9 Wonderful Local Characters

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No matter where they are, people are proud of their town's characters. There was a great response to the two previous posts How to Be a Local Character and 7 Fascinating Local Characters. Here are 9 more.

1. Baton Bob

Baton Bob is claimed as a local character by both St. Louis and Atlanta. Bob Jamerson was the only male baton twirler in his high school marching band in Virginia. As an adult in St Louis, he created the character of Baton Bob because he enjoys performing and wants to make people smile. Jamerson calls himself the "Ambassador of Mirth". He now makes a living as a floral designer in Atlanta. Baton Bob marches in the streets wearing various costumes (often including a tutu), and twirls a baton. He was well-known in St. Louis, but after dealing with several incidences of harassment, Baton Bob made a name for himself all over again when he moved to Atlanta in 2005. Image by Cliff Dix, Jr.

2. and 3. The Brown Twins

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Marian and Vivian Brown are 81-year-old identical twins who live together in San Francisco. They revel in their twin identities. Marian and Vivian dress alike every day, and walk around their Nob Hill neighborhood together. The Brown sisters have appeared in quite a few television ads. Image by Ian Brown.

4. Tuba Man

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Edward Scott McMichael was a Seattle busker everyone knew as Tuba Man. A talented musician from childhood, McMichael played in his college band, a youth symphony, and in the several professional symphonies. He was best known for playing in front of sports arenas. The Tuba Man was 53 when he was attacked and beaten by several teenagers on October 25, 2008. He died of his injuries on November 3rd. Three 15-year-old boys were arrested; two others were not found. More than 1,500 people attended his memorial service, including several tuba players, who played a couple of songs to honor the Tuba Man. Image by Sean O'Neill.

5. St. Cloud Superman

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St. Cloud, Minnesota has its own superhero. He's John Michael Fillah, better known as Superman. He began hanging out on the streets of St. Cloud in full Superman costume after the 9/11 attacks as a way to encourage people and to promote patriotism. In 2007, Fillah proved himself a true superhero when he talked a man out of committing suicide. Visit his MySpace page.

6. Johnny Haysman

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The best known character in Adelaide, Australia is Johnny Haysman. Haysman is known for his one-of-a-kind fashion sense. he can be seen walking the streets, miles every day, wearing nothing but Speedos and boots in warm weather, or mismatched plains and stripes at other times. A Facebook group, The Johnny Haysman Appreciation Society has over 10,000 members!

7. Beatle Bob

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Robert Matonis, or Beatle Bob, attends concerts in St. Louis and does a characteristic dance. Although he wears his hair in a 60s Beatle style, his nickname has been with him since grade school. Matonis does more than dance -he writes about music and emcees concerts and other events. He sometimes dances on stage at festivals around the country. Matonis is somewhat mysterious in that he doesn't divulge many facts about his life. Some don't like his concert behavior; others just know that he has great taste in music. See him in action in this video.

8. The Naked Cowboy

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Robert John Burck, better known as the Naked Cowboy is the only local character listed so far that I've encountered personally. Burck can be seen in Times Square in Manhattan, where he plays guitar a little and poses for pictures a lot, wearing only his cowboy hat and boots and tighty whities. He also makes occasional appearances in the streets of New Orleans, Cincinnati, and other cities, as well as sporadic TV appearances. The Naked Cowboy was recently ordained as a minister and will perform wedding ceremonies for as little as $499.00. You can hear his music at his MySpace page.

9. The World Famous Bushman

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San Francisco busker David Johnson is known as The World Famous Bushman. Since 1980, he has made a living by jumping out from behind foliage and startling passers-by at Fisherman's Wharf. Johnson estimates that he's been arrested a thousand times over the years, but was never convicted. See Johnson at work in this video. He was seen being taken away by ambulance on March 24th, but there's no word of his condition.

Other posts in this series:

How to Be a Local Character: 5 Basic Examples had characters from Memphis, New York City, St. Petersburg, FL, Lexington, KY, and Maggie Valley, NC.

7 Fascinating Local Characters brought you profiles from New Orleans, Boston, Toronto, Austin, Ann Arbor, MI, Anderson, SC, and Wellington, NZ.

7 More Unforgettable Local Characters has colorful characters from Peoria, IL, San Marcos, TX, New Haven, CT, Wheeling, WV, Ocean City, MD, Omaha, NB and Montreal.

6 of Your Favorite Local Characters profiles people you've seen in Seattle, Austin, Madison, WI, Jacksonville, NC, and one you are too young to have ever met from San Francisco.

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April 2, 2009 - 3:59am
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