They might have been scared by the fact that his body is nearly covered in tattoos -- which is part of the point. When Scary was working as a tattoo artist in Arizona, a competitor ran an ad in a paper that read, "Are you tired of dealing with scary guys with war paint facial tattoos?" The Scary Guy (who hadn't yet changed his name) was pissed. After suppressing his initial urge to run over his competitor's dog, he turned his anger to the larger problem that had prompted that urge.
He packed up his stuff and told his wife that he was going to dedicate his life to eliminating hate, violence and prejudice -- an immodest plan that he had no idea how to implement. "I shot off my mouth," he recalls. "I didn't know what it meant, but I was committed." When he decided to legally change his name to The Scary Guy and a story appeared in a newspaper, he remembers, "I was standing [at a convenience store], and I started to shake in my boots. Right there on each and every one of those papers is my face."
That was the last day The Scary Guy burned any tattoos. Ever since, he's been going to schools and getting in kids' faces, questioning their assumptions that he's a biker or an ex-con, then asking them to get to know him instead of being scared off by "war paint." Through almost daily appearances in schools, hundreds of radio interviews and dozens of TV shows -- as well as an appearance at this weekend's St. Patrick's Day parade -- he makes clear that a guy who looks different can be nice. As it turns out, making progress with kids is easier than making progress with their parents, but it looks as if Scary finally will make it to St. Joe this year.