An Interview (Of Sorts) With Movie Star, Billy Willy
The whole day began oddly. I received a phone call at around 3:00am and a quiet, muffled voice asked if I would like to meet with and interview a world famous comedian/actor/musician/bon vivant. After wiping the sleep from my eyes, I managed to mumble, “Sure.” After a few moments, another voice was transmitted through the phone which introduced itself as Billy Willy. In retrospect, I have to admit that the first voice sounded exactly like the second voice…just without a hand covering it’s mouth. Anyway, Billy Willy said that he loved my work and he was an avid reader of Rolling Stone Magazine. I was unsure of what the connection between myself and Rolling Stone was, but I was far too tired to care. We quickly set up an interview for the next day at Carmen’s on Second St. After hanging up, I rolled over and went back to sleep, quickly forgetting the conversation until I woke up the next morning and looked through my notes.
I arrived at Carmen’s several minutes before the appointed interview time and, after purchasing my lunch and walking into the back dining room, I found myself in the Twilight Zone. Well, the Twilight Zone if it had been written by William S. Burroughs and directed by David Lynch while they were both flying high on massive doses of mescaline. There, towards the back of the room, sat a lone figure, replete in a monstrously huge ten gallon Stetson, a powder blue sequined Western shirt, pegged slacks and cowboy boots…with spurs that jingled and caught the light every time the lone figure fidgeted. Assuming that the figure had to be the World Famous Comedian/Actor/Musician/Bon Vivant Billy Willy, I strode up and introduced myself…the first of many mistakes I would make within the next hour. The second would be asking him any questions, which was the next mistake that I made…
J.T.: How are you today? I’m J.T.
Billy: This doesn’t look like a French Restaurant.
J.T.: Well, I don’t think that it is…
Billy: Oh. Isn’t L’Auberge the best restaurant in town?
J.T.: Yes, but…
Billy: Well, this is a croissant, which is French, so this must be L’Auberge. I would have thought that they would have had a better wine list though…
J.T.: Well, this is…
Billy: Where’s Annie?
Billy: Annie Leibovitz.
J.T.: Annie Leibovitz from Rolling Stone?
Billy: Yes. I thought you guys shot all your celebrity interviews.
J.T.: I don’t…this isn’t…I write for DaytonMostMetro.com…
Billy: I’m not familiar with that column. This isn’t the first time I was in Rolling Stone you know…
Billy: Well, it wasn’t a cover story like this…
J.T.: This isn’t…
Billy: It wasn’t even really a feature article. It was more like an ad I placed to sell a guitar actually. It’s just as well that she wasn’t here. Now I don’t feel so bad about all the money I spent for professional headshots. (Hands me an envelope full of blurry Polaroid pictures)
J.T. : The only bio I could find of you, which was an old MySpace account, said that you were living in California, but that you were moving back to West Virginia. Why is that?
Billy: Well, my movie The Billy With The Dragon Willy in 3D tanked, so I’m back on the road. I don’t understand why it tanked because it was so well received on the festival circuit.
J.T.: Do you mean like at Sundance or the Tribeca Film Festival?
Billy: No. Like Clapper Gap, California’s Yam Festival and Possum Grape, Arkansas’ Jumping Toad Festival. I’m not sure where else it was shown. I think that it was actually a direct to YouTube release. Maybe the film will have a life. I thought that this film would be my big breakthrough.
J.T.: Well, speaking of your movies, it said in your bio that Billy With The Dragon Willy is kind of a sequel to your music CD Crouching Billy, Hidden Willy. I tried to locate a copy, but oddly enough, it was only released in the Shanxi Province of China.
Billy: Yes, that was my Chinese import. My single from that ranked 386 with a bullet on the Mandarin Hot 400.
J.T: Well, The Billy With The Dragon Willy isn’t your first brush with filmmaking, was it?
Billy: No. I read for the lead role in Brokeback Mountain, but Heath Ledger got it…and look what happened to him! I ended up as an extra and was also a technical adviser for the film. You know that thing where he spit in his hand? That was my idea.
J.T.: Being in the industry in California, you must have been able to meet up and network with a lot of celebrities.
Billy: I’ve met lots of people and met lots of celebrities, but now I’m heading back, across the country on my new tour which I’m going to be launching at the Dayton Funnybone…I’m not sure why I would have crossed half the country to start a national tour, but who knows what these booking agents are thinking. I’m in Dayton now and happy to be here.
J.T.: Well, has your celebrity connections helped you out career-wise?
Billy: Well, I was recently in New York City to try out for the new Folger’s Coffee jingle contest
J.T.: Well, you must have some interesting stories about your travels. Did you make any stop offs on your way to Dayton?
Billy: I did stop off in Las Vegas and did a show there.
J.T.: I thought that Dayton was the first stop on your national tour.
Billy: Well, it was a private party. It was a children’s birthday party.
Billy: I did get to see some of my friends while I was there though. I know Siegfried and Roy…well, Roy. It turns out that Roy loves traditional mountain music, but Siegfried likes trance. I met them years ago when I was playing a hot Vegas club called The Rusty Trombone.
J.T.: Well, you grew up in this part of the country didn’t you?
Billy: Yes. I grew up in a Pizza Hut in Friendly West Virginia. When my parents moved there, a vacant Pizza Hut was all they could afford because they were doing God’s work. It’s not a bad thing. Like I tell people, we had a big kitchen, lots of parking and a huge dining room. I’m looking forward to moving back to Friendly, West Virginia with my son Woody. The only thing that I am not looking forward to are the UFOs.
Billy: Yeah, we’re the Mountain State and that makes us easy targets for UFO abduction.
J.T.: How so?
Billy: Well, we are a little closer to the sky then you all are. I’ve never been abducted myself, which I don’t take personally because, being famous, if the aliens want to know anything about me, they can just Google me. I have had friends that have been abducted and sometimes they’re returned if they are not good enough for the aliens, and that’s sad. They become sad sacks and they feel sort of rejected.
At that point, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and, in the back of my mind, waited for Ashton Kucher to leap out so all of this would make sense. I scooted past the door to the men’s room, stepping up my pace as I reached the sweet relief of the back door that led to the alleyway. If you want to witness for yourself why Billy Willy is billed as “West Virginia’s least favorite country and Western musician, go to the Funnybone on May 12th at 7:30pm. It will only cost you $10 to see one of the most singularly bizarre acts this side of Friendly, West Virginia. Joining Billy on stage will be Michelle Metzner and Lady Jae Je. You may also be able to pick up one of Billy’s first recordings, Je m’appelle Billy Willy. Call (937) 429-5233 or go online at www.daytonfunnybone.com to make reservations.