I am flattered to be twice-mentioned in Laurie Stone's big people's book
If you've caught Emo Philips on television, you've seen only his shadow. You need to behold him in his emaciated flesh, hear the trademark wheeze that is half phone-sex breather, half patient on a respirator. In a typically sly piece for Showtime, a cop directs him to jog in a park, not a graveyard, and Emo deduces, "He's obviously not a hurdle man." Emo's girlfriend is miffed because he tells her she looks sexy with black fingernails -- "And now she thinks I purposefully slammed the car door on her." In addition to his usual Silence of the Lambs -- style grisliness, over the years Emo has struck a few new notes. Like counsel for the young: "The way to teach kids not to be afraid of the dark is to fill their daylight hours with as much horror as possible, so they'll pray for the darkness to come."
-- from page 59
His trademarks are odd: the asthmatic wheezing, the "kick-me" stare, the willowy, anorexic body. But his is not a trademark oddness. It's thorough. Like Ray Bolger and Danny Kaye, Emo is sexually dislocated, but while Bolger and Kaye made audiences squirm with embarrassment for their gelding personas, Emo explores sexual terror. He is the humilated child we all have been. His look is pure arrest, but it's only a memento, which heightens the smartness of his mouth,the vengefulness of a battered but unembittered psyche. He never seems dumb, castrated, or used. Emo is Kafka's sly, irreverent hunger artist made skinny flesh. He's not starving for lofty reasons; he just can't find anything tempting to eat.
-- from page 67