Bowzer Got Me Kicked Out of the Hillary Rally
Jon Bauman came to Iowa to add a little star power to the Hillary campaign. Who?
Jon Bauman, Bowzer. Who? The man who made Sha Na Na great. What is a Sha Na
Na? Anytime some dirty hippie waxes poetically about the cultural importance of
Woodstock, just remind them that Sha Na Na played it. They preceded Jimi Hendrix
on stage. They were the next to last act of the festival. Hendrix, a rock god in a
Purple Haze, one of the greatest guitar players ever, had to stand off stage as a
gimmicky greaser 1950s nostalgia doo-wop band complete with gold-lamé outfits,
pompadours, and ducktails delighted the zoned-out-of-their-minds kids. I
guarantee you somewhere in the crowd some kid said, “That Jimi Hendrix was great,
but he is no Sha-Na-Na.” It was having Lawrence Welk open for The Sex Pistols.
Jon “Bowzer” Bauman became the face of Sha-Na-Na a decade later when they got
their own hugely successful variety series. It was one of the most watched shows on
TV. (It is like I have always said. The 1960s were the party where most of what you
did, thankfully, you don’t remember, the ‘70s were the green and gold hangover
afterwards, and the ‘80s were the over-correction pledge to never put yourself
through any of that again.) A young Bruce Springsteen even opened for them for a
time. They were the dance band in the movie Grease.
Bowser was the extremely skinny, black t-shirt-with-the-sleeves-cut-off-wearing,
and the deep-bass-voiced comic relief of the group who is mainly remembered for
tilting his head back and opening his jaw so wide it looked as if he could swallow his
Then one day Sha Na Na just seemed to disappear. It’s as if they were taken away to
the same island as Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine; Raymond J. “You Can Call Me
Ray or You Can Call Me Jay” Johnson, Jr.; the Hee Haw Honeys; and the C.W. McCall.
Never to be spoken of again.
When Hillary needs someone to rally the troops, I think Bowzer. Okay, I don’t, but
there he was in front of Hillary’s biggest Iowa event to date trying to inspire the
faithful. Now, I will admit that it is hard to be inspirational when 99 percent of the
people filing past you have no clue who you are.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Bowzer. If I could wake up one morning half-naked on a
stranger’s yard, smelling of Johnny Walker Blue and cheap stripper perfume, with
no memories of the previous evening and Lolo Jones’ private phone number written
across my chest in lipstick, and lying next to Adam West, William Shatner, Reb
Brown, Tex Cobb & Bowzer, I will have officially lead the greatest life ever.
It is difficult to get Iowans excited in general. Jesus could return in a cloud of glory,
and Iowans would ask him to wipe his feet before coming in. It is even tougher in a
crowd of hundreds when the only people that I know are myself and a couple blue-
haired, old ladies who would throw their panties at Bowzer if it were not for their
Bowzer: “I say Hillary. You say…”
Iowans: [long silence] “Who are you?”
Bowzer: “Bowzer…” [Silence] “Sha Na Na…” [silence] “Perhaps you remember some
of our great covers like ‘Goodnight, Sweetheart’ or ‘Hand Jive’… [silence] ‘Doo, doo,
de, da, doo.’ “ [silence]
Still, he managed to get some response, which showed the charisma of Bowzer.
Granted, it was like trying to lead a pep rally for a denial visit. (“I say root. You say
canal. root…”) These are Iowans after all.
I had so many questions for Bowzer. How much did he know about the child killer
who escaped from prison and pretended for years to be the lead guitar player of Sha
Na Na? Because, if you want to go unnoticed while on the lam, advertising yourself
as the former lead singer of Sha Na Na is better than any old fake bushy beard and
Groucho Marx glasses. (Elmer Edward Solly spent 27 years recording albums and
touring around Florida pretending to be Vinnie Taylor, who had died of a heroin
overdose in 1974. Advertising himself as “the bad boy of Sha Na Na,” he had a
website for the band’s fans. He even tried to convince one of Vinnie’s best friends
and former band-mates that he was his long-dead friend. It would make a great
Problem is I am a polite Iowan. So, I just told him he was great and asked him to
sign a baseball I had in my pocket. I always carry a baseball with me to political
events or huge gatherings where a celebrity might be. They make nice display
pieces. I had gotten most of the Republican candidates to sign balls and even Bernie
Sanders put his John Hancock on the sweet spot for me and then waxed poetically
about his days throwing the old horsehide around with Abner Doubleday. I thought
maybe I could add Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea to my collection. I call it my D-level
celebrity collection. I beamed with pride as Bowzer talked about how much fun it
was to put his signature on a baseball (and then run away before kids yelled at him
to stop touching their ball).
A police officer watching Bowzer and me talk walked over and informed me that I
could not have the baseball there because it could be used as a weapon. It was one of
those soft baseballs that over-aggressive fathers with major league dreams fire at
their toddlers at point blank range, so when the kid misses, it does not result in a
droopy eye the rest of the their life. (It was all I had. I’m cheap.) I even gave the
officer a squeeze. Weapon?
Being more than a football field in length away from the people onstage, I thought
about pointing out that all the people near the stage with camera tripods could
break off one of the legs and use it as a javelin, but I have this rule about not talking
back to police, especially when there are Secret Service in the crowd. These are
individuals who could make you disappear into some black site in some god-
forsaken backwater hellhole like Afghanistan, Cuba, or South Carolina before you
can snap your fingers, and I like to remain on their good side. They have a job to do.
If they say they don’t want anyone wearing Crocs [Publisher’s note: I love Crocs!] in
the audience, well, that eliminates half the GOP voters; but you don’t wear them. It is
“Yes, Sir,” and “No, Sir,” in such situations.
Not so much for my friends who were with me. They started mentioning how they
were probably more likely to be able to hit Hillary with their cell phones than I
could with a baseball at that distance. All I could think was, “If these idiots don’t shut
up, I am going to get tasered in front of Bowzer.”
I have no problem with what he was saying. He gave me the choice of handing him
my $2 baseball, now probably worth $2.08 with Bowzer’s signature, and staying to
hear the woman who might be the future leader of the free world or of leaving and
sitting in a cold car for an hour or more until the rally ended.
Easiest decision of my life. That Bowser baseball was going to sit next to my Gene
Simmons signed bobble head on my bookshelf.
With the police officer next to me, I turned to leave when in came three Hasidic
Jews sporting Bernie stickers who were there to disrupt the lady wearing the
pantsuit about to speak on stage. The cop suddenly forgot about me. Law
enforcement had their targets in sight. They were going to kick some Hebrew
So, my dangerous, child-safe, soft baseball and I got to stay. Here is what is sad. I
did not get a chance to hear Hillary speak. I felt the call of nature and made a b-line
to the nearest restroom. Enjoying a little peace and quiet, I suddenly heard in the
stall next to me, “Doo, doo, de, da, doo.”