Argy Boy

From Plastic Tub

New Orleans (or there abouts), circa 1850-1950. He arrives embalmed, lighter handy. He is a Cheshire Cat, grinning -- your heart won over. He receives a shiv in the ribs.

Antoinne Beauchamp was the illegitimate son of Dovie Buto, a Caribbean slave woman and Monsieur Francois Antoine Beachamp, a strapping young Navigator of the French Navy. According to documents obtained from the Parish of St. Charles, Louisiana, the elder Beauchamp succumbed to syphilis in New Orleans sometime late in the fall of 1854. The details of Dovie's life have never been verified, although many a tall tale was spread by her colourful son.

Baby Baby Blue

According to Mazzistow Carrington's as yet unpublished treatise, Antoinne Beauchamp was a precocious and melodic blind kid from New Orleans who later migrated with his mother throughout the Mid- and Southwest, spending years in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico before running away and hitching rides back to New Orleans.

Who Do You Love?

His talent for improvisation and his natural ability to play almost any instrument made Antoinne an immediately popular fellow in the rowdy Red Light District of New Orleans. The available police reports of the time show a young man slipping quickly into a netherworld of drugs and crime. Antoinne eventually left town a few digits short, finding himself the wandering minstrel history remembers him for.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Argy Boy was a nom de plume he took to conceal his identity and establish a new character. He wandered the South amusing townsfolk with his stories and his songs. Now reduced to playing

Beware: Syphilis Victims in the Tub

the harmonica, Argy Boy perfected the Froggy Went-A-Courtin' canon and countless other comical routines later employed by black-faced Vaudevillians. He survived on the kindness of others and made quite a name for himself in certain small towns, and was often invited back for the annual fairs and festivals common in the era. But most often he would find himself gravitating towards the local cathouse were a songman’s work and leisure were easily found. It was during this period that Argy invented a six-finger piano style that would precurse stride and ragtime by at least half a century. His elbow rolled down the ivory before Jelly Roll hit the cradle. As Argy's gustive vibrato mellowed, he needed little accompaniment, and his style became more minimal, relaxed. Eventualy Argy's hand strayed from the instrument and cut his tenure short. There is no shortage of juke-joint mythology that mentions Argy Boy Beauchamp.

Pleased To Meet You

Mazzistow Carrington's great-grandfather claimed to be a regular old pal of Argy Boy, and his grandfather had childhood memories of a strange man dancing, harping, and telling humorous stories around an unforgettable campfire. Mazzistow's great-grandmother referred to Argy Boy as one of the Devil's Own and did not trust his golden tongue or his famous silky smooth vocal delivery. It is true that Argy Boy was of Caribbean descent and had working knowledge of Santeria. He gathered more knowledge of other Negro and American Indian Magic on his endless quest to find a cure for his blindness. It is inconclusive whether he used his Black Magic, but his popularity did take a turn toward the darkside as he grew elderly.

Going Back To My Plow

Although many lonely gravesites bear his name, no one is quite sure what really became of Antoinne Argy Boy Beauchamp. Legend has it that he met a voodoo woman who healed one of his eyes which he claimed could see the heart of an honest man. Famous Songs have him duelin' 'dillos and Fuedin' with the Moon. Popular Dance remembers him as an early pioneer of the spinning on your head move. Many a New Orleans’s cat house still claims to hear unrequested songs from the Player Piano in the wee morning hours.

See Also


Argy Boy provided the model for Dominic Argus, the reluctant sidekick of The Wilsonian in the last four novellas of that series.

Argy Boy lies behind the cryptic lyrics of Mr. Bojangles.

Professor Longhair’s Tipitina tells the tale of Argy Boy’s first wife.

Technically speaking, the blind can't suffer from audio/visual synesthesia. But technicalities never stopped Argy Boy.