Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Synchronicity

After I depledged the Fijis, I moved back to the dorm life, where I met Jay, who became my run-around buddy. We saw a lip-sync contest one night. Normally you would think the participants of this kind of venue make love to the microphone and thrash about the stage, making complete asses of themselves--and for the most part you would be right. Real musicians viscerally despise lip-synchers, and had I not participated in this brief fad I would have agreed. But this one night, Jay and I saw a performance that touched me--and slightly amused Jay, like a King approves the antics of his Jester.

This was back in 1985-ish, long before Karaoke entered the scene. Lip-sync gave people without musical talent a chance to feel the vibration of a roaring audience, a center ring spotlight, a vicarious three minute thrill ride aboard the rock and roll fantasy express--and the crowds ate it up.

I don't remember the man's name, so I'll call him Bill. Looking back now, I admire Bill. At the time I thought he was a lying prick. On a whim, my friends and I threw in our lot with the lip-sync contest, where all participants needed to do a song by Huey Lewis and the News, who were performing at our coliseum that weekend. Nothing fancy. We did the basic setup where four guys pretended to play instruments and one gummed the lead, while the others "sang" backup. The song: Working For a Living. Bill told us we were wonderful, and would win no problem.

Then along came Jason.

We all watched in stunned amazement as he performed I Want a New Drug. First, he was stage handsome. Not your normal, hey, that's a cute guy. During the instrumental, he pulled out various drugs, but couldn't quite get them into his system without tripping or sneezing. The audience loved him, and he was an absolutely stunning performer. Of course he won.

I asked Jay to put an act together with me, so I became Mick Jagger and Jay David Bowie. We imitated the video Dancing in the Streets. I did most of the work, which was appropriate because Jay had the looks, so naturally I was the clown. We entered a contest in far away Lewiston Idaho, but it was run by the same outfit. And so I met Bill once again. And much to my chagrin: Jason.

I was stunned by a Madonna look-alike that did Lucky Star, who had the shtick down cold. I knew we had lost again. Jason surprised me with his versatility, doing something other than the Huey Lewis routine. I asked Bill what song he was going to do, and he told me, "Some Chuck Berry tune." Thank God I thought, maybe we'll place second.

Bill knew damn well that the song was Reelin' and Rockin'. Jason was dressed in a red studded sport jacket and had an old Gibson acoustic guitar with an ornate metal plate in front. The song began and my confidence dipped. He looked like he was really playing the guitar, mouthing the words and never making a mistake--his timing was perfect and he paid attention to the littlest of nuances in Berry's speech patterns. There are two versions of this song: one that plays on the radio and the other for night clubs and racier audiences. Jason chose the version that describes a night of hot sex. One line goes something like this: "I looked at my watch and it was straight up eight. She made it so hard that it stretched out straight." Jason accented the word straight by sticking his guitar in the air like an erection, and the audience went crazy. His whole routine was brilliant, and again he won.

I became obsessed, which highlights my competitiveness--I can't stand to lose at anything. Bill told me that the best act he had ever seen came from a duo that did the Blues Brothers, and the John Belushi of the pair was there that night. He even looked like Belushi, and I was not dissimilar to Akroyd. I proposed we get together, so he had me over to his place and showed me a video of him and his old partner doing the routine, which involved a lot of dancing and synchronized back round-offs.

"Can you do that?" He asked me. His eyes had a faraway look, dreamy.

"Sure I can," I said with more confidence than I felt.

He explained to me how his friend had joined the service, and how I would almost certainly make a poor substitute. But I was determined to be a winner, and this was my best shot. He could smell my hunger and took advantage of it. He played coy with me for some time before finally agreeing to give it a try, but he made me kiss his ass all the while.

We took second on our debut, beating Madonna and a few sub-par acts. But Jason with that damn routine of his still beat us. But for the first time, I enjoyed some notoriety as a class act.

After I dropped out of college and moved to Seattle, I decided to do the Chuck Berry act where nobody had ever heard of it. I contacted a guy that ran a contest, and told him I wanted to do Reelin' and Rockin', an act I saw in Pullman done by a local performer called Jason.

"Jason Plute?" He sounded surprised.

"No."

"What does he look like," he asked me.

I described him and his act.

"That's him all right. He copied that act from one of the guys that competes locally. It's the best."

"It sure is." I hung up on him and my lip sync career.

15 comments:

jenbeauty said...

Now see Scott, this is what I meant in my newest blather about hearing from folks.

I would never have guessed you liked to perform like this!! lol

I love it!

Tee said...

LOL! That was great. I was entertained very much by the post. Now I'm in the mood to go watch some kind of show :)

When you did dancing in the streets did you get all up in each other's faces? ROFL. I love that video.

Eve said...

I remember that craze - but I'm surprised that you participated - it's just so different from the other things I've read of your exploits. Another facet of your personality. Great!

glenice said...

Hey Scott, popped over from Eve's site :)

That is sooo funny! I remember the Lip-sync days as well :) I was never brave enough to actually get up on a stage and compete though :)

Lewiston Idaho :) gotta love that town!

Scott said...

Jen - I guess that was something from the "Now for something completely new" department. I am a stage hog, and if I were better looking, would have pursued acting. No question.

Tee - Thank you Tee. We pretty much imitated every move, event that Egyption style head bobbing/snake arming thing.

Eve - I used to be quite a character, always doing something new and living hard and fast.

Glenice - We spent some time in Lewiston when I went to school at Pullman. It was always a good time. Thanks for stopping by!

Shesawriter said...

So you're lip-syncher. Never would've guessed it. You GO guy! :-) It's the stoic, thoughtful ones you gotta watch out for. LOL!

Tanya

Trevor Record said...

I was born in 1985....


And I've seen that video for "dancing in the street" with bowie and jager. I thought it was supposed to be a joke, but then learned it was serious!

none said...

Karaoke? Let's go! My son did this at his wedding reception. But they sang! It was wild.

I felt like we were in a juke joint! OMG! WE WERE IN A JUKE JOINT!

Scott said...

Tanya - Oh yes, I had a wonderful time with it to. My friends thought I was a freak though, but what else is new?

Trevor - Wow, that really put my age and experience in perspective. I have to remind myself sometimes that I really am old. As for the Jagger video, it really does look like a joke, and believe me, we didn't do anything to lend it any credibility.

Janie - I've done my share of Karaoke too, and hanging out in seedy bars too.

Kathleen said...

I somehow missed the lip synch phase, but that's probably because I was doing nothing but college and working in 1985.

Never in a million years would I have had the guts to get up on stage. And if I had I would have been as pleased as punch with second place!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

When I used to work for a karaoke company, it amused me how seriously some people took it.

Perhaps it is snobbery on my part as a musician.

However, this sort of thing still demands a great deal of stagecraft.

Keith Richards once said he got the moves down way before he actually picked up a guitar.

Mrs.T said...

I used to love being on stage... not when I was screwing up of course, but when I had it right!

I think in 1985, I was 7 and did 'true blue' by Madonna at the talent show my school put on..

Mrs.T said...

(ps, It could have been later.. it may have been 87ish and that would have made me 9) I remembered after submitting that I borrowed my mom's blue dress that went down to my midcalf and I wore lace gloves and had a huge bow in my hair.

Jada's Gigi said...

Too funny! Wish I could have seen your performance. :) I love the stage too. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott, it's me Jason Plute (I used to use the stage name Jason Scott and that was likely the disconnect when you went back to Seattle.) What a riot to read your account! I Googled my name for other security reasons and up popped your blog, LOL!

You're a great writer and thanks so much for the memories. I'm now 45 (yikes!) and living in the Seattle area with my two teenage kids...but your blog brought me back to being 21 again and "reelin' and rockin" all over the stage!

Thanks, thanks, thanks for the great account and capturing the essence. A blast from the past for sure!

Take care, jasonatlaketapps@yahoo.com