25 April 2014

Archie 4 Adults (Part One)


POP ART0001

Say Goodbye to Riverdale
The Secret History of Archie Records
The Pop Culture Cantina presents Part One 
of a bawdy cartoon burlesque starring
The Archies
Josie + The Pussy Cats
Sabrina the Sorceress
Toni Topaz     Jason Blossom     Kevin Keller
and other fan art images based on 
Archie Comics Characters
with super-bitchin' cameo appearances by Burt Bacharach, 
Jeff Barry, Pat Benatar, Mario Canedo, Andru Charlz, 
Anderson Cooper, Ron Dante, Jackie DeShannon, 
Neil Diamond, Louise Goffin, Art Greene, Mick Jagger, 
Carole King, Eileen + Jerry Maneker, Barry Mann, 
Wynton Marsalis, Ricky Martin, Bill Medley, Tom Mourgos, 
Phil X Milstein, Mike Pellerito, Laura Pinto, 
Chuck Tackett,  Jon Trouten, Cynthia Weil 
and Nero the Dog
Burlesque written, directed and staged by 
Donny Jacobs

The Year 2000
The Archies disbanded fifteen years ago after the band members graduated from college. Archie Andrews married up Veronica Lodge, and Forsythe “Jughead” Jones III wed Betty Cooper. Both couples still reside in Riverdale, USA. Reginald Mantle III now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.  He's still single, but openly bisexual now, and still as much of a horndog as ever!  There's only one thing he likes better than getting laid, and that's making music.  Dude is determined to be another Elvis!  Reggie self-produces an album of Elvis Presley covers, planning to release it on his own Mantle imprint. However, his imitations of the King are so lame, he struggles to find a distributor.  Dropping several copies of the CD into his messenger bag, Reg goes out looking for a record deal.

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MEET RALFI CHINGAS!

A week later, Reg walks into the offices of a small-time Latin music label.  "I used to be in The Archies", he tells the receptionist.  "I think your boss might want to talk to me!" She does.  Undressing the sexy singer with lustful eyes, Tico CEO Laura Pinto asks him: "Just how much do you want to be a star, Reginald?"  "If you promise to make me a star, Ms. Pinto, I'll do anything you want!" he replies.  "Really?" Laura purrs. "Anything?" An hour and a half later, after having done "anything", Reg climbs back into his clothes! "Sign on the dotted line, baby boy," urges Laura, with a satisfied smile on her face.  "I see a great future for you!"  

She flies Reggie down to México City for new recording sessions.  At The Conga Room, a nightclub that doubles as a recording studio, he is paired with a trumpet player named Ralfi Chingas. “¿Qué onda, papi?” the diminutive MexiCuban barks in a raspy Harvey Fierstein voice. “Remember me? We did the wild thing in Key West last year. How's it hangin' these days?"  Reggie bursts out laughing; although he was sh*t-faced drunk at the time, he does recall their one-night stand.  "Dig it," rasps Ralfi.  "I'm gonna be your producer!"  Reg recounts his "meeting" with Laura Pinto.  "Was it good for you, papi?", the ginger-haired musician snickers.  "Well, don't worry about me.  I ain’t one of those record producers that shags his artists!  Laura's gonna keep you plenty busy anyhow, with her strap-on."  Reggie and Ralfi share a blunt, and then get down to business cutting the new CD.

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REGGIE'S FIRST LATIN ALBUM, 
SPILL THE WINE

Laura Pinto shoots down the Elvis concept, so they record some of Ralfi's favorite Latin Rock tunes.  Reggie's second CD is called Spill The Wine, and the sound is very commercial; but just as the tracks start getting played a little bit in Florida salsa clubs, the record label goes belly up! "Me so sorry," Laura Pinto tells Reggie with a passionate kiss goodbye.  With no more promotion, Reggie’s Latin album falls by the wayside along with his recording contract. Reg is hella bitter (“WTF happened?”), but he isn't angry at Ralfi; they part as buddies. In addition to Ralfi’s friendship, he comes away from the experience with a fascination for Latin music that will ultimately change his life. Meanwhile, Veronica and Archie Andrews have gotten the urge to play Rock ‘n’ Roll again. They decide to start their own independent record label. By the end of the year, they get their funding together. On December 31st, Archie Records is incorporated.

2001
Archie and Veronica lay the foundation for a recording studio and office complex. Then, September 11 happens! Betty Jones telephones Roni:  "We've just got to do something!"  The Archies reunite to raise money for victims of the terrorist attacks; after they play the benefit concert, nobody wants it to end again. Archie proposes that they get back together. The others are hesitant, especially Reggie who craves making it on his own.  The deciding factor is Archie Records: Arch and Roni promise that, no matter who else they may sign to their label, it will prioritize promoting and marketing Archies music. Also, the recording contract that Veronica’s attorneys have prepared is very artist-friendly. Screwed royally by major labels when they were teenagers, The Archies relish the prospect of generous royalty rates and full creative control. Also, individual group members are free to pursue solo projects for any label they choose.

ARCHIES LIVE!

AIN'T NO DRAG . . . 
BETTY'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG!

All the members take up their old instruments except for Betty Jones, who has mastered the saxophone under hubby Jughead’s loving tutelage. Fans will go wild when she walks out on stage cradling her hot pink sax for the first time!  Betts will occasionally play tambourine in concert as well as at future studio dates; but from here on out, she's the blonde that blows the horn.  "I'm just a 'horny' babe!" she jokes.

Archie contracts with singer/songwriter Carole King to produce a new Archies album. It’s to be a collection of her hit songs from the 1960s. Carole meets the band and requests a major change: While she likes Archie and Veronica’s lead voices well enough, she insists that the other members sing lead, too. Once she hears Jughead’s rumbling baritone and Betty’s smoky alto, she’s eager to move them up front. As for Reggie, Carole finds his tendency to imitate Elvis hella tedious (“where’s your natural voice, dude?”), but thinks he has a lot of potential: His rendition of "One Fine Day," is the best she's ever heard.  Still, Roni is wary of making the change. "Why fix what ain't broken?", she asks Carole.  But she ends up loving the diverse new vocal sound, as does everyone else.

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RARE PHOTOS OF CAROLE KING 
WITH THE ARCHIES, CUTTING DEMOS 
AT SUN STUDIOS

Reg is especially happy to claim more of the spotlight; he dreaded once again having to play Paul McCartney to Archie’s John Lennon! The project gets as far as Sun Studios in Memphis, where The Archies and Carole cut demos of all the songs slated for their new album. However, there's much legal wrangling behind the scenes; what's more, Carole’s daughter Louise Goffin isn’t happy about her mother working with a notorious “bubblegum” group! (“I mean . . . seriously, Mom?”) Carole has serious misgivings. Apologizing profusely, she suddenly pulls out of the deal. Demoralized, the group almost breaks up again! Desperate to cut another record, Reggie remembers Ralfi Chingas and suggests that they audition him for the producer’s job.

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PROMO FOR THE ALBUM 
ARCHIE COUNTRY

2002
The Archies meet with Ralfi Chingas and quickly decide that he should produce them; he and the group have an instant musical rapport. Veronica bonds with him immediately; upon learning that he dated up Reggie, she playfully nicknames him "Nooky"!  Ralfi's pet name for her will be "Miss Thang."  Taking stock of their singing voices and formidable musical chops, Ralfi doesn’t hear a “bubblegum” band; he decides that Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead and Reginald have matured into a solid roots Rock band.

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PROMO FOR THE ARCHIES' 
SMASH HIT REMAKE OF 
"LONELY WEEKENDS"

Accordingly, he suggests that they cut a Country music album. Like Carole King did, Ralfi wants the group to have five lead singers, and with Betty’s help (she’s the group’s biggest Country music lover), he selects tunes that are well-suited to each member’s voice. They return to Sun Studios, but the majority of recording is done after hours on the soundstage of Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. (Renting the Ryman is neither easy nor cheap, but what Roni Lodge-Andrews wants, Roni Lodge-Andrews gets!) So many excellent masters are cut, The Archies decide to make it a double LP.  Their releases will be sold only on vinyl; Archie and Veronica despise the sound of compact discs!

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PROMO FOR THE ARCHIES SINGLE 
"WHEN I STOP LEAVIN', 
I'LL BE GONE"

Despite not being available on CD, the Archie Country two-record set is an unqualified smash! Not so much the first singles released from it, though. The first one, “Pretty Anna Belle”, stalls due to split airplay (the flipside, ”Big City Miss Ruth Ann”, is just as strong as the topside). The second, “Rosalee”, fails altogether; but the third one is the charm! The Archies’ roof-raising remake of “Lonely Weekends” goes Top Ten, and so does an extended play single of the same title. Reggie sings lead on the old Charlie Rich song, something he is eager to have everybody know! A fourth single features Jughead: “When I Stop Leavin’, I’ll Be Gone” makes the Top Twenty.  The Archies are definitely back in business!  Now that their fans have heard the new music, they're clamoring to see it performed live. To avoid disrupting their home lives, the band makes personal appearances on weekends instead of mounting a full-scale tour.

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THE ARCHIES GET STONED!

2003
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones telephones Archie to rave about the Archie Country album. Mick can barely hear the call, because Veronica is screaming excitedly in the background! "Could that be the world's most famous Southern belle?", he asks.  It turns out that he wants to meet the famous Ms. Lodge-Andrews as much as she wants to meet him, so he jets into Riverdale over the weekend.  At their plush condo, Archie offers Mick a cocktail.  "No, thank you," he smirks.  "My c*ck has already had some tail today!"  "You are bad, Mr. Jagger", Roni laughs, wagging her finger.  Archie works up the courage to ask Mick if The Archies can cut an album of Rolling Stones covers. He replies: “Only if you make it a double album like your Country record was.” Veronica starts screaming again, and throws her arms around the superstar. “Now, don’t do that, luv,” Mick teases. “You’ll make me think you want something else!”

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PROMO FOR THE ARCHIES' 
HIT VERSION OF "HAPPY"

The album is mostly recorded at Archie Sound Studios (ASS), Archie and Veronica’s new recording facility in Mamaroneck, New York. The Archies film their first music videos at this time; the one for their cover of “Emotional Rescue” is the most popular on VH1. Once again, Reggie is delighted: He sings lead on that track, and is prominently featured in the video.

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PROMO FOR THE ARCHIES' 
REMAKE OF "THE LAST TIME" 
AND THEIR LIKE A ROLLING STONE LP

Like A Rolling Stone: The Archies Get Stoned! creates a media sensation and duplicates the Platinum success of Archie Country. Out of four singles released, two featuring female leads become hits: “Tumbling Dice”, sung as a duet by Veronica and Betty, and “Happy”, sung by Betty alone. Predictably, critics savage the album (“How dare The Archies desecrate the Stones’ back catalog?”), but to no avail.  Archies-mania has taken hold of the public! Besides, Mick Jagger loves the new way Archie has arranged his songs; he's heaping praise on him in the music press. Demand for a concert tour is so great this time, the group can’t ignore it! They spend the summer and early fall touring North America to great acclaim.

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PROMO FOR THE ARCHIES'
 HIT SINGLE "HIP SHAKER"

2004
Veronica refuses to record anything but demos at Archie Sound Studios; she is unhappy with the acoustics and demands renovations. Chief engineer Alan Mayberry begins the upgrade; it will take several years. Looking for another studio, Archie hears about the Chapel Of Rock, a new recording facility owned and operated by Jeff Barry; Jeff was the Archies’ original producer. Archie, Veronica and Ralfi Chingas fly down to Santa Barbara to try it out. After cutting a demo of Jeff’s song “Hanky Panky” and hearing the playback, Arch declares, “This is the best f*cking studio I’ve ever tracked in.  Bitchin’ sound, Jeff!” The Archies have found their new home for recording.

HIPSHAKER0001

REGGIE STARS IN THE 
MUSIC VIDEO FOR 
"HIP SHAKER"

Ralfi asks Jeff what kind of album he thinks the band should record next. Jeff replies: “It’s a shame The Archies never cut any of the songs I wrote with Ellie Greenwich!” Ms. Greenwich was his most famous writing partner, with whom he penned a string of Rock ‘n’ Roll classics. Hearing Arch belt out “Hanky Panky” has convinced Jeff that an album of Barry/Greenwich tunes would work. The full group flies in a few weeks later and cuts the new LP in a month’s time.  Jeff Barry puts them up at his sprawling hillside hacienda, and while The Archies are staying there, rumors of wild pool parties proliferate! “I heard moans, whispers and cries”, swears Mrs. Eileen Maneker, a neighbor of Jeff’s. “Some woman was yelling: Right there, baby! Right there!", adds her husband, Jerry Maneker.  "And then I heard a man's voice asking somebody: Who does this p*ssy belong to? Gasp!  It was so unseemly.“ Upon hearing this sensational claim, Reggie responds: “That couldn’t have been me. I never have to ask whose p*ssy it is!”

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RONI STARS IN 
THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR 
"HE AIN'T NO ANGEL"

Jeff And Ellie Songbook is The Archies’ third consecutive double-album smash!  It yields their first hit single with Veronica’s solo voice up front: “Hip Shaker.” The tune was previously cut in 1963 by La La Brooks of The Crystals, but it was never released. The follow-up, “Hold On, Baby”, features two different Barry/Greenwich songs with that title on both sides; Archie sings lead on one, a smooth R & B number, while Betty holds forth on the other, a sizzling Rock 'n' Roll rhumba. Both sides are equally strong.  Airplay is split, and the single stalls at mid-chart. “We should’ve known that would happen,” Arch will admit later.

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PROMO FOR 
THE ARCHIES SINGLE 
"TRAIN FROM KANSAS CITY"

However, nobody flips the next 45 over!  Radio programmers make “Nobody But You” the biggest hit from the album. A flamenco-flavored ballad sung by Reggie, its runaway success even takes him by surprise! The record shoots to #1 in several European and South American countries. A third hit, the bluesy “He Ain’t No Angel”, gives Betty another turn in the spotlight.  Hearing her sing Well, I don't want no lover/With a halo 'round his head,  Jughead jokes: "No, you settled for a lover with French fry grease under his fingernails!"  (When they married up, Juggy was still operating Pop Tate's diner.)  "Greasy hands turn me on, baby," Betts coos.  "What can I say?"  The fourth single, featuring Veronica on an obscure Shangri-Las number called “Train From Kansas City”, is just a “turntable hit” (few sales); however, Jeff Barry says it’s his favorite performance on the whole album. Roni overhears, sneaks up behind Jeff and playfully pinches him on the ass. “Not again!,” Jeff quips.

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ARCHIE INTRODUCES 
HIS VERSION OF "SOUL DEEP" 
IN NEW ORLEANS

In the fall, The Archies fly down to New Orleans to perform an outdoor concert in historic Congo Square. The event is well-attended, and Alan Mayberry records the live set for release as an extended-play double disc; later on, it will appear as a proper 12-inch vinyl LP. Hot, Sweet And Live! sells briskly, although it isn’t quite as successful as The Archies’ previous three releases. The final sound mix is done at Spanish Eddie’s, a local Gay bar with a recording studio upstairs. Veronica walks in, takes stock of the place and jokes: “Didn't this used to be a crack den?” But she likes the acoustics, and she loves the way sound engineer Eddie Roxchild remixes tracks. So does Ralfi Chingas.  Craning his neck to look up at the six-foot-two Haitian, he remarks: "Papi, you are one long, tall drink of water!"  With a twinkle in his eye, Eddie asks:  "You thirsty or something?"  Ralfi and Eddie become romantically involved and start working regularly together. (Their after-hours lovemaking sessions at the studio become the subject of endless Reggie Mantle wisecracks!) Spanish Eddie’s will be The Archies’ second most preferred location for recording.

MONTANA

JUGHEAD INTRODUCES 
HIS SON, THE AMAZING 
MONTANA JONES!

After Reggie, Archie and Veronica head back to Riverdale, Juggy, Betts and Ralfi lag behind in New Orleans to do some jamming with local musicians. Old friend Kevin Keller, who’s been singing background on Archie records since losing re-election to the Senate, joins them a few days later. They form an impromptu Latin Jazz quartet. Kevin reveals a talent for playing vibes, which spurs Juggy (on conga drum), Betts (on sax) and Ralfi (playing timbales) to new heights of improvisation! Jug and Betty’s adorable son, Montana Jones, has flown in with his Uncle Kev, and he sits in with them on his bongó drum set. (“Not bad for a six-year-old”, says Wynton Marsalis, who is present at one of the jam sessions.)

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PROMO FOR JUGGY'S 
PEERLESS RECORDS ALBUM 
KING OF LATIN SOUL

Ralfi Chingas will name the quartet Juggy’s Jazz Excursion, and the Peerless label will release their live jam on a CD titled King Of Latin Soul. A single is culled from the album; inspired by Eddie Roxchild, it’s an improvisation on the old Laura Branigan hit “Spanish Eddie.” Betty scat-sings the lead vocal à la Ella Fitzgerald while Kevin harmonizes.

2005
Solo projects abound: Archie contracts with an independent film company to star in a low-budget action flick, Black Belt Smackdown! His co-star will be sexy Middle Eastern actress Benazir Bhooty, with whom he’ll shoot some steamy nude love scenes. “I can’t wait to work with you, Archie”, pants the flame-haired cougar, causing Archie’s temperature to rise a few degrees! But what really excites Arch is the chance to write and arrange the film's music score; since The Archies’ Like A Rolling Stone album, he’s been sharpening his skills as an arranger.

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HERALD FOR ARCHIE'S 
BIG SCREEN DÉBUT, 
BLACK BELT SMACKDOWN!

Meanwhile, Jughead is also preparing to go before the camera. High school friend Raj Patel grew up to be a successful TV and music video director; he approaches Juggy with an idea for a pay-per-view special celebrating the music of Marvin Gaye. He needs a soulful singing voice to make the concept work, and Juggy’s is the one he settles on.  "You may be a half-Japanese Jew," Raj says, "but when you open up your mouth to sing, you sound just like Barry White!" Jug agrees to sing the Motown legend's classic hits, but only if he can do it with Kevin Keller. (The previous year, Juggy and Kev teamed up to cut a remake of “Chapel Of Love”; released as a limited-edition single, all proceeds went to Equality Now!, a bi-partisan marriage equality PAC.) Raj agrees, and Kevin signs on for the TV special, as do Josie + The Pussy Cats and the Toni Topaz dancers.

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PROMO FOR THE RAJ PATEL 
TV SPECIAL "MARVELOUS!" 
STARRING JUGHEAD AND KEVIN KELLER

“Marvelous! A Blue-Eyed Soul Tribute to Marvin Gaye” comes across like a combination of “Soul Train” and a splashy 1960s variety show. It’s a rousing success with both ratings and critics. Peerless Records releases the soundtrack (much to Archie’s chagrin!), and it rises high on the Pop charts. Arch urges Blue-Eyed Soul to sign exclusively to his label, but Kevin isn’t interested; his side projects with Juggy were just one-off affairs, and he doubts they will ever sing together again.

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PROMO FOR VERONICA'S 
SOLO ALBUM DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT

He’s wrong! A couple of months later, Veronica flies to London on Lodge Industries business. She is mobbed by British Archies fans, who beg her to sing and dance “The Veronica Mash” for them; it’s a Latin step that she introduced in the music video for “He Ain’t No Angel.” Since then, it has taken British dance clubs by storm!  Even Prince Harry was seen doing it.  Roni politely declines to Mash, but offers to sign autographs instead.  She doesn’t finish for nearly two hours, but naturally, she loves being the subject of adoration!

Someone remarks on how much her singing voice sounds like 1970s superstar Olivia Newton-John's. “I’ve always liked her songs,” Roni purrs, “but actually, I sing them much better than she does.”  "I'd love to hear you do that," gushes Andru Charlz, president of her British fan club.  "Maybe you will, sugar," she muses.  She extends her stay in London, and over the next month, self-produces an album of ONJ hits called Deeper Than The Night. Roni flies in Jughead and Kevin Keller to sing background vocals for her, and Blue-Eyed Soul is reborn (Arch is rather p*ssed when he finds out about it)!  The recording sessions, held at Abbey Road Studios, become infamous: Veronica asks British session musicians to play their instruments in the nude (“so you can release your musical inhibitions, sugar”) as well as other bizarre directives!

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THE ARCHIES SALUTE 
THE MUSIC OF JEFF BARRY

Then, tragedy strikes! Just as Archie Records ships her LP, Roni’s father Hiram Lodge dies suddenly. Overcome by grief, she is in no mood to do promotion. No singles are released from Deeper Than The Night (critics will declare it the worst album of the year!), and it fails to sell. Sessions for a planned Archies album are postponed; instead, the group (with Kevin Keller and minus Veronica) flies to Louisiana and plays benefit concerts for Hurricane Katrina victims.

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