1978 was a difficult year. Disco was rampant and ravaging the land, New York City was bankrupt, the Bronx was burning, Joanie loved Chachi., and Jimmy Carter was spreading malaise all over the American Sandwich.
Also, it was the year that I was first diagnosed with Alcohol Deficiency. Since then I have struggled to maintain a high enough level of consumption. It has been a successful fight for the most part ― so far in that I only rarely suffer the symptoms. The treatments are arduous, but I never complain. Once I did contemplate trying homeopathic treatments, but that sounded too gay for me. Having alcohol deficiency has taught me to be kinder to my fellow men, to live every moment to its fullest, and never, ever, let your coupons expire.
1979 saw the debut of something called The Bob Belvedere Cable Radio Network. With my close friend and sidekick, Dezi Arnez, we ran a 24/7 operation of mostly original programming and reruns of Davy And Goliath — redubbed to reflect the times [‘Gee Daaavy, do I have to take it up the poop shoot again?’].
We put many new, original, and groundbreaking shows on the air: Vatican Police, Shiksa Serenade, Well Slap My Mammy!, and Whose Navel Is It? . I, of course, hosted Bob Belvedere’s Coffee Time. It was a hip and happenin’ show where the rich and famous came to have a cup of Joe and talk about their lives, all in a casual atmosphere with go-go girls in cages and hors d’oeuvres served by Dervish prostitutes with father issues. I mentored these gals and am proud to report that none of them have ever rolled-over to the Feds.
At the end of each show, I closed it by singing Just A Gigolo. The crowd always cheered and, sometimes, made me do encores. Harvey Jewstein of Meshuggah Records thought that my version could be a hit. Hell, Sinatra had just scored with New York, New York and its sequel, Bosie, O Christ, Bosie. I was enthusiastic. Harvey hired the famous producer Mike Curb who soon put a stop to that. We recorded the song in L.A. shortly after I returned from hunting clams in the Amazon [this excursion had not been a success, although I would have much better luck later in the year hunting beaver in Las Vegas, IYKWIMAITYD].
Somehow, I made it through the recording sessions and, since the album was to be released in early March, I titled it An Irish Jig-alo. The success of the record led me to star in my first movie: The Jigger Is Crazy. Directed by a very desperate Martin Scorsese, it starred me, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, Richard Roundtree, Foster Brooks, Charo, Norman Fell, and Capucine [a bit of trivia: a very young Leonardo DiCaprio has a brief cameo appearance as a spermatozoa ― even then Marty had that weird man-crush on him].
The plot centered around Sammy as a down-on-his-luck agent who discovers me singing in the lady’s room at the Odd Fellows Hall in rural Alabama. He brings me to Vegas where his bosses take an instant disliking to me and fire both of us. Desperate, we decide to hire ourselves out as gigolos to rich, widowed women. I’m depressed and Sammy tries to cheer me up by singing Candy Man, but that only makes me try to strangle him with cocktail napkins. I roam the hills and sing a sad, dirge-like version of my hit song Just A Gigolo. As I sing the last verse, I’m joined by a group of Mexicans who wail background vocals behind me and fling taco sauce on their hearts. At this point Sammy’s eye begins to bulge and the proverbial light goes off in his head. He signs the Mexicans to a contract and we begin performing in small lounges as Bobby Bel and The Jalapeno Poppers. One of the Mexicans is a red hot chick, played by Charo, who falls madly in love with my cootchie culo. It’s at this point that the manager for the fictional Cumquat Casino, played by Hunter S. Thompson, hears us and signs us to a long-term appearance contract in his main room opening for Foster Brooks [played by Richard Roundtree]. Sammy, who has been romancing the widow Olivia Quaalude [played by Liza] realizes that he’s totally in love with Olivia, who wants to spend the rest of her life touring pharmaceutical factories. Sammy has to decide between going with her and touring the world or staying with the band as we struggle to the top. At this point he sings Mr. Bojangles for no apparent reason – per usual. Luckily he recovers his sanity and sings What Kind Of Fool Am I and is signed to a record deal with MCA. By this point, Charo’s character and I have a baby who, in honor of my grandfather back in Alabama, I name Dung Heap Hooter. I decide that the show business life ain’t for me, so we take all the money I’ve saved singing and all the money she’s made cootchie cooing and we move to Montana where we starting farming Mallo Mar Bars.
I had a great time making the movie and learned a lot — especially that it’s safer, when two of you are carrying Liza back to her trailer, to be at the foot end because it’s easier on your back.
In 1982, as I stood on the hill overlooking the Normandy beaches, I thought I would never overcome this crisis ― but that’s beside the Point-Du-Hoc. No, I knew I had to control my anger, slow down, and not leave in a huff. I tried this for a short time, but could not restrain myself so I left in a minute and a huff. Many thoughts were going through my mind, but if I told you some of them I would be arrested in 34 states and the Galapagos Islands.
I was lost, then I was found, and, as I said to my girlfriend Grace at the time: “Ain’t it amazing….”.