hat can be said about Tom Miller that hasn't been written on a bathroom wall?
I intended to find the man behind the myth, utterly unprepared for what I was about to witness.
Miller, a darling of Gainesville's music scene in the '80s with bands such as NDolphin, has returned from a successful stint with the Chicago blues band Vini and the Demons and has brought the Tom Miller Show with him. It happens every Monday at The Shamrock, and it is always a happening.
Some Mondays, there is music or movies, such as Michael McShane's local documentary "It's All Good." Others, Miller organizes protests against his own show.
On this particular Monday, I have been lured by the promise of butt-prints.
I walk into the bar and scan the sundry crowd. Finding Miller at his shows is usually simple. Look for a man standing somewhere he shouldn't, doing something he shouldn't and saying something he shouldn't.
On this night, I find him perched imperiously on a table in a dank corner of the bar, reading bawdy poems to a crowd of a dozen rowdy characters. He has a microphone, probably the worst thing you could give him.
Miller's poems include "Hairball Betty," a not-so-gentle ditty about a man, a woman, a hairball and projectile vomiting.
A young man in thick, black-rimmed glasses laughs hysterically, turns to me and mutters, "He ain't no Elliot."
He has a point. Miller's poems - including another about a nose roach - hardly ever rhyme and rarely have a point.
But that is the point. Satire is his gig, and the joke is usually on art.
Miller jumps off the table, walks to the stage and introduces two other acts: a man playing 12-string guitar and, after him, a belching, beer-swigging poet who looks like a sweet old man but spews vulgarities as fast as a Quentin Tarantino flick.
The details of their acts are not as important as the impact: The show is in constant motion; it is alive. Attention shifts from the back of the room to the front and back again, each time to take in something absurd or, at the very least, unusual.
After nearly two hours, Miller finally jumps back on stage with an electric determination.
"We are now taking the show to the next level," he says as dramatic music pumps through the bar's speakers.
It is late at this point - about 1:30 a.m. - and there are only a handful of stragglers left. An "assistant" climbs on-stage wearing doctor's attire and a bronze-colored mask with a foot-long beak.
Miller takes off his shirt, dons sunglasses and produces a bottle of black finger paint. He pours it into his hand, shimmies his behind out of his pants and rubs the paint on himself. The masked man slaps a piece of cardboard against him. The first butt-print.
Miller gets another bottle of finger paint - blue - and rubs it on his behind, then all over his arms, chest and face while dancing seductively. The masked man slaps on another piece of cardboard, and both start screeching and gyrating in a frenzy of utter weirdness. The second butt-print.
The third butt-print is like the second, only created with more screaming.
Then, Miller prepares for the dismount. He seizes the microphone and stomps around the stage.
"You want it?" he shrieks. "I'll give it to you!"
He is screaming himself hoarse, completely transfixed; lifted to another plane on booze, finger paint, partial nudity and the wild applause of 11 people.
Miller raises both bottles of finger paint and dumps them on himself. The paint cascades down his body, covering him entirely in black and blue.
When the masked man slaps the final piece of cardboard against Miller, both fall to the floor writhing and screaming. The small crowd goes wild. Miller has transcended The Shamrock's musty walls.
Then, silence falls. Like flipping a switch, Miller is back to himself.
He might be a genius, stretching the limits of performance art.
He might be an alcoholic with some finger paint and a lot of free time.
The fine line between revolution and revulsion is a bit hazy here, and where Miller stands depends on whether you get the joke.
"I just want art to happen," he says. "I want people to get drunk."
Finding Miller at his shows is usually simple. Look for a man standing somewhere he shouldn't, doing something he shouldn't and saying something he shouldn't.