With Halloween coming next week, I would be remiss if I didn’t add in one more story on my longtime friend Jim Turano. A few sentences in you’ll see how this tale ties in with the masquerading fun of Halloween.
This story will be in my memoir “Raised on the Radio” which I look to release in 2018.
One more tale on Turano: He married his girlfriend Jamie in October of 1990. I was asked to D.J. the wedding reception. Halfway through the party, Jim hands me a cassette and tells me to get everyone off the dance floor because it was garter belt removal time. Jamie was sitting on a chair in the middle of the dance floor in her beautiful gown awaiting her new husband who had slipped out of the reception hall.
I put the tape on and the music was from “The Phantom of the Opera” and Jim comes sweeping into the room in his tuxedo but now he’s wearing a black fedora, black cape and his face is covered by the Phantom’s mask.
The groom keeps creepily circling Jamie until he’s right on top of her. As the music hits its crescendo, Jim dramatically rips the mask from his face and the hat from his head! Ta Dah!…. I said Ta Dah!…. Dead silence… Nothing.
The wedding guests, the servers, bartenders, clean-up crew and I the music master had no idea how to react. My only thought was, “What the shit was that?” You know the phrase “All we heard was crickets?” Even the crickets shut the hell up. The silence went on for about thirty seconds but it felt like thirty days. It was like in “Coming to America” when Eddie Murphy as Randy Watson sings Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” for the Black Awareness Rally and when he finishes, nobody claps and then he yells the name of his band, “Sexual Chocolate!” With no reaction he yells it out again “Sexual Chocolate!”
Finally I got on the microphone and told the crowd to keep quiet on what we just saw, because it may have been illegal. They laughed and the reception went on. Years later Jim told me he almost went with a different bit where he’d lip synch Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” into a mechanic’s light like Dean Stockwell did in the movie “Blue Velvet.” To be honest, I would’ve preferred that shtick instead.
When I tell people Jim Turano’s “Phantom of the Opera” reception story, they look at me like a dog staring into a fan. It was the craziest thing I ever saw at a wedding and that includes the time when one groom got on a microphone and said in another life he would’ve married one of the guests at the reception and not his new bride.
To this day Jim defends this Phantom of the Opera bit as a cool happening. I guess that mask and fedora blocked his view of the looks on the guests’ faces. Just stunned silent and bewildered. I’m telling you, I’m pretty unflappable but after that bit of drama, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or run out of the reception hall and drive home.
My pal Jim Turano is a born mimic. He spends parts of each day mimicking a normal human being. The rest of the time he’s the Phantom or Elton John or Bruce Springsteen or any TV or movie character you can think of. And of all those characters in the guy are very entertaining and a lot of fun!
(Me and my longtime pal Jim “The Phantom” Turano)