Joseph Carey Merrick (1862-1890), a.k.a. the Elephant Man, had a rare disease called Proteus syndrome that caused exaggerated growth of his body. His head was so large that the hat he wore measured three feet across.
The dancehall star known as Elephant Man could use a hat that size too -- for his ego. With trademark yellow-orange hair, pounds of jewelry, and a custom-designed crotch rocket, Ele is something like the Dennis Rodman of the dancehall scene. Ele says friends gave him the nickname because he had "Dumbo ears."
Funny thing is, the 1980 movie The Elephant Man moved audiences to tears because of its lesson about tolerance. But tolerance doesn't seem high on this Elephant Man's agenda. His tune "We Nuh Like Gay" goes "Queers must be killed!" On "Log On," he advocates stepping on "chi-chi men" rather than gunning them down, chopping them into bits or trampling them, as he has suggested before.
Yet, despite the hate-filled lyrics, as one U.K. blogger wrote, "So irresistible is this record that even a confirmed chi-chi man friend like myself will find the line "log on and step pon chi-chi man" insinuating itself into his brain."
In the past year, protests by gay rights activists forced artists like Beenie Man and Buju Banton to cancel their tours. At the same time, the uproar has made dancehall artists more recognizable than ever.
The bickering reminds many of Eminem, when he came out firing antigay lyrics -- over infectious beats that were impossible not to like, regardless of the lyrical content. Maybe, predicts a fan who posted on Elephant Man's website, this whole saga will blow over soon. "The dancehall artists [will] get in the news all over the world, and that might make them all known, and then [they] all make a small concert with Elton John, and then everybody is happy!" Elephant Man performs at Florida International University (3000 NE 151st St., North Miami). Tickets cost $20. Call 305-919-5524. -- Deirdra Funcheon
My Man Godfrey
Hey -- Isn't that the 7-Up Dude?
We all know that it takes a lot of charisma to go around with one name. Very few have pulled it off successfully -- Madonna, Prince, Jesus. So the comedian Godfrey has a lot to live up to. But give the guy a chance. The son of Nigerian immigrants, his full name is Godfrey Danchimah. So dropping the last name would seem to make things easier, right? Nope. Because his name is Godfrey, he's often confused with Gilbert Gottfried (note the spelling, bozos), the squinty, obnoxious comedian who voiced the talking parrot in Aladdin. Since he recently took over as the 7-Up pitchman, he's confused with his predecessor, Orlando Jones. And because people are stupid, he's sometimes confused with Orlando Bloom.
To end the confusion, you need only see him perform. Set aside the fact that he's the 7-Up dude; Godfrey's a fantastically funny guy. On stage, he's like Richard Pryor with a black-belt, fearlessly blending physical comedy with a style of observational humor as unique as his name. Godfrey performs at the Hollywood Improv (5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood) Thursday through Sunday. Tickets cost $15.98, with a two-drink minimum. Phone 954-981-5653. -- Jeff Megahan
Juanita rocks the sushi bar
Sax player Kenny Maslak (a.k.a. Kenny Millions) met the lovely, Japanese-born Junko, a chef, when he was on tour in Florida. He wrote her a beautiful ballad called "Junko's Dream" and suckered her into marrying him. Junko suggested they combine their talents and open the Sushi Blues Café and Blue Monk Lounge (2009 Harrison St., Hollywood). Thanks to her, you can chow down on a dancing eel roll or a juicy burger while listening to fine musicians belt out the tunes. Blues queen Juanita Dixon -- whom Maslak calls "the best singer living in Florida" -- entertains this Friday and Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Dixon has paid her dues in the Chicago blues scene, has performed at the Apollo Theatre, and sometimes Tony Bennett or Dionne Warwick drop by for her sets. "She knows at least 1,000 songs," Maslak says. "and she's an excellent entertainer -- sassy, classy, and risqué." There's a $10 cover unless you have dinner -- in which case the show is free, but you need a reservation. Call 954-929-9560. -- Deirdra Funcheon
I Dare You, Lenny!
He was a member of the California Boys Choir. His first attempt at stardom involved wearing blue contact lenses and going by the name "Romeo Blue." His biggest hit was a cover of a Guess Who song, and he sold out to do ads for the Gap. But people still think Lenny Kravitz is cool. Just goes to show that an impenetrable six-pack (even his belly button appears to be made of muscle) and omnipresent shades will get you everywhere you need to go in life. OK, it is kind of impressive that he plays every instrument -- even bass, piano, and drums -- on his latest album, Baptism. Kravitz performs Wednesday at the Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). I dare him to do the whole show in a pair of relaxed-fit, pleated khakis. Tickets cost $49.50 to $59.50. Call 954-523-3309, or visit www.ticketmaster.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon