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Gong Show (Devil With a Blue Dress)

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Published on Sep 28, 2009

Okay, so here are some kinda funny stories:

1) As a kid, I was a big fan of the "classic" Gong Show, the one hosted by Chuck Barris. One act in particular caught my fancy: The Worms.
As an adult, working as a buyer in the book industry, I found out that one of my favorite sales reps was one of the original Worms! He was blown away that I actually remembered that act, and some of the words from the song. He brought his Gong Show trophy to my store, so we could see it "in person," but the giant-sized novelty check had long-since been cashed.

2) They taped about a week's worth of shows in a day. All of the acts were herded into a large meeting room, until we were taken in small groups to the stage for rehearsal and then the taping. To pass the time, I made small talk with some of the other performers. I was surprised by how many of them were professional nightclub acts; some of them did lounge shows in Las Vegas. (And most of them got "gonged," but we didn't.)
One performer I didn't connect with was a bald, good-looking, African-American gentleman. He was a bit full of himself, and stayed away from the rest of us. He had and Ankh--and a few other "mystical-looking" symbols--painted onto his face, and wore a jacket with a few dozen CDs affixed to it. He was a fairly decent soul singer, but his prima donna attitude was getting on our handlers' nerves, so whenever they wanted the group's attention, they mocked the opening line to is act: "Everybody say loooooove!"
Turns out that the guy was RuPaul, before he found fame as a drag queen. For some reason, Salt 'n' Pepa really disliked him, and gave him a low score. We actually scored more points than he did.

3) We rehearsed the act a grand total of twice before taping it for TV. My partner Luci had a sweet, musical speaking voice, so I just assumed that she could sing. Just before the audition, I discovered she couldn't carry a tune, but I knew that her dancing in the background would distract from my shortcomings. I struggled to find the note through most of the intro (which is traditionally performed by female backup singers), but eventually did okay. Many years (and karaoke performances later), I sound less like Mitch Ryder and more like Billy Idol.

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