, McCloney has his set stump speech. He contends that the major-party candidates and the election itself are nothing but jokes, and that if he's not elected, the state will have to settle for an amateur. "If you're going to elect a joker, elect the best joker of all," says the self-anointed "Best-Looking Man in Comedy."
But the People's Championer grows serious, if not somber, when he talks about the priorities he would focus on as governor. "Everything's a joke, but something's seriously wrong with this state," says McCloney, who argues that as head of state he would work to combat poverty, fight for affordable housing, and crack down on the red-lining tactics of banks and other institutions in communities of color. He espouses a program he dubs "Minnesota Spice" which would foster better relations among all races in the state. If elected, he'd try to deliver a come-one, come-all inaugural ball starring Prince, Little Richard, James Brown, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, George Clinton--with Bill Clinton blowing blues on sax.
"I am truly the everyday person," says McCloney, pausing a well-timed beat: "With a pretty hairdo." McCloney mentions the elder Hubert Humphrey as a political hero--because "he took a stand for people of color"--alongside Muhammad Ali and late Minneapolis City Council member Brian Coyle. (Speaking of inspirations, can it be mere coincidence that Little Richard is playing at Mystic Lake Casino on the eve of the election?)
McCloney takes his name from his grandfather, Fancy Wade, who served as a father figure during his youth. "He was known for being a sharp dresser and a ladies' man," recalls McCloney. When Wade passed away in 1984, McCloney inherited his music collection and discovered the tape of Little Richard that forever changed his life. Family ties run as deep in McCloney's persona as they do in his campaign: His running mate is his mother. "My mom epitomizes to me hard work, struggle, doing the right thing, living right, setting positive goals and achieving them," he says. "Vote for the real family values candidacy: Fancy Ray and his mother, Toni McCloney."
On an even more personal front, McCloney often professes to be ageless. One day he'll insist he's 25; the next, he swears to be 28, but allows as how it changes daily. A City Pages cover story in 1992 put him at 28 then, which would make him 34 today. Fancy Ray disavows such calculations. But he isn't concerned that his waffling on the topic will hurt his political credibility. McCloney takes the question as just another setup for a joke. "It doesn't matter if I lie about my age," he quips. "I've never lied about sex or my relationship with Monica Lewinsky."
Should it come to pass that politics don't pan out, the candidate dreams of broader vistas than his current status as a low-budget TV hero, and talks cryptically of a deal in the works. He will reveal only that it's going to be "huge." For now, Fancy Ray figures his campaign, like his cable-access shtick, is all part of a greater mission. "My whole goal in this life is to lift people up in some way," McCloney croons. "I've got a calling that's in me. I'm here fighting for the people!"
With a pretty hairdo.
Ken Pentel is rifling through his cluttered office trying to find a copy of the Green Party's platform. "It must be out in the car," he says finally, with mild exasperation.
The car? Is this the candidate whose literature espouses the goal of offering "incentives for walking, biking, and using trains and buses--move people, not cars"?