Where Is Sir Monti Rock III When the World Needs Him Most?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because Sir Monti Rock III has more outlandish genius flowing through one of his chiffoned outfits than a whole tractor-trailer full of Kardashians.
By Eugene S. Robinson
“I’M THE NINTH WONDER OF THE WORLD!”
The speaker was none other than Sir Monti Rock III, née Joseph Montanez Jr. From anyone else this boast would have been cloying in its naked assertion of greatness, but how else do you explain his rise from Midnight Cowboy hustling and turning street tricks in New York in the 1960s to being on late-night giant Johnny Carson’s show dozens of times in the 1970s and ’80s?
The answer is, You don’t. Because, as Rock explained in one of his appearances on late-night TV in the 1970s, “My whole claim to fame is that nobody knows what I do.”
…as near as you’re ever going to get to a slice of dance floor hysteria from the hysteric heyday of 1970s disco.
Partially true. Forget for a second his appearance as a DJ in John Travolta’s breakout flick Saturday Night Fever, and his appearances in 13 movies plus a handful of Broadway shows. Forget that the Horatio Alger, up-by-the-bootstraps moment came for this Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx when he stopped being a hustler and started being a “hairdresser to the stars.” Forget it all, and if you remember nothing else remember this now 72-year-old Las Vegas resident’s two signature moments of greatness: “Get Dancin’” and “I Wanna Dance Wit’ Choo (Doo Dat Dance).”
They were disco dance floor standards that felt like they were drawn from a live take of a night at Studio 54. The songs show Sir Monti at his best, with his stream-of-consciousness, possibly coke-fueled rebop that just killed.
From signature lyrics like, “Where are you Hollywood when America needs you most?” to “No one cares how you wear your hair, darling,” Sir Monti and his alter ego Disco Tex (with the ever-present Sex-O-Lettes) beat the drum for all kinds of joyous pre-HIV excess. You didn’t have to be high to enjoy it, but many probably were. Produced by Bob Crewe, he of Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack fame, these songs are as near as you’re ever going to get to a slice of dance floor hysteria from the hysteric heyday of 1970s disco.
Just as irrepressible live, Sir Monti watched these songs shoot up the Top 10 charts in the U.S. and the U.K., and, despite the fact that he had been publicly proclaiming that he had no act, his nonact earned the double-thumbs-up from everyone from the aforementioned Carson to Howard Stern, who called Rock “outrageous.”
Now he’s an ordained minister in Las Vegas, and despite his public claims of maternity — “I’m Ricky Martin’s mother!” — Rock is rolling like he always has: hard. Rumors of books and biopics abound. Which is to say: Enjoy him while you can.
“My wig is wet, my chiffon is wet…”
We would not have expected anything else, Sir.