“Sinatra? Sinatra was like a guy raping your wife who stops for five minutes to buy your kids toys.”
Sammy leaned forward on the white leather couch, alligator shoes barely touching the white shag carpet, and dipped his sterling-silver coke spoon into its matching bowl. He snorted, then stretched the chain taut around his neck, raising the spoon to eye level, like he needed to see the SDJ engraved on the back to remind him who he was. Sammy Davis Junior. It’s almost like it was reassuring.
“Was Frank a pal? Sure. I mean, me and Frank … baby, there’s shit I make sure I can’t remember, cause if I did, I’d have to arrest myself!”
Sammy cracked up, whipped his head from side to side and stomped his feet. Then, like that, he got serious.
“Listen, baby, I dug the man. But—and I say this with love—he was management. And he never let you forget it. Fuck you 90 cents on the dollar seven nights a week, but soon as your Grandma Jehoogivesashit dies, Frank baby’s right there slappin’ five grand down on her funeral. Meanwhile, Grandson Sammy’s still walkin’ around owing big, and if he don’t march his ass into the vice president of the Who Let a Coon in the Hood wing of the First Bank of Beverly Hills it’s gonna be his skinny Jew tush in a box. And I’m talkin’ about while it’s still alive.
“Course, Frank was too classy to talk about that stuff. He had a press agent for that. That man bought coffins for a lotta folks you never heard. Matter of fact, I made a joke once, at the Sands, how the Mob’s gotta have their hooks in the mortuary biz, ’cause the way Sinatra’s handin’ out caskets, somebody’s gotta be taking 20 percent off the top. That night, I’ll never forget it, soon as we get offstage, Jilly—you know, Jilly Rizzo, the Super Wop who mopped the broads outta Frank’s place before the family came by?—Jilly comes up and says, ‘Keep talkin’, Cyclops, maybe you’ll find out sooner than you think.’”
Sammy picked some invisible lint off the leg of his jumpsuit and shivered. “Jilly, man, that cat could start washin’ his hands on Tuesday afternoon and not get the sleaze off till Sunday morning. He was as lowdown as a soused, back-stabbin’ Mob clown can be. I am serious, Jack.”
I’ll never forget it. Sammy sniffled, dabbed back a little tear, and I gotta tell you, son, I wanted to ask, Hey, Sam, can you actually cry out of a glass eye? But I held my mud. Wasn’t the time.
Next thing I know he hops off the damn couch, breaks into this jump-and-split number, comes back up outta the split into a perfect twirl, then sits his ass back down and busts into this whole riff ’bout the photo he took with Nixon in Miami—the one where it looked like he was butt-fucking him onstage. That messed up his rep with his own people even worse than recordin’ “The Candy Man” or lettin’ Dino carry him around onstage like a lawn jockey.
Before we talked, I just figured Sammy for an Uncle Tom. But I was wrong. Matter of fact, I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. Sammy did more for the black man than Malcolm X, the Reverend King, and Jackie Robinson combined. He just did it on the sly. And that’s that about that, Jack.
P.S. Don’t talk to me about the Panthers, neither. Sammy Davis Junior made Bobby Seale look like a little bitch. And I just may be the only goddamn black man alive who knows the truth.
The Hollywood Pedestrian
Aug 2, 01:01 PMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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