Ajit Saldanha has a finger in the pie, and another on the political pulse. And when he writes, he cooks up a storm.

Make my marsala

Published Aug 11, 2019, 1:37 am IST
Updated Aug 11, 2019, 1:37 am IST
Consequently, Jim is pretty stressed out himself; in addition to the grunt work and the heavy lifting, he has to deal with the tantrums 7 the moaning.
Bradley Cooper
 Bradley Cooper

Psychiatrists have a theory about the toxic side-effects of stardom. Even if you haven't watched "A Star is Born," I'm sure your movie buff neighbor can fill you in with the details. Ageing rocker (Bradley Cooper) meets small town girl (Lady Gaga) in sleazy drag bar, flips for her, brings her up on stage to do a duet at his next gig, they hook up, she goes on to win an Emmy and become a mega star while he crashes, burns, pees his pants and kills himself. Essentially, the takeaway is that mega talented individuals who spend too much time in the pitiless glare of the spotlight have difficulty hacking it in real life because of a self-destructive streak.

This can manifest itself in binge-drinking, coke-snorting, serial shopping sprees, screaming at one's near and dear as well as innocent passers-by, and sundry other forms of what is termed 'socially unacceptable behaviour.' Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, known for his legendary consumption of vodka, once fell out of a coconut tree and went into a coma. Don't ask, with his bank balance, he could have hired a trained monkey to pluck the nut of his choice, no pun intended.

 

Some years ago I met up with Jim Marsala who is perhaps uniquely positioned to observe both sides of this starbucks syndrome. Jim works as a key grip in Hollywood during the day and plays Ringo Starr in a Beatles tribute band at night. "Yeah, I hadda get penile reduction surgery done to look exactly like Ringo," he quips. His day job is that of a glorified valet catering to the whims and fancies of petulant starlets, grouchy directors and stressed-out stars.

Consequently, Jim is pretty stressed out himself; in addition to the grunt work and the heavy lifting, he has to deal with the tantrums and the moaning. He has a fund of anecdotes about rising stars, falling stars, has-beens, wannabes and never-will-be's which will cause 'your knotted and combined locks to separate and stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine.' By the by, Star is Born is a remake of the original with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand, which in turn was based on Gloria Swanson's 'Sunset Boulevard.'

 

Jim says that when a rocker is up on stage the adrenaline rush with all those fans screaming themselves hoarse is so intense that the downward spiral kicks in the moment he heads back to the dressing room. He can relive the moment by watching live footage of the gig which cushions the thud of getting back to the real world, but this merely postpones the inevitable. Eventually, the banality of day-to-day life seems so vapid in comparison that uppers, downers and kinky sex seem the only fall-back plan. Oddly enough, most stars can handle minor discomforts in the dressing room because once they get up on stage they can soak in that surreal, heady atmosphere of blind, unconditional love.

 

'I'm sitting with some of these guys - no names, okay - and we're sinking a few brewskis with bourbon chasers after the show and they're like, Man, were we cooking tonight? Then we go out for a fancy dinner, steak and all the trimmings and we drink some more. Then somebody'll wanna drop a line, know what I'm saying?' says Jim. 'But at the end of it all, having to go back to that empty hotel room when you're on the road, or that big old house back in Beverly Hills, that's the bummer, man,' he muses. Y'know, if someone could figure a way to bottle up that feeling you get from being on stage, that huge awesome rush that surges through every fibre of your being and makes your nerve ends tingle, if some dude could find a way to do that, he'd be a *$(ing billionaire, man. Plus he won't need coke to hold on to that high.' As an authentic passenger statement from someone who has been-there-done-that, it carries the unmistakable flavour of truth.

 

I offer Jim's suggestion as a start-up idea: concocting the most heady, aphrodisiacal fragrance known to man. Those golden, stolen, delirious on stage moments mixed with musk deer gland or vetiver would totally kill it. Of course, you'd need a multimedia campaign with Instagram and a zillion likes, plus they'd have to think of a good name for it. How about Marsala? Eat your heart out, Andy Warhol: you get 15 minutes of fame all day long.

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