Q&A with C.J.: Otis Day, my man, is quite a character

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 5:09 PM

Otis Day has some words of wisdom for entertainers that come too late to help Ron Isley, Wesley Snipes and Lauryn Hill. If you’re up on celebrity news, you already know what Isley, Snipes and Hill have in common, but Day’s reminder in this Q&A is good information for every American citizen.

I met the frontman for Otis Day and the Knights, the fictional band in “Animal House” which went on to play real gigs, last month when MyPillow.com CEO’s Mike Lindell married one of his company’s executives, Dallas Yocum.

Otis sang “Shout” and “Shama Lama Ding Dong” at the wedding reception and was a big hit with people who were not guests of the marriage ceremony, as you can see on my startribune.com/video. There is also a little surprise after the video credit.

Otis is a character, and he’s played a lot of them, too, as his movie credits also include: “Halls of Anger,” “D.C. Cab,” “Which Way is Up?” “Sparkle,” “Thank God It’s Friday,” “Star Chamber” and “Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings.”

Otis is proud of the last one. “I was with Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor, and I won an Image Award as Best Supporting Actor [playing] a deaf-mute,” he said. “Wow, ain’t that crazy?”

 

Q What’s the craziest place you’ve ever found a groupie?

A My God. One time we were on a tour, I had my tour bus. These guys would just throw women on the bus with me and tell me to take off with [their] girlfriends. And talking about, Yeah Otis, we love you. You can have them. I said, “Let me tell you something. Any man [does] that to my daughter, I’m gonna kill him.” That’s all that’s going on. They started laughing. Then one time a lady was in my room, she was with some other people, and she went into the bathroom. She was gone for a loooooooong time. She had passed out and we couldn’t open the door. I had to call the people to take the door off the hinges. She was drunk as a drunk.

 

Q “Animal House” star John Belushi lived fast on hard drugs and died early, but what did you think of him?

A So cool. All we did is got drunk together. We didn’t do [any] drugs. That’s fortunate or unfortunate, depends how you look at it. He worked with us until Wednesday of every week, and then he would go to New York to do “Saturday Night Live,” and he would come back on Sunday night. He was a workaholic. I enjoyed John, I really did.

 

Q In “Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars,” you played a deaf-mute, but I heard that some of your co-stars wanted you to be quiet on the set all the time?

A No, they didn’t think I could keep my mouth closed. You know I’m crazy. They [Williams and Jones] said, You can’t be quiet. They would give me $5 a day if I would be quiet, and I was quiet like this. [Silence.] And I got that money. When they didn’t give me the money, I got loud. It was just fun; we’d go get liquor and stuff. See, James Earl reminded me of my grandfather. So I always called him “Gramps,” but he liked it, I thought.

 

Q What did you think of the 2012 remake of “Sparkle” as a cast member from the original 1976 movie?

A It was all right. Being in the original, anything in the beginning is cool. You can’t add to uniqueness. There is no such word [in his opinion] as uniqueness. Unique is unique within itself. You can’t add to it and you can’t take away from it. It was more like, OK, they tried.

 

Q Do you keep in touch with Lonette McKee from original “Sparkle”?

A Yeah, that’s my girl [as in close friend]. She’s in a play now. When she’s working [I don’t call her as much], because she’s really into her art.

 

Q What do you think about show business?

A I love show business, but I think in order for anybody to get into show business [there’s] one thing you should learn: Taxes. You have to learn about your money. You don’t want nobody to take that from you; then you look like you’re working for nothin’. Everybody, when they leave high school should have a tax class.

 

Q Explain to me how people in show business — and by being so are a constant reminder to the IRS of their existence — forget to pay the government?

A You’re just ballin’, thinking it’s going to last forever. You’re making so much money sometimes you don’t think [the government] is real. You don’t think they will [come after you] until you get those notices. [Hard laughter.] Then you say, “Oh, I’ve got to go do something!” I did that. I was ballin’. I finally got myself together. I went to Tax School. Me and my uncle. [Laughter] I’m paying them back right now, but I’m good, I’m good.

 

Interviews are edited. Contact C.J. at cj@startribune.com and see her on FOX 9.



 

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