The Fabulous
By: Gus Bernadicou
Jimi LaLumia got his start playing with the likes of Johnny Thunders, Cherry Vanilla, and Jayne County. He then went to record dance songs, and own a record store…now he’s slowly making a comeback into the punk music scene WHERE shortly he’ll become the next overnight sensation!
Punk Globe: Jimi, how would you ACCURATELY describe yourself? (please use ‘fabulous’ as often as possible)…
Jimi LaLumia: I would describe myself as intense, competitive,loyal,sometimes obsessive,and apparently,always interesting.But of course, no one can see ourselves the way others see us...so we can only guess what our words and actions inspire in our friends and foes,I guess that's what keeps life from becoming boring.
Punk Globe: LaLumia can’t be your birth name, could you tell us the truth behind the alias?
Jimi LaLumia: It can't? Well, I graduated from high school with it, and had teachers mispronounce/make fun of it through my grade school years..who would make up that? I was always jealous of the 'Smith"s, the Jones"'es,the "Cooper"'s, people with names like that. I was badly abused in high school in the 1960's, bullied to the point that I quit school to escape, but returned the following year(1969) to take over the student newspaper(and start a mimeoed 'underground' newspaper) and the radio station as well,and lead political walkouts. From that point on, I was determined that whatever I did as a writer, as an actor, on the radio, as a member of a band, whatever, I would always use my real name to piss off the pricks from school who would be hearing about me or reading about me in the years to come....Life would have been much easier for me in this business if I had an easy to say, made up name like so many on the scene; but I celebrate that scared little picked on boy in grade school everytime my name appears somewhere.
Punk Globe: You got your start in the music world writing articles, correct?
Jimi LaLumia: I came from a family with no money and a gambling problem.I found that by using my talents as a writer that I could get records and tickets to concerts for free in exchange for writing about them,and by 1974, I was everywhere,meeting everyone,as well as the fact that my management job at the then powerful Sam Goody music chain made me a multi threat person..It was different in the music biz back then...If you had enough 'balls";, you got whatever and where ever you wanted..and that was me.
Punk Globe: You started the “Death to Disco” sensation?...Highschool freaks still wear that at the disco-themed dances, I hear…
Jimi LaLumia: PUNK Magazine in their first issue had a one paragraph editorial, "Death To Disco Shit"; and then nothing. I was so excited by the slogan that I started making buttons and bumperstickers, selling them at the door at Max's Kansas City and elsewhere,and became the "Death To Disco" guy. Even though they hadn't pursued it any further, I became Public Enemy #1 at PUNK for doing this; in the issue with Dick Manitoba on the cover, they declared "the end of the Death To Disco movement, and the beginning of the Death To Jim LaLumia" movement...lol..I didn't become "Jimi" until the record came out; the old timers still call me Jim, not Jimi.
Punk Globe: It sold fairly well, you got reviews in Melody Maker and Rolling Stone Magazine?
Jimi LaLumia: It was intended to be a one off novelty,because others started running with the idea, and I knew it was just a matter of time until there was a record; and so, Jimi LaLumia & the Psychotic Frogs was born: i'd never been in a band before,never made a record before, I was busy helping/managing others..and then suddenly, 10,000 copies of the single sold 'right out of the box' ,as they say, in 1977, and there was a demand for a next record, and live shows, so I put an actual band together.Worldwide, magazine guys who hated disco jumped on board; we got attention in Trouser Press, Gig, a jazz publication, DownBeat,Billboard, Variety,Circus,The NY Daily News,Rolling Stone put us in "Random Notes", the UK Melody Maker featured us as a single of the week(thank you,Ian Birch)and it just snowballed from there.As I mentioned above, even PUNK Magazine paid attention..lol.
Punk Globe: I’ve seen copies go for $1,000+ (of course, they are being sold from your ebay account)…
Jimi LaLumia: Hey, a girl has to make a living...
Punk Globe: Sid Vicious and you rocked out to your tunes, what’s that story?
Jimi LaLumia: Well, I met him at Max's and he told me that he liked the record(which Peter Crowley had put ont Max's jukebox), that's about as far as we 'rocked out'....
Punk Globe: Any relationship between the PIL song of the similar name? Coincidence?
Jimi LaLumia: The PIL record, which was called "Death Disco"(there was no "To" in there)came out more than a year after mine had recieved coverage in Melody Maker and everywhere else, and the PIL record was not at all about what my first single was about.You'd have to ask Rotten where his title came from...
Punk Globe: You grew up at Max’s right?
Jimi LaLumia: I never grew up..
Punk Globe: Was your first gig there?
Jimi LaLumia: My first gig with the band was, ironically at a local high school,to break in the act,and when I appeared, the kids started screeching and yelling, "GAY! QUEER!"..something about me and high schools..somethings never change..
Punk Globe: Did you only gig around the East Coast?
Jimi LaLumia: Not a lot of gigs, mostly Max's in Manhattan, a club called My Father's Place in Rosyln,movie theaters,catering halls, strange venues for a strange performer, we once played the Silver Dollar Saloon in Bayshore, a country and western bar.
Punk Globe: You had that one gig with Cherry, Donna, Jayne, and that Johnny guy…what’s the scoop? (“If I had known they’d be coming I would have baked them a cake…”)
Jimi LaLumia: That was about the fourth time I was booked at Max's;Cherry Vanilla had not been appearing there after a falling out with Tommy Dean, the owner, but she wanted to come to the gig,so she and the fabulous Donna Destri decided that after my regular set, they would come up to do "Twist and Shout" and "Boys" with us, this was Vanilla's idea. That weekend, Jayne County had just returned from Berlin, and when she heard that Cherry and Donna were coming up,Jayne decided that she was coming up as well.then,lingering in the corner, Mr.Johnny Thunders, whom I had an on again, off again friendship with, long distance,decided that he was coming up too, as did Cherry's guitarist Louie Lepore and Donna's drummer Eric; we suddenly had a million people on stage with us, and the legendary Max's soundman, Bobby Belfiore,always taped my shows for me, so we had it captured,and it wound up on "Jimi LaLumia & The Psychotic Frogs-Live at Max's Kansas City". I believe it's the only time that Thunders, County and Vanilla all performed at the same time on stage at Max's, or maybe anywhere else...Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
Punk Globe: You went onto manage Jayne County…what was the relationship like?
Jimi LaLumia: I became obsessed with Miss County in 1973, met her in 74, and helped her through various periods through the decades; she still has yet to get her totally proper recognition.
Punk Globe: You are, of course, mentioned in Cherry Vanilla’s new book…
Jimi LaLumia: Cherry became a fellow traveler around the same period of time (circa "Wayne County at The Trucks"),which I wrote the liner notes for a few years ago when the CD soundtrack of that momentous event finally became available.
Punk Globe: You often covered Bowie’s song “1984” live, being friends with Vanilla did you ever hang out with Bowie? Why did you choose that song?
Jimi LaLumia: I had the chance to meet everyone in the 70's because of my retail connections and the magazines I wrote for, but two people that were my ultimate 'stars', I never wanted to meet, for fear of being disappointed; Diana Ross is one of them, Bowie is the other. However, I adore Angie Bowie, who also deserves way more credit than she ever gets.
Punk Globe: You started that petition to get Cherry Vanilla’s “Blue Roses” album officially released (with me!!). What was the story on that, how is it looking?
Jimi LaLumia: It's a great piece of work, it deserves to be heard, and now, finally, it will.
Punk Globe: After Max’s, what did you do?
Jimi LaLumia: ..sobered up..
Punk Globe: How about in the dark period of the 90’s and 2000’s?
Jimi LaLumia: I had my own record store, became a night club DJ and began playing (yes!) Disco Records, and then I spent several years taking care of my elderly mom in the last years of her life,which led to my current state certified status as a nurse's aide.
Punk Globe: You recorded dance tracks… Is that anti-disco?
Jimi LaLumia: I don't stay in one place for my entire life,and by then it had become techno, which was much harder and rock-ish than disco was..Only a moron would lump everything with a dance beat under the 'disco' banner; I adore classic Motown, and that certainly wasn't disco. I had several dance singles climb onto Billboard Magazine's national Dance singles sales Chart: "The Anthem", "For DJs Only", "Loud Enough", "Sorry No Requests", “Dance Floor", and "Last Call". I'm very proud of those records.
Punk Globe: You have some new projects coming out?
Jimi LaLumia: I'm doing a re vamp of my "Live at Max's", just the songs, not all the drunken tirades, plus some never released original songs that were regular parts of the set back then, like "Back In the Street" and "Persecution(Leave Me Alone)”
Punk Globe: So what’s the scoop on the new album coming out? What will make it “new?”
Jimi LaLumia: Hopefully by the holidays,depending..
Punk Globe: Recently what have you been up to? How did that Bowie documentary come together?
Jimi LaLumia: These guys from England knew I was hanging out at MainMan during the 'golden period', so they called me to pick my brain; they then decided to say I was a Warhol star,and that I worked at MainMan; made up the entire first half of my bio,to glam up the DVD I suppose; very embarrassing; they said I was in "Pork"..lol..I was graduating high school while "Pork" was coming together...
Punk Globe: …And you also did that CBGB song… Motivation behind it?
Jimi LaLumia: CBGB's closed, so I recorded "New York City Song(C-B-G-B!)"; it's done very well on YouTube, people love it; if you listen to the lyrics, it actually honors Max's and it's stars, not so much CBGB..
Punk Globe: CB’s VS. Max’s what were your favorite bands from each?
Jimi LaLumia: The bands I always traveled from Long Island into Manhattan to see, regardless of blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, whatever: Johnny Thunders,J(W)ayne County, and Cherry Vanilla..
Punk Globe: Thanks for the time!! Any parting words for the readers?
Jimi LaLumia: Visit me on Facebook; check out the videos on Youtube; buy my products as they appear; worship and adore me, motherfuckers!!!...and have a nice day.
Think YOU have what it takes to be in the next issue of Punk Globe? Email me at gus@punkglobe.com to discuss interviews and reviews.