A Bizarre Night w/Andy Kaufman (Latka of “TAXI”) True Story

Yes. Bizarre is the only way to describe it.

I was smack dab in the middle of my professional musical career. I had attained some peer cred and therefore got to do and see things.

I had come off of playing bass with the English band Curved Air. “The Police” drummer Stewart Copeland was my band mate.

I came back to Long Beach, CA and opened a recording studio, production company and management company. Claim to fame: I took a project to the charts…a novelty single called “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” starring Butch (Eddie Munster) Patrick. We took the theme from “The Munsters” and added our own lyrics and re-recorded the music for the times….1983. The video on Youtube.

 

I also was playing in a band (The Attitude) making the local charts with our kick ass version of Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” Little Richard played piano on the cut. You can watch it on youtube by clicking HERE. Remember this was pre-MTV.

Life was good. These were also the years made famous by the Beverly Hills Diet of Cocaine and Champagne. And I had dough. You can take it from there.

I had a friend named Marshall. Marshall was a bona fide, big time, radio disc jockey. We hung.

In December of 1981, he got VIP tickets to the release of Hanukkah Rocks by Gefilte Joe & The Fish on RHINO Records.

The release was at the famous Improv in Hollywood.

That’s where I met him. Andy Kaufman.  Latka of the sit com “TAXI.” As the hours burned, there were 5 of us left in the club sitting at the same booth. Me. Marshall. Andy. Some guy and his girl friend.

We sat at a large half circle booth with Andy in the middle. The “other” guy asked Andy about the wrestling thing he was doing.

Andy, for some reason, decided his next campaign in the world of improvisational art, would be the world of wrestling. It quickly went from wrestling men to wrestling women. The men were kicking his ass because he made fun of the “sport.”

So he would challenge any woman in the audience. Sometimes, he won. Sometimes, he didn’t. It became a nationwide joke.

We all sat there in the booth, hugging our Hanukkah gifts. Including a record called Hanukkah Rocks shaped like a Star of David, in blue, with 2 songs on each side. It was a very cool trophy (I hung it in my recording studio office and someone stole it.)

Andy began to weave the history of wrestling to us. Unless you knew him, you really didn’t know what his voice sounded like. Obviously, it wasn’t that of Foreign Man or Latka. And it didn’t sound like Elvis. He had sort of a milque toast voice, a little high, but quiet, when he spoke. You had to lean in.

We listened and contributed and had a very normal conversation with one of the craziest entertainers in the world. Then Marshall asked Andy if he would wrestle the girl sitting with us. He agreed without thought. Same with the chick.

There was a small dance floor, about 10 feet square, in the middle of the club. Marshall stayed in the booth. The girl’s boyfriend moved to a chair at the corner of the dance floor. I moved to the opposite corner….and then we waited……and waited…while Andy seemed to be meditating with eyes closed.

Then in a rush of energy, he jumped to the top of the booth table and leaped off it like a crazed man. We all yelled, thinking he would fall, but he landed like a cat on the dance floor.

The X rated epithets started coming from his mouth as he hunkered into a wrestling hunch and circled the girl. He was a foul mouthed S.O.B. Yet he was the complete opposite at the table.

The chick made her move and threw Andy to the floor. It stunned him. He got up screaming at the girl, “You fucking bitch! You Cunt!”  And so on. They got into a stranglehold on each other with neither giving in. Neither falling to their knees.

Then something vicious…..Andy did a sweep with his leg, knocking the pins out from under the girl. Really nasty, because she hit the floor HARD! He then leaped into the air and dropped right on top of her to pin her. She was screaming for help. I looked over to her boyfriend and he was laughing.

In only moments, Andy counted, “1-2-3” and jumped off of her. He walked the perimeter of the dance floor with both hands in the air showing domination and accomplishment. His head was bobbing up and down, enjoying the win.

The girl could not get up. She was hurt. Andy played too rough. We all shook our heads and Marshall asked Andy why did he have to play so rough? Andy ignored him.

We gathered our things at the table. Andy asked us all up to his place, not far from the club, to hang out the rest of the night. We all declined. We were disgusted.

Never thought in my wildest imagination, I’d ever have a story like this.

Andrew Geoffrey Kaufmann

January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984

A bunch of fun photos I found online of me playing bass or promos of Curved Air, etc:

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