Blitzkrieg Pops: A Punk Rock Ice Cream Truck

Posted on May 1, 2014

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By Wesley Morgan Paraham

Punk rock and ice cream have two things in common – they both can give you gnarly headaches, and they’re both peddled by Scotty Theunissen.

Meet Scotty: he’s 25, and he’s spent the last five years as the unapologetic paragon of the fashion, steady soul of the movement; the resident poster boy and hype man of Memphis punk. You’ll find him at his job working the desk at No Regrets Tattoo Emporium, or deep in the pit at a horror punk show. It could be a Saturday night, and he’s throwing a party at his house with literally hundreds of people. Scotty is everywhere people gather, and, if you let him, he will filter the collective charisma through himself and shoot it back at you tenfold.

Why not use some of that charisma to sell some ice cream?

Scotty1Scotty is the driver of the River City Ice Cream truck, and while he certainly does have all the frozen treats you desire, right next to the Bomb Pops is a pretty convincing stage lighting setup, which fills the van with dazzling luminescence. A 12 inch LCD screen swings up into the passenger side window to ironically display campy 1950s theatre intermission cartoons and ice cream advertisements. Scotty swings open the van’s back doors, puts on some Misfits, jets his beaming mug out the window, and pushes his dairy desserts.

He took the truck to Trolley Night last Friday, and he actually convinced the firefighters at Station 02 on S. Main to let him park. It was prime real estate with the Memphis College of Art MFA show happening across the street and the abundance of migrators from gallery to gallery.

“You see, this is one of those things you’d never know you want until it’s right in your face,” said customer Colton Exley.

But, that’s only during the nighttime.

I rode with him to Overton Park in the afternoon, where he sold popsicles to families, who were initially stunned by Scotty’s unadulterated counterculture style, but were calmed by his kind smile and friendly demeanor.

“I love your Cartoon Network shirt!” exclaimed one wide-eyed boy.

The River City Ice Cream truck was the idea of Ryan Anderson, an entrepreneur who bought the ice cream truck originally as a way to earn some extra cash flow, but he realized that this could be a new financial and creative outlet. “I have a lot of creative friends who are underemployed and need work”, Anderson said. “So hey, now we got our own ice cream truck.”

Scotty3_1_(1)The truck is a business first. Scotty says, “Everybody likes ice cream, but hitting the direct crowd spots is a really hard part. You have to figure out the people who are really willing to pay for ice cream. So people having fun in the park is obviously the go-to.”

However, there are still improvements to be made to up the punx. Scotty plans to outfit the truck with a louder speaker horn and wire it to hook up to an external music player. He and Anderson plan to start a social media campaign for the truck to drum up support and gain followers. The truck may even feature some live music.

So people who are having fun in the park or getting drunk downtown certainly want Scotty’s  salesmanship flair.

“But not bike meetups. People never want ice cream at bike meetups.”

Wesley Paraham is a native Memphian and University of Memphis journalism student. He’s also a pretty decent musician.

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Posted in: Music