EAT AT JOE’S: Ligotti is a force of nature on the airwaves, but the plus-size gadfly truly gets loose over a plate — or several plates — of food.
Even in a world of Howie Carrs and Jay Severins, Joe Ligotti might be the most bizarre broadcast talent working in New England talk radio. And not just because the weekend WTKK host is a foul-mouthed mountain of a man weighing in at 400-plus pounds.
The 44-year-old Ligotti — better known as The Guy from Boston from a series of YouTube tirades he began detonating four years ago — has a growing following among conservatives and so-called moderates who worship cultural anomalies. His popularity is no surprise; for three hours on Saturday afternoons, Ligotti and his co-host Lawrence "Huggy" Bergman enliven — or, depending on your perspective, pollute — the airwaves with artful rhetoric that ranges from the familiar to the phenomenal.
For now, Ligotti occupies a small slice of the Hub's talk ozone. But the recurring Fox News contributor and onetime Tonight Show guest has the potential to surpass his yapper contemporaries and tread nationally. Anything is possible in the Scott Brown era — especially for Ligotti, who campaigned alongside the Wrentham Republican, and who often raps with the senator on and off the air.
To appreciate the girth of his personality — from amiable Everyguy to seething hatemonger — it is best to catch Ligotti off the microphone and over a plate, or several plates, of food. That's what I did over spicy tuna rolls and much more at Jae's in the South End.
In his sashimi summit with the Phoenix, Ligotti is a joking gentleman with thoughtful libertarian views. Though hardly reserved, he's a far scream from his famously volatile cigar-roasting Web persona. That guy uses racial epithets as both adjectives and nouns, and disapproves of "fags" and "lesbos." This guy — while he still has "the balls to say what you're thinking" — is charming and somewhat empathetic, even broadcasting, "I don't give a fuck about gay marriage."
"In the beginning I had to shock the hell out of people so that they would pass my rants around," says the husband, Teamster, diabetes patient, and dedicated father to a cognitively challenged son. Still, he assures: "Joe Ligotti is The Guy from Boston, and The Guy from Boston is Joe Ligotti."
Regardless of his handle, one thing seems clear: Boston's most boisterous bomb thrower is going places that neither he, nor the liberals who loathe him, ever thought possible — like a Japanese restaurant in Boston's gayest neighborhood.
The Guy from Boston's debut Web rant went live in July 2006. A veteran bouncer who wielded fists and clipboards at landmarks like the Palace and Nine Lansdowne for two decades, he's been attached to entertainment, glitz, and glamour for some time. But while he's been commandeering soap boxes since grade school in Everett, until YouTube, Ligotti's only audience had been family, friends, and fellow Massport truck drivers at Logan Airport, where he still serves as an elected union rep.