The biggest stop on our journey was doing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on March 25th. And I know you are all just DYING to hear the behind the scenes stuff from our day on TV. So here you go.
Our day started in Morrisville PA. Not leaving anything to chance or weather, we hit the road early. We rode up as a team: me, Amy, our spouses and a friend. The car was filled with an electric excitement that was fueled by caffeine and nervous energy. We knew were hitting “the big time” and none of us were trying to pretend we weren’t nervous as hell! Around 2pm we pulled over to the Joyce Kilmer rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike so Amy, Gibby and The Daily Show producer could do the pre-interview. It was short and sweet. Meanwhile, the show was on the phone with Riot on the Dance Floor director Steve Tozzi frantically trying to get clips from his documentary to go along with Amy and Gibby’s segment. And they needed a Salerno picture of the infamous Butthole Surfers show. They kept saying “something with fire in it.” Fire good.
This couldn’t have gone better: not only was “No Slam Dancing” getting a prominent feature on national TV, they were also going to include Riot! The entire world was now going to hear about two very powerful documents about the legend of Randy Now and City Gardens. More importantly we found a way to get our friends included in all the hoopla. Riot is getting ready to drop any minute now, and between the two projects City Gardens will be getting a very fitting tribute in the coming months. This was just the first shot in what will be an all-out attack!
We got to Manhattan early and met up with some wonderful friends for a little pre-game celebration. We toasted with something that was just like champagne but wasn’t champagne and smiled and laughed and again that warmth of love and friendship surrounded all of us and it was beautiful. It was a nice, quiet moment before all hell broke loose.
Time came for Amy to report to the green room.
We found Gibby and his lovely wife already settled into the green room. Both were cordial and super friendly. I had never met Gibby before. It was very cool. The first thing we noticed was that he had written “GWAR” on his arm in thick black marker and I knew right there that this was going to be one hell of a television appearance. We met the producers; everyone was so nice to us. We got some snapshots with Gibby and it was just a great vibe in that little room.
And they had these big bags full of swag for us!
They called Amy into the makeup room, which was right next to the green room. I was hanging out in the long, narrow corridor, just taking in all the magic of TV, when Amy called me into the makeup room. The lady who was doing her makeup was a punker from back in the day. We’re talking the original CB’s and Max’s set. She showed us some amazing pictures. Amy told her to never mind the “natural look,” she (Amy) wanted CRAZY makeup: the lashes, the heavy eye makeup, the whole deal. As Amy said; “I’m from the ‘80s, when there was no such thing as too much makeup!” And they went to town on her!
There was a small commotion in the hallway and that’s when we were introduced to Dipper: Jon Stewart’s rescued pit bull. The poor guy only had three legs but he was just as happy as could be. They told us Jon always brought the dog to work. Dipper was great: friendly, playful, energetic. Everybody instantly fell in love with him. We tried to get pictures of him, but he just moved so darn fast you couldn’t get a good one!
And then I heard the voice. It was weird. I never met Jon and if he worked any of the hardcore shows I attended at City Gardens I never knew it. But there he was, right in front of me! And he was so gracious. Gave me a big old hello and a handshake and talked profusely about how much he had liked the book. Wow. I was floored. Soon the rest of the gang joined is in the hall. Amy and I presented him with a gift of two specially-made City Gardens pint glasses. We chatted for a long time about the club, about his fondness for it. He was just as funny and charming as you would expect! Sure, it was a bit disconcerting seeing the odd orange hue of television makeup caked on his face, but once you got past that you didn’t even notice. He made us laugh, put us at ease and told us over and over how great it was that we did this. Man, that was pretty heavy.
They started the show and we all went back into the green room. Amy was dressed and ready to go and she was gorgeous. If you’re wondering why yours truly wasn’t invited to sit with Amy and Gibby, well, think about what’s gonna’ sell more books: the rock star and the beautifully poised and radiantly gorgeous redhead or my dopey, bulbous head. It was an obvious choice, and we are talking about TV here, after all.
Well, you all saw what happened next: she absolutely KILLED it. I was so proud of her! We watched from the green room and were hooting and hollering the whole time. It was something else. Afterwards we had a brief moment with Jon to thank him profusely. And I even got him to sign the copy of “No Slam Dancing” I always carry with the intent of someday having every person who appeared on the book to etch their signature in it. Corny, yeah, but I sure don’t care.
After the taping we met with friends from City Gardens; people who were directly involved in helping this book come into being. My phone was already exploding with congratulatory texts from friends and family. I’ve never been successful at anything, and this was all very new to me. I was overwhelmed and I am not at all ashamed to admit that when I stood up and tried to toast Amy I completely lost it and broke down sobbing! It was a very emotional evening. And I am Italian, after all.
We raced back to Morrisville to catch the 11pm airing and made it just in time. I manned the social media and pumped it up into a frenzy. I could almost FEEL every single person I’ve ever known watching along with us. And by 11:30 pm our lives had changed drastically. By Wednesday noon Amazon was completely sold out of books. Our two distributors were calling for MORE BOOKS. Social media went NUTS and people were clamoring with questions on how to get the book. When all was said and done we hit #107 on some Amazon chart and we had pretty much sold out of ALL books. As of right now we are scrambling to get a second printing going and it’s a painfully slow process. Suddenly we had all kinds of friends we’d never knew we had before! Myself, I was getting notes from people who hadn’t had the inclination to speak to or even acknowledge me in 25 years. Strange…
But mostly everyone was just as excited as we were. This was a victory for ALL of us: for the generations of City Gardens folk this book represents and, really, for the glorious and beautiful music we’ve cherished all our lives.
So there you have it, our 15 minutes. Don’t worry; we’ll be here a LOT longer than 15 minutes. You can bet on that.