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This extremely creative one man play is a narrative poem that details the exploits of Billy Markham and his nefarious gamblings with the devil. Written surprisingly enough by the master of verse and rhyme, Shel Silverstein, Billy Markham marks a departure from the rest of Silverstein's works by reveling in the seedy underbelly of society, delving into sex, gambling, and other sinful acts. His verse is filled with wonderful word play, lustful passions, and naughty language, and has been described as "A raunchy battle of wits, souls, and semen". First produced in 1989 at the Lincoln Center in New York City, Dennis Locorriere starred in its initial eight-week run. This play is often found with David Mamet's Bobby Gould in Hell in a two-play compendium entitled Oh, Hell!

The play is divided into six sections:

  • The Devil & Billy Markham
  • Billy Markham & The Fly
  • Billy Markham's Last Roll
  • Billy, Scuzzy, and God
  • Billy Markham's Descent
  • Billy Markham's Wedding

Here are the first three stanzas, just to get a taste of the language:

The Devil & Billy Markham

The Devil walked into Linebaugh's on a rainy Nashville night
While the lost souls sat and sipped their soup in the sickly yellow neon light.
And the Devil, he looked around the room, then got down on his knees.
He says, "Is there one among you scum who'll roll the dice with me?"
Red, he just strums his guitar, pretending not to hear.
And Eddie, he just looks away and takes another sip of beer.

Vince, he says, "Not me, I'll pass, I've had my share of Hell,"
And kept scribbling on a napkin, some song he was sure would sell.
Ronnie just kept whisperin' low to the snuff queen who clutched at his sleeve,
And somebody coughed -- and the Devil scoffed -- and turned on his heel to leave.
"Hold on," says a voice from the back of the room. "'fore you walk out that door.
If you're lookin' for some action, friend, well, I've rolled some dice before."

And there stood Billy Markham, he'd been on the scene for years,
Singin' all them raunchy songs that the town didn't want to hear.
He'd been cut and bled a thousand times, and his eyes were wise and sad,
And all his songs were the songs of the street, and all his luck was bad.
"I know you," says Billy Markhan, "from many a dark and funky place,
But you always spoke in a different voice and wore a different face.
While me, I've gambled here on Music Row with hustlers and with whores,
And, Hell, I ain't afraid to roll them devilish dice of yours."

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