Dozens of grade-schoolers aboard Lolly the Trolley yesterday were treated to a uniquely Cleveland spectacle that wasn’t exactly on the list of sightseeing stops – a bum ripping his shirt off and dancing like Paula Abdul circa 1989.
The children were laughing hysterically and pointing at none other than Charles Edward Gist – a.k.a. the crazy guy you see popping and locking on streets downtown. But there’s no reason to be afraid. C-Notes sat down with Gist to talk about his musical influences and his dozens of years spent on the road, literally.
Gist says one of his greatest inspirations was another well-known homeless dancer: Madonna. Gist claims she was homeless for a short time in New York City before being discovered. And that’s what gives Gist hope. After all, if Madonna can do it . . .
Yet if fame never finds him, Gist says he’ll be happy entertaining third-graders at the corner of West 9th and Superior. “I’m just out here cause I like to dance,” he says. “If it happens it happens.”
Gist is available for special occasions, including weddings, bar mitzvahs and sweet 16 parties. You can reach him at the North Point Inn on Superior Avenue, where he’s currently staying. Just look for the guy who looks like he wandered off the set of the video for “Straight Up” and never came back -- or changed his clothes. – Jared Klaus