Having overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs and pornography, T D Benton sold everything to form a modern-day gypsy gang whose sole mission was to roam the world telling his story in a vaudevillian show.
Mr Benton and his wife, Veronica, who overcame bulimia at the same time through the help of their local church, sold all they had in Fort Smith, Arkansaw, and took to the road with their band mate Philip Wells.
The modern-day gypsies, whose genre is shock rock, arrived at the Parachute Christian music festival yesterday where, as White Collar Sideshow, they put on a mutlimedia show designed to challenge the audience and get them thinking about the damage certain behaviour can do to your life. "It's based on the seven deadly sins. It's definitely a PG13 show. We are trying to be as real as we can be. There is drug use. There's no sex, but it is hinted at." The pair took to the road after Mrs Benton, who wears a mask on stage to illustrate that we all hide behind something, confronted her husband about his addictions.
"She would go to bed and I would be on pornographic websites from 10pm until 4am. She called me out on it." While he was indulging his appetite, Mrs Benton was making herself sick.
"I thought there was something wrong with me, I did not think I was slim enough," she said. "I did not think I was a good wife." The pair now help others overcome similar problems through their shock rock work.
As Parachute 2013 opened yesterday organisers, who capped tickets at 17,500, were expecting a sellout.
Parachute spokesman Luke Oram said that once that happened "it's all over, we will have to turn people away".
Duncan Phillips, drummer of the headlining band Newsboys who close the festival tomorrow night, welcomed the measures Parachute organisers had taken to keep the 23-year-old festival going by holding a smaller event this year.
"It's not just New Zealand, we are feeling it here in America for sure. We have heard stories about some of our fellow artists in Nashville not attending concerts because tickets have not sold. It will turn around. It will get better again.
"The festival has been going for a long time. I think it will pull together really well." Mark Millard, lead singer of US-based The Lads, who play this afternoon, said Parachute had been amazing for the band which started in Wellington.
"I was speaking to my neighbour in Nashville and I told him I was about to leave to go to Parachute - he said ‘Oh, Parachute, I've heard of that - isn't it like one of the biggest festivals in the world?' I said to him ‘no - not the biggest just the best'."
Mr Millard said Parachute had worked hard to develop the festival every year so it had a reputation around the world as a great event.
Tickets are about 25 per cent cheaper than last year. Day passes are $75 for an adult, $30 for a child and $164 for a family pass.
- Waikato Times