Friday, June 27, 2008

Come out to Play-ay!!!

Though his performance as the psychotic Luther in The Warriors is what he is most well known for, David Patrick Kelly is also a renowned stage actor who has appeared on Broadway and collaborated with celebrated avant garde playwright Richard Foreman on several occasions.  I was fortunate enough to catch a performance of Foreman's Pearls for Pigs starring Kelly in New York about ten years ago.  Almost as memorable as Kelly's manic performance was the presence of a very entertained John Turturro several seats down from me.

Even less well known than Kelly's stage work, is his music career.  Before embarking on his screen career, Kelly performed at legendary New York clubs CBGB and Max's Kansas City during New York punk's mid-1970s heyday.  Now, over thirty years later, Kelly has self-released an album of his music entitled Rip Van Boy Man.  The disc includes new recordings as well as live performances from his 70s club days.  According to Kelly, Warriors director Walter Hill saw him perform in the Studs Terkel Broadway musical Working and liked his singing enough to encourage the actor to adlib the now-famous "Warriors come out to play!" chant.  I remember being shocked many years ago when I could not find this dialogue in the original David Shaber/Walter Hill shooting script.  You can read about this in an exclusive interview with Kelly at Gareth's encyclopedic Warriors site.  To add another CBGB connection, Kelly has stated in other interviews that the inspiration for Luthor's song came from a Bowery vagrant who would taunt Kelly in a similar sing-songy voice--"David, Daaaavid!"

Just as I was about to publish this post, I discovered a lengthy interview with Kelly at the Drunken Severed Head blog, which I've linked to here.

Oh, and Kelly can sing, too.  You can hear samples and download the album at iTunes amongst several other places.

And, even though they serve as prime examples of Hollywood's unfortunate propensity to pigeonhole talented actors, in Kelly's case as "that psycho guy," I must pay tribute to a troika of post-Warriors unhinged villains...

Luther, 48 Hrs. (1982):

Tommy Ray Glatman, Dreamscape (1984):

Sully, Commando (1985):

I'll sign off with Sully's rather ballsy farewell to Arnold in Commando:

"Here's twenty dollars to get some beers in Valverde.  It'll give us all a little more time with your daughter."  I can only imagine that Sully knew that she'd grow up to be Alyssa Milano.


Nostalgia Kinky said...

Fascinating post...I'm a huge fan of that New York scene in the seventies and hope his new album does well.

Ned Merrill said...

Good to hear from you again, Jeremy. Agreed about the NY scene of the 70s and early 80s.

DPK is interesting because of his connection to two somewhat disparate NY cultural landmarks of this period, CBGB and THE WARRIORS. This is fitting since he was probably the most punk of any of the characters in the film--even if there was another gang called the Punks.