Years ago, when I was recently divorced, I met a sexy bass player with an overwhelming desire to be a rock star. Knowing nothing about the music industry, I said, “No problem,” and transformed myself into his agent. I phoned everyone I knew with even the slightest connection to the production of sounds.
Due to my surname I can get a meeting with anyone, once. I soon discovered there was little good that could be achieved by merely blathering on about some song.
It was obvious what had to be done, so I produced a music video. Manhandling my friends I corralled one producer, one camera operator, one assistant to set up and hold the boom-box while we flitted about Central Park shooting my hot ass boyfriend and his bandmates crooning in various positions near the fountain, crossing the humped bridge, etc, and once we had our footage I even begged time (nights and bump-able) from a pal with a professional editing bay.
A few days later, along with $500 and the trammeled goodwill of pals a music video was born. A miniature movie with the boyfriend’s music and handsome face featured. Something tangible at last to foist while pitching. It was a critical component and armed with copies of these marvels I marched into the offices of the late Ahmet Ertegun, the late Bill Paley, music critics, music makers, and anyone else I could reach. Inevitably one connection led to another and eventually someone said, “You need to meet Nile Rodgers. Nile will know if your music is any good. I will call him and ask him to meet you.”
I reported back to the boyfriend and he fainted when I announced I had a connection to some music dude named Nile Rodgers. I placed a call and explained my plight and Nile promptly invited me over to the Sound Factory studio. I hopped on the subway and found this Sound Factory in an unremarkable building in an industrial section of town. I pressed a button and was buzzed into a waiting room like an Incan vault of plush red with tall walls bespattered with framed LPs seemingly made of gold.
Before too long a door I had not noticed opened and out strode a man dressed in leather pants and shoulder length dreads. He smiled somewhat shyly as he approached me, “I’m Nile,” he said, and offered a hand for me to shake.
I stood up and took the proffered hand. I liked him immediately.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he began. “But I’ve got the B-52s in there,” and he swung his dreads in the direction of the door. “We’re in the middle of recording, so I can’t stay too long. How I can help you?”
I delivered my pitch along with a VHS.
On a podium in the reception room sat a television and a video machine. This was the early 90s. Nile loaded the video and together we watched my boyfriend as he lip-synched and bopped about Central Park in black and white with a stop frame option to help conceal the simplicity of the finished product.
“I like it, it’s got something, but it’s missing a bridge,” Nile said, when it finished. To my evident confusion he smiled and went on to explain what this ‘bridge’ was. I had no idea what he was talking about but tried to remember every word so that I could repeat it to the boyfriend.
After a few more minutes Nile said, “I’ve got to get back to work, they are paying for this time! Come on in and meet the band.”
I trotted in pursuit of those leather clad legs and then I was in the mixing room with the B-52s and some pony-tailed technicians seated at a table of knobs. We all shook hands and then, a tad dazed, I left.
When I reported every detail to the boyfriend he fainted again. He kept saying that the idea that Nile Rodgers had not only listened to but critiqued his song was absolutely too much for him. It blew his fuses and while he muttered something about knowing there was no bridge in that song, again he fainted.
Needless to say, the boyfriend and I were not destined to be, and while the music video somehow found its way to the AFI (American Film Institute), where it won an award for best production (I was given a block of Lucite with my name carved into it), nothing nearly so exciting happened for the boyfriend’s career.
However, this experience was not a total loss, at least for me, because Nile and I remained life long friends.
Just so happens I’ll be in the Hamptons early August for a book thing, and coincidentally Nile has a benefit concert around the same time and place so I’ll be hanging out with my old pal. Watch this space for news of the concert! Aw Freak Out!!!