The sight of Darth Vader, riding a unicycle and playing flaming bagpipes, isn’t uncommon in Portland, Oregon, the city of weird. But thanks to a viral video on Facebook, millions more are discovering the Unipiper, as he likes to be called.
Brian Kidd learned to play bagpipes in college. After finding a unicycle in a dumpster, he combined the two skills into a performance art.
“It’s just a celebration of the things I love, and I have a lot of fun doing it,” Kidd said in an interview with The Washington Post.
A video posted Dec. 8 of the Unipiper pulling down an Imperial AT-AT walker mirrored an iconic scene from “The Empire Strikes Back,” and has been viewed 8.1 million times on Facebook in the past week.
The Unipiper has appeared in several costumes including Spider-Man, Captain Jack Sparrow, Santa and Sasquatch. “I get bored doing the same thing, that’s why I have so many costumes,” Kidd said.
As a lifelong “Star Wars” fan, one of his favourite and most frequently featured costumes is that of Darth Vader.
“There is something so iconic about the look of Darth Vader,” Kidd said. “And the whole tragic story with Anakin Skywalker, it’s a complex character.”
Kidd, 33, works for an aerial survey and remote sensing firm but makes time to record videos and perform at community events. Publicity isn’t new to the Unipiper. Kidd performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in 2014, and he was voted the best local celebrity by Willamette Week in 2016 and 2017.
The Unipiper is not just limited to performance art. There is an online store where shirts, stickers and mugs featuring his likeness can be purchased. Kidd will be writing a Unipiper book in 2018, and he plans on releasing more Unipiper beer, which, he says “has become a popular tradition here in Portland.” And Kidd and two friends host the podcast “Portland at the Movies,” in which they review films made in Portland.
Kidd said he is looking forward to the new “Star Wars” film, “The Last Jedi,” which premieres Friday. “I have very high expectations,” Kidd said. Another, more personal debut is expected soon for the Kidd family.
“I’m going to be the ‘uni-papa’ for my next project,” said Kidd, whose wife is due with their first child next week. “I’ve gotten a lot of requests already. People want to see baby-piper on a unicycle, so I’ll be working on that.”