Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood opens with our title character, infamous Boone County, West Virginia tap-dancer Jesco White, tapping his way down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with numerous passersby looking on with perplexing curiosity as our hero then bows with his hand square on Elvis Presley's star. The shot is whimsical and projects a nice feeling of seriousness in the documentary's source material, and it shows the confidence and the lax behavior of White himself. I can barely walk down the street without fearing someone is judging me in some way. I could never imagine dancing down the Walk of Fame.
This is the sequel to the documentary, Dancing Outlaw, which premiered in 1991 on PBS. This is a twenty-eight minute long-endeavor, yet it feels under-stayed as we still find White being an enormous enigma just as much as he was at the beginning by the time we reach the final frame. He told us in the first documentary that the next time we'd see him he would be larger than life, and as the title spells out for us, Jesco is leaving behind his roots in Boone County for a trip to Hollywood to guest star on Roseanne and meet Roseanne Bar (at the time "Roseanne Arnold") and Tom Arnold. This is Jesco's biggest break and it's undoubtedly one of the happiest times we've seen in this man's life, considering the up-and-down nature of his emotions in the first documentary.
News reports tells us that Jesco has become something of a cult phenomenon in West Virginia, and is known to make several public appearances for pizza and a six-pack of Coke. He does it for his fans, and they wave goodbye, some with tears in their eyes, as they see him board the plane for Hollywood. When he arrives, before shooting his scenes for Roseanne, he tells us he desperately wants to give Hollywood some of that "Boone County rhythm," which explains why he feels the need to dance in public so often.
What is the most surprising about this short is not only how kind and genial Jesco becomes around even celebrities like Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, and John Goodman, but how comfortable and seemingly excited about everyday life since his last documentary. He doesn't take anything for granted, and makes very clear that he believes in treating everyone the same, despite noticeable differences. "You think there's a lot of nuts in Boone County, but you go to Los Angeles, you got the whole nut city." The adventures we have with the known dancer himself are fun to watch and easy to get into, and the interactions with the cast of Roseanne are warm and filled with positivity. By the end, we are benefited from learning about two different cultures and seeing what occurs when they clash unexpectedly, and our main character learns just exactly what a swastika is and who exactly Adolf Hitler was. In the end, both parties come out fulfilled.
Starring: Jesco White, Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, and John Goodman. Directed by: Jacob Young.
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