Stairway to Stardom, or what American Idol filmed in a Staten Island basement 25 years ago would look like - VIDEO
Starting in 1979, Brooklyn resident Frank Masi created and hosted a program on local New York television called Stairway To Stardom. Filmed in what appeared to be a freshly carpeted Staten Island basement, Stairway was an especially early, low-budget predecessor to Star Search and American Idol, but sprinkled with the key element of hometown appeal.
Stairway is a cultural diamond in the rough that has floated around the Internet (and among urban lore) for years. And while it's unlikely that Frank Masi was intentionally humiliating talentless child actors and deluded amateur comics,he may have inadvertently taught the editors of American Idol exactly how to cut their first two weeks of each new season.
Producer Michelle Sharpe brilliantly collected all the videos and has posted them on her YouTube channel. Below are my ten personal favorites (which, like children, are difficult to peg, considering that they're all equally wonderful), but do take the time to view them all. Otherwise, you'd be doing a disservice to yourself and to the history of irony.
The manic, senseless comedic styling of Cheryl Klein, a one-person warning against cocaine use
Precious Taft (that's her "name") delivers a rambling, confusing monologue while covered in her own boogers
Louise Cataldo sings "Hairdresser," wears leather body suit, emotes
BJ The Messenger - incidentally not a muppet terrorist - raps about crack
Toni M. Terrano, who is either seven or 70, sings "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair"
Wayne Rubin "does" "impressions" of "Jerry Lewis" and "Nat King Cole"
Horowitz and Spector - not a law firm, I promise - sing about the perils of dieting (I <3 the 80's!)
Gloria Huddle experiences a religious seizure/gospel orgasm
Lola Perazzo is 12, although not yet aware that wearing a red lycra body suit is inappropriate at any age
Don Costello is obviously ... not well, considering that words can't describe what this is