20 January 2016

A Tribute to the Great Linda Ronstadt: Oedipus Ram, Act Three



OEDIPUS RAM
A Toon Tragedy 
inspired by Sophocles' Oedipus Rex
Directed, Staged and Written by
DC Hampton Jacobs
Original characters and Archie Fan Art Images
Created and Drawn by
Stuffed Animal

THE PLAYERS:
Donna Dante, the wife
Jade Langtree, the co-star
Kharis Yongjaiyut, the mother
Lady Mau Mau, the Gansta Rap queen
Gynger Ming, the keyboard player
and the star
Ramsay Khalid Sharma

SYNOPSIS:
Ramsay Khalid Sharma, formerly a member of The New Archies, moves to Asia after the group breaks up. Under the shrewd guidance of his wife, actress/singer Donna Dante, he launches a career in India as a Pop singer. After an abortive start, Ram becomes a sensation across the Asian continent.  Dody's successful marketing strategy for him has both political and commercial aspects: Dude exclusively covers hits by Western Pop divas of the past, and he sings these remakes from a pronoun-intact female point of view! The Bollywood Balladeer sells feminine Pop songs on the one hand and masculine sex appeal on the other: Ram shamelessly bares his body for single and album covers and promotional materials.  Soon, he'll embark on an acting career, baring both body and soul on screen; naturally, Donna Dante is the driving force behind this latest career move.

ACT THREE:
CONFUSION

Ram begins the year 2066 with a major tour of China. His concerts spark pandemonium from Hong Kong to Beijing to Inner Mongolia!  Ballads are his claim to fame, but the Chinese have a strong preference for his up tempo tunes. Forbidden City Concert Hall will never rock harder than it does to funky renditions of “What’s It Gonna Be?”, “In The Middle Of Nowhere”, “He’s Got Something” and “Go Ahead On!”

Gyrating wildly to Ram's music, a few hundred university students stage flash mobs along the Great Wall.  Chinese authorities are not amused; there are multiple arrests! “Flash Mob Frivolity” is a sure bet to rile stern Communist news commentators; but an incident that gets more press attention involves a group of mischievous Shenyang high school girls. They invade the singer’s hotel suite and surprise him in the bathroom taking a crap. Naturally, the embarrassing vidphone pictures they upload go viral!

I CAN'T LET GO SCOPIE

Santi Music SMX-018
I Can’t Let Go! (Gorgoni, Taylor)
Picture Me Gone (Gorgoni, Taylor)
Angel Of The Morning (Gorgoni, Taylor)
Any Way That You Want Me (Chip Taylor)
I Can’t Let Go!
Ram 
Club Mix V
Produced by Ramsay Khalid Sharma
Remixed by Chaiwat
released in Asia and Europe

As a gift for his Chinese fans, Ram releases an uptempo club mix in the Spring of 2066. Chaiwat’s Latin boogaloo treatment of “I Can’t Let Go!” scores biggest in China but sells briskly across the Asian continent. A Retro Disco-flavored remake of “Any Way That You Want Me” also keeps turntables spinning. Pop/Soul cult diva Evie Sands originally sang all four club tracks, so rumors fly that the Rad Asian Manchild’s fourth album will be a tribute to her. This proves not to be the case.

Some Asian male music critics denounce Ram for covering the hits of female artists. "It's unseemly," fumes right-wing Hindi blogger Kapatee.  "Sharma is a disgrace to Asian manhood!"  Conservatives especially balk @ songs like “Every Ounce Of Strength”, “Angel Of The Morning” and “Any Way That You Want Me” which he clearly sings from a woman's viewpoint. The Bollywood Balladeer has little patience with them!

“Segregating songs by gender? I don’t believe in it,” he tells Times of India. “Many years ago, the great Joni Mitchell had a hit record called “(I Was A) Free Man In Paris”. She wrote and sang it from a male point of view, and nobody so much as blinked an eye!  Sometimes, Joan Jett, Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper sang in a man's persona, too, and so did my wife: "Wiggle On Out", one of The New Archies' biggest hits, featured her lead voice. Yet even today, when a man performs a song, people assume it's autobiographical.  Bullsh*t!”

"Many people say that you are homosexual," the Times interviewer notes.  "Some also say that you are a woman trapped in a man's body!  Is it true that you will soon undergo castration and become a hijra?"  Ram finds the question hilarious; responding with a hearty guffaw, he shrugs off the speculation. “If listeners want to fantasize that I’m a Gay man or a Transsexual woman, that’s their prerogative,” he says. “I couldn’t care less, as long as they enjoy my music!"


WHY

Movie stardom is now part of Donna Dante’s past, but babe has maintained important connections in the film industry. She’s influential in helping Ram land the role of a man drawn to sexual masochism!  In his first acting role ever, he takes top billing and is required to appear nude in numerous bondage scenes. Nguyen Hong Hanh’s Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing will be the most sensational movie to hit Asian cinema since 1974’s In The Realm Of The Senses! The synopsis is as follows:

With three of his thug friends, Basil Chaudhury robs a dry-goods store in London’s Limehouse district. His face mask slips as he exits the store, and his image is captured on a security camera.

The store's angry owner Rosalind Song views the footage. Not long after the robbery, she sees Basil on the street and recognizes him. She arranges to have him kidnapped. 

Donning a mask herself, as well as a dominatrix outfit, babe confronts him in the dungeon below her store. She tortures him sexually! After Rosalind extracts from Basil the names of his cohorts, she p*sses on him and has his reeking unconscious body dumped in a back alley on the other side of London.

Now it is Basil's turn to recognize Rosalind on the street; torture established a strange emotional bond for him, and he knows her without her mask. Dude trails Madame Song to her store; he walks in while she's on the phone, setting her Chinese mafia cronies on the trail of his friends. After a few tense moments, she realizes that Basil wants her to torture him again! "If you must hurt someone, please hurt me," he begs. “I want you to!”

LOVE IS A HURTIN' THING POSTER

Thus begins their BSDM relationship. Over time, it involves bondage, flogging, body piercing, anal penetration, branding and various types of "water sports". At one of their subsequent trysts in her dungeon, she pierces his penis, inserts a ring and attaches a dog leash . . .

Basil shows off his new Prince Albert piercing to his friends, but unwisely tells too much about how he got it.  Dude goes into breathless detail about his new life as a sex slave! Outraged, the thugs beat him senseless and leave him bleeding on a backstreet. Adding insult to injury, one of them yanks his trousers down and viciously shoves a soda bottle up his ass!

Dude tearfully stumbles back to Rosalind, who is surprisingly tender as she treats his wounds. Basil falls deeply in love with her, but she only pretends to reciprocate: Babe is an ice-cold b*tch, incapable of love! She only desires to dominate him completely. 

Her tenderness soon evaporates, and shortly after his beating, she ravages his rectum with a large flashlight! She threatens to do serious internal damage unless he promises to be her slave forever.  Whimpering in agony, he does so . . .

After Madame Song has Basil's friends killed (the trio is machine-gunned Bonnie-and-Clyde style in their car), her BDSM sessions with him grow progressively more dangerous. The final one ends in tragedy: While attempting to administer electric shocks to Basil's testicles, Rosalind accidentally electrocutes herself!

Devastated, dude considers suicide but decides instead to cut off the dead woman's hands and take them home with him. "These hands gave me so much pleasure," he sobs, "I never want to be parted from them!"


Ram is nervous about taking on the role of Basil; he sees parallels with the real BDSM relationship he shared with Madame Lan-Ying! “Do I dare put my secret sexual past on screen for the whole world to see?” he wonders as his wife hogties him in bed. Tightening the ropes binding his ankles, Dody assures him: “That’s how true art is made, Nipples. I always tell my acting students: Find a way to put your true self into your roles. Then the performance will come from your heart and soul!”

NEW VOX REISSUES

Abbey Road STRK 4
Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (Linden, Raleigh) - Ram
Rosalind (Denny Chase) - Jazzybelle*
Enema Mine (Grosz, Kelgren) - Tygerpenis
Hurt So Bad (Hart, Randazzo, Wilding) - Ram
Blood On The Floor (Mingo, Sheridan, Von Teel, Nyong) - Blacktop**
Burnt Offering (Lina Webb) - Anchor Babies***
Original Motion-Picture Soundtrack
Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing
Various Artists
Music Supervision:
Nguyen Hong Hanh
Produced by
Ramsay Khalid Sharma
*Produced by Taco Pastor
**Produced by Blacktop with Velma Teasdale
***Produced by Lex Nexxus
Sound Engineer:
Velma Teasdale
Recorded @ Abbey Road Studios, London
worldwide release
2066

Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing
isn’t a musical, but it’s set during London’s early Punk Rock era. Several edgy music performances are featured: One of them is the theme song, Ram’s searing version of Lou Rawls’s Soul classic from a century ago. While it’s never issued in a club mix, “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” gets a significant amount of club play.


The singing actor also revives Little Anthony + The Imperials’ “Hurt So Bad,” destined to become a staple of his live show. Ram produces his own tracks @ legendary Abbey Road Studio, as well as a selection by Tygerpenis, his one-time boy band. That will be the limit of his involvement with this later version of the group: Their musicianship fails to impress him, and he deeply dislikes their original tune.  "What a stank theme for a bathroom torture scene," he grumbles privately.  "Even with my new arrangement, that song 'Enema Mine' is nothing but a piece of sh*t!"

ENEMA MINE RECORDING SESSION

The film shoot is both physically and emotionally trying for Ram. His leading lady is more unpleasant in real life than Rosalind Song, the character she portrays!  Jade Langtree seems to enjoy victimizing the Rad Asian Manchild: She leaves him with numerous cuts, sprains and contusions. Their interaction is genuinely brutal, but it helps director Nguyen achieve a compelling cinéma verité atmosphere.

Coached off-set by his wife, Ram all but buries himself in the Basil Chaudhury persona. No matter how much scenery-chewing Jade indulges in, she can’t upstage him; dude justifies his star billing and then some. Excellent word-of-mouth gets the attention of Republic Pictures, which picks up “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” for North American distribution. When the film does good business @ art house cinemas, Ram is tabbed as an up-and-coming screen star!


Vox VSI-669389
Love Is A Rose (Neil Young)*
When Will I Be Loved? (Phil Everly)*
A Long, Long Time (Gary White)*
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me! (Warren Zevon)*
Tracks Of My Tears (Moore, Robinson, Tarplin)*
That’ll Be The Day (Allison, Holly, Petty)*
Desperado (Frey, Henley)*
Get Closer! (Jonathan Carroll)
Just One Look (Carroll, Troy)
You’re No Good (Clint Ballard, Jr)
Don’t Know Much (Mann, Weil) duet w/Donna Dante
Different Drum (Michael Nesmith)
I Can’t Let Go! (Gorgoni, Taylor)
Love Is A Rose
A Linda Ronstadt Tribute
Ram with Chutney Rose
*with The Carmines
A Sharmante Production
Music Supervision:
Donna Dante
Arranged + Produced by
Ramsay Khalid Sharma
Sound Engineers:
Chaiwat + Jonesey
Recorded @ DALEKtable Sound Studios, Bangkok
+ FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals
worldwide release
2066

Santi Music greenlights a deal with the Vox label to make Ram's third LP the first of three distributed in North America.  Much discussion goes into the album theme.  Ram thinks it’s time to cover a male artist, but Dody disagrees. They have the first of many career-related spats! 

In the end, Donna Dante has her way, and she chooses Linda Ronstadt’s catalog for her husband’s latest song showcase. “Covering Linda’s hits will demonstrate your versatility as a singer,” she explains. “She was very eclectic: Rock, R & B, MOR, Country, Latin music, even Opera.”  Ram puts his foot down:  "I am not singing Opera!"

The LP ends up with one side Country and the other side Rock and Soul. On the Country sides, Ram collaborates with a rootsy Alabama band known as The Carmines: Matty, Marky, Gianni and Wee Gee Carmine record with him @ the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals. The rest of the album is cut in Bangkok with typically top-notch backing by Chutney Rose.

Ram sinks his teeth into a quartet of classic Soul and Country ballads. Double-hankie weepers like “The Tracks of My Tears,” “You’re No Good”, “A Long, Long Time” and “Desperado” are tailor-made for him. He and Dody do a great job recreating a 1989 Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville duet: On “Don’t Know Much”, they swap the original male and female parts. 

A couple of the up tempo tunes are questionable choices: “Get Closer!” and “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me!” are competent covers, but they don’t leave much of an impression. Fortunately, they’re offset by Ram’s dynamic vocalizing on danceable gems like “When Will I Be Loved?”, “That’ll Be The Day”, “Just One Look” and “I Can’t Let Go!”


This will be the first of only two Ramsay Khalid Sharma albums that don’t display his torso prominently on the cover. Ram wants less provocative imagery for his US debut.  Predictably, Dody objects! “My marketing strategy sure hasn’t hurt you,” she reminds him. “Why fix what ain’t broken, dude?” They compromise with a tame front cover photo collage and a sexy bathtub shot of Ram on the back.

Love Is A Rose tops the Pan-Asian charts! It also storms the Pan-European Top Ten and does nearly as well in Australia. Yet despite excellent word-of-mouth from sellout concerts in Asia and SRO dates across Europe, the album tanks in the USA. Ram and Dody will bank on some high-profile personal appearances to generate American sales.

Vox DISCO 598
Love Is A Rose (Neil Young)
When Will I Be Loved? (Phil Everly)
Try A Little Kindness (Austin, Sapaugh)
That’ll Be The Day (Allison, Holly, Petty)
Love Is A Rose
Ram 
Club Mix VI
Produced by Ramsay Khalid Sharma
Remixed by Chaiwat
worldwide release

This Country song showcase does better in Australia than anywhere else; Ram’s Asian and European fans seem unimpressed by his down-home stylings. However, the opposite is true of music critics and Neil Young fans.  "Who knew Ram Sharma could bring it like Alan Jackson?" raves Music City Weekly.  "His whisky-and-rye singing voice goes with twangy torch ballads like buttermilk biscuits go with sausage gravy! " 

Many express hope that the singer/actor’s next LP will be all-Country, but that won’t happen. This mix will be the Rad Asian Manchild’s only foray into Nashville territory, increasing its value to collectors. In later years, “Try A Little Kindness” will emerge as a firm fan favorite.


Vox DISCO 604
Different Drum (Michael Nesmith)
Everything Under The Sun (Crewe, Knight) duet w/Donna Dante
Baby, The Rain Must Fall (Bernstein, Sheldon)
Paradise (Botkin, Garfield, Nilsson, Spector)
Different Drum
Ram 
Club Mix VII
Produced by Ramsay Khalid Sharma
Remixed by Chaiwat
worldwide release

Monkee Mike Nesmith’s first big song hit scores another international smash for Ram, especially after he films a popular Scopie to promote it. Video director Radni Luck interprets “Different Drum” as the story of a Gay man in love with his Straight best friend: Ram gives a very sympathetic portrayal of the friend. More than any other track, this one is responsible for Love Is A Rose charting high in Europe; but stateside music buyers remain indifferent.

By now, Ramsay Khalid Sharma is a huge star on the Asian continent, and there’s no doubt about it! His sold-out concerts are highly publicized events in city after city. Pan-Asian press has begun tracking his every move, and he’s quickly losing anonymity. A shopping trip to New Dehli with his wife and mother is cut short when they’re unexpectedly mobbed!

The throng of rushing, grasping women seems to appear out of nowhere. A sex-starved hijra yanks Ram's pants down ("I want to see the pretty ring on his lingham!") and Dody gets into a fist fight with an over-eager fan.  Another one knocks poor Kharis Sharma to the ground!

Security guards arrive and quickly disperse the mob.  “Khoon phra chuay!” Kharis exclaims as her son and daughter-in-law help her get up. “Are your fans always so aggressive, Dody?” Donna Dante scoffs. “My fans? I don’t think so.  I’m not the one with torn clothing here!” Ram looks down ruefully at his newly purchased tunic, all but shredded to pieces!

PANTSED @ THE GALLERIA

Following the runaway success of Love Is A Rose, he becomes the most famous Sikh musician in Asia. This development provokes much heated discussion in the Sikh community. Is Ram a source of pride or shame? Does his music and image promote Sikh values? There’s no consensus, but one thing Asian men of all faiths agree on: Their wives, sisters, daughters, and even their mothers are crazy about him!

Dude’s personal appearances are packed to the rafters with adoring female fans of all ages. Asked by an entertainment reporter to explain his appeal, a Hindu grandmother replies: “Ram sings with the booming voice of a man, but the passionate heart of a woman!” A Punjabi girl is in complete agreement: “When I hear his music, it’s almost as if I were singing it myself; I feel that he has tapped into my soul.” A Muslim woman hastens to add: “He’s got a bubble butt, too!”

Ram’s new wrecking-ball ballad proves to be “A Long, Long Time.” Just the first few notes of its mournful coda turns hundreds of Asian women into sobbing, wailing basket cases! “The first three rows @ any Ram Sharma concert are a de facto Wailing Wall,” opines Mumbai Mojo, India’s top Rock chronicle. “These days, no other Asian male vocalist commands a larger female following.” The Rad Asian Manchild also boasts a large Gay male fan base. Donna Dante’s provocative marketing campaign keeps the queens happy with dozens of shirtless/nude publicity shots!

RITMO CUBANO BENEFIT

Ram promotes his fourth LP with numerous personal appearances, but there isn't any tour. Dude is just too busy: He’s helping his wife mount benefit shows for her acting school; he’s arranging and composing music for Scented Thighs and Pepper Hot Hindus, two new Indian erotica flicks; and he’s also preparing for his next movie role. The as-yet untitled drama is set to begin shooting in early 2067. Ram plays a Sikh, which won’t be a stretch for him; but his character is also a drug addict. That calls for what Donna Dante calls “actor’s homework”!

The Rad Asian Manchild arranges to spend time in a few notorious New Dehli drug dens. For several weeks, he gets up-close-and-personal with real cocaine and heroin addicts! Dody fears for his safety, but understands his desire to present authenticity on screen. “I did the same kind of research when I had to play a police detective,” she notes, recalling the popular Get Christie Love! franchise she starred in for six years.

SWEET MAMA WHIP ASS

Just before investigating life as a junkie, Ram hires stateside management to book the aforementioned American gigs. He leaves a sordid Indian crack den to take a flight overseas. The next day, he embarks on a round of glittery artist showcases. Dude finds the transition jarring, to say the least!

The most high-profile of Ram’s US bookings is @ the famous Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this gig goes down as one of the biggest fiascos in Pop music history! Rolling Stone will compare it to the infamous Monkees/Jimi Hendrix tour of a century ago.

Ram and his band Chutney Rose are the opening act; the headliner is Lady Mau Mau, the most popular female rapper of the late 21st century.  Since both performers are Asian, somebody will think it’s logical to pair them on a concert bill. It proves to be a disastrous idea: Mau Mau’s fans couldn’t be less interested in an Indian Pop singer crooning ancient Soft Rock oldies!

Those few who’ve seen him in Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing are inclined to view him as a pervert, which doesn’t help matters; and his custom of singing from the woman’s point of view rubs most of them the wrong way! “Dude’s a f*cking F*GGOT!” somebody screams, touching off a battery of lewd, heterosexist catcalls.


Just two songs into his set, the audience turns belligerent. Hostile Hip Hoppers pelt the stage with fruit, shoes, bottles, cups and cans; Ram and his lady musicians flee amid a deafening chorus of boos! Lead guitarist Jazzmyn Ming suffers a serious cut over her eye. “Just an inch lower,” gasps her sister Gynger, “and Jazz would have been blinded!”

Naturally, everyone is shaken up by the incident; but it’s a whole other vibe the following week, when Ram plays two dates @ the new Troubadour Club. The original Troubadour hosted legendary shows by the likes of Neil Diamond, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Linda Ronstadt was also a Troub alumni; performing her signature songs, Ram gets an overwhelmingly warm reception.

The thin but enthusiastic crowd shows equal appreciation for his other hits. They love his pronoun-intact versions of Dusty Springfield's "He's Got Something" and "Every Ounce Of Strength." After his smoldering rendition of "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing," six women (and one man!) throw hotel room keys on stage.  Selections from Laura Branigan's catalog, particularly "Self-Control", prompt much finger-popping and shoulder-shaking. Then for nine minutes, Ram and Gynger Ming wring every drop of emotion from “I Wish I Never Loved You”. They rate a thunderous standing ovation!

His commanding stage presence mesmerizes the Troubadour crowd; but glowing reviews for that show are no match for bad publicity generated by what he'll later call “the Greek Tragedy”!  Lady Mau Mau is a media darling; when she publicly accuses Ram of trying to "f*ck up” her show, the Gangsta Rap-loving Rock press turns on him with fangs bared. N*gga Luvva, entertainment blogger for People, is especially vicious: “Ramsay Snake Charmer had better haul his untalented, throwback, f*ggoty, turban-wearing ass back to India!”


For sure, Asia is where his artistry is most appreciated. At the 2067 Pan-Asian Pop awards, Donna Dante is delighted when Ram comes away with four trophies: Artist of the Year, Collaboration of the Year (for her duet with him on “Don’t Know Much”), Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Album! However, the joyful occasion is ruined when Ram overhears people whispering about him.

“What a puppet Ram Sharma is!”

“He's nothing but a creation of his wife.”

“Che!  Dude is such a p*ssy!  He takes his clothes off for the camera and does everything else she tells him to do.”

“Ramsay isn't as talented as all that.  Without Donna Dante, he’d have no singing or acting career.”

"Let's get the f*ck out of here!" the quadruple-award-winner snarls.  Dody can’t understand why he’s suddenly in such a bad mood, but she finds out soon enough. Husband and wife quarrel bitterly post-ceremony!

A SIKH STAR IS BORN