Posted by keithosaunders on May 16, 2016
Back in the old days when I was a young buck starving jazz pianist living in New York City I fell in with this character named Ray Steven who led a society band. Later I would learn that one must always be wary of people with two first names, but I was young, naive, and needed some gigs that paid a more than jazz clubs did. In regards to payment, ‘little’ was the operative word here. Ray paid the bare minimum. In fact often times my check, when it finally arrived, was five or ten dollars light, as if by accident.
Ray had the type of band that would play at society dances in exclusive clubs around Manhattan – the Harvard Club, the University Club, the Hotel Pierre. The east coast refers to these gigs as ‘club dates.’ The west coast calls them ‘casuals, ‘ which is even more of a misnomer. In the summer we would often trek out to East Hampton, 110 miles to the east, and play at some swell’s estate. We, the sidemen, would make under scale, while Ray pocketed enough dough to put his kids through college.
Ray had several corny sayings he would draw from after a particular song was over. He said them so often that the band ended up memorizing them. After a lively rock song he would say, “That’s better than a Jane Fonda workout!” If we played a Latin song such as a merengue or a mambo, he would bellow out a sentence in Spanish followed by, “That means ‘Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one!'”
He many more but I think you get the idea. Here’s another one of his homilies which would take place after playing something particularly demeaning, such as The Electric Slide, or after a conga line had spontaneously broken out. (It was demeaning to us musicians, not the party-goers — they had no shame) Ray would slobber up to the mic (by that time he was as drunk as any of the guests) and call out, “That’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”
It’s funny, though, but this last bit of Stevenism has me thinking. He was right — sex really is fun. But we don’t think of it as such, at least in the conventional sense. I suppose that’s because it gets weighted down by the emotions that come with it. How inconvenient! I mean…we go bowling, have poker night, golfing, tennis, book club. Why can’t there be sex night? It would definitely be better than a Jane Fonda workout.