29 September 2014

Mama Can't Buy You Love: Part Two

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Sabrina + The New Archies
Mama Can't Buy You Love
Cartoons + Castanets presents yet another 
bawdy cartoon burlesque featuring 
fan art images based on 
Archie Comics Characters
starring
Sabrina the Sorceress
Salem the Cat     Nero the Dog
Sir Ambrose Nixon
The Abominable Miss Fang
Lyle Jason Blossom
presenting
The New Archies:
Garcy Briseño . . . vocals, guitar
Donna Dante . . . vocals, bass
Frankie Fujiyama . . . drums
Mal Hypster . . . vocals, tambourine
Toby Maxx . . . saxophone
Rikki Ninja . . . vocals, keyboards
members of the original Archies
and introducing
Carmen Serna
The Wicked Witch Of New Jersey
with cameo appearances by celebrities including
Trace Adkins, Justin Bieber, Anderson Cooper, Ron Dante, 
Bruce Frey (Professor Bubblegum), Drake Jensen,
Angelo Restivo and "Flo"
in adorable cartoon form
Burlesque written, directed and staged by
Donny Hampton Jacobs
for The Pop Culture Cantina

Part Two:
Bubblegum on Broadway
The Year 2040
Most artists tour during the summer, but The New Archies become known for their winter tours. The first of four that they’ll mount happens in the winter of 2040; they hit the road right after New Year’s. Traveling conditions can be very hazardous that time of year; who can forget the ill-fated Buddy Holly concert tour? Fortunately, the group has a sorceress producer with the ability to hold back inclement weather until after they leave a town! Their 25-city itinerary encompasses various stops in North America and a handful south of the border.

In addition to hits from the Tighter! and Message To Martha albums, one of the main tour highlights is a slammin' revival of “China Grove”, the 1973 Doobie Brothers hit. Rikki Ninja writes a new arrangement heavy on Latin brass and percussion, and sings lead in both English and Spanish (right from the start, he’s had a solo spot in every concert). His swiveling hips and smooth keyboard hand tricks never fail to generate excitement. Ditto for Toby Maxx’s wild man antics as he blows his talking sax! 

 When Dante Carmine flies in to tighten up the stage choreography, the number becomes pure dynamite! Everyone agrees that “China Grove’” should be a single, and the plan is to present the salsa arrangement to Sabrina as soon as they get back to Boston.  Ninja feels confident that he’ll finally get to hear his own lead voice on a New Archies single. That is, until Carmen Serna gets involved!

Womanizer Frankie Fujiyama is still creeping on Donna Dante with her! The band is rehearsing for their appearance in Seattle when Fuji sneaks a phone call to his “Carmelita”. While he’s whispering sweet nothings in her ear, she overhears the strains of “China Grove’’. Intensely interested in the song, she ends their conversation quickly and rushes to her magic crystal. Using sorcery to tune in The New Archies’ rehearsal, Carmen memorizes every note of Rikki Ninja’s arrangement. She also sends the crystal back in time so she can study how The New Archies performed it on stage! 

 Once she’s got the choreography down, La Serna grabs her videophone and spends the next half hour speed dialing. She books her favorite session players for a weekend record date at her combination home studio/dominatrix dungeon! Carmen acts as her own producer:  "You b*tches will play this music just like I tell you to play it," she instructs her musicians, "or else!"  With an evil smile, she gestures toward various torture devices.  

Nodding to Mephisto, her lash-wielding sound engineer, she commences the session.  Carmen has brought along her demonic Rottweiler, The Abominable Miss Fang (conjured up from Hell when she couldn't find a mortal dog to her liking)!  The hulking man-eater sits in the conductor’s chair and intimidates the assembled musicians. Sour notes are greeted with a bone-chilling snarl, or worse!!!

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By the time Chi, Dee Dee, Fuji, Garcy, Ninja and Toto complete their concert tour, “China Grove” by Carmen Serna has been pressed and released! Soon, La Serna is all over satellite TV, duplicating every nuance of Rikki Ninja’s stage performance. "That b*tch is totally pimping my sh*t!" he roars!  But even he has to admit that Carmen, dancing to his arrangement in a pair of silver lamé Daisy Dukes, dials the presentation up a few notches.  Babe is hotter than a pistol!  In dismay, Ninja and his bandmates watch her record rise up the charts: Top Forty . . . Top Twenty . . . Top Ten . . . the top spot! A Number One single is the stellar launch to her solo career that the Jersey City sorceress has been waiting for.

Angry and confused, nobody in the band can quite figure out how she stole their hit concept . . . except of course, Frankie Fujiyama, who feels awful but says nothing of his unwitting role in the theft. Adding insult to injury, he accepts Carmen’s invitation to take part in the sleeve photo shoot for her début Latin Pop album, Tú Me Completas. (In addition to “China Grove”, the set includes a cover of “Jungle Boogie’, The New Archies’ other big specialty number.) Dee Dee is fit to be tied when she sees them snuggling on the album cover; she doesn’t speak to Fuji for a whole month! 

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As a kind of consolation prize, Bree Spellman rushes the group into Witch Queen Studios and cuts a powerhouse version of “Eli’s Comin’ (Hide Your Heart, Girl)”.  It's a Rock standard by one of her favorite songwriters, Laura Nyro; Mal Hypster's lead vocal channels Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant.  When The New Archies hear the playback, they all agree it will be a major chart contender.  "I'd like to see Carmen's face when it hits Number One," Dee Dee laughs.  As a DVD single, "Eli" breaks for a stoned smash, but it falls just short of cracking the Top Ten singles list. Carmen Serna can’t stop gloating: “Sweet revenge!”

Red-Bird 2116
Eli’s Comin’/Never Been To Spain
(Laura Nyro)/(Hoyt Axton)
The New Archies featuring Mal Hypster/
The New Archies featuring Donna Dante
Produced by Bree Spellman
#11 Pop

While the Great Serna Song Swipe is unfolding, Sabrina is deeply involved with the mounting of a Broadway musical. Produced by a consortium that includes Republic Records, parent company of The New Archies’ record label, it’s the latest high-profile project from Anderson Cooper's wife Betty. (She and the Pansexual newscaster had a Tahitian wedding back in 2018.) 

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Her membership in the original Archies has already provided material for a bestselling biography; now she radically re-imagines her group as a multi-racial Rockabilly band! She places them in the Deep South of the early 1950s, where they struggle to succeed against tremendous odds. In her musical drama, Archie and Betty are Black, Veronica is Mexican, Reggie is Cuban and Jughead is Asian-American (Juggy actually is Japanese, and half-Jewish, too)! Terry “Pop” Tate, in whose diner The Archies hung out as teens, is recast as a progressive Country music radio host. Set to the early, Rockabilly-tinged songs of The Archies, Don’t Touch My Guitar turns on themes of skin color prejudice, Southern music culture and closeted Gay sexuality (Juggy and Pop have a secret love affair).

Betty hopes to sell her concept to satellite TV. Her old bandmate Sabrina is one of the first to hear it, and Bree immediately contacts her cousin, Sir Ambrose Nixon.  Sir Ambrose is also a witch, but he uses natural talent as a stage director to helm smash hit musicals.  Dude has several to his credit, including the Tony-winning Honey Boo Boo Follies, Whistle While You Twerk, and Selfie Madness. When he expresses the desire to mount Betty’s musical drama on Broadway, the backers start lining up! 

 At her cousin’s request, Bree is added to the casting committee. Right away she declares that The New Archies can play the lead roles, but her fellow committee members scoff at the notion. "We'll get some bonafide sh*tkickers from Nashville," a millionaire bankster bellows, blowing cigar smoke in Bree's face. A group of Country singers is hired, but Sir Ambrose soon sends them packing.  "I've seen better acting on reality TV," he complains.  "And I despise reality TV!"  Then some veteran stage actors are cast, but Betty Cooper can't stand the way they sing:  "Instead of cutting-edge '50s Country musicians, they sound like bad Uncle Tupelo imitators. Forget about it!" They, too, are fired. 

 Angrily, Sabrina tells the casting committee to stop wasting time: “Listen to me!  I’ve got the perfect group to play these parts!”  Sir Ambrose is doubtful, until he meets The New Archies and lays a lustful eye on Frankie Fujiyama, Mal Hypster and Toby Maxx. “God save the Queen!” he thinks. “A native Hawaiian beach boy; a hunky Black Jew; and a sexy Swede to boot! Three of my all-time favorite flavors of men! I’ll make actors out of them if I have to f*ck their brains out to do it!”

When presented with the opportunity, the band is dubious as well; yet they’re also intrigued and excited by the prospect of portraying their forbears on stage. Dee Dee loves the gritty story, Chi digs the song selections, and Garcy detects a show-stopping ballad in the score. At the group’s audition, she boldly tells the committee: “If you let me sing ‘A Summer Prayer For Peace’, I will bring down the house for you night after night!” 

The cigar-smoking bank president isn't convinced, but even he is blown away by Garcy's stunning lead voice, as well as her strong harmony singing with Dee and Chi (The Magic Circle). What's more, Dee Dee, Fuji and Toto all demonstrate strong acting ability. Intense lobbying by Sabrina, Sir Ambrose and Alexandra Cabot, one of the main investors, clinches the deal. 

 Once The New Archies are signed for the lead roles, rehearsals begin almost immediately. It’s a huge risk for the band, gambling on a Broadway show at the height of their success; but the publicity value will be enormous! Unless, of course, the show flops. Carmen Serna is convinced that it will! “Don’t do this bullsh*t play, Frankie,” she warns. “Donna Dante can’t act, and she can’t sing, either. She’ll f*cking stink up the place and ruin it for everybody!” Offended by her catty comments, Fuji ignores her and commits himself 100% to the production.

None of the members have any dramatic training to speak of, but Sir Ambrose doesn’t bother grilling them on acting technique. “The New Archies have a natural quality that theater audiences will love,” he believes.  Instead, the famous director gives them a crash course in stage presence and effective delivery of lines, and works to perfect the regional accents their characters use. 

Another concern: Neither Frankie Fujiyama nor Toby Maxx are singers! It doesn’t matter in Toto’s case, because his role as Pop Tate doesn’t require singing; but Fuji must perform “One Big Family” as a solo and harmonize with Chi and Ninja on “Waldo P. Emerson-Jones”. Sabrina drafts in Nero the Dog to be his vocal coach. Fuji’s vocals are painfully thin; but it’s amazing how quickly he learns to project his voice when Nero’s sharp teeth close around his ankle!

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The entertainment press is buzzing like a beehive wired for sound! They can’t stop talking and speculating about what will happen when the musical opens on Broadway. That occurs on 24 June 2040, after a month of successful previews in Boston.  The venue for Don't Touch My Guitar! is the Republic Theater, owned by the record label of the same name (by the late 2030s, music conglomerates will own most Broadway theaters).  New York’s most powerful theater critics are in the audience on opening night, highly skeptical and ready to pounce on every flaw they see! 

 They savage Mal Hypster’s modest acting skills, but most of them love Betty Cooper’s book, rave about Sir Ambrose Nixon’s staging, and hail Frankie Fujiyama and Donna Dante as major thespian discoveries. As for Garcy Briseño, she keeps her promise to bring capacity crowds to their feet on a nightly basis. Reviewers call Garcy the new Streisand, an honor to which she coyly responds: “I knew they’d say that!” Many wish she had more solos in the show, but Sir Ambrose is wise to use her sparingly. Delia García Briseño never gives less than her all in performance, and her superb but fragile singing voice would suffer if she had to carry the production!

Instead, that responsibility falls largely to Mal Hypster and Rikki Ninja, who ably and robustly blend Country music with R & B and Latin influences to approximate the sound of early Rock ‘n’ Roll. Country music is neither Dee Dee’s favorite genre nor her vocal strong point, but she holds her own belting out the bluesy “Truck Driver” and harmonizing separately with Chi and Garcy. She shines in the role of Black Betty; Carmen Serna couldn’t have been more wrong about her abilities! There’s nary a trace of Toto’s thick Swedish accent when he takes the stage to convincingly play a New Orleans radio broadcaster, and Fuji’s brilliant portrayal of a closeted Gay musician will be recognized with a Tony Award nomination. 

Broadway has a new hot ticket on its hands!  Sir Ambrose has scored yet another triumph, and Betty Cooper couldn’t be more thrilled; her very first show, a smash on the Great White Way, with a novice cast and a musical book written at the tender age of 74! Her overnight success turns the theater community on its head!

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There’s almost as much drama behind the scenes as on the stage: Horny Sir Ambrose has long had a reputation for bedding his leading players, especially the men! From the first day of rehearsals, he is subtly flirtatious with Fuji, Chi and Toto ("Me so horny!  Me love you looong time")! Dude can't even get to first base with Frankie Fujiyama, but it doesn’t take long for Hypster the Horndog to bite down on his bait: "With my false teeth out, Chi, I can deep throat you right down to your nut sack!"  Actor and director nearly get caught trading blowjobs in the backstage area one night! 

 Surprisingly, Toby Maxx gets maneuvered onto Sir Ambrose’s casting couch, too; fascinated by the sight of the older man's youthful physique as he showers in his dressing room ("an 80-year-old with a bubble butt!  Unbelievable!"), Toto loses control when the elderly hunk casually drops his soap.  Delighted by the larger-than-average endowment Toby Maxx brings to their tryst, Sabrina's British cousin resorts to American slang:  "Sookie, sookie, now!  Work that back, honey!"   A decade later, stagehands will still be cracking jokes about the loud moans heard coming from the manager’s office during the run of Don’t Touch My Guitar! 

Toto and Chi are tapping the same ass and neither one is the wiser; but man!  Does sh*t hit the fan when they find out. Delighted paparazzi catch them in a screaming lover’s spat right out in front of the Republic Theater! For three of the six months that they perform in the show, Messieurs Hipp and Maxwell don’t speak to each other off stage. Their interaction with Sir Ambrose becomes strained, too. "This all is your fault", Sabrina fumes. "Make it right!"

Shamefaced for once, her sex-crazed cousin apologizes.  The three men patch things up in the strangest way: With ménage à trois sex!  After a matinée in October, an amused Donna Dante overhears Sir Ambrose asking Chi:  "Will you be our sandwich meat this evening, or shall I do the honors again?"  Toto chimes in:  "How about me for a change?  You can pretend I'm your spicy Swedish Meatball!"  Their after-the-show orgies become an almost nightly tradition, and this “friend with benefits” relationship will continue for years. Dating up Mal Hypster has certainly loosened Toby Maxx's tight-laced inhibitions!

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Federal QUAD-2-L22Y5
Overture/Boys And Girls (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie
Rock ‘N’ Roll Music (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie and Reggie
Waldo P. Emerson-Jones (Barry, Kim)
sung by Archie, Reggie and Juggy
One Big Family (Neil Brian Goldberg) sung by Juggy
Medley: 
Time For Love (Adams, Barkan) sung by Archie/
Bicycles, Roller Skates And You (Adams, Barkan)
sung by Veronica
Don’t Touch My Guitar (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie and Reggie
La Dee Doo Down Down (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie
Over And Over (Barry, Dante) sung by Veronica and Betty
Circle Of Blue (Adams, Barkan) sung by Betty
Medley:
Bang-Shang-A-Lang (Jeff Barry)/
Hide And Seek (Adams, Barkan)
sung by Archie
Truck Driver (Jeff Barry) sung by Betty
Medley: Sugar And Spice (Allan, Dante)/
Sugar, Sugar (Barry, Kim) 
sung by Veronica and Betty
Medley:
Who’s Gonna Love Me? (Allan, Barry, Dante)/
Who’s Your Baby? (Barry, Kim)
sung by Archie and Veronica
Love Light (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie and Reggie
Señorita Rita (Jeff Barry) sung by Reggie
Feelin’ So Good (Barry, Kim) sung by Archie and Betty
Hot Dog! (Adams, Barkan) sung by Archie
Seventeen Ain’t Young (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie
Strangers In The Morning (Dante, Greenfield)
sung by Archie and Veronica
A Summer Prayer For Peace (Jeff Barry)
sung by Veronica and Jughead
Together We Two (Barry, Kim) sung by Archie and Betty
Little Green Jacket (Adams, Barkan) sung by Reggie
You Little Angel, You (Jeff Barry) sung by Archie
Finale: 
Get On The Line (Jeff Barry)/
Don’t Touch My Guitar (Jeff Barry)
Sung by Archie and Company
Original Broadway Cast Recording
Don’t Touch My Guitar!
Frank Fujiyama     Delia García Briseño
Malachi Hipp     Enrique Fonseca     Tobias Maxwell
Donna Dante

Special appearance by the Mexican dance troupe
Dulce de Fuego
Words and Music by
Jeff Barry 
with Gene Allan, Ritchie Adams, Mark Barkan,
Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Neil Brian Goldberg
and Howard Greenfield
Music by Arrangement with
Sony/ATV Music Publishing (BMI)
Book by Betty Cooper
Directed by Sir Ambrose Nixon 
Dance Sequences Directed by 
Dante Carmine
Music Supervision: Salem Saberhagen
Arranged by The New Archies
Conducted by Nero
Cast Album Produced by Alexandra Cabot
Executive Producer: Lyle Jason Blossom
Chief Engineer: Yvonne Remy
Recorded live @ The Republic Theatre, New York City
Remixed @ Witch Queen Studios, Boston
2040
#15 Top Cast Albums

Many Broadway cast albums are recorded after hours at the Republic Theatre due to its superior acoustics. The New Archies cut their cast album live during the August 5th performance of Don’t Touch My Guitar! Salem Saberhagen, Nero the Dog and sound engineer Yvonne Remy fly in from Witch Queen Studios to produce the recording under Alexandra Cabot’s auspices.  (A couple of hulking zombie sound technicians fly in with them, causing considerable alarm among Republic's regular sound and lighting crew!)

 The cast appears on all the major morning TV talk shows and performs songs from the show; this prompts a resurgence of interest in The Archies’ original recordings. Several top Pop acts of the 2040s then market cover versions of Archies hits; the most successful is Ghetto Dragon Lady’s salsa/Punk version of “Señorita Rita”, sung on stage by Rikki Ninja. The actual cast album goes on to win a Gold Record as well as a Tony Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, compensating somewhat for the Best Supporting Actor Tony that Frankie Fujiyama will narrowly lose.

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In September, the actor/musicians take a break in order to cut their fourth album. “I like Country music a lot,” Toby Maxx pouts, “but it’s a relief to get back to more urban sounds. I can't play my saxophone in the show!” Once again, Sabrina has a ready-made album concept waiting for them. Collectively, the band is starting to feel mighty irritated at being told what songs to record!  "But what else can we do?" Garcy sighs.  "We've all been so busy with the musical, we haven’t had time to come up with anything on our own." 

The New Archies get busy rehearsing songs from Three Dog Night's catalog; since two TDN hits comprised their last Top Forty single, it’s a logical move. Bree has wanted to cut a Three Dog Night tribute right from the start: She modeled their three lead vocalist lineup on the legendary 1970s supergroup! 

In addition to the previously-released “Eli’s Comin’”, the finished album yields The Magic Circle holding forth on an anthemic remake of “Family Of Man”; Donna Dante's incendiary Punk rocker take on "Joy To The World"; and Garcy Briseño’s definitive reading of “Shambala”. This is the DVD single that establishes Dilton Doiley’s daughter as The New Archies’ main lead singer; the Top Ten platter blankets radio airwaves during the Christmas season and well into early 2041. Despite some initial reluctance, everybody is happy with the Family Of Man album except for Rikki Ninja. Once again, he’s p*ssed at having been passed over for lead vocal duties.  He swears it won’t happen again!

Red-Bird QUAD 7525
Liar! (Russ Ballard)*
One (Harry Nilsson)**
Shambala (Daniel Moore)*
Never Been To Spain (Hoyt Axton)***
Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here (John Hiatt)**
Eli’s Comin’ (Laura Nyro)**
Family Of Man (Conrad, Williams)****
The Show Must Go On (Courtney, Sayer)**
Black And White (Arkin, Robinson)*
Celebrate! (Bonner, Gordon)****
Joy To The World (Hoyt Axton)***
Out In The Country (Nichols, Williams)****
The Songs of Three Dog Night
Family Of Man
The New Archies
*Lead Vocals by Garcy Briseño
**Lead Vocals by Mal Hypster
***Lead Vocals by Donna Dante
****Trio Vocals by Donna Dante, Mal Hypster
and Garcy Briseño
A Witch Queen Production
Music Supervision: Salem Saberhagen
Arranged by The New Archies
Conducted by Nero
Produced by Bree Spellman
Recorded @ Witch Queen Studios, Boston
Sound Engineer: Yvonne Remy
2040
#18 Top Albums
The DVD version of this album has additional songs:
“Easy To Be Hard”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”
and “One Man Band”.

Red-Bird 2123
Shambala/Let Me Serenade You
(Daniel Moore)/(John Finley)
The New Archies featuring Garcy Briseño
Produced by Bree Spellman
#7 Pop

Red-Bird 2138
Family Of Man/Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
(Conrad, Williams)/(John Hiatt)
The New Archies/
The New Archies featuring Mal Hypster
Produced by Bree Spellman
#23 Pop

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No doubt about it: Don’t Touch My Guitar is a hit musical! However, it barely breaks even financially. By the 2040s, the cost of mounting Broadway productions has become so tremendously high, not a even a hit is guaranteed to turn a profit. Very few new shows become fixtures anymore on the Great White Way! 

 The New Archies committed to stay with the musical for six months, and when the end of that run draws near, producers start pulling their money out; "Smokey the Bankster" is the first.  When dude announces his bank's divestment at a committee meeting, he's puffing away at his cigar as usual (in 2039, a Libertarian Supreme Court will repeal all anti-smoking laws).  Feeling mischievous, Bree uses her magic powers to make him swallow his stinking stogie!  "It's amazing," Alexandra Cabot tells her later, "How quickly he gave up tobacco after that!" The show closes just before Christmas and is replaced by yet another revival of perennial moneymaker Hedwig and The Angry Inch. 

 The entire cast is in tears as the overflow crowd gives them a ten-minute standing ovation and piles the stage high with bouquets. Chi, Dee Dee, Garcy, Fuji, Ninja and Toto took the Broadway stage as novices and they leave it as stars!  In the early 22nd century, Don’t Touch My Guitar! will be revived, and that revival will be successful enough to stay put for several years.

At the cast party, Frankie Fujiyama makes a major announcement: He's quitting the group! Offers of roles have begun pouring in from numerous stage, film and TV directors; with Carmen Serna's encouragement, he’s decided to pursue an acting career. Sad to see Fuji leave but extremely happy for his good fortune, Donna Dante patches up her latest spat with him. They dance together all evening, and that night at her apartment, she finally gives him her virginity.  "This p*ssy is talking to me!" he gasps in the throes of passion.  "Then don't interrupt," she giggles.  Enveloped in his arms after hours of intense lovemaking, she tells herself: “It’s really love! Here’s the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.” But this afterglow is all she’ll get to enjoy; her whole world is about to come crashing down!

The next morning after Fuji leaves, she gets a phone call from the last person in the world she wants to speak to: Carmen Serna! “Did you enjoy servicing Frankie last night, you little slut?” Carmen taunts. “I told him he could bone you one last time if he wanted to; but you'll never marry him up! He eloped with me the day before yesterday!” Dee Dee drops the phone and rushes into her bathroom where she is sick for several long minutes. “It’s a lie!” she sobs, frantically dialing up Fuji. But Carmen didn't lie, and she realizes it when he fails to pick up. She tries all day long, but the bastard never, ever answers her call! 

 Over the Christmas holidays, Donna Dante tries to find solace in the arms of Rikki Ninja. They fly together to Puerto Rico for some much-needed time away from Boston. It’s unclear whether Dee Dee will stay in the band:  "Every time we go on stage from now on," she tells Ninja, "I'm going to be thinking about Fuji and all the fun we used to have."  "I know it's going to hurt for awhile," he says, "but you'll forget, muchachita.  I promise I'll make you forget him!  Let me show you how."  Yet his burning kisses leave her cold; she pushes Ninja away and starts crying.  Will The New Archies’ Broadway triumph be their swan song?

2041
Red-Bird 2155
SOS! Heart In Distress/Sweet Talkin’ Willie
(Cordell, Trimachi)/(Elliot Chiprut)
Donna Dante with The New Archies
Produced by Bree Spellman
#35 Pop

After the grueling pace they kept in 2040, the entire band needs a long break. The first half of 2041 is down time for everybody, but for some, it’s a working vacation: Garcy takes some film classes; Chi works as a celebrity bartender for his sister Cass in Nashville; and Toto tries his hand at record production, supervising a couple of New Wave Hip-Hop acts in the studio.  Dee Dee and Ninja struggle to keep romance alive while checking out the salsa music scene in Puerto Rico.

During this period, there’s a change in The New Archies’ management.  Although still represented by Lex Cabot’s talent agency, their original manager retires. He is replaced by none other than Lyle Jason Blossom, son of notorious billionaire record bootlegger Jason Blossom! Fortunately, Lyle is nothing like his late father; he’s warm, personable and 100% honest. Only three qualities does he share with his father: An avid interest in sexual pleasure with both women and men; a ginormous "Johnson", tailor-made for pursuing that pleasure to the hilt; and a deep love of music. Since graduating college, Alexander Cabot’s been grooming him for artist management; The New Archies are his first major client.  Sabrina takes to Lyle immediately, but is puzzled by the aura of deep sadness that seems to surround him at times.

Donna Dante still feels conflicted about returning to the group. For reasons she won’t explain, LJB's addition to their circle upsets her; it's the breaking point that convinces her to leave. When she and Rikki Ninja return from Puerto Rico in July, she informs the rest of her bandmates. Sabrina, who has come to love Dee Dee like a daughter, is particularly devastated; but she understands how deeply she loved Frankie Fujiyama and how hurtful his marriage to Carmen Serna was. Bree ends her friendship with both Carmen and Fuji. “Good riddance!” Nero the Dog tells her. “I never did like her evil ass!   Besides, Frankie’s gotta have rocks in his head.  Imagine throwing over a jingling babe like Dee Dee for that Jersey City skeezer!”

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As a parting gift, Sabrina produces the first Donna Dante solo single: “SOS! Heart In Distress”. Acting as her one-man band, Rikki Ninja arranges and plays the backing track; later, Mal Hypster and Garcy Briseño will dub in background vocals, and Toby Maxx will add a sax solo. Essentially, "SOS!" is a New Archies record, but Dee Dee certainly doesn't object. Her goodbye to Ninja is wordless; they just hold each other tightly for a long time. Despite their aborted romance (Dee Dee found that she isn’t attracted to Transsexual men), their friendship remains as solid as ever. She’ll never forget that Ninja was there when she desperately needed someone! He just wasn’t the one she needed.

Two weeks later, Dee Dee breaks down at Sabrina’s brownstone penthouse. “Why wasn’t I enough for him?” she sobs, her head buried in Bree's shoulder. “Often, men don’t recognize true love when they’ve got it,” the sorceress replies. “And what Frankie and Carmen have together, well, I don’t call that love at all.” “I know what to call it,” her cat interjects. “I call it nasty! She’s the girl who put the stank in skank! Why, I wouldn’t touch her with gloves on my paws!” Bree gives him a warning look. “Lay off the slut shaming, Salem! Nobody visits the free clinic more than you do! Besides, calling Carmen bad names won’t help matters.” 

She takes Dee Dee’s tear-stained face in her hands. “I love you so much!  Seeing you hurt just tears me apart.  I’d do anything to spare you all this pain; but mama can’t buy you love!” At Logan Airport the next day, the band sees Donna Dante off on her promotional tour. Concealed behind a partition, a muscular native Hawaiian man watches her plane depart. “Sayonara, baby,” Fuji whispers, a lone tear trickling down his cheek.

Red-Bird 2180
Along Comes Mary/Love Is All Around*
(Tandy Almer)/(Sonny Curtis)
*from the film Mary!
The New Archies featuring Rikki Ninja/
The New Archies featuring Mal Hypster
Produced by Nero
#21 Pop/#56 Pop

Sabrina wants to hold auditions for two new members, but the band prefers to go on as a quartet. “I’ll switch from tambourine to drums full-time”, Chi tells her, “and Ninja can pull any instrument he wants out of that magic keyboard of his! We won’t lack for a bass groove.” In the wake of Donna Dante’s departure, Bree finds a much less malleable group than before; they insist on choosing the theme for their fifth album! 

 “Our namesake, the original Archies, were a straight-up Bubblegum Rock band, and f*cking proud of it, too!” Ninja declares. “We want to reclaim that heritage. Our sound is getting too sophisticated for kids today.” “Not according to your sales figures,” Bree retorts. “That’s true,” Toto agrees, “but we can appeal to them even more strongly with a stripped-down Dance Rock record.” Sabrina turns to Garcy Briseño for her opinion. “I’m not finding fault with any of your decisions thus far,” Garcy replies, “but I would like to have more creative control. I can sing more than just ballads, you know! It’s high time we charted our own way.”

Bree reluctantly gives them the go ahead, but she thinks they’re making a huge mistake!  Accordingly, she refuses to produce their Bubblegum Rock project. The New Archies ask production assistant Nero to supervise the sessions. Puppy is excited but not sure if he’s capable of producing a hit vocal; so far, he’s only worked on backing tracks. “Tell you what, kids,” the wonder poodle tells them (Bree’s magic enables the band to understand dog lingo). “Let me produce a stand-alone single for you.  If it does well on the charts, then I’ll agree to produce your new album.” 

They decide to remake “Along Comes Mary”, a 1966 Association hit they all love. The original had a high tenor voice on lead, but Nero thinks a baritone would work better. Rikki Ninja joyfully bags his first lead vocal on a single, and is beside himself when the hand-clapping rocker nudges the Top Twenty! Dude dials up all his friends in Latin America to brag: “¿Quién es el Rey? ¡Soy el Rey! Ninja is the new King of Pop!” “Oh, no!” a dismayed Toto exclaims. “Now we’ve got two divas in this group!”  Mal Hypster gets mileage out of a “Mary” song, too: His lead vocal on an update of the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme also gets airplay, and is later featured in a big screen version of the sitcom. Nero the Dog's tail just can't stop wagging: He can hardly wait to produce an entire album on his own! “Let’s go cut that mother*cker!” he yelps.

Red-Bird QUAD 2-7535
Latin Shake (Levine, Resnick)*
Pinch Me, Baby (Kasenetz, Katz, Woods)**
Nothin’ Sweeter Than My Baby (Sonny Gordon)*
Sweet Talkin’ Willie (Elliot Chiprut)****
I Got It Bad For You (Levine, Martine)**
Sunshine Games (Eric Woolfson)**
Heartless Hurtie Gertie (Kasenetz, Katz)**
Ooo-La-La (Levine, Resnick)*
Sausalito (Graham Gouldman)***
Jack In The Box (Cordell, Trimachi)*****
Come On Down, Mary Ann (Joey Levine)*
Hook, Line And Sinker (Carl, Whitelaw)**

Don’t Have To Run And Hide (Mark + Ted Gutkowski)**
I See The Light (Elliot Chiprut)***
Soul Struttin’ (Orlando, Thau)*
Hot Diggity Dog (Carl, Whitelaw)**
Jacksonville Station (Levine, Martine)*
Can’t Stop Now! (Chiprut, Kasenetz, Katz)******
Maybe You Do (Fred Marcus)***
Sweet, Sweet Lovin’ You (Bloom, Cordell, Gentry)**
SOS! Heart In Distress (Cordell, Trimachi)****
Firebird (Levine, Resnick)*
Look Through Any Window (Chiprut, Kasenetz, Katz)***
Honey Pie (Kasenetz, Katz, Laufer)*
Shake! (Levine, Resnick)*
Bubblegum Blitz!
The New Archies
*Lead Vocals by Rikki Ninja
**Lead Vocals by Mal Hypster
***Lead Vocals by Garcy Briseño
****Donna Dante with The New Archies
*****Duet Vocals by Mal Hypster and Rikki Ninja
******Trio Vocals by Rikki Ninja, Mal Hypster,
and Garcy Briseño
A Witch Queen Production
Music Supervision:
Rikki Ninja + Toby Maxx
Arranged by The New Archies
Produced by Nero
****Arranged and Conducted by 
Rikki Ninja
Produced by Bree Spellman
Recorded @ Witch Queen Studios, Boston
Sound Engineer: Yvonne Remy
2041
#4 Top Albums

Red-Bird 2192
Sausalito/I Got It Bad For You
(Graham Gouldman)/(Levine, Martine)
The New Archies featuring Garcy Briseño/
The New Archies featuring Mal Hypster
Produced by Nero
#2 Pop/#70 Pop

Red-Bird 2207
Jacksonville Station/Hot Diggity Dog
(Levine, Martine)/(Carl, Whitelaw)
The New Archies featuring Rikki Ninja/
The New Archies featuring Mal Hypster
Produced by Nero
#14 Pop/#96 Pop

Radio in the fall of 2041 sounds like it’s in a time warp: Around the world, airwaves pulse with sounds from the late 1960s! Several vintage Pop records jump back onto the international charts. It’s a retro groove that’s infected the music of many top acts, and foremost among them are The New Archies! Released as both an optimum-fidelity download and a vinyl LP, their double-length Bubblegum Blitz! album is an unqualified smash! A Double-Platinum seller, it’s the biggest record the band will ever release. 

 Mining the catalog of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz’s Kaskat Music, practically a fountain of ‘60s Bubblegum classics, Chi, Garcy, Toto and Ninja touch off a Rock candy explosion! Avoiding obvious song choices like “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’” and “Simon Says”, they shine a light on lesser-known gems like “Sweet, Sweet Lovin’ You”, “Jack In The Box”, “Heartless Hurtie Gertie” and the hip-shaking rocker “I Got It Bad For You”.

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Key to the album’s success is the sledgehammer drum sound that Mal Hypster brings to the rhythm tracks. Frankie Fujiyama’s drumming had Latin Jazz influence; there were lots of nuances. Nothing fancy about Chi's approach to rhythm, though: Dude just likes to make the damn floor shake! His pounding tom toms really light a fire under “Soul Struttin’”, “Can’t Stop Now!”, “Sunshine Games” and the aforementioned “I Got It Bad” on which he delivers an insolent Donna Dante-influenced vocal (which she loves when she hears it). 

Dee Dee’s thumping bass lines are missed, but the staccato thunder Ninja’s keyboard produces is more than adequate for itchy, twitchy Bubblegum tracks like “I See The Light”, "Come On Down, Mary Ann" and “Shake!” No need to miss Dee Dee’s lead voice, though, because both sides of her first solo record appear in the track lineup. Even though “SOS!” is a Bree Spellman production, Nero insisted that it be included; having no plans to support the single with an album, Donna Dante consented.  Motown-inspired Disco ditties are fine, but they’re a far cry from the musical direction she plans to pursue as a solo artist!

Garcy Briseño’s showcase is “Sausalito”, a Top Five DVD single featuring the kind of spicy Spanish guitar she grew up playing in her father’s Tejano bands. Kids just can’t stop dancing to it, especially in the barrios! The record becomes a Lowrider standard almost instantly. Rikki Ninja gets deep down in a Bubblegum Soul groove singing lead on “Jacksonville Station”, the mega-funky second single.  “Jacksonville” ends up outperforming his vocal début “Along Comes Mary”, landing high in the Top Twenty. Ninja’s footwork in the music video is so lithe and smooth, comparisons to Michael Jackson are inevitable.

When the band tours behind Bubblegum Blitz! in the winter of ’42, dozens of fans want to jump up on stage and groove along with him!  "I never danced the Jerk so much in my entire life," the keyboard wizard will later recall.  "Not to mention the Watusi, the Frug, the Monkey Time and the Mashed Potatoes!"  "Don't forget the Funky Chicken", Toto adds, laughing.  This dancing frenzy leaves concert security guards tearing their hair out in frustration, but Ninja is elated. "The whole f*cking world wants to shake its booty to my music," he beams. "What more could a Transgender Rock star want?" 

Even before the album is released in November of ‘41, Sabrina realizes she was wrong about the Bubblegum Rock concept. “Your Pop instincts were right on the money,” she admits, “and I couldn’t have produced those sessions any better than Nero did!” Blushing beneath his shaggy coat, puppy gives The New Archies a lion’s share of credit: “How could I go wrong with the kind of ass-kickin’ arrangements they write? And as for singing, there’s nothing I can show these kids that they don’t already know how to do.”

2042
Red-Bird 2219
Amazing/Sharp-Dressed Man
(Ciccone, Mirwais)/(ZZ Top)
The New Archies featuring Garcy Briseño/
The New Archies featuring Rikki Ninja
Produced by Nero
#21 Pop/#48 Pop

During the Blitz tour, offers for Garcy Briseño to record solo reach a fever pitch!  Almost from the start, she’s been tempted to leave; after the release of “Shambala”, record label talent raiders literally began stalking her! For quite a while, she's had her pick of solid offers, but she always brushed them aside. Garcy may have an oversized ego, but she isn’t the kind to up and abandon her colleagues! When her bandmates learned of the solo offers, she assured them: “I couldn’t live with myself if I quit and The New Archies tanked as an act. And you would tank without me! Don’t worry: La Briseño will never let you down!” 

Naturally, they took exception to her assessment of their commercial appeal (especially Donna Dante when she was still a member), but none of them wanted to see her go. Yet now that “Sausalito” has made Garcy a hotter commodity than ever, Mal Hypster decides it’s time to lay some unsolicited career advice on his future sister-in-law: “These solo offers are just incredible.  Sister woman, you’ve got to go for yourself!”

“What’s the hurry?” she shrugs. “A voice like mine will always be in high demand.” “Don’t be so sure,” he warns. “Look at my dad, Timothy Garland. He’s got one of the finest voices around, and his singing gets better every year; yet the day came when nobody wanted to know anymore. This business doesn’t give a flying f*ck about real talent, and talented women have never gotten a fair deal!  Just ask Diva (Chi's younger sister, Country music star La Diva Garland).” As they get ready to take the stage for a concert in Hawaii, he insists: “You've got to strike while the iron is red-hot! Don’t hold off too long and give them an excuse to let you fall through the cracks.” 

 On the closing night of the Bubblegum Blitz tour, Garcy Briseño announces her impending departure: "The New Archies are the finest nest a songbird like me could ever want; but now, it's time to spread my wings and fly.  This is my last concert with Chi, Toto and Ninja!"  Predictably, fans are shocked, but many are delighted, too. “Kick ass and take names, Garcy!” a butch Lesbian calls out, prompting roars of approval from the crowd.

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What Garcy doesn't announce is that shortly after she made the decision to leave, the group decided to disband. Chi has a chance to do some fashion modeling, and Toto and Ninja have formed a production team; they've got several big projects lined up. Everybody thinks a farewell record is in order, so Nero takes them back into the studio to cut some Disco songs. 

The topside, a psychedelia-flavored cover of Madonna’s “Amazing” will be Garcy’s penultimate lead vocal on a New Archies DVD single; the flipside features Rikki Ninja’s ferocious take on the old ZZ Top favorite, “Sharp-Dressed Man”. Powered by La Briseño’s scorching guitar licks, both sides will chart. “You and me, together again,” Ninja whispers to his former lover, smiling sadly. “Forever, honey!” she replies, enveloping him in her arms. “We’re like that old Jackson Five song: Never can say goodbye.”

Nero and the band are in Witch Queen's skeleton head control booth doing a final mix when Bree suddenly appears, bringing sad news: “Reggie Mantle died in New México last night!” Everyone is stunned; one of The Archies’ founding members is gone! Sniffing back her tears, Bree tells them: “I knew Reggie since high school; he was so exciting and fun to be around! None of you knew him, but . . . “ Ninja interrupts her. “I did know Reggie. In fact, I knew him very well. Excuse me, I need to make an urgent phone call!” 

He runs down to the studio lounge and telephones choreographer Dante Carmine to offer his condolences. Then he asks Reggie’s only son for a special favor. Although Dante is surprised by what Ninja reveals, he readily agrees to grant his request. A week later, Sabrina and The New Archies fly down to México City for the funeral. Hundreds are expected to attend; before retiring in the year 2037 (the same year The New Archies formed), Reggie had been known as Gino el Huapanguero, one of the biggest Norteño stars in Latin America.

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Sure enough, fans turn out in droves, applauding as his horse-drawn casket rolls down the Paseo de la Reforma to Union Evangelical Church. When the funeral service begins, celebrities pack the first two rows: Ricky Martin; Ariana Grande; Anderson Cooper; the former members of Josie + The Pussy Cats; record mogul Dilton Doiley Briseño (Garcy’s dad); former United States President Nancy Woods; The New Archies (minus Frankie Fujiyama and Donna Dante), and the surviving Archies including Kevin Keller. Kevin and Dr. Clay Walker-Keller were Reggie’s husbands at the time of his death (a plural Gay marriage). 

Rising from his seat, Rikki Ninja hugs Kevin, Clay and Dante Carmine and steps up to the chapel podium. He delivers the first eulogy: “When I was sixteen and still known as Nancy Rochelle Fonseca, my parents disowned me for wanting to transition to male. Six months later, I was a homeless Transboy here in México City, alone and struggling. I got robbed, beaten and sexually assaulted.  Nobody cared; I felt like the whole world hated me!  I decided to commit suicide, but I wanted to see my idol in concert before I died. For years, I’d longed to see Gino el Huapangero perform live; this was my last chance.”

Ninja continues: “He was fantastic that night! I sneaked backstage to tell him so. His security guards were ready to rough me up, but Gino intervened and took me to his dressing room. We started talking, and he must have sensed something was wrong, because he wouldn’t let me leave. When I admitted that I was homeless, he insisted that I go home with him. Me, a dirty street kid he didn’t know from Adam! But he and his wife, the great ranchera songwriter Olga San Quentín, opened their hacienda to me. I stayed with them until I found a job and could afford a place of my own. That’s when I learned that Gino’s close friends and family called him Reggie, and I also found out about his time with The Archies.”

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Ninja’s hazel eyes grow misty as he recalls: “During the year that I lived in México, we became very close. Reggie mentored me musically; thanks to him, I finally learned how to read music! He was my teacher, my big brother, my confidant, my father figure and just once, after I turned eighteen, he was my lover, too."  There are audible gasps from the crowd!  "I offered him my virginity and hesitantly, he accepted; but I was the one who got a gift. I felt beautiful in his arms; I felt strong! For the very first time, I was no longer ashamed to be a man with a vagina. Soon afterward, I moved to the United States to begin my music career. Never again did we violate his marriage vows, but we did keep in touch. He was absolutely thrilled when I joined The New Archies. Compréndeme . . . I’m not sharing such personal information with you for shock value. There’s just no other way to convey just how much Reggie meant to me!”

“Everybody knows what a great performer he was,” Ninja concludes, “but I’m here to tell you:  He was an even greater human being! Now that I’m older, I find that being there for people in need is very important. It's all because Reggie was there when I desperately needed somebody. He saved my life, and he helped me become a man. There was nobody else like Reginald Whitney Mantle III, and there never will be again!” Strapping on his portable keyboard, Ninja then plays and sings “To Sir, With Love” in Spanish as a tribute to his late mentor. Nobody who heard his hushed, heartfelt performance will ever forget it!

With Garcy Briseño singing lead, the entire New Archies group plays Reggie’s benediction. Intending to sing “Ave María”, Garcy decides against doing so: "I'd upstage Ninja, and that would be so wrong!" Instead, she opts for the original Archies’ theme song, “Say Goodbye To Riverdale”. She whispers instructions to her bandmates, yells “Uno, dos, tres, ¡vaya!” and they launch into a roof-raising rendition of the Billy Joel number. It gets the entire chapel crowd on its feet and cheering! “Papi would have loved it,” Dante Carmine tells them afterward. “He wouldn’t have wanted this service to end on a sad note.” His face wet with tears, Kevin Keller declares: “I swear, I heard my Reggie singing along with you!”

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After the funeral, the members of the New Archies bid farewell to Sabrina, Salem, Nero the Dog and Witch Queen Studios, their longtime hub. Garcy Briseño will pursue a stellar solo career, while Mal Hypster will become a male model for the Toy Boy Agency.  Rikki Ninja and Toby Maxx will produce up-and-coming New Wave Hip-Hop acts. They’ve hardly gone their separate ways, though: With Chi now living with Toto and Garcy engaged to marry Chi’s sister Cass, more than musical bonds hold the group together!  

However, Sabrina feels abandoned. “I'm like a doting mother whose children have all grown up and left home,” she sighs, walking through Harvard Yard with her cousin Ambrose. Smiling, he squeezes her hand. “Just like a stage production, life has its intermissions, Bree. This is one of them; and I have a feeling the second act is going to be even more exciting than the first!”

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Welcome back Donna Dante, 
and meet guitarist Lana Suzuki