The Rogues Gallery
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The Italian-American streetfighter from the slums of New York who tenaciously clawed his way out of the ghetto to become the foremost exponent of the art of the popular song and close confidante of the power brokers of the late 20th century. He consorted with presidents and royalty, stars of stage and screen and was even, allegedly, invited into the inner circle of the mafia itself. All this happened to that other guy , the Sinatra one. Frankie Sumatra had a very different , yet in some ways uncannily similar, story to tell.
Father unknown, probably an itinerant Hungarian postal worker. Mother a "professional" lady. Born in a bordello in Budapest, Frederick Dopo was a sickly child who spent most of his childhood at the local picture palace where his mother sent him when gentlemen visitors came to call. John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart were his English teachers and Frederick was an excellent student. He soon became a great attraction in Budapest with his word perfect recitals of dialogue from popular motion pictures. He had a gift as a mimic and soon began acting out all the parts in the style of the great movie stars of the day and he even added appropriate sound effects. Freddy’s recreation of the magic of the movies became all the rage amongst the local populace and for a while the movie theatres could not compete. Hollywood studios, incredulous at the sudden slump in the Hungarian sector, decided to act. They dispatched a delegation of bigwigs to Budapest to track down the young phenomenon and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. In return for a sworn promise to cut out the movie mimicry the child prodigy and his mother Fifi were offered the chance of a new life in Hollywood. Freddy was to have a position in a prestigious animation studio as dialogue coach to their cartoon characters while his mother was given a job in the wardrobe department. All was well for the first few years but Fifi had developed a fondness for one of the studio’s major stars, Sydney the Squirrel. Freddy saw the telltale signs , nuts & berries stored around the house , you know ,the usual stuff. He loved his mother deeply but he’d rather see her shacked up with Franco Rodriguez the notorious hen teaser of Honolulu or even Carlos Campari the callous chicken juggler of Cordoba than a cartoon squirrel.
Frederick left Fifi, Sydney and
Hollywood behind and pursued his dream. He’d witnessed the meteoric rise of
a crooner from Hoboken, New Jersey with envy. With Freddy’s gift for mimicry
he believed he could follow in his idol’s footsteps. All the way to Vegas! By the time he finally made it to Sin City Frankie was devastated to learn they’d strapped a sack of dynamite to The Sands and the Copacabana had been replaced by Tony “Da Wig” Tarantino’s Drive-In Steak House and Synagogue. Instead of glamour, glitz and showgirls with legs all the way up to heaven he was greeted by squads of shell-suits from Squaresville, Arizona. Geriatric goons from Sasketoon and putzes from Peoria hooked up to banks of slot machines for their daily dose of cash transfusion. Against the odds he met Lola Las Vegas, a fellow free spirit who shared his yearning for the halcyon days of “Lost Wages” and his soon to be main squeeze persuaded her boss to give Frankie a job waiting tables at Tony T’s joint. Frankie supplemented his meagre income by moonlighting as a d.j. at weddings, bar-mitzvahs and funerals and bided his time. For one day he and Lola would rebuild The Sands Casino in all it’s glory.
By the time he finally made it to Sin City Frankie was devastated to learn they’d strapped a sack of dynamite to The Sands and the Copacabana had been replaced by Tony “Da Wig” Tarantino’s Drive-In Steak House and Synagogue. Instead of glamour, glitz and showgirls with legs all the way up to heaven he was greeted by squads of shell-suits from Squaresville, Arizona. Geriatric goons from Sasketoon and putzes from Peoria hooked up to banks of slot machines for their daily dose of cash transfusion.
Against the odds he met Lola Las Vegas, a fellow free spirit who shared his yearning for the halcyon days of “Lost Wages” and his soon to be main squeeze persuaded her boss to give Frankie a job waiting tables at Tony T’s joint. Frankie supplemented his meagre income by moonlighting as a d.j. at weddings, bar-mitzvahs and funerals and bided his time. For one day he and Lola would rebuild The Sands Casino in all it’s glory.
|Senor Love Daddy lounges poolside at dino's private retreat --->|
Ladies love cool "D". Who is this suave mysterious figure
who exerts such a hypnotic influence over women? Some say he’s an antipodean
imposter and con artist whose moderate career is at best a pale imitation of
Vegas’s best loved and most nonchalant crooner. Others say he is the full enchilada,a
bona fide reincarnation of the Italian-American lounge legend. Displays a mildly
alarming propensity for entertaining latino types at his bachelor pad. Senor
Love Daddy in particular is spending far too much time relaxing poolside at
Dino’s retreat for my liking.
DINO MARTINI Q&A - everything you never wanted to know about the living legend. Sauve, sophisticated groover of repute - "even his socks smell of success"
Under a bad sign ("Joe's Tattoo Parlour - Open 24 hours").
3 time loser, currently single but now enjoys the company of Vegas showgirls,trans-sexual lap-dancers, uninhibited latin lotharios,"lady boys" of Bangkok (subject to availabilty) and the kittenz at "Kiki's Kathouse", the swankiest salon on the southside: " Where even naughty katz get the cream!"
The " Italian stallion" has fathered numerous children (via a combination of ex-wives and numerous affairs with young starlets). Astronomical alimony/palimony payments ensure that they all live in the lap of luxury. (Not to be confused with "The Lap of Luxury" where most of Dino's transexual dancing friends work.) Dino now spends most of his time and money caring for his stable of imported sports cars. Also makes regular generous charitable donations to various bookies at the track and the casino.
In addition to crooning and mixing up his uniquely intoxicating musical and alcoholic cocktails for the gang Dino holds down a day job constructing musical instruments. Reputedly erected Tony "Da Wig" Tarantino's incredible organ at "Tony's Drive in Synagogue and Steakhouse".
Cruisin' in one of his extensive fleet of "lovemobiles", or in his "sin-sational" custom-built stretch limo (equipped with in-car cocktail bar, king size waterbed and jacuzzi) looking for high times in low dives with showgirls and broad-minded latino types. Lounging poolside with Senor Love Daddy and his compadres, relaxing to the soothing sounds of Japanese Mariachi maestro Harri Achi. Hanging around "Hughie's Gymnasium and Sauna Complex." Participating fully in the rough and tumble of manly physical sports like tag-team wrestling , followed by enjoyable locker room shenanigans such as flicking wet towels at team-mates, hunting for the soap in the communal bath etc. Collecting rare South American knitting patterns. Worm charming. Travelling to war-torn and economically deprived global outposts to provide emergency supplies of comfortable sweaters.
Harri Achi's Mariachi Experience and anything that he can croon along with while he's boozin', cruisin', schmoozin', carousin' or perusing his vast collection of groovy Peruvian pullovers.
Favourite TV shows:
Richard Attenbourough's fabulous (yet rarely seen) series of documentaries on the history, tradition and development of South American knitwear.
Friends (Frankie, Bugsy, Bronco Billy etc.) reckon that a deaf, dumb and blind showgirl would be Dino's best bet, but Dino would probably prefer a simple, sultry native knitter from Chile. Worryingly at the moment seems more interested in hangin' out with Senor Love Daddy...
Would like to be credited with solving global knitwear inequalities (particularly the critical South East Asian Long John Shortage) , but more realistically dreams of opening a combined drive-thru 24 hour cocktail bar and museum of South American woolen products, which he'd franchise around the world as "Dino's Drinkin' Den and Chilean Knitwear House". A great idea, although the brand name obviously needs a little work. Perhaps he could merge with "Kiki's Kathouse" and start up "Brandies, Hand Shandies and Pyjamies From The Andes."
Needs no introduction, doesn’t do interviews but he does offer this advice :
"Put on your blue suede shoes and
mosey on down to Vegas. There’s no room to rhumba in a sportscar but at Vegas
you can bossa nova baby until the blue moon of Kentucky comes up over the blue
bayou. Folks get dressed up real fancy at Vegas - you might even meet the devil
in disguise. If you come on down I’ll be your teddy bear and possibly even your
hunk of burnin’ love if you play your cards right. That’s the wonder of Vegas!"
Bugsy had a dream. When he looked at a little strip of run
down habitations in the middle of the desert he saw a vision of dancing girls,
broadway stars, high rollers, gamblers, hotels, nightclubs, casinos and lots
of money. However at the precise moment he opened up the Kalahari Oasis Resort,
several thousand miles away Bugsy Siegel was busy doing pretty much the same
thing in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seagull learned the hard way the three cardinal
rules of opening gambling resorts in deserts : Location, location, location.
Bugsy and his crew figured they’d better crash the Vegas party while they still
stood a chance of getting a piece of the action. Seagull’s mob were pretty handy
: The Gambaccini crime family of London, England. There was Paul Gambaccini,
"Fat Tony" Blackburn, Alan "Fluff" Freeman, and the notorious duo Tim Rice and
Andrew Lloyd Webber who were wanted in five continents and 47 states for musical
crimes against humanity. Seigel and the Chicago mob might have got there first
but Bugsy Seagull and his motley crew wouldn’t be far behind.
Lola Las Vagas
Her name is Lola and she was a showgirl. But that was many
years ago when they used to have a show at the legendary Club Copacabana. She’d
wear yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there. She would merengue
and do the cha-cha. And while she tried to be a star husband Tony tended bar.
They’d work from eight till four, they were young and they had eachother, who
could ask for more. But Tony tore down the Copa and turned it into Tony’s drive-in
synagogue and steak house. Lola stayed on for a while but prayer mats and prime
cuts couldn’t replace the thrill of the show. She had been a star back then
and would be again. She was losing her youth , she’d lost her Tony long ago
and she feared she was losing her mind but she knew one day she’d help rebuild
that legendary oasis in the desert : Club Copacabana, the hottest spot north
of Havana, a place where music and passion were always in fashion. Then she
met Rico, a smooth talking latin lothario who toured the lounge circuit under
the intriguing pseudonym Senor Love Daddy. He introduced her to Bronco Billy,
Dino, Frankie, Sammy and the gang. The rest as they say is history.
Little Sammy Jnr.
The joker in the pack. Short in stature but long on talent.
Little Sammy Jnr. has always been the runt of the litter, the young pup with
something to prove. So short he is almost undetectable to the naked eye but
a pocket dynamo whirling like a dervish fuelled by his own inner demons. Sammy
is the butt of most of the jokes but pound for pound he punches well above his
weight. In fact if he was normal size he’d probably be able to punch a hole
clean through the fabric of space and time and warp himself into another dimension!
Not a tall man even when standing on a crate little Sammy has pulled himself
up by the bootstraps and bitten the ankles of the entertainment business in
a uniquely tenacious and rather annoying sort of way. So small you probably
won’t see him at Vegas but don’t worry he’s down there somewhere
Senor Love Daddy
He’s a lean, mean, slightly ageing latin love machine. Born and raised in the mean streets of Havana little Rico Rodriguez could have been just another ghetto kid with no future were it not for one very special gift. Ricky could dance. He could bossa nova baby, merengue and do the cha-cha. He could do the mambo, samba, rhumba and la bamba like no one else. From the Tropicana to the Copacabana the boy danced his way into the hearts of Cuban society. But then tragedy struck. Little Ricky ‘s parents were implicated in the great Havana badger baiting scandal of ‘47. Rather than let their disgrace ruin little Ricky’s lucrative career Mr.& Mrs. Rodriguez did the honourable thing and ran away to Texas to join the rodeo. Ricky was all alone except for his new friend Chico the chihuahua (a parting present from his fleeing parents). Ricky loved that dog. He resolved to teach Chico how to dance and soon Ricky and Chico were the hottest double act in town. In fact Chico learned so well he was named "International Mambo King" of ‘53, the first canine recipient of that prestigious award. Ricky and Chico were the brightest stars in the Cuban sky but like shooting stars their radiant careers would be dazzling but tragically short lived. One night in Havana at an M People concert little Chico went in search of a plate of warm milk but took a wrong turn and ended up on stage. Tragically at that very moment he wandered into the path of an assassin’s bullet meant for Mike Pickering. The result was never in doubt. The little chihuahua exited this life a hero forever to be immortalised in the folklore of two very different cities. You can be sure that whenever talk turns to chihuahuas in the pubs of Moss Side it’s not long before a heroic little Cuban dancing dog called Chico mambo’s into the memory, bringing a tear to the eye of even the hardest hearted Mancunian.
For a while Ricky returned to dancing solo like the old days but soon people were saying Chico had been the real star of the show and that Ricky was just trying to cash in on the reputation of Cuba’s most famous dead dog. Heartbroken Ricky had to agree. It was as if he had buried his magical dancing shoes with his canine friend. Then the former dancing maestro took the fateful decision to leave his homeland and travel to the U.S.of A in search of his disgraced parents.
Years of travelling through the rodeos of the South , with no one to keep him company but bittersweet memories of badgers and dancing dogs, had provided Ricky with a few contacts in the expatriate Cuban cowboy community but eventually the trail ran cold. It seems the Rodriguez family had gone west with a travelling show and disappeared. Some said they’d hooked up with a Columbian chicken juggling cult in California others said Mr.Rodriguez had become head honcho of an Haitiian hen teasing consortium based in Honolulu. Out of money and luck Ricky settled down in cowboy country and soon he returned to his first love : showbusiness. He couldn’t dance any more but he could croon a little. He decided to relaunch his career as a lounge singer on the rodeo circuit. Ricky Rodriguez no longer cut the mustard as a hoofer so he gave himself a new name for a new career : Senor Love Daddy was born.
Little did he suspect when he started
singing latino versions of popular country & western numbers at cattlemen’s
conventions and buckaroo bonanzas that Senor Love Daddy would win the hearts
of ranchers daughters throughout the South and that the trail he was blazing
would roar all the way to Vegas itself and indeed consume that glorious city
in a raging inferno of hot latino love action.
Standing on the corner in a white Godfather hat, he drive’s
a long black gangster cadillac. Johnny Shaft is one real cool cat. He can steal
a broad’s mind, man, in 3 or 4 minutes. It’s not how long you talk, brother,
it’s what you put in it. The answer to all the young girls dreams, this young
black brother is is even funkier than he seems. They call him the iceman because
he’s so cold, he’s got iced water running through his veins I’m told. He wears
his hat tilted way to the side. Jump in his cadillac and he’ll take you for
a ride. If you need a plan, Johnny Shaft is the man. Who’s the black private
dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Johnny Shaft. Damn Right. Who’s
the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about ? Johnny Shaft. Can
you dig it? He’s a complicated man and no-one understands him but his woman.
Shaft was the wildest thing to hit Vegas since the hurricane of ‘57 sheared
the roof right off the Sands. This mother Shaft blew into town like a sirocco,
tore the roof off that sucker once again, took his funky deposit right to the
bank and wiped out Vegas’s funk defecit in an instant.
Born in the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia in Tierra
Del Fuego, Argentina.
As befits a native of the Land of Fire Venus became renowned for her fiery temperament and passionate nature.
Venus bewitched poets and philosophers alike and scholarly suitors bombarded Tierra del Fuego's most elligible beauty with tributes ranging from the sublime (May I to Venus be the Mars that the heart will sound as thunder, As lightning to electrify a body o'ercome with wonder) to the asinine (Men are from Mars, women are from Venus but Venus is from Tierra Del Fuego, a surprisingly accessible and affordable tourist destination - Tierra del Fuego Tourist Board).
However Venus' personal favourite was from 80's pop trio Bananarama who summed up her unique appeal with the catchy lyric: Goddess on the mountain top, Burning like a silver flame, The summit of beauty and love, And Venus was her name, She's got it Yeah, baby, she's got it.
Despite romantic overtures from the great and the good Venus met and married one Rico St. Pedro, proprietor of the local funeral parlour. However the marriage was destined to be short-lived (Venus: "Rico expected me to be a free flower and wreath arranger, like as if!") and she fled from the tyrant with her grandparents in their pink metallic and wood veneer finish winabago.
Venus settled in a one-horse town in Nevada but when the horse finally died it was time to get out of Hicksville and head east to the bright lights of Las Vegas. Venus was discovered by Danny Diamante of Vegas Showgirls Inc. who snapped her up for his agency and "The Flame" from Tierra Del Fuego was soon illuminating the most reputable showbars and casino lounges in Vegas with her luminous talent.
One night in Caesar's Palace, after assisting Seigfried and Roy
with their Siberian tiger magic show, Venus met Carlo Gambino, a mysterious
crime boss from the New York Gambino family, who had headed out West to join
Frankie Sumatra and Bugsy Seagull's Vegas operation. Carlo invited Venus to
join him and the rest of the Vegas gang in their Star-shaped mirror tiled 'cuzzi.
As Venus says "This was a big career move for me cos only certain broads get ASKED to join, there is usually a two year waiting list".
It was a roller-coaster ride from then on. Venus met up with Frankie's main squeeze Lola, with whom she was to strike up an inseperable friendship, started dancing at the best clubs in Vegas and married Carlo that June.
Venus opened the The Pink Powder Puff Poodle Parlour "because I believe I was Peeko the prizewinning pink standard poodle in a past life". The fact that it was also perfect cover for Carlo's underground unlicensed casino and doubled up as the Gambino mob's business HQ was, of course, a secondary consideration.
Venus has finally found a life of happiness and prosperity
"I now live the life of diamonds, jacuzzis, poodles, shopping trips with my best friend Lola, designer dresses and the second largest shoe collection after Imelda Marcos!"
The aristocratic Viscount, heir to the Bisquet biscuit billions,
having been caught in flagrante with the wife, daughter, mother and dental hygienist
of a prominent cabinet minister had no alternative but to banish himself across
the pond until the blasted fuss had died down a bit. A fortnight’s vacation
in Vegas should do the trick thought the Viscount, but he didn’t bargain on
the delightful quality of fillies on offer in the colonies. Now the naughty
bon vivant from blighty is a bit of a fixture on the Vegas social scene. The
only opening he hasn’t attended this year was Dino Martini’s wallet, but then
again we all missed that one.
CHANCE! The Story unfolds!
And as fate would have it their seperate paths came together in Vegas. Lola Las Vegas , Senor Love Daddy, Frankie Sumatra, Dino Martini, Little Sammy Jnr., Bronco Billy, Bugsy Seagull, Viscount Bisquet, The King & Johnny Shaft: they were to become the hottest thing to hit the town since the heatwave of ‘55. The gang cut a deal with Tony " Da Wig" Tarantino to hire his drive-in synagogue and steakhouse on Saturday nights. For one magical night of the week only Club Copacabana was recreated in all it’s gaudy glory, and the gambler’s paradise called The Stardust Lounge Casino was added as a nice finishing touch. Lola Las Vegas was a showgirl again. Frankie, Dino, Sammy and The King topped the bill and Bugsy and his mob provided the muscle. It was beautiful. Vegas was just the first step. They took the show on the road to Rio, Acapulco, Key Largo, Miami, Montego, Kokomo, Lima, Amarillo, San Jose, Bermuda, The Bahamas, New York, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Atlantic City, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs and soon to a town near you!