A few days ago, I started a series of what I’m calling “Ypsi/Arbor exit interviews” by posting an email conversation with my friend Forest Juziuk, who will be leaving shortly for the promised land of San Fran-frisky. Today, I offer the second installment of the ongoing initiative. This interview is with a parasitic entity called Hob the Troll, that feeds off of the ever-dwindling life force of a writer named Stevo Doccerson. Neither Hob nor Stevo technically lives in the Ypsi/Arbor area, but, as they spend more time here than many who do, I thought that they deserved inclusion.
MARK:What’s your name?
HOB:Hob the Troll, beloved entertainer.
MARK: Where do you presently live?
HOB: I own a lot of bridges, but these days, there’s a nice spot in Westland with a pretty nice bridge.
MARK: Is it true that you’re moving to Miami?
HOB: Oh heavens! Actually I’ll be relocating to the St. Petersburgh, Tampa Bay area of Florida.
MARK: Is it true that you’re going there because you have a steady gig? And, by “steady gig,” I’ve heard that you have a paid job that requires your presence one day a year. Is that really worth moving for? Or have I been given bad information?
HOB: Well, I work a lot of gigs all over the country, and I’ll still be coming back to the festival here in Michigan, and I’ll be working while I’m back here, but this will be a more accessible location for me. I’ll be able to work more festivals around the area. Also, no more Michigan winters!
MARK: Can you tell people what it is that you did here in Michigan? And, by “you,” I mean the man behind the troll, Stevo Doccerson.
HOB: Who wants to hear about him? He’s moving down there too, but probably because HE’S the one who needs steady work, and his woman’s going there too. There are more dinner theatres down there (you’ll notice I spelled theatre with an ‘re’ at the end because I’m English, you see).
I think he’s pretty torn up by the disbanding of Manhole, poor fella.
MARK: OK, so here’s what I know, or what I think I know about Stevo. He played in the band Manhole, and he entertains people as a lovable little singing troll character named Hob the Troll. I’ve believe I’ve share video of him on my site before, all made up like the horrible (but lovable) little beast.
HOB: Wait, what?! He’s imitating me?! That shit! Well, he must need cash.
MARK: But, if you don’t mind my asking, what else does he do? And where does he live? Did he live here in Ypsi? For some reason, I had it in my head that he was a librarian down-river somewhere. Someone has told me that’s not the case, though.
HOB: Oh well he does some writing and acting and most of it’s pretty good. He lives in the same area of Westland. He’s spent a lot of time in Ypsi, so I’m told. Mostly hanging around the Pleasure Dome with notorious figures.
MARK: I have some questions about Ypsi, but, first, I’m curious to know a little more about this writing that Stevo does. Can you tell me a bit more about it?
HOB: He’s written a couple scripts for some dinner theatres in the area, he’s written things and performed for vaudeville shows in Detroit and New Orleans.
MARK: What kind of dinner theater? You mean like where people like Florence Henderson and Robert Reed would drive around the country, doing plays at the local Ponderosa steak house? Has anyone notable ever performed one of his plays?
HOB: The Dinner Theatre is in Northville called Genitti’s Hole-In-The-Wall, and it’s local actors/actresses. Noted film actress Jordan Trovillion has appeared in them.
MARK: Does that pay money? And what were the plays like? Were they mysteries? Did people get hit over the heads with candlesticks? Was there graphic sex? Was it the kind of thing where the lights could go out momentarily before the dessert course, and you’d hear a gunshot?
HOB: I thought this was gonna be a fluff piece about me! Of course it pays! Actors need money too!
There will always be a need for that kind of entertainment. What other kind of entertainment are couples in their mid-40’s going to find if they live in Northville?
MARK: Sorry, I’m just fascinated. I never met anyone who wrote for dinner theater.
HOB: Mostly just puppeteers, eh?
MARK: As for other entertainment options, doesn’t Northville have a swingers’ club, and a dog fighting arena?
HOB: I can only imagine. They once yelled at me for trying to sleep under one of their historical bridges. I was like “Hey, I’m on vacation here, yo!”
MARK: How did Stevo get mixed up with these Pleasure Dome gang? Was it as a result of the shows he started doing at the Dreamland and elsewhere, or is there perhaps a personal connection that I’m not aware of?
HOB: Thug Mayor Thom Elliott and he went to camp together.
MARK: What, like summer camp, as kids? Or, was it some kind of juvenile work camp?
HOB: I’m pretty sure it was really a salt mine.
MARK: So their parents sent them to a camp in a salt mine together when they were children?
HOB: Yes. I was almost certain Thom was an honest to god Ogre when I met him, which was only just recently.
MARK: So, would you say that Stevo is moving primarily because of his girlfriend? And why, if you don’t mind my asking, is she moving? Does she have a job lined up in Florida?
HOB: Her name is April, (A Peach of a girl, does my web stuff) and I hear they’re getting married, and there are better jobs down there where she can work in her area of entertainment management.
MARK: Is she good at entertainment management? Does she have friends here that are good at it? The reason I ask is that we need someone good to help produce Dreamland Tonight, and handle the booking of guests. I know you’re leaving and all, but, if she knows of anyone, have her call me. I think we’ve got something good going with that show. The only problem is that none of us have the time, guts and energy to bring in celebrity guests… Which is a shame, given that the likes of Drew Barrymore and Robert DeNiro were just right outside the door.
HOB: It’s more entertainment law, really, but yeah, I’ll make some calls. I know people.
MARK: So, let’s talk about Ypsi…
HOB: Fine town!
MARK: I’m curious to know your perspective on it, as a relative outsider. What drew you to Ypsi? What did you make of the scene here?
HOB: Well, I think what it really comes down to is the people and residents of Ypsi. I’ve got a lot of friends all over the world, and Ypsilanti folks are always doing something new and interesting that other towns try to copy. Take for example Totally Awesome Fest! I love being a part of that every year. I see great acts, it’s free, fun… and gosh, I think it was last year somebody in Detroit started “Fucking (excuse my language, I have younger fans, you see) Awesome Fest” and I thought to myself how most of the people/performers didn’t even know about TAF and all the fun they could’ve been having for years for free.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Detroit a lot. I’ve done a lot of shows there, and I’m even trying to get some of the noise musicians I know to this year’s ….world famous, most controversial Halloween party, but who knows if I’ll be able to do that.
But yeah, I think the Dreamland is a very important landmark for all us weirdo performers who are in Michigan right now. It’s legend is growing every year, and when it eventually ends up as a featured article in like, SPIN or CAT FANCY magazine or something, then I’ll be proud to say “Yeah, I played there. I saw MANHOLE give their final show there.”
MARK: So, if not for the economy, you think you’d be staying? In other words, it’s primarily the availability of jobs taking you to Florida?
HOB: Well entertainment jobs, certainly, but the nature of entertainment is to travel all over the world. Most entertainers just move to NY or LA and stay there, but, by moving to Florida, I’ll be able to work in Michigan AND Georgia AND Louisiana and where ever the wind might take me. It’s not like I’m never coming back, Mr. Maynard. Home is where you hang. It’s another adventure! A chance to meet more friends, play more shows, and do what I’ve gotta do.
Plus like I said, Stevo is really upset about the disbanding of MANHOLE, and I think he needs a little time to pick up the pieces. They were going to be my back-up band, did you know that?
MARK: I just saw Hollis (the man most often credited with breaking up Manhole) in Portland. In fact, I’ve got a video interview that I want to share sometime soon, asking him some questions about why he chose to leave. I don’t want to give too much away, but it really seemed to me that, in his case, it had more to do with the weather than anything else. I think he was in part attracted to the idea of a larger town, with more potential fans and venues, but my sense is that he really just wanted to get away from the cold… And, no, I did not know that they were going to be your backup band… And I don’t know if this will make Stevo feel better or worse, but Hollis is looking to recreate the band in Portland, using people who look like the original Ypsi members of Manhole. Somewhere, at this very moment, he’s probably putting up posters with Stevo’s face, saying, “If you look like this man, you might be eligible to perform in an easy listening rock band.”
HOB: Well they’d better start eating if they wanna look like him!!
MARK: I looked up Jordan Trovillion. Here she is showing off her arm pits. I’m just wondering what a troll such as yourself makes of that.
HOB: Yep, that’s her. She’s good people.
MARK: So, any other thoughts on Ypsi? Did you see that someone set Jambo Man on fire? Clearly there is a rift in the creative scene, wouldn’t you say?
HOB: Yeah, Jambo man had it coming. He created a lot of enemies with the nonexistent drama he was trying to push on people, and really, who cares. Most of that “rift” was that people didn’t like him.
MARK: What would you like to see happen in Ypsi over the course of the next five years?
HOB: I’d like to see TAF get the credit it deserves. One of my favorite thing about Ypsi is that it’s not Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor pisses me the hell off. It’s mostly pretentious jerks who think they’re better than everybody because their parents pay for them to live in a college town way after they should have graduated. Ypsilanti is affordable and the people there are genuine. ALSO it’s easeir to navigate Ypsi than Ann Arbor. There are no one way streets going the opposite way you need to go, there aren’t as many drunken rich girls in the middle of the streets telling cabs to just wait there while they screech like harpies to their friends.
I would like Ypsi to stay as amazing as it’s always been. A fun place for weirdos to work and play.
Those wishing to see Hob in action should click here.