Lonesome dance for the Outlaw
Jesco White finds hard times after glitter of cult fame fades
Charleston Daily Mail staff Monday July 12, 2004
PEYTONA -- Life hasn't been great for Jesco White, "The Dancing Outlaw," ever since he got back from Hollywood.
"I feel like a damn possum," he recently said outside the Boone County trailer, where he lives by himself without running water.
"I want to live like a happy man, not a madman. I'm not Hitler's son or Saddam Hussein's boy. It feels like a big, old coal truck ran over Jesco. There ain't a tear in my body that hasn't been cried all out."
A decade ago, White was riding a manic, weird wave of popularity because of the documentary "Dancing Outlaw," which depicted his life as a mountain dancer, Elvis impersonator and rural philosopher.
"I'm on the edge of something good," he said in the documentary. "I hope this is the big one."
Toward the end, he concluded, "I might have a whole new life next time you see me."
For a while, it was true.
Fans gathered together to watch videotapes of the documentary and flocked to see Jesco White perform at pubs. At the height of his cult popularity, he was flown to Hollywood for a brief appearance at the end of an episode of "Roseanne."
Now he's scared to answer his own door. He says he's afraid people are making fun of him or want to make money off his name. He feels ripped off by people who sell T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats saying "Jesco White."
He contends he wasn't given enough money for his dancing scene in "Roseanne" and wants bands such as the Kentucky HeadHunters to pay him for mentioning his name in songs.
Worse, he's suffered real tragedy. He came home from a performance a few years ago to see his house burning to the ground. He says his brain isn't right because he spent years huffing gases to get high.
Good God I really wish I lived further away from this guy...