Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stylin' at the Rock Awards

A follow-up to the Allan Carr story.

The pilot my partner and I wrote for him was about a girl who booked rock acts for a live music show like THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (which ran on Friday nights in the swinging 70s). One day Allan calls and says for research purposes we should attend the DON KIRSCHNER ROCK AWARDS. This was a bullshit network made-up award show, a predecessor to the AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS or MTV AWARDS, or FRED’S AWARDS if Fred could get someone to televise it. We were to mingle with the stars, get a feel of the world, etc. The tickets were free so what the hell?

It was broadcast live from the Hollywood Palladium at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. in the east). We were given house seats and told to dress black tie. So we had to hit the rental store. When the salesman learned the occasion he said, “You can’t just get black tuxedos. Not for the ROCK AWARDS. Are you nuts? You’ve got to wear something much hipper than that.” Considering we were the two un-hippest guys on the planet that made sense. We wanted to fit in. Didn’t want Peter Frampton thinking we were not happening. So we said, “What do you got?”

The day of the show we picked up our dates at about 3:00. They got one look at our outfits and both almost bust a gut. Like two complete idiots we were wearing matching brown tuxedos with peach colored ruffled shirts. All that was missing was paisley cummerbund.

Obviously, it was too late to do anything about it so off we went to the Palladium. And big surprise, we were the only two people there in brown tuxedos with peach ruffled shirts. Our dates were still laughing. Actually, the sound of snickering seemed to follow us wherever we went. Gone were my fantasies of Olivia Newton-John slipping me her number.

To save face I took off my glasses and tried to pass myself off as Prince.

It’s now 4:45. We’re seated. The stage P.A. calls out, “Chaka Khan? Is Chaka Khan here?” I don’t know why but I raised my hand and said, “Here!” The woman sitting right in front of me whirled around and said, “Hey, Fuckhead! I’m Chaka Khan!” So much for my mingling with the stars. (Chaka pictured right with sort of the warm expression she gave me.)

After suffering through the show (“Oh wow, man. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to receive this, uh…what is this again?”), we got out at about 7:30. Unbelievably, we weren’t invited to any of the post show parties. When Alice Cooper laughs at your outfit, you know you look like an imbecile. So now we had to get dinner. Where do you go on a Tuesday night in Hollywood dressed like the groomsmen of Liberace’s wedding?

Thank God for Kelbos!
Longtime Angelinos know what I’m talking about. Kelbos was a super tacky Polynesian themed restaurant with several L.A. locations. Picture Trader Vic’s for Homer Simpson. They’re gone now but back then there was one right across the street from CBS Television City.

(Side note: CBS Television City is in the heart of the Fairfax district, a decidedly Jewish section of town. The joke is to get to CBS just drive down Fairfax Ave. And the first window that doesn’t have a chicken in it is CBS.)

We walk into Kelbos, two Jerry Vale impersonators and their dates, and the host doesn’t even bat an eye. Shows us to a booth and even offers us complimentary drinks in skulls. We all must’ve laughed for an hour at how stupid we looked. But at least no one saw us.

Then I get home and watch the tape-delayed replay of the show. Chaka Khan wins an award. Jumps up. And there we are, in a lovely two shot, on national television. And it was an extra good idea to sit right next to each other.

I think Allan Carr was embarrassed. And this from a man who wore caftans and cold cream.

Recently I came across this on a fashion website:

If you are trying to decide the perfect outfit for your special man to wear on your wedding day, well don’t get stuck on the typical black tuxedo. For 2007, the hottest color is chocolate brown. Elegant brown is the new black! Many of the top designers have a handsome chocolate brown tuxedo for the new year. Check with your wedding planner to find out about specific designers offering brown tuxedos for 2007.

DON'T BELIEVE IT!!! I was a fuckhead so you won't have to be.


VP81955 said...

Was it the location of the awards ("the heavily Jewish Fairfax district') that somehow transformed Chaka Khan into "Chaka Kahn"?

Just wondering.

blogward said...

LMAO, thanx

Anonymous said...

I see “Hey, Fuckhead! I’m Chaka Khan!” as a new catchphrase likely to sweep the country.

Jim Endecott said...

How the hell did you miss her sitting in front of you with that Saint Berdoodle strapped to her head?

Brown I can handle but peach Ken?


Anonymous said...

Mmmmm ... Kelbo's. My fave parts were the blowfish lights over the tables, the flaming drinks, and the "barbecue" sauce on the ribs -- apparently made of equal parts ketchup and molasses.

But, uh, what's a cumber bun? Sounds like the Americanized version of a sandwich that Queen Eliz would serve at high tea. Or did you mean cummerbund? Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

By Ken Levine said...

Thank for the typing catches. That's what I get for posting after driving to Anaheim to see a Linda Eder concert.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I was a fuckhead so you won't have to be.

You know, Ken, people have said that to me before, but sooner or later I always end up being a fuckhead anyway somehow. But thanks.

Anonymous said...

Worst wedding tuxedo EVER?

Three words: LIME. GREEN. TUXEDO.

(with a forest green cumberbund, I might add.)

Just a walkin' bowl of sherbet...

Anonymous said...

I would add creme colored as a close second (for worst ever).
I was in a wedding in South Bend, IN on the hottest May day in history, 1979.

When the pictures came back, we looked like freaking Easter Eggs. No, we looked like freaking, sweaty Easter Eggs.

I know I speak for all who were around back then..."What the hell were we thinking!"

Anonymous said...

And another bad memory. While working at Robert Hall (I don't know if they were nationwide or regional, but a cheap clothing store with a really cheezy jingle: When prices go up up up and values go down down down)

I actually sold bright canary yellow polyester leisure suits with black polyester shirts to wear with them.

If anyone out there bought one from me, anyone. I'm so terribly, very very sorry.

Anonymous said...

Ken, a companion piece to your Chaka Khan story. Years ago was working on a show at TV City ... an actor on our show was working on the SONNY & CHER Show, also being shot at TV City. He had to pick up something from their rehearsal room, so I go with him and there's Cher. He introduces me to her, I put out my hand to say hello, she looks down at my hand, then back up to my face and says "Big fucking deal". And walks out. She's always been a charmer.

emily said...

Well, I'm in New York, and they had Robert Hall here. I now have that jingle on permanent loop in my brain. Thank you.

Robert Hall will show you the reason: they give you
High quality, economy.

Lovely story, btw. We still like to heap abuse on a friend of mine who wore a paisley velvet tuxedo in his bar mitzvah picture.

Anonymous said...

"Hey, fuckhead! I'm Chaka Khan!" Wonder how many maitre'ds have heard that?