"If Donald Trump can be president, why can't I have a real job doing this?"
Johnny Potenza is celebrating his tenth season on the air as Late Night With Johnny P, and starts off by congratulating our new president on his election win. He also farewell to Obama and Clinton by wishing them well, and wishing that people would just suck it up and move on regarding Clinton's loss.
Potenza may have that "relaxed brain thing going on" (as he puts it), but P is a class act nonetheless, so why *can't* he have a real job doing this?
The first guest of the night is comedian Jeffrey Paul. Paul joked about love, marriage, parenting, his 20-year anniversary date in the car (complete with dashboard candles), and reminds us that 50 is not the new 30. What does that even mean? And I think God is a comedian, too, though I thankfully don't have the ass-neck hair that Paul does.
Order in the studio! Johnny's first interview is Vito Picone. Picone may be best known for his song Little Star as the lead singer of The Elegants, but he is many layered.
He was born and raised in South Beach, Staten Island, and he started singing on the boardwalk there. South Beach was a big NYC resort area for a very long time; artists such as Johnny Maestro and Bobby Darin had bungalows near Seaside Boulevard (now known as Father Capodanno Boulevard), as did other well-known show business types of the time.
Picone tells how he came to be signed with ABC Paramount Records after his manager was shot and killed on the Lower East Side. Picone also tells the story of how he came up with the name of the iconic group; the line "How did you come up with the name 'The Elegants?" became a running joke between Vito and Dick Clark. He also tells us how a tragic accident left Picone permenantly blind in one eye.
He also tells us how Martin Scorcese had seen him in a film called Joey and subsequently got in touch with Picone for a role in 'Goodfellas' the next day. If you saw 'Goodfellas', you might remember Picone from that scene where Billy Batts gets the last beating of his lifetime ("Now go home and get your fucking shine box."). Oh, you remember him now. Good stuff. Good stuff.
Picone was in a couple of other scenes that he knew would get cut. He knew each one was cut before Scorcese even told him they were cut, and he knew why they were going to be cut. Enzo Stuarti was well-known to millions of Americans as the Ragu guy in the early 1970s. But it was Stuarti who landed Picone on the cutting room floor of 'Goodfellas' because one of his songs was playing on the jukebox in the scene, and he knew Scorcese wouldn't go for it.
Picone also has a show on Spectrum Cable called "Let the Good Times Roll", which is filmed in the same studio as "Late Night With Johnny P". The show is coming up on its 26th year! A man's man, Picone is.
Johnny's next guest is actor, director, and producer Garry Pastore, who is another illustrious Tottenville High School graduate (Go, Pirates!). Pastore got his start by singing in a rock band, he also attended drama classes at Tottenville High School. His drama teacher, Stanley Schwartz, was no stranger to discovering talent; Schwartz knew it when he saw it, and he saw it in Garry. Schwartz talked Pastore into playing Tony in West Side Story, and from there he went on to win parts in acclaimed films such as Prizzi's Honor, Carlito's Way, and Do the Right Thing. I know quite a few people who have become involved in performing and gone on to great things due to Mr. Schwartz's leadership, and Pastore is definitely one of those people.
Garry "Roadhouse" Pastore with Jimmy Mack and the Fleas
Pastore is currently shooting The Deuce, an HBO series that will be premiering. Garry has also written, produced, and directed a movie that is currently available on Amazon Video called 'DESTRESSED', which won multiple awards including "Best Documentary" at the Garden State Film Festival in 2014. Pastore plays himself in his movie as a guy who is so stressed out it's about to kill him, and is on a mission to figure out how to find balance and serenity. DESTRESSED is in my queue to watch next, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. Garry has a terrific sense of humor and is funny as hell, so I know I'm going to enjoy this movie. Go to www.GarryPastore.com for more info, and let me know how that works out for you. Ask him what his dad's middle name is. He loves that story.
So, at the beginning of the show, Potenza points out that the space where the band usually performs has been reserved for a mixed martial arts demonstration. Team Real USA, located on Staten Island, was in the studio to give us a demonstration of a few of the many different types of martial arts and self-defense that they teach in their Rossville location.
The Team Real USA trainers included Professor Marcio Bittencourt, Chris Bello, and Brian Wecker. Bello and two of his students demonstrated some kickboxing and bootcamp workout exercises for us, and we were treated to an array of self-defense techniques by Professor Bittencourt with the assistance of Wecker. These masters have years of experience with assorted martial arts such as Muay Thai Strength, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Jiu Jitsu, and Wrestling. Team Real USA puts the Mixed into Mixed Martial Arts, for sure. So much to experience there! I may give one of these classes a try; who knows, I may be the next Hong Kong Phooey, but I think Potenza is way more likely to be a paid talk-show host before that ever happens. Soon, please.
Cathleen is a photographer, graphic designer, and bona-fide.