The Rocco Files

There's been no shortage to the advance publicity surrounding performance-artist extraordinaire Andy Kaufman's glorious return to the stage. Now, Kaufman—a.k.a. Orange Unified School District trustee-elect Petruccelli S. “Steve” Rocco—is adding to the buzz. On Dec. 3, Rocco unveiled himself in a joint interview with the Los Angeles Times and the Pasadena-based public radio station KPCC-FM and declared that contrary to speculation in some circles, he does exist and will be showing up for his Dec. 9 swearing-in ceremony. Not surprisingly, Rocco's appearance at the Santa Ana offices of his lawyer had the Times scrambling for a thesaurus. The article described him as “a frail man, with a pale, gaunt face covered partly by a scruffy beard . . . he wore large glasses with clip-on sunglasses attached. A frayed piece of black fabric tied around his left arm, he said, was to memorialize his father, who he said died on Nov. 9.” Keeping the mystery alive, Rocco refused to be photographed or to offer any “insight into his philosophy on education,” the Times reported. He also expressed amazement at reports that many who know him consider him to be bizarre, directing anyone who might question his mental stability to read his 1992 autobiography, ROCCO: Behind the Orange CurtainSecret Chronicles and Public Record Accounts of Corruption, Murder and Scandal of Corporate and Political California. In that 354-page masterpiece, Rocco single-handedly exposed the conspiracy between Albertsons, Kodak and SmokeCraft sausage that led to his 1980 conviction for shoplifting several rolls of film and a sausage from a Santa Ana supermarket. Genius! Pure genius!

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