Vermin Supreme brings politics, stories and toast to Edinboro University during campaign

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 at 7:20 PM
Vermin Supreme brings politics, stories and toast to Edinboro University during campaign by William Stevens
Photo: William Stevens

The room had been empty only moments before, the event in question garnering a heap of attention from students across the campus. There was an undeniable energy among attendees — students and faculty — who had gathered to see Vermin Supreme speak a mere 24 hours after the United States presidential election. As students poured into Scots Cinema in the Pogue Student Center, the crisp aroma of toast (Supreme has been known to pass out toast bearing his likeness) wafted through the air.

For those who may be unaware, Vermin Supreme is a performance artist, self- proclaimed anarchist, political candidate and activist, who has run in several local, state and national elections, and is known for wearing a boot on his head. Supreme claims the boot “stands for all that is good in America.”

In an interview with Tim Martini for “Exploring The Obscure,” a YouTube channel based out of Canada, Supreme said, “If I’m approaching you, you should be prepared to not necessarily receive a linear message.”

Supreme has stated on multiple occasions that if elected president of the United States, he would pass a law requiring people to brush their teeth. He runs on a platform of unlimited energy through the utilization of zombies and time travel research, and has also promised a free pony for the American citizen.

The event began with a performance from singing comedian Rob Potylo, during which he sang such hits as “Hot Dogs and Apple Sauce” and “Mexico.” At one point during Potylo’s set, Dr. Lee Williams from Edinboro University’s sociology department pushed his way towards the front of the crowd to take pictures and video of the performance.

“It felt awesome being a part of it in whatever small role that I had,” Williams said. “In my social movements class a student threw around the idea of ‘wouldn’t it be cool if he came to Edinboro.’”

However, according to Williams, the dates they were working with happened to coincide with the APSCUF strike and Supreme did not want to cross the picket line.

Williams continued, “At that moment I thought all was lost in terms of the way the ball bounces. Well I’ll be damned if we didn’t get back a couple days later.”

It was mentioned to Williams that Supreme was interested in coming to Edinboro for a “victory party on Nov. 9.”

After the crowd had poured out of Scots Cinema on Wednesday night, Supreme stuck around, taking selfies with anybody who wanted one. In fact, he had everyone stand in a circle and began walking around taking a picture with every single person, never once removing the boot from his head.

“It is Vermin’s intent, and certainly Rob’s intent as well, to be enlivening and enlightening, both,” Williams said.

He continued, “It’s just presented with such an absurdest spin, which puts you in an odd place right from the get-go. You can’t help but walk away feeling a little bit better about the world you live in when all is said and done.”

Williams went on to say the “vibe was ever-present in terms of what an anarchistic event should be — a constant state of movement.”

That is at the core of what Vermin Supreme brings to his shows, and within the context of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, many people perhaps needed a positive message.

Williams expressed that the event on Wednesday did not exactly change the way he felt following the election, but he did share that he views the election from a different perspective than most people.

“I can deeply appreciate the fear and the angst given my privileged position. How do we organize and activate and create solidarity among folks to begin to push the pendulum back in the other direction at a structural level [is the question].”

He said he spent a little bit of time “morose and angry” and went “through the process of grieving fairly quickly.”

“Vermin’s visit quickened the process, but I look at the world a lot like Vermin does as well. You’ve got to operate in this space from love,” Williams said.

That is the crux of what Vermin Supreme brings to the table when he performs in these events.

Vermin and Rob interacted with students for almost an hour in the hallway outside of the Scots Cinema. He would leave the smell of toast in the air as he left Edinboro University to move on to the next city on his campaign tour. 

William Stevens is a digital editor for EdinboroNow.

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