Blackie Parrish is all grown up and baring his ass on Broadway.
John Stamos is a good boy always trying to play bad. He followed his role as Blackie on General Hospital with a turn as the rebellious heartthrob Uncle Jesse on the hit ABC sitcom Full House , a role which made him famous in American living rooms in the late 80’s. Last year People magazine named him the Sexiest Comeback of the Year for Thieves, an ABC drama he produced himself, in which he played a jewel thief turned F.B.I. agent. It got canceled.
For his current role, as the pansexual, half-naked M.C. in the raunchy, production of Cabaret at Studio 54 in Manhattan, he wears red sparkles on his nipples and red lipstick on his mouth. The other day, he saw himself on the side of a bus. “I spit out my omelet,” he said. “I didn’t know they were doing it. Seeing your face on the side of a bus-and there’s a big picture on Times Square, which is kind of a trip because Rebecca has one like right on the next block, so we’re both up there.”
“Rebecca” is actress and supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, his wife of four years. Her career has been on an upward curve: After hosting MTV’s House of Style from 1998 to 2000, she played “the most beautiful girl in the world” on an episode of Friends , which led to eight episodes as David Spade’s fashion-model wife on Just Shoot Me . Next came small parts in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and X-Men. During Mr. Stamos’ Broadway run, they’ve been living on the Upper West Side.
There’s something naughty about the couple, like a pair of junior-high-school kids who giggle at dirty jokes. Mr. Stamos told US Weekly in February that he and his wife threw a cross-dressing party at their California home, and that guests’ clothes sometimes end up on the floor. Mr. Stamos calls her “Rebecca Remain-Silent” when she talks too much; she calls him “Monkey” because he looks like one. The couple have been hanging out lately with Howard Stern.
“He’s been incredible to me,” Mr. Stamos said. “And he’s been a big help with Cabaret . I think he’s helped sell a lot of tickets. He came to the show the other night. I don’t want to talk much about him, but he’s a really good man; he’s been really good to me. I have nothing but respect for him.”
Mr. Stern has made good use of these two pretty stars, telling his radio audience that Mr. Stamos tried to pick up his girlfriend and that Ms. Romijn-Stamos gave him a topless dance at a party.
In his dressing room at Studio 54, Mr. Stamos, who is 38, listens to classical music to get into his character, whom he sees as an amalgamation of Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Madonna and Sid Vicious. He has pictures of all of them in his dressing room. And one of Hitler. “Just to kind of scare me a little bit,” he said. He plays the M.C. eight times a week (twice on Saturdays and Sundays). The impish Alan Cumming received wide acclaim and a Tony for the role in 1998. Was Mr. Stamos intimidated?
“I did think that,” he said. “But when I started out, I had this dumb, unscared attitude about everything. I wanted to be an actor, I got up and did it. Then as I got older I became more insecure, and then started building obstacles. You know: ‘I can’t do this because of that .’ And I was on a kids’ show for a long time, and my image is this -and I got pissed off at myself. And I kind of got awakened by watching my wife having the young attitude that I did. She’s this big movie star now. She just had no inhibitions and no obstacles, put nothing in her way. That’s why I wasn’t that scared doing this part. I mean, I was ; I mean, it’s a daunting, scary thing to do. But on the other hand, what am I going to do?”
Last year, he said, he was “fat, drunk and stupid.” It had been a hard year. His father died last summer, and ABC canceled Thieves .
“I don’t know if I could do the part I’m doing now if I didn’t go through the rough year that I’ve been through,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but my life has been pretty perfect up to now. I’ve had a great family, good friends and a great wife. I’ve been really blessed-really, really blessed. And death is something that everybody has to go through, so I’m not special or anything.”
He started rehearsals for Cabaret in mid-April. “I’m jubilant, I’m growing, I’ve never been happier in my career,” he said. He’s lost 25 pounds, stopped drinking more than a glass of wine every now and then. Even so, the character of the M.C. still baffles him somewhat. “For some reason, you never know who this guy is,” he said.
The ‘Kokomo’ Video
John Stamotopoulos put on puppet shows as a kid in Orange County, Calif. His mother was a former swimsuit model. His father, who owned fast-food restaurants, took him to the horse races.
“I was always kind of a little thief,” he said. “I’d get programs and sell them, and I got caught and locked up in the horse-racing jail. But I’d make five, six bucks a night. My dad had to come bail me out. He had encouraged it-he’d bring me in, I’d ask people for their programs as they were leaving, then sell them. I had no problem stealing. I was a thief. I remember I would steal shit from every-from a lot of places. Later I felt bad, my conscience. I’m glad I never got caught, glad I stopped.” He spent a lot of time at Disneyland. Later, after he made it big, he spent $30,000 on eBay to buy a giant Disneyland sign.
He was a popular guy in high school. After graduating, he did a Coca-Cola commercial with Bill Cosby; then came General Hospital. Instant teen idol. He was nominated for an Emmy at 19. At 21, he got a gig part-time playing drums with the Beach Boys and went on tour with them.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is good. I like this,’ he said. “One time I walked into my dressing room, opened my closet, and there was a naked girl in my closet. Scared the shit out of me. Security came in and I said, ‘Well, maybe don’t take her away so fast.'”
One of his first shows with the Beach Boys was in front of a million people in Washington D.C. He ran around the world with the band on and off for 15 years, appeared in the video for the song “Kokomo” and sang on the group’s 1992 album Summer in Paradise.
He did two seasons of a short-lived sitcom, You Again, with Jack Klugman, and then, in 1987, Full House , in which he co-starred with Bob Saget and the Olsen twins. His character, Uncle Jessie, had a mullet haircut and rode a motorcycle. His trademark line: “Have mercy!”
“You know, I was in my 20’s and it was cheesy,” he said. “You get on a show-when I accepted that show, it was the guys who did Bosom Buddies . It was gonna be that and a couple of kids. And then it turned into whatever it turned into. We couldn’t really control it.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “It did a lot of nice things for me. The problem is, it’s like looking at old, bad pictures of yourself. It was bad haircuts. Somebody else can hide old pictures of themselves in a drawer somewhere. Mine are on television three times a day in syndication.”
What does he do when he comes across a Full House rerun?
“I turn the channel as fast as I can.”
Around the time the sitcom folded in 1995-and after dating numerous beauties, including Vanity and Paula Abdul-Mr. Stamos started dating his wife. He proposed to her naked; they married in 1998.
“I think we just have chemistry; it just works,” he said. “I’ve always had this incredible love for her, and I thought it was impossible to get any deeper, but it has. During this year and during this time here in New York, she’s been like the most supportive-she’s just been by my side this whole time, given me this confidence, this strength. I just have this deeper love for her lately. It’s just been incredible.”
Recently, the New York Post ‘s Page Six reported that Ms. Romijn-Stamos was looking “zaftig.” Was she pregnant?
“No, but we had like 10 calls yesterday,” he said. “She’s definitely not pregnant. She’s getting ready to do X-Men 2 . We’re certainly ready. I think the plan is to really start thinking seriously about it after this next movie she’s doing.”
Mr. Stamos recently created a show for MTV, The Virgin Chronicles , in which celebrities are asked about first cars, first kisses, first sex. (Mr. Stamos lost his virginity at age 17 with a woman who was 26.) His next project is producing The Martin and Lewis Story for CBS. In the early 80’s, Mr. Stamos met Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and worked with Sammy Davis Jr.
One night, he took his parents to see Sinatra. Don Rickles was on the bill.
“At the end of the concert, Rickles comes out and he’s introducing celebrities in the audience,” said Mr. Stamos, “and he mentioned me and said, ‘He’s probably sitting out in the grass in the cheap seats. In fact, he’s probably smoking grass.’ Sinatra grabbed the microphone and said, ‘Smoke one for me, Johnny!'”
These days, Mr. Stamos is into naps. “It’s so weird,” he said. “I remember when I was younger and around older people, like the Beach Boys. You’d get to a gig and they’d be like, ‘How’d you sleep last night, you sleep O.K.?’ And I’d be like, ‘Sleep? Who the fuck … ?’ And now I’m like that guy: ‘How’d you sleep?'”
Now that he and Ms. Romijn-Stamos are working steadily, he sleeps pretty good. One of his nicknames for his wife is “Cash Cow.”
“I’m so proud of her, so excited for her,” he said. “I have to check myself, like, ‘What? Why aren’t I jealous?’ I should be. I mean, she’s making big movies.”
Not that the residuals from Full House have hurt him.
“Again, I have to be political when I talk about the show,” he said, “because for whatever reason, it means a lot to a lot of people. But almost every day, I was like, ‘I gotta get into bed with a monkey ? I mean, why?’ I just did a show the other night-standing ovation, it was this great thing. I go home, and the next morning I turn the TV on, and I’m in bed with a monkey beating me in the ass.”