Friday, June 1, 2007

The magical Mr. Nelson De La Rosa!!! (with clips)

I need to explain to those who haven't seen the Funhouse that "el hombre mas pequeno del mundo," Nelson de la Rosa, was a sort of good-luck talisman, an icon in the Funhouse, and has been for some years now. I've celebrated him several times on the show, with rare footage like that seen in the clips below. I was very proud to post these clips to YouTube some months back, and in early 2007 saw their click-rate go up to an insane level. The main one reached 60,000 hits before it was taken down (but not because there was anything wrong with *it*, it was simply that I had reached the "three strikes" level for other clips I had put up under the same account. Well, I'm proud to say that the clips are back up there again, and so I reproduce some of my text from the original Funhouse blog obit:

Regular viewers of the Funhouse will know of my longtime devotion to the career of the all-around entertainer who was Nelson De La Rosa. Nelson died last week at the young age of 38, and left behind a very strange little career in show business.
Most folks discovered him through the vehicle of the utterly berserk Island of Dr. Moreau (in which he was Marlon’s little “experiment” and piano-playing partner; the famous moment in which big Marl and little Nelson dueted inspired the character of “mini-me” in the Austin Powers movies). I was lucky enough to have already encountered Nelson through Sensacionalisimo, the utterly perfect Venezuelan variety program that ran in NYC late night on Sundays on one of the Spanish channels. The episodes we saw in the mid-90s were already a few years old by the time we were seeing them, but the show had it all, in the true manner of Ed Sullivan, The Hollywood Palace, and other classic variety shows: hot sexy dancing; magic acts (that didn’t always work); real Latin pop sensations (including two of my all-time favorites, Alejandra Guzman and a then teenaged Thalia); once-popular Anglo stars slumming down in South America; kid-in-peril stunt acts (always a fave); novelty theme shows (in which masked and bikinied women oil-wrestled); a hypnotist’s whose subjects seemed to be not completely under; and NELSON.
Yes, Nelson was a guest who returned more than once to that show (which originally had been called Sabado Sensacional in its native country; not to be confused with its later iteration, Super Sabado Sensacional). He was measured, showed his passport, was matched up with a tiny lady (who didn’t seem altogether healthy), did some “big/little” comedy with super-suave host, and danced — yes, he danced like a motherfucker. The little man would start out slow, perhaps to a great dance tune like the Dominican tune known to Net-heads as “Mahow Mahow” thanks to Nelson's Net "posse." The actual spelling is “majao” and the artist who sang the song that Nelson immortalized is Benny Sadel (that one clip has floated around the Net far more than Nelson’s other, insanely impressive dance numbers — you just know it’s because of those sexy pelvic thrusts the little man came up with; what you see below is the clearest copy available, I’m proud to say). He did his Michael Jackson impression, moonwalking in a fright wig to “Thriller” (you can’t tell me that Mike looks any more normal than Nelson did lampooning him, one glove and all). He came back to the program to show his full-size baby (who is now 9 years old, incidentally) and generally worked his charm every time his 28” frame came into view (yes, he was 71.5 centimeters, roughly all of 2’4”).
Nelson later shot into prominence when he became the “good luck charm” of the Boston Red Sox during their 2004 season. I haven’t followed baseball since the mid-’70s, but with Pedro Martinez befriending Nelson, pics of the magic little man started appearing on the sports pages of the newspapers, and I paid attention. The team wound up winning the World Series for the first time in what, 86 freaking YEARS, and you “gotta believe” (as another team had it years ago) that it was Nelson who turned the trick for the “cursed” Beantown team. Later on, Pedro Martinez came to New York and made fun of Nelson by having another little person as his NYC “good luck charm.” The guy has dubbed Martinez a “punk-ass bitch” for this stunt, and I can’t say I disagree.
Nelson’s obit noted that he had been performing in a circus and that his body may be donated to a museum. The former is not that surprising (one hopes he was the main attraction, fer chrissake), but the latter is a disturbing note: to think that Nelson’s relatives (his five siblings, wife) might allow the notion of a taxidermied Nelson even to be bandied about indicates how they viewed him. I have paid tribute to Nelson several times on the Funhouse (the clips above are the first installment of a Nelson “mega-mix”) and though it seems like I’ve been mocking him from the get-go, I’ve always been impressed by the little man — as my father remarked when seeing him execute several perfect one-armed push-ups, “I can’t do that anymore, can you?” (of course, he had a little less to push up, but we won’t start quibbling here). Nelson was a magical little entertainer who certainly had the capacity to startle when first viewed (as in Moreau; I can only imagine what his MIA Ratman horror movie must be like). He also couldn’t help but bring a smile to your face. And when he got that booty shakin’, watch the fuck out! I don’t think he’ll be forgotten anytime soon in the Funhouse. And to ensure that, I’ve got two more blog posts comin’ up after this one, featuring the “special” Nelson moments I’ve preserved off of Spanish TV that were featured on the Funhouse.

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Not as essential, but still fun: Nelson in his only music video, "Coolo" by the band Ilya Kuryaki.

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