Sunday, May 4, 2008
THIS IS HEAVY- HE'S MY BROTHER
So I wander down to the Fremont Street Experience last night to check-out my little brother's show, called 'WOW."
"Wow, am I glad to see you," Bela shouted out across the back of the Las Vegas Club. "I need you to do lights!"
The cast and crew turn to see who he is yelling at.
I'm looking OK. Freshly fluffed hair, lightly starched cotton shirt I later hear a young dancer describe as 'retro,' thin new jeans and my Rocketdogs ( really comfy shoes some random girl complimented a year or so ago).
"Who is that?" the emcee of Bela's circus-stunt show asks.
"That's his... they are brothers," a handsome Russian acrobat answers as my bro and I hug.
Apollo the dog literally flies out from backstage, as if on cue, just as I ask Bela and Tammy where their kid is.
OK, so much for the nice-looking black jeans. They are immediately smeared with white fur. And oddly, I like my nephew's hairy addition to my outfit.
Even though I hadn't seen Bela's new show, I have recently attended forty Las Vegas productions and written full-length reviews of each. (Last fall I became the only person to ever see and then post critical reviews of EVERY show in Branson, Missouri, a resort destination where I have business interests as well. We're talking about 100 -plus shows down in the Ozarks). And after 20 years of writing and producing live shows and events, the thought of doing lights, while unexpected, strikes me as underwhelming.
"When is the show?"
"Now!" Bela kinda yells.
"Wow," I reply.
Take you back to the early 90's. Bela's family has "The Globe of Death" motorcycle stunt act in "Splash" at the Riviera. His step-dad is leaving town, his mom is returning to Hungary, and Bela, all of 17, pretty much takes over the act but "just can't live in the dressing room," according to The Vice President of Entertainment, Sam Distefano.
"Willie, I'd like to ask you a favor. Can you let Bela move into your house. Keep an eye on him?"
Anything for Sam. I had recently purchased my first home. Four bedrooms more than I actually needed. Nice pool. Pool table just arrived. So why not? I like Bela.
He moved from the Riv to my place in an hour.
To make a long story longer, he ended up keeping an eye on me, too. Papers were signed and where it asked for "Relation" Bela suggested I put 'BROTHER.'
We are standing in my office, located at the front of the house. A place I practiced law part time. A creative place where many shows were put together and specialty acts booked. Now, the Notary is waiting.
"William, you're only a few years older than me. What are you gonna put? Grandfather?"
Fade-In. A dozen years later, I'm pretty sick and I walk away from everything. The G friend. The pool table. Everything. I just... split. Took the dog and hung out in LA helping an actor friend learn (and then re-write) his lines. Started on a never-to-be television show. I left Bela to do whatever. After looking after him, it was now his turn, only I maybe deprived him of some of the fun by disappearing. But I do that. I disappear.
In a montage, there are seizures, hospital stays, drugs, late nights and then, as the music fades, I'm feeling well (some say looking 'better than ever ') and back in Las Vegas. Those who joined Bela's circus in the past year or two hadn't met me. But I am told,(at least once a week) that I sound exactly like him, that I use the exact same funny expressions as he. And even though he and I know that they got that back-to-front, we both like it. And now, more and more, I AM becoming like him. Sure, he took his cues from me, back in the day, but last night I literally had to take cues from him. Light cues.
The shows went well, in spite of the dumb ass doing lights. "Stevie Wonder could have done better" either Bela or I said. (Second show way better than the first, so you'll know.)
It has been said that we can pick our noses and our friends but we can't pick our family's friend's noses. Or something like that. I think it was Lincoln, but don't quote me.
The fact is--- and this is pretty heavy--- we CAN pick our family. We have a choice every minute of every day whom to put into our production. Looking for more drama? Comic relief? Sexual tension? Random whatever?
Me? I'm always searching for the perfect music to provide the soundtrack to my dream of life. I have consistently received compliments on the music from those sharing the ride.
Last night got pretty late.( Pretty. Odd.) So now, today, I've gotta ask myself: Who picked whom? Did I choose Bela or he me? I became his big brother because he asked me to. He became my little brother because I needed him to.
Our relationship informs the great friendship I'm writing about in my new novel, "Condo: The Kinda True Story Of How Las Vegas Got High."
In the book, the term "Bro" is only used with sincerity and great affection. I don't take that word lightly.
Some of the newer cast and crew members of Bela's show don't quite get it, us. The girlfriends don't try.
Apollo-the Great Pyrenees-he totally understands.
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