In-a-gadda-Sinatra

“I freak out completely whenever I see a possum. They remind me of myself in some ways.”

Jose Sinatra in his Sunday best at Winstons
  • Jose Sinatra in his Sunday best at Winstons

I first caught Jose Sinatra and the Troy Dante Inferno back at one of those mid-1980s Comic-Cons, doing a raucous lounge act that veered somewhere between Bill Murray and Tom Jones, with a touch of Tom Lehrer and Allan Sherman thrown into the mix for chuckles. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the man behind the mirth was Bill Richardson, who back then was the head honcho at several local movie theaters, including the Guild, the Fine Arts, and the Park Theater, all of which he made into occasional cult and midnight movies houses.

Which gave me two reasons to like this guy!

“I can’t believe we never met back then; we seem to have so many mutual friends,” he tells me during one long phone conversation that ended up being more about porn stars we’ve both known and/or dated than this article. “There were so many interesting people and places downtown back then. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m one of the few survivors.”

Indeed, Sinatra has had some health hurdles over the past couple of years, but that hasn’t stopped him from hosting a weekly open mic at Winstons in Ocean Beach for over a dozen years now. His own full stage performances have been limited, however, at least until recently.

"Thunderballs"

Jose Sinatra and the Troy Dante Inferno play a James Bond parody

Jose Sinatra and the Troy Dante Inferno play a James Bond parody

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

“I’ve never owned a multi-disc CD player, just single-disc ones. Just checked and mine’s empty right now. I have a habit of putting CDs back in their cases once they’re done. Last one in was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing Miklos Rozsa’s score to Kings of Kings in 5.1 surround. Incredible!”

WHEN DID YOU DO THE FIRST O.B. KARAOKE?

“OB-oke was weekly from the start, which I think was in the autumn of 2003. That’s a lot of Sundays, and I’ve only missed one.”

WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT HOSTING KARAOKE?

“Me, when a gorgeous chick is singing ten feet away, and I know I’ve got to walk back up onstage as soon as she’s done.”

IN WHAT FICTIONAL UNIVERSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE?

“The glorious ecosystem that would be enveloped by Britney Spears’s panties, if she wore any.”

FAVORITE USELESS TRIVIA?

“The average person swallows approximately 95 pounds of dirt during his or her lifetime. If that sounds unbelievable, it’s probably because I made it up.”

BRUSH WITH FAME?

“Tom Jones at Copley Symphony Hall in 1987. I went both nights and told Tom I was sorry ‘Thunderball’ wasn’t part of the show anymore. Ever since then, it’s been back in his concerts. Seriously.”

SOMETHING YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?

“Up until two years ago, various questionable substances including but not limited to cigarettes and malt liquor. Now it’s usually just something to read or a movie to watch, something to take my mind off of how much I miss those vices.”

WHAT REMAINS TO BE DONE BEFORE YOU DIE?

“Britney Spears, Diane Lane, Shakira, and Taylor Swift, just so long as they’re not married at the time.”

LYRIC THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE?

“This one had me pegged over 45 years ago. ‘Doncha know that huh love yew-hoo, doncha know that I’ll halwuhz buh true-hoo,’ from ‘In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.’ I mean, how obvious can you get? Story of my life, no question.”

ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS?

“I freak out completely whenever I see a possum. They give me nightmares. Grotesque little bastards. Remind me of myself in some ways.”

ANYONE EVER SAY YOU LOOK LIKE A PARTICULAR CELEBRITY?

“Yes.”

WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS?

“To the airport, as soon as possible. Damn, baby, I got things to do!”

BIGGEST REGRET?

“Appearing curt to out-of-town guests.”

Winstons Beach Club

1921 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach

FAVORITE MOVIE BASED ON A BOOK?

Women in Love, from D.H. Lawrence’s novel. It knocked me out when I saw it during its first release in 1969 and still stuns me today. Best film ever made, in my opinion, and with a wonderful Georges Delerue score. Every frame’s a beauty and, despite the title, there’s not a girl-girl scene to be found. One of those rare films that couldn’t be improved by having one, I dare say.”

THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

  1. “My short-term memory isn’t what it used to be.”
  2. “My Social Security number.”
  3. “My short-term memory isn’t what it used to be.”

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