All children of the 90s who watched the movie Hook remember Rufio.
A flava-ful Asian kid with a skunky red-tipped mohawk, he looked awkward enough to make me cringe, even though I was only in grade school. As leader of Neverland’s Lost Boys, Rufio spoke in Ebonics, wore midriff-exposing shirts, flirted with Robin Williams in a way that would make members of NAMBLA blush, and is most often remembered for yelling the word “bangerang” (pronounced bang-er-ang). Like many brown people, he was also good at swinging from vines.
What many don’t know about Rufio, however, is that he is also an adept in the art of floetry. With a mostly underwhelming film career under his belt, it seems only natural that 36-year-old Filipino wigger Dante Basco would make the jump from the world of acting to slam poetry. Since doing so, Basco has appeared on Def Poetry Jam, where he performed an emotionally charged poem about an encounter with a stripper. In his characteristically high-pitched voice, Basco lamented that he was unable to effectively beat and choke the exotic dancer per her request.
And when he’s not gently beating on strippers or doing performance poems about the experience, Basco actually hosts his own slam poetry event called “Da Poetry Lounge” every Tuesday evening in Los Angeles. My friend Joe, an LA resident, who first told me of the Lounge’s existence, describes it as “a high-school gym with a stage and microphone.” Joe also mentioned that the open-mic performers left a lot to be desired, though in my opinion, that could be said of any venue where dashiki-wearing gurus of the spoken word are present.
As someone who tells stories to audiences regularly, I cannot stand watching people do slam poetry. Whenever some slow-talking would-be Erykah Badu or Russell Simmons starts spitting verse at me, I feel like attacking that person with a cheese grater. I don’t like the obsessive rhyming, the painfully dramatic pauses, the incorporation of R&B song lyrics (always sung off-key a cappella by the poet or poetess) , or the word “revolution,” as it tends to occur in most of these race- or identity-themed monologues. In short, there is nothing “bangerang” about the national slam scene.
And yet, while Rufio/Basco is no less irritating than any other slam poet I’ve encountered, I can’t stop watching him “drop poems” from his living room on YouTube. Maybe that’s because for some reason, all of his slam poems seem to be weirdly sex themed. Like this one for instance, where he pays homage to his ex-girlfriend’s pussy and its “gravitational pull.”
Or this one, wherein he ruminates on the dangers of Internet porn.
Or finally, this little number in which he relates the history of his entire sex life, concluding with a revolution—err, “revelation”—that the “dynamic between man and woman is creation.”
In any case, I guess it’s good to know that Rufio gets laid. This poetry slamming thing does appear to be the perfect calling for him. And if it doesn’t work out, he can always keep selling his T-shirts.