By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"To which Rita and I responded: 'Tough shit. We want it written all down up front.'"
It's not that Prieboy had contempt for Hollywood. In fact, a movie deal would have fit nicely with his original plan for White Trash Wins Lotto --Largo, record, movie. "Big, bigger, bigger," says Prieboy. But by the time a second movie deal came his way, the glitter had begun to disintegrate. "The pie-in-the-sky idea of how great the movies are going to be changes when you see the contract," he reflects now. What got written down up front in deal number two required that Prieboy forfeit all monies from the accompanying record deal, play on the record for scale plus 10 percent -- "ifI play on the record at all" -- and limit all future performances of White Trash Wins Lottoto 150-seat halls, in its present form only. "Which meant that once I signed, I couldn't change anything, I couldn't add a song. So the deal went south."
And Prieboy temporarily gave up on the movies. "All you gotta do is look at movie guys and see how they dress," he offers. "They dress like they write for Car and Driver. We refused to be cowed by people like them. My point of view, from my history, I was a dark horse when I joined Wall of Voodoo, I was a dark horse when I got a solo career, and here I am now, holding on to -- shit-- something a few people want, and I'm going to be careful about who we do our business with. No more acting out of desperation. No more saying, 'Oh, this is the only time this offer is going to come my way.' Because when you get right down to it, this thing is too precious to us to just give away for next to nothing, and to lose all our creative rights. Because you sign this stuff away, and they give you some chicken wings and some post cards and a box full of soap and say, 'Aren't you happy?' And then you turn it over and they fuck it up."
By the end of 1998, White Trash Wins Lottohad accumulated enough songs and characters -- including Prieboy's role as narrator and demiurge -- to be regarded as a full-fledged theatrical production. "We'd gone from two songs to five songs to eight songs to 12 songs to 14 fucking songs," Prieboy says, "and we have 18 people on stage. And we've got every record company in town vying to get in." Prieboy could finally say to those guys examining their fingernails that he had really written a musical.
IN THE SMALL CONFINES OF HIS STUDIO, Andy Prieboy is introducing his cast members to me. He goes at this task formally and somewhat stiffly, taking each aside and reciting his or her bio, as if they're all guests on a TV talk show and he's the host. Blaine Capatch, an intellectual type with spectacles and angular good looks, is first: "Blaine is a comedian, and a writer, and a musician. He has written for Mad TVand The Martin Short Show.He also performs in a band with Rita." Next, Mark Rivers, "the former drummer for the Cavedogs," and Jackie Harris, a blue-eyed brunette whose bob haircut and pale skin give her the look of a porcelain doll. "Jackie was born in Montreal, Quebec, and performed in Toronto with Second City . . . "
"It's dying, it's dying!"Harris whispers at Prieboy with mock urgency. "C'mon, c'mon, pick it up!"
Everyone in the room busts up, and Prieboy lets Harris take over: "I just got in a cartoon!" she boasts. Prieboy moves on around the room, still playing the straight man giving it up to his cast's persistent wisecracks and raucous appreciation of each other's antics. Paul Greenberg, whom Prieboy bills as "an excellent physical comedian," stretches his arm around his much taller boss's shoulder as his bio is read; Traci DeNisi grabs at the chance to introduce her friend of 17 years, Crissy Guerrero. "She makes Mariah Carey look like she don't know what she's doing!" says DeNisi, snapping her fingers. "Plus, she's a reallygood girl."
It is a remarkably charismatic and eclectic group of people -- writers, comedians, musicians, actors, dancers, all but three culled from the community of performers at Largo, where owner Flanagan encourages everyone to see each other's shows. ("It's very familial there," says Prieboy.) Only one cast member auditioned for his role -- Brian Beacock, who plays Axl. "We knew we needed a true Broadway singer," D'Albert explains, "someone who would play it straight." When she met Beacock in the hallway outside the audition, she said to herself, "There's our Axl." When he took the stage, she says, "he was amazing."
"He wasn't just amazing," Prieboy adds. "He gotit. All these guys had showed up who wanted to rock.One guy showed up in his Iron Maiden T-shirt, and he was amped. I told him, 'But there's no rock in the musical,' and you could just see his face fall. But Brian understood rock & roll, and he also shared my frustration with Broadway musicals, because he'd had to perform that stuff."
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