New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments 80: Tom Papa – Freaked Out

At one time, Jersey guy Tom Papa used to smoke weed. In Freaked Out, his 2013 Epix stand-up comedy special, he reveals that he has a reminder on his body from the times he used to get high years ago. He looks back on how stupid he was and how he doesn’t wear shorts anymore because of this bad tattoo of a gnome he got…in New Jersaaaay.

“I just picked it off a wall in New Jersey. I wouldn’t pick a t-shirt off a wall in New Jersey…”

Stuff like that is even funnier when you realize it’s coming from a Jersey guy. Surprisingly, I’d never seen Papa’s stand up act, but I was certainly intrigued to see the advertisement teasing the special which aired on Epix Network on Rob Zombie’s Twitter a while back.

At first, I just assumed Zombie was friends with Papa having casted him as the voice of El Superbeasto, but then I went to IMDB and noticed that he was actually a “consulting producer” of this special. It’s no wonder either, considering it’s saturated in ’70s stylings complete with sparkly dancers who provide a choreographed intro for Papa as he appeared on stage. The stage and backdrop looked like it was a remnant straight from a ’70s variety show. It was over the top and very much my speed.

Aside from the intro and the amusing backdrop, we get to witness Papa be the funny motherf*cker he is. I’m glad I watched it because I had a good time. I actually laughed out loud quite a bit. I usually rank a comedian by if he/she actually makes me laugh out loud. It’s easy to say a comedian or actor is funny, but do they actually make you laugh? Check out Tom Papa Freaked Out and determine that for yourself. The hour goes fast. Presently, the special is streaming on Netflix.

*Papa was born in Passaic NJ, grew up in Woodcliff Lake and graduated Rider University – A Jersey guy through and through!

Vera Farmiga Is March’s Garden State Playmate!

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Ukranian-American beauty and Oscar nominated actress Vera Farmiga is our Garden State Playmate for March 2013! She was born in Passaic County, NJ and graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School. If by chance you aren’t familiar with this talented actress, you will be soon since there’s sure to be a buzz about her upcoming role on A&E’s Bates Motel.

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It was brilliant casting her as Norma (Norman’s mother) in the Psycho prequel series set in the modern day. The premiere episode was outstanding, mostly due to Farmiga’s ability to easily sink into a role so perverse and brutal. She was a perfect choice for such an iconic role. After I viewed the first episode I have a feeling she’s going to give Olivia Hussey (Norman in Psycho IV) a run for her money!

Before Bates Motel you may have seen Farmiga in movies like Autum in New York, 15 Minutes, Orphan, Up in the Air (in which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress), and Safe House.

A few interesting facts about Vera:

– Farmiga’s parents are Ukranian immigrants and according to IMDB she is the second of seven children.
– She didn’t speak English until she was 6 years old

– She plays the piano
– She owns pet angora goats.
– Had her first child at age 35 and her second at 37

Salute Your Schwartz


The Sexy Armpit is saddened to hear news of the death of TV Producer Sherwood Schwartz. Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Schwartz was a writer, creator, and producer of shows such as My Favorite Martian, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island. Even before TV took over, Schwartz was a writer on radio shows like The Bob Hope Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He lived to a ripe age of 94 and left behind a legacy in television that will live on forever in reruns.

Baby It’s You on Broadway – Review

PhotobucketThe Sexy Armpit does get ribbed for going to Broadway shows occasionally. Reactions I’ve gotten after telling people I bought tickets to see Baby It’s You on Broadway ranged from “Oh, you’re going to love it!” to “What? YOU bought tickets to see that??” Baby It’s You is not as boisterous as Rock of Ages, or as sensational as Phantom of the Opera, but after seeing on Sunday, June 12th, I found it to be a lively journey through the course of The Shirelles stardom led by record executive Florence Greenberg.

Even though Greenberg hailed from Passaic New Jersey, she was nothing like the women you see on The Housewives of New Jersey.  She was a typical doting housewife who served her husband like a robot. Eventually Greenberg sought out something more from her life and decided she wanted to work in the music business. In the process of starting her own record label she left her husband and disregarded her children while dealing with her new found passion. Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel’s performance as Greenberg is first rate as we watch her ascend from the doldrums of her wifely duties in the late ’50s to prominence as a record exec.

Originally, the success of Greenberg’s second label, Scepter Records, was largely based on the New Jersey girl group The Shirelles. They were the first girl group to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and they were even covered by The Beatles…twice! Not bad for four graduates of Passaic High School. Baby It’s You is unique because it’s telling a story that isn’t widely known, especially to a younger audience. Essentially it’s the more obscure, female version of Jersey Boys. The show unearths the tale of a frustrated Jewish housewife from New Jersey who with a little creativity and chutzpah radically changed her life and made her dreams as well as The Shirelles dreams come true.

Personally, I knew almost all of the songs in the performed in the play, but I had no idea who Florence Greenberg was or that The Shirelles were such an influential group. The pace of the plot is boosted by the sound of several familiar songs that you may not even realize were originally performed by The Shirelles. The whole production is a deserving tribute to a group that predated The Supremes, and whose influences are even seen in more recent acts like Destiny’s Child. No matter your age, chances are, you’ll know at least half of the songs in the play and they’ll all wind up sticking in your head. Here’s just a few that are featured by The Shirelles: “Met Him on a Sunday,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Soldier Boy,” and of course “Baby It’s You.”

Unfortunately the amount of songs crammed into the play is one of my only real gripes with it. The previous list of songs is only about one quarter of the songs featured. Not only will you hear The Shirelles, but also songs by Leslie Gore (played by former Rock of Ages star Kelli Barrett), Dionne Warwick, The Kingsmen, The Monotones, and Gene Chandler among many others. Over stuffing the production with song and dance numbers actually made it go on a little too long.

If you’re one of those people who are worried about what people will say if you decide to go to a show on Broadway, cut the crap and GO! Whatever music you’re into, it doesn’t matter. The Shirelles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, so if you consider yourself a serious fan of American music, that’s reason enough to see it. Baby It’s You will take you for a fun and nostalgic spin through the rock and roll landscape of the late ’50s and early ’60s.

Official Site
Broadhurst Theater
235 West 44th Street
New York NY 10036


Joan Jett in Jersey

In honor of Joan Jett’s birthday, here are a couple of classic, pro-shot performances of hers that took place in New Jersey. The first is from 1983 in the now defunct Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, a venue that featured concerts of so many now legendary acts. The second is from 1982 at Convention Hall in Asbury Park NJ. Thanks to the YouTube channel of karinarudzinska, we are able to see these vintage clips!

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.41: Muppets Take Passaic?

Kermit’s doctor played by Linda Lavin (TV’s Alice) diagnoses him with Amnesia

from Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
KERMIT’S DOCTOR: “No doubt about it, you have amnesia. Now, the problem is, you were found with no identification and oddly enough, wearing no clothing, so I did some research into the major nudist colonies in the area and I think I’ve come up with something…”
KERMIT: “…oh?”
KERMIT’S DOCTOR: “You are Mr. Enrico Tortellini of Passaic, New Jersey”
KERMIT: “well…I really don’t feel Italian.”
KERMIT’S DOCTOR: “…it was just a long shot anyway”


Gondry – Be Kind, Don’t Ruin The Green Hornet!

I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sold on Michel Gondry after seeing Be Kind Rewind. Certainly, that doesn’t mean I dissapprove of him being at the helm of next year’s Green Hornet film. Gondry chose to set Be Kind in New Jersey and in my world that’s like a Julius Erving baseline scoop even if the film sucks. Want proof? I spent over an hour writing about Dark Ride.


“…she couldn’t get the doors open.”
In Be Kind Rewind, the “odd couple” buddy team of Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Jack Black) put their heads together to figure out how to save Mr. Fletcher’s (Danny Glover) dilapidated old corner video store in Passaic, NJ from being turned into the town’s newly constructed center of commerce.

“…Look, i just want to improve the life of people in Passaic, that’s all.”

“…you must never slam the door or the building will collapse?”

Mike gets electrocuted while attempting to disable an electrical plant that’s apparently melting his brain, and then walks into the video store. His proximity to the rental tapes erases them all. In reaction, Mike and Jerry have a novel idea to record their own films and rent them out to customers. The “sweded” versions as they’re known as, inadvertantly get so popular with the customers from around town that they begin raising alot of money to save the store. Unfortunately, the amount of money raised wasn’t nearly enough to save the store.
Mike and Jerry replicate a scene from Ghostbusters as they bolt through the doors of the Passaic Public Library
Be Kind Rewind sparkled only occassionally and ultimately failed to showcase the skills where Gondry excels (see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The plot to Be Kind Rewind was inventive, but stock in many ways. Gondry used several typical movie conventions but I was expecting a far more cryptic affair considering Gondry’s innovative rep. Mike and Jerry could’ve been trying to save Average Joe’s Gym in Dodgeball or the South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T) in Accepted. This scenario is overused, but otherwise the film was light, and enjoyable. It’s not one I’d watch multiple times though. Was Gondry attempting to win the mainstream? The film is not without merit, but the New Jersey backdrop is what turned me on the most.
The Green Hornet From Sony Pictures
Gondry had previously worked on a Green Hornet script around 1990. He wanted to be involved in the latest project so badly that Seth Rogen, in an interview with MTV, revealed: “To convince the studio to let him do it, he filmed a fight scene on his own.” Rogen expressed his awe of the short, action packed footage which leaves me with peace of mind. Hopefully Gondry will muster up all that avant-garde talent he’s got and use it to assemble a truly standout action film about the green cloaked vigilante. I trust that we Green Hornet fans are in good hands.
To many people, Seth Rogen seemed to be an odd choice at first. I feel like the team on this film must be inspired by the characters and the story of GH to come out with their Hornet Sting’s blazing. They are banking on a character who was popular in the golden age of radio, and during the ’60s when superhero campiness was at an all time high. Just like Evan (Michael Cera) says in Superbad: “I’m not too worried about it, really. I wouldn’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. I’m not worried at all.” If you’re still worried after that, just keep in mind how much Rogen seems to have slimmed down for the role of Britt Reid/GH since he was announced. He looked as if he was never even a chubster at the Academy Awards last week, so perhaps he will fit through the door of Black Beauty after all!


Vintage Concert Program Cover Art from The Capitol Theatre to Convention Hall

I recently Googled The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey to see what I could find on this legendary, local concert venue. One of the first results I clicked on was an amazing site,, that presents the black and white program cover art from the stage lighting director of the Capitol Theatre (71-86) Moyssi. Moyssi was not only responsible for lighting up the stage, but also creating original art for various concert programs at a host of local venues such as The Capitol Theater, MSG, Convention Hall in Asbury Park, Giants Stadium, and The Meadowlands (then known as Brendan Byrne Arena). For nostalgia freaks, rock aficionados, and anyone who was actually present at one of these classic concerts, many pieces of his cover art collection are available for purchase at his website. also offers a dedication to The Capitol Theatre complete with a few vintage photographs and some written recollections from the production manager, a perennial guest, and a co-founder of the theatre. For those of you in The KISS Army it’s interesting to note that a large portion of the tracks featured on Kiss’ Alive II were recorded in an empty Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ.

If you’d like to browse your favorite bands, here’s a detailed list organized by artist and venue.