June 10, 2016 01:45 PM

In a filmed encounter with artist Jake Hebert, we learn that Higgins is a far more complicated figure than his infamous Crime Stoppers videos indicate.

Artist Jake Hebert meets the Cajun John Wayne on the street and uncovers a remarkbly different side to the oft-criticized former lawman.
Photo courtesy Jake Hebert

When Captain Clay Higgins announced his campaign for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, he did so with characteristic ardor and absolutism. The Cajun John Wayne speaks with sulfur — all fire and brimstone that approaches an odorous sanctimony. So color us surprised when a softer bellied Higgins surfaced in a videoed encounter with fellow congressional insurrectionist Jake Hebert, AKA Dorian Phibian, AKA The Cajun Robert Plant.

Hebert, a multidisciplinary visual artist and musician, had recently announced a run for the seat in Higgins’ sights as the lone Democrat in a crowded field of conventional Republicans. He approached Higgins on the street moments before the captain was to appear at a fund raising event at The Sizzling Monkey in Downtown. While technically an ambush — as much a surprise attack as a bell-bottomed, neo-hippie can muster — a be-satcheled Higgins greeted Hebert amicably, engaged him warmly and complimented the artist/candidate’s “beautiful spirit.”

“I went into this situation not knowing what to expect,” Hebert says. “It was certainly in the back of my mind you know, ‘you may get arrested if you say the wrong or do the wrong thing.’ To be honest I took him as this type of renegade. A loose cannon. He came off as one dimensional to me in public. Instantly, speaking to him in person I realized that there’s a different person in there. It was definitely a humanizing experience. I saw a side of him I didn’t expect at all. He was very gracious sincere. I don’t think even he knew there was a camera there at first.”

Hebert notes that his appearance — that of goldilocked hippie on his way to Woodstock — was intentional. The get-up was designed to draw stark contrast between the soft image of hippiedom with the neo-martialism of a cop. Hebert says he was immediately surprised by the version of the both celebrated and derided vigilante cum politico.

Higgins is an avowed Christian, a man who speaks candidly of his spirituality. But what emerged from the video is a brand of Higgins’ faith decidedly less orthodox and more New Age. The two candidates discuss a wide-range of topics in the ad hoc meeting, including invasive aquatic species, the separation of Church and State, the founding fathers, the carceral state, spirits, spirituality, music and Higgins’ work with the homeless.

For his part, Higgins says the intense warmth on display with Hebert is every bit as real as the Higgins that came to national fame in a series of powerfully direct Crime Stoppers ads.

‘What you saw there with that beautiful young man was very real,” Higgins says. “I have a great deal of love and respect for every American. It stretches beyond the borders of America. I don’t draw a line in some sort of nationalist manner. The sun never sets on the children of God. That young man didn’t ambush me. He just had something he wanted it get done. And I respected him for it immediately.”

Higgins inked the first signature on Hebert’s nomination petition, commending the artist for his efforts. Hebert will need 1000 signatures in lieu of a fee to qualify to run for office.

Hebert has used Higgins’ persona as a way of launching a conceptual social awareness campaign. Hebert owns three domains that use Higgins’ name or identity: captainclayhiggins.net, cajunjohnwayne.com and clayhiggins.org. Each site highlights different progressive social causes about which Herbet is passionate like gun control or the legalization of marijuana.

The video concludes with Higgins hustling off to his fundraiser, but not before the two shake hands no fewer than four times and exchange contact information. Higgins even makes an informal offer to meet Hebert for coffee to continue the discussion.

If he calls me, I’ll set it up,” says Higgins. “My life is an open book. I’d love to have coffee with that young man. He had a beautiful spirit. Why can’t Americans with different ideas love each other and have candid conversation?”

Hey, Clay, we can't help but agree.