Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Madison-Felix Awards- Miscellaneous Hogwash

The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next four blogs are dedicated to their memory.


          The first year Big Brian and I had the Madison-Felix awards it was in a rented back room of a bar in North Tonawanda (those who know the city, recognize it to be the least of the Tonawandas), which was also being used by another party. We were separated by a partition, but that didn’t prevent them from continuously sticking their mullets in to make a stupid remark or just gawp at us. The only means of we had to show clips was a borrowed 24” TV and a VCR. Hardly satisfactory, but then we didn’t put too much effort into it.

         When we made the decision to do a second year, we had to find something more suitable. One day, I went to the DMV to get my license renewed, it being located then in the Northtown Plaza in Buffalo, and I happened to notice a place, called The Screening Room, tucked away in a corner of the plaza, completely unobtrusive. It was primarily a place that rented itself out for private parties and business seminars, though occasionally showed films on the weekends.

          I walked in and was overjoyed. A large screen filled an entire wall. Seating was done with cafĂ© style table, adorned with a candle, and could handle up to 60 people. We could have the place to ourselves, no uninvited jerks. It was perfect. I talked to the owner and we reached an agreement.
          The Madison’s had found its home for the next nine years. On the day of the last show, we presented the owner (he was a great sport) with a plaque commemorating the show, which hangs on the Screening Room wall to this day. 

                                                             Ode to Knockers

One of the traditions at the Madison-Felix Awards was the reading of Jeff Death’s (RIP) epic poem Ode to Knockers. Jeff’s greatest passion in life was large women, specifically large women with large breasts. And he immortalized his love in verse.
          I hope I shall never see
    A bra size smaller than double D
          Hazel Court running down the stairs.
          Knockers are best because they come in pairs.
          I like knockers (said with a wolfish grin)
          Oh Kitten, oh Tiffany, oh Chastity
          Come away with me
          We’ll go to my farm
          And live high on the hog
          And have big-titted daughters
          That’ll take turns on my log.

                                                        Lisa’s Story

          Every year Lisa P. would entertain the crowd with a soft core pornographic short story, often involving her pet, Tucks the Masturbating Cat- a beast which spent way too much time rubbing its genitals. My mother, of all people, delighted in these tales more than anyone else.
          Her stories were great because they transcended the genre which they were lampooning. By themselves they were lonely housewife romance fodder, littered with the standard clichĂ©’s of “his staff sprang free” and “she grew moist with anticipation”. And yet they revolved around some of the most ridiculous situations I have ever heard. She really was a pioneer of the comedy porno niche- which if it isn’t a thing should be one.
          My favorite one was a story she wrote about Matt Schultz, a frequent guest who habitually had a fight with his on-again off-again girlfriend at the Madisons. In it Lisa described a sexual encounter that Matt had in the bathroom of The Screening Room. Most of the details escape me, but it involved much soap spilling and the roll of toilet paper spinning with every thrust. They were truly unique works.
          BTW Schultz has since declined to add his voice to the menagerie assembled for the guest blog position which will be in two weeks’ time. As to the Schultz fights with his girlfriend, they became an expected part of the festivities. They were so anticipated that one show his girlfriend accidentally knocked a glass on the floor and the entire audience dropped to silence, thinking it was finally going to go off. Then a slow chant began to rise up from the crowd “Fight fight fight fight!” The crowd kept at it until the girlfriend stormed out of the place, Matt chasing after her. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Benny Hill

          We started the tradition of slipping a Benny Hill clip into every show during the 6th Madison-Felix awards. We were tallying up votes and discovered that everyone had unaccountably voted for Jessica Tandy in Fried Green Tomatoes for the Best Supporting Actress Award, rather than Mink Stole in Pink Flamingos – which is what we wanted to show. Brain and I grumbled and moaned at the thought of having to dredge a clip up from the turgidly sappy flick. It went on until I said,

          “Fuck it. Let’s not do it.”

          “Then what are we gonna show?”
A man of subtle variations
          It hit me. Benny Hill had been dead a few years by then, but I still loved his material. I had grown up watching him on late night television, sneaking downstairs to see the show when I was supposed to be sleeping. Most males of my generation who grew up in Buffalo had an appreciation of him. To many he was the English guy who had lots of ribald sexual jokes, in-between songs and slapping an old guy on the head. But I have to say that Benny Hill was one of the best physical comedians that ever graced the screen. A latter day Charlie Chaplin.

          Brian agreed, loving the idea. We inserted the clip which began with several women dancing- the audience being a little confused since it obviously wasn’t Jessica Tandy- then moving onto the back of Hill’s head wearing one of his patented fuzzy blonde afro wigs. When he turned around and revealed his face, the audience went wild, surprised and overjoyed at this inclusion of an old friend. How could they not be?

          After this it became a Madison’s tradition to slip a clip of his in unannounced. He always appeared to applause.

Threatened by Faye Dunaway’s Lawyers

          One of Big Brian’s assumed duties (he assumed them since I didn’t bother) was to attempt the monotonous task of attracting someone famous to the show. In the days before email was commonplace just finding where to send the letters to was a long and arduous task. As with many things with Big Brian I was never quite sure whether he was serious or not, and it was probably both. Brian’s main goal in life was to be amused and it amused him to write letters year after year, only to gather deafening silence in return. Until we didn’t.
          It wasn’t an acceptance letter, but a cease and desist from the lawyers representing Faye Dunaway. Brian has always had a red head fetish and his greatest lust in life was the notable actress (her and Wilma Flintstone). Every year he invited her and every year the letters got weirder and weirder, to the point where he was offering to “let her stay at his place as long as she wanted” (understand this was just Brian’s sense of humor) and describing the delights of Buffalo in such a way as to sound like it was the worst place in the world this side of Beirut. Hence the threatening letter. I’m just glad my name wasn’t attached to any of them- at least I think they weren’t.

          And this leads us to…

Threatened by the Academy Awards

          Apparently not all of the letters sent out ended up directly in the trash. Around the time Brain and I were putting together the 6th show, he received a letter from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (the Oscars). Someone had gotten wind of our “rogue” awards show and for a completely inexplicable reason were demanding that we place a disclaimer in the ceremony stating the Madison-Felix Awards were in no way associated with their little show. We complied. Why not, we thought it was funny. From then on we opened the show with this denial and a picture of an Oscar crossed out.

The Award was Stolen Once

          The Madison-Felix Award, a plastic VHS tape spray painted gold, and glued to a faux marble base- symbol of our renegade status- was once kidnapped. After the 7th show, Brain called me up to ask if I had the award. I replied negative.

          “Someone’s stolen the damn thing.” He roared.

          “No way. Who the hell would want that?”

          He hung up unhappy. About a week later a letter was dropped in my mailbox. In it was a Polaroid of the award tied to a chair and a ransom note made from cut up advertisements.

          “Bring one million dollars to the Amherst Theater at midnight this Friday or else the award dies!”

          Well we couldn’t have that! That Friday I stuffed an envelope with 10 $100,000 bills from my old Game of Life set and placed it in the designated spot. We received no reply. Like the Lindbergh baby villains, the kidnappers took the cash and absconded away never returning the prize.

          We never found what happened to it- apparently it was lost. But the next year when giving away the Most Annoying Use of a Child Award, Matt Schultz admitted to being the culprit. Very good.


          This is where my obsession for every little detail comes in handy. Part of the package of the Madison-Felix’s was a buffet to stabilize your body after all of that beer (We assumed that they got drunk and if they didn’t, they weren’t doing their job damn it!). It was standard Buffalo buffet fodder consisting of pizza and wings and a slathering of celery and carrot sticks- which are traditional with wings in Buffalo for some reason. It wasn’t great, but then no one was there for the food.

          The placement of a meal was initially a problem for us. Originally we served the meal at the beginning of the show, everyone got their fill except for a few stragglers, but by the end a lot of people were still hungry. So we decided to move the buffet until the end of the show- that lasted a year. Half way through the show there was a mutiny and most of the crowd charged into the room where the food was kept, whereupon they gorged themselves. Then they relaxed and started chatting. As the years went on and people moved in different directions they lost touch and would only see each other at the Madison-Felix awards. So they decided to catch up and the babble of their voices drowned out the show. Never let it be said that we didn’t learn from our mistakes. Thus ever afterwards we stopped the show half way through and opened the trough for all.