Fig, born Robert Newton to carnival folk in 1969, was, from a very early age, a public television junkie and voracious reader who went on to spend much of his childhood in a bookmobile. Eventually, and strictly by chance, his parents' caravan, while pulling out of a kosher rib joint in Weehauken, New Jersey in May of 1977, collided with the bookmobile, whose driver had kidnapped the soft-spoken, tow-headed young Fig five years earlier. Frightened but extremely well-read, the boy was reunited with his parents, who, to no avail, tried to talk the bookmobile driver into keeping him.
According to Fig, seeing "Star Wars" for the first time a few days after his release was a formative event in the then eight-year-old's life. Not only did he see the movie 27 times (before the advent of home video, mind you), but his incessant, word-for-word parroting of the film's dialogue was something which his gypsy parents eventually came to fear was a form of demonic possession. While they were not Catholic, they did manage to find a shady Jesuit priest who would perform an exorcism for the right number of ride tickets.
Fig's interest in music came at an early age, too. When he was 10, he re-wrote the words to something called "The Alphabet Song," shortly before announcing to the world at an imaginary press conference that Ptook!, the little man who lived in his stomach, was forming a labor union with Sheldon, the silly little troll who lived in the septic tank. Coincidentally, that was the same year that Fig became a ward of one of the state's finest mental health facilities, leaving his parents to pursue their greatest dream, namely, not having to claim the boy as a dependent anymore.
Rewriting lyrics to popular songs would serve him well later on (and we hear that as a result of Fig's playground "Alphabet" ditty, the original tune became known all over the English-speaking world.) In 1989, he embarked on a most ambitious recording project -- recording his own versions of every song released since the day he was born. He recorded three parodies, as well as three original songs, before he ran out of money and was forced to spend most of the 1990's submitting to various medical experiments so that he could pay back his investors.
"No English today, please," said Mrkl Svbrnltz, an immigrant telemarketer and reluctant investor in Fig's dream project, when asked to comment on his tenuous relationship with the up-and-coming recording star. After hitting the financial jackpot for testing a fertility drug for Grundle Pharmaceutical, a drug company that specialized in manufacturing a popular pill known as Placebo, Fig paid Svbrnltz and 53 other investors back in full. Svbrnltz, through a translator, said that in addition to finishing his Ph.D in Pez Dispenser Design, he is going to use the found money to buy some vowels for his name.
In 1998, after making child support payments to 23 female Grundle Pharmaceutical test subjects, Fig had enough money left over to finish the album. He recorded seven more songs and as a peace offering to his parents, bought a Capuchin monkey named Ungawa, which he then put a dress on and taught to dance. One day, during Ungawa's toilet training, Fig's father, wondering why the hell there was a monkey on his toilet, snapped the now-famous picture that adorns the cover of the album.
"Monkey Bismuth" is that album -- Fig's first -- and he vengefully promises that it will not be his last (the follow-up, "Mock Me Amadeus," is due in Fall 2005). While his parents claim to have never have been able to have children of their own, they did wish Fig the best of luck in finding his parents, wherever they might be, and that they are also quite proud of their recently-adopted daughter, Ungawa.
You can preview all the tracks on the "Monkey Bismuth" CD at www.monkeybismuth.com, or, if you would like to stalk Fig, you can send him an e-mail (provocative photos optional) through his website, as well.