I don’t know if you are aware of this, but in addition to my career writing Dan’s Papers, I’ve also made a career being a movie star and a rock star. I am not making this up.
Not long ago I had a speaking role in a made for TV movie. It’s a small role, but it’s a role nevertheless.
It’s also true that my talents as a rock star are limited to being part of a backup band. For 10 years now, I’ve been part of the backup band on stage for Melissa Levis, when needed, and also, just this past month, a dancer in a music video she has just made that is premiering next week.
I suppose I should start by describing my film career. Three years ago, my wife said we should fly to Sofia, Bulgaria for the weekend. Why? Because her son Scoop, who had gotten an internship as an assistant to the famous film director Roger Corman, and was now in Bulgaria looking after one of his boss’s interests, the new movie he was producing on a set in that city for the SciFi Network. It was, and is, called Cyclops, starring Eric Roberts. It takes place in ancient Roman times.
As sometimes happen, before we got there, there had been a break in the case. A man who had a part in the film got sick and Scoop was asked to step in. Didn’t we want to see Scoop perform? We sure did.
“They’ve got a big scene they’re filming in a replica of the Roman Colloseum in Sofia and he’s in it. Let’s go!”
We went. We watched Scoop perform. And then, suddenly, they had a scene where they needed extras. They dressed me up as a senator, they dressed my wife up as a senator’s wife, they dressed Scoop’s sister and brother up as Roman citizens—I forgot to tell you the whole group of us went—and we sat in the stands of the Colloseum for a scene where a slave was going to fight the Cyclops to the death out on the AstroTurf playing field, or whatever it was back in Roman times.
A Master of Ceremonies introduced this “entertainment,” standing on the playing field. He droned on and on. The crowd in the stands was getting antsy. Then comes my big line. I stand up, wave an arm at the Master of Ceremonies dismissively and shout, in English, “Get on with it!” And indeed, the M.C. gets on with it.
I say that this was in English because, in fact, we were the only four in those stands in the replica Roman Colloseum who spoke English. Everyone else in the stands, all the other extras, were shouting in Bulgarian. But as I said, this was for American TV.
You can rent Cyclops on Netflix. You can get it at Blockbuster. You can dial it up on your cable TV. And so now, on the Internet, where you go to see the film careers of all the famous actors, you find ME! That’s my one role. So far. No Academy Awards yet. Call my agent.
Okay, so that disposes of my film career.
Now we come to my rock star career. In the late 1990s, singer Melissa Levis, who I did not know at the time, called me up out of the blue at the paper to ask if I would like to be in a rock band called Melissa and the Moguls. I said sure, what do I have to do?
Melissa had written eight wonderful songs about the beautiful life in the Hamptons in rock and roll style. We’d perform them at The Steven Talkhouse in Amagansett. Over the next two years, we performed there several times and also at some other venues, including a nightclub on West 67th Street in Manhattan.
One of my greatest memories sitting in the “green room” on the second floor of The Steven Talkhouse with my fellow moguls late on a Saturday night, waiting to start our first set. Below, the place was packed. Up here there were pictures on the walls of the famous and fabulous who had been up there, tuning their instruments, mumbling their songs, getting ready—Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel and Jon Bon Jovi. This place was, and is, famous.
We clattered down the stairs when the time came—myself, New York socialite and department store heir Jonathan Farkas, industrialist and environmentalist Andy Sabin, banker Pat Malloy (he of the 220-foot yacht) and clothing mogul Alan Frank. Melissa, in spangles, looked fabulous. The crowd cheered. We played: me on the kazoo, Malloy on the maracas, Sabin on the tambourine, Frank and Farkas on guitar. Melissa sang the songs she wrote. We sang the choruses. The people gave us a standing ovation. What an evening that was.
And then there was more. There was a reunion in Miami Beach, another in Aspen, then a recording session back at The Steven Talkhouse with a new member of the group, comedian Robert Klein, singing some of the choruses.
What a CD that was. And still is. Some of the tunes from that CD were used in the film King of the Hamptons, a documentary made by Dennis Lynch that came out in 2009 and in which I had a role. (Film appearance, Part 2.)
Now, it is 10 years after Melissa and the Moguls, and Melissa calls me again and can she come over to our house in East Hampton and film part of a new music video there? I ask—can I be in it? And she says only if you agree to learn this dance we are all doing in the video and only if you agree to allow three beautiful girls in matching flowered dresses to pile into the backseat of your 50-year-old sports car (1959 Triumph TR-3) and go roaring off while the cameras whir, or whatever they do these days. I say yes.
And also, she says, I will be showing up with a professional ballet dancer from Brazil who performs in the video.
Do I have to dance with him? I ask. You have to dance alongside of him, she says, facing the camera, doing the dance moves. Try not to make a fool of yourself.
Since the days of Melissa and the Moguls, Melissa has gone on to do Off Broadway, private parties, clubs, children’s shows, gotten married, produced a son and, well, what the hell is this?
“It’s one of the songs I wrote 10 years ago,” she tells me on the phone. “It’s called ‘Ooh La La Hamptons,’ and the group performing it, which now will include you, is called the Ooh La Las. But instead of a rock beat, we are doing it in Hip Hop.”
This is the 21st century, she says.
Oh, say I.
Melissa shows up in her flowered dress, along with two other beautiful flowered Go-Go-dressed girls, the male dancer from Brazil, a secretary, a make-up person, a dresser, a cameraman, a sound man, a clothes rack, two cars and a truck.
We rehearse and then perform our part of the video, both out by our pool and on the front deck with the boats in the background for about two hours. Then we drive down to Indian Wells Beach and I watch her film a segment there. Then we all go back to our house, she drops us off, then she and her entourage go off to film down on Main Street and also, I later learn, at the home of “Mr. Broadway” Stewart Lane and his wife Bonnie. The bit downtown has total strangers doing the dance and singing, the bit at the Lane house has the Lanes in the pool, singing.
A week later, an e-mail arrives. The whole thing, three minutes and forty-two seconds long, is now online. Go watch it. It’s GREAT!
Can I post it on www.danshamptons.com? I ask her.
Put it up, she tells me. A pre-launch sneak peek. Then we’ll set up an official launch.
Until the official launch, go see three minutes and forty-two seconds of pure gold at www.danshamptons.com and click either on Videos or Dan’s Daily. Both routes lead to it. Enjoy.
Here’s a few of the naughty, nifty lyrics:
Welcome to Nirvana
Home to Spenser and Madonna
Mega mansions gone insane
Driving in your Porsche down Further Lane
Share homes packed with gorgeous models
Clubs with $300 bottles
Girls so hot your lips are smackin’
How many houseguests can you pack in?
It’s Royal Pains if you get my gist
Are you on Peggy Siegal’s list?
If your bonus bombed and you’re feeling poor
Summer with Snooki at the Jersey Shore! [/expand]