Sunday, December 17, 2006

On Mamalukes

In the strange and fading realm of small time rock and roll there is a type of sycophant known as a mamaluke.

A mamaluke is someone who latches on to a band, usually an upwardly mobile one, and attempts to enjoy all of the priviledges of a roadie without doing any of the work. A 'luke will almost never pay a cover at shows and be a frequent backstage presence.

It's important to emphasize the difference between a scenester and a mamaluke. While a scenester often attaches more importance to his fanzine or radio show than it is due the very fact he is doing something useful precludes him from being a mamaluke. Mamalukes don't do anything at all, which is why they are sometimes called "stage potatoes".

While less common than band mamalukes nightclub mamalukes also exist. I worked at the Middle East when it was the hottest club in town and quite a few people 'luked us.

Martin Doyle was an expert at making them useful, and therfore no longer mamalukes. For about a month I had my own chauffeur. Martin had taken a useless, Middle East obsessed 'luke and given him his dignity back by transforming into an avuncular manservant who drove his soundguy around.

This piece was inspired in part by an online discussion with Mark Lind, Tom Walsh and Mark Vieira.


Chris Rich said...

Fabulous,now you gotta do one on your inventive preset EQ mixes at TT's like "Short Bus" and "Big Shoe".

Francis said...

Mamaluke, Mamaluke, will you do the fandango...?

I have almost never paid to get into a nightclub.

It helps to carry a clipboard around.

Of course, if you're certifiably connected to a fanzine or other marginal publication, you can usually sleaze your way in.