Following that old show biz maxim that says if you are gonna go down in flames take as many people with you as you can, Ben Salem’s Darren Finizio went Kamikaze last night on America’s Got Talent — he shows up at the 1:23 mark. Extremism in the pursuit of a an ‘E For Effort’ is no vice.


RELATED: The first of many, many questions you want to ask is: What’s with the hair? It’s an impossibly thick brown shag that’s utterly fashionable — for darren-hoppy.jpg1974. A quick tug confirms its owner’s assertion that, no, it’s not a wig. Then there’s the clothes: Cuban heeled Italian leather boots, tight faded denim flares topped with a clingy plum-colored muscle shirt, all the better to show off his bronzed and chiseled physique, itself a testament to untold hours spent at the gym and the tanning salon. With the threads and the hair and the buttery So Cal glow, he could easily hang with Dirk Diggler’s porn-star posse in Boogie Nights.

Then there are the bands that go with the hair and the clothes. There have been many over the years, each one as loopy as the next. Let’s see–there’s Stan and the Ass Bandits, his proto-metal porn-rock outfit, later forced to change its name to Sperminator because the head of the band’s record company thought the name was a little too, um, “gay.”

There’s Hoppy the Frog, which traffics in satanically strange children’s music — think Teletubbies on acid — narrated by a full-grown man in a frog costume lisping the lyrics to songs like “Sittin’ on a Lily Pad.”

There’s the druid-metal of Casket.

There’s Paraplegic, fronted by a lead singer in a wheelchair who, legend has it, miraculously regains the ability to walk mid-performance, thanks to the healing power of the band’s headbanging music.

There’s Muscle Factory, a self-described “workout band,” pumping out gnarly industrial rock while audience members curl and bench press the various barbells scattered about the stage under the patient inspirational tutelage of the band’s lead singer/motivational speaker, Gage.

There’s the Well-Hung Man, crooning odes to his prodigious member over jazzy blue-eyed soul stylings.darren-hoppy.jpg

There’s Dyke, in which men in drag caterwaul angry butch ditties like “Blame the Man” and “Women Are the Bomb” over nails-down-the- chalkboard synth screech.

There’s Dyke’s doppelganger, Faggot, which performs a rock opera about a young man coming to grips with his sexuality, falling in with the wrong crowd and getting hooked on meth, only to find salvation during the rousing finale of “Gay Pride Day.” “We can come where we want to/ We can come when we want to,” sing the mincing men of Faggot without apology.

There’s Self-Help Glee Club, a giddy 12-step hootenanny.

There’s Project Iraqi Freedom, in which band members dressed in ’60s psychedelic garb sing pro-war songs like “Give ‘Em Hell” and “Thank You President Bush.”

Then there are the bands whose raison d’etre is neatly encapsulated in their very names: Sports Bar, the Open-Minded Men, the Freedom People, Misogynist Man, Freedomquest and Adventures in Fragmentation.

All of this–the hair, the clothes, the outrageous bands–are outward manifestations of the incredibly strange and unrelentingly creative inner world of one Darren Finizio, a 38-year-old Bensalem resident whose entire life has been one long piece of performance art that begs the eternal question: Is he fucking kidding? MORE

DARREN FINIZIO: Men Who Wear Speedos

RELATED: Fishtown’s Eric “Doogie” Horner, 30, a mild-mannered graphic designer for Old City’s Quirk Books and part-time comedian, absolutely killed with his routine Tuesday and won a trip to Las Vegas to compete on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. He’ll be seen next on July 7 or 8. MORE

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