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'A musical for guys' -- Greaseman on stage

May 23, 2003|by Chris Copley

chrisc@herald-mail.com

The bad boy of radio is back in town.

Raunchy morning-show radio DJ Doug "Greaseman" Tracht - heard locally on 95.9 WKMZ-FM - returns to the Tri-State area for a live concert. The show will be at 8 p.m. Friday, May 23, at The Maryland Theatre. Steve Whiteman, former lead singer for the rock 'n' roll band KIX, and his current band, Funny Money, opens for the Greaseman.

For his radio fans - mostly white guys in their 20s and 30s - the Greaseman is a troubador. His stories are about the average guy's basic needs and desires - food, beer, compliant women and a chance to shoot guns at bad guys.

But he pushes the limits of propriety. The Greaseman's storytelling vocabulary walks the gray line between clean and dirty. Unlike some of radio's shock jocks, he doesn't curse. All his words are acceptable to the Federal Communications Commission.

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But once listeners learn to translate the Greaseman's sound effects and code words - "hobble-doo-gee" for intercourse, "doodads" and "hydraulics" for male body parts, "ta-tas" for a woman's breasts, among others - his stories are explicitly bawdy.

"My show is a little naughty," Tracht admits. "People call me a shock jock. I call myself a shocked jock, (shocked) to be lumped in with those other guys. There's no finesse out there."

"Finesse" is the Greaseman's hallmark, according to Yogi Yoder, station manager for WKMZ-FM, which broadcasts the Greaseman from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays.

"He is an incredible talent," Yoder says. "Everything is ad-libbed, off the top of his head. And he's not a shock jock. He's never been fined by the FCC."

The Greaseman has more than two dozen ongoing storylines he serializes weekly: the Roman Emperor Tuchis Faceas and his wife Sleazebaggius; gung-ho American soldier Sgt. Fury in Vietnam; a backwoods father and son living in West Virginia; Clint Eastwood in a gay relationship; and many others.

He also takes real-life anecdotes from callers and spins them out to five-minute stories complete with sound effects and vocal mimicry.

"People call me when they're in a mess," Tracht says. "Usually I use their call as a springboard into a flight of fancy. I send them on their way laughing."

Trying to pigeon-hole the Greaseman, to describe in dry print the rollicking, rowdy fun Tracht creates on air is like trying to explain music to a deaf person. Explaining cannot recreate the experience.

Recently, after nearly three decades as an on-air DJ, Tracht expanded his radio program into a live comedy routine, complete with his own band, Ingus. Yoder says the stage show is a natural extension of the radio show.

"If you think about what he does, it's basically storytelling," Yoder says. "Basically, it is a kind of stage show. He's a stand-up comedian. The backup band provides music."

It has taken Tracht some years to be comfortable performing in person instead of anonymously, as a voice on the airwaves. But now he says he likes to go live and in person.

"The radio show relies totally on theater of the mind. It literally sweeps you away," he says. "You can't do that on stage. On stage I do a different twist. I do a zesty stand-up routine, entertain with tunes."

The ad-lib nature of a live comedy stage show appeals to Tracht - he is in his element. His band provides additional juice for his shenanigans.

"I do hundreds of parody tunes," he says. "The live show is like a musical for guys. This is no 'Cats,' no 'Phantom of the Opera.' It's like a zesty 'West Side Story.'"

He breaks into song, splicing new lyrics onto a popular tune from "West Side Story."

"I'd like to be in Hagerstown. Everything free in Hagerstown. Hobble-doo-gee in Hagerstown," he sings.

If anything, he says, his live show is less restrained than his radio show. The FCC cannot regulate his comedy if it's not broadcast. So his talent with spontaneous storytelling is free to roam. Tracht says his fans will like what they see.

"I make them laugh," Tracht says. "That's what Greaseman fans want. How I do it, that's up to me."




If you go . . .


An Evening with Greaseman, performing with his band, Ingus; also performing is Funny Money (featuring Steve Whiteman, formerly of KIX)

8 p.m. Friday, May 23

The Maryland Theatre

21 South Potomac St.

Hagerstown

Tickets are $25, $30, $35 (includes service fee)

Call 301-790-3500.

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