PROVINCETOWN – On Commercial Street in Provincetown, where it takes a lot to stand out, David “Scarbie” Mitchell calls himself “a billboard on wheels.”
Peddling a pink Schwinn bicycle in high heels and wearing in a red and white “Memorial Day flag motif” outfit, Scarbie said, “I am barking. Barking is the act of selling tickets for your show.”
His show, now in its eighth season, is called “Lip-Schtick, One Boy’s Journey To Fabulous And Back!” . “It’s a show for all ages, lifestyles, and abilities,” he said.
“I found out I can make a living doing this,” he said.
Lipschtick is at the UU Meeting House, 236 Commercial Street. “My show is about how we are all different but we are exactly the same because we are completely different.” Lipschtick features seven characters and 11 costume changes, said Scarbie, who does it all without ever leaving the stage. The characters are baby boomer icons, including Lily Tomlin and Carol Burnett.
Scarbie, 53, is originally from Jacksonville, Florida. He moved to Provincetown because he fell in love. His partner is Richard White. “His favorite thing,” said Scarbie, “is selling tickets with me and collecting the money.”
Scarbie has developed a successful show, but he learned very early that a good show was not enough. He needed to sell to be successful. On show days, he said, “I bark from 3 to 6. When I’m barking, I go through eight to 10 costume changes every day. I keep it visually interesting for people on the street. And it makes if fun for me. It’s part of my story; how I liked to play dress up.”
“In Provincetown, nothing’s over the top,” said Lenny Fratangelo, a friend of Scarbie’s. Fratangelo, who owns the bed and breakfast Romeo’s Holiday, said, “Here in Provincetown, you need to sell yourself.”
“Without people barking, they wouldn’t come to the shows,” said Fratangelo’s partner, Stan Klein.
Scarbie is, in fact, performing and working when he rides Commercial Street. It’s all part of the job and brand of being Scarbie.
“This is the classic Scarbie look,” he said. “I developed this look to be consistent, but each costume is unique. I
have dozens of different outfits and each has a corresponding tall hat. This is my look, my brand. I make them all. I create the hats and the outfits. I create the hats out of foam rubber.”
Besides selling, Scarbie is always posing for pictures with anyone who wants. “I like posing with young chicks. I do Kardashian stuff,” he said while striking a pose.
“Kids ask me, ‘What are you, a boy or a girl?’ I’m actually a clown,” he said. “I’m a drag clown.”
The show, which costs $20, runs for 11 weeks and he will do between 50 and 60 shows, he said. After summer, he heads to Sarasota, Florida where he is a tractor driver. “I love to say that because it blows people’s minds,” he said.
But he’s got 11 weeks of shows to sell this summer, so he is working to sell tickets. “I’m a street performer,” he said. “They expect me to be on. If I was miserable, they wouldn’t want to see my show… The biggest lesson I’ve learned in life is to enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why do it? People see that I like what I’m doing and they want to see my show.”
But when summer is over, he said, “After I do 50 or 60 shows, I’m ready to get out of my heals and back on my tractor.”
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— Brian Tarcy