The Body

The Broadway musical Jesse Ventura never wanted you to hear

The Jesse Musical was a Joke, Folks! Our July 31 cover story, "Jesse Ventura in The Body," was a parody. The music, lyrics, and dialogue were fictitious, not the work of writer Stephen Dolginoff. The e-mails and memoranda in the piece were also of our invention. In fact, Mr. Dolginoff did not participate in the spoof in any way. If there was any misunderstanding as to Mr. Dolginoff's involvement in our parody, we apologize.

The first tip camein early June. It was anonymous: some black ballpoint scribbled on the back of a postcard from New York, mentioning something about "gubernatorial gaffes" and Jesse Ventura's insufferable ego. Interesting for a minute, perhaps--but then again we get stuff like that all the time around here.

A few weeks later, Ventura announced that he would not seek reelection as governor. Shortly after that The Body Ventura, a musical based on the lame duck's life that was more than two years in the making, was put in limbo. Our hopes of hitting the Great White Way to hear songs like "The Heart Is a Muscle," "Hoo-Yah!" and "Win if We Can, Lose if We Must, But Always Cheat" were dashed. We would never know whether the title role would be played by Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff or former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason (you can't make this stuff up).

But then our anonymous New York source revealed himself, and he came through with a spirit-lifting salvo.

Turns out that our correspondent, who calls himself Heath Quincy-Browne, is a Broadway vet who worked on the Ventura musical and wants finished bits of the play to see the light of day. He also wants to set the record straight. Pierre Cossette, the show's experienced producer, and Stephen Dolginoff, a relative unknown who wrote most of the script and 16 songs for The Body Ventura, have publicly praised the governor for his cooperation and input. But Quincy-Browne, who apparently quit as Cossette's assistant just weeks before the project crashed, paints a less flattering portrait of the ex-wrestler.

"Quite unstatesman-like," is how Quincy-Browne, a native of Wales, summed up his impression of the gov in a typewritten letter to City Pages. "The other two chaps can suck up to Jesse Venture [sic] as they wish, but I've no longer got use for it."

Quincy-Browne does confess that he never quite got comfortable "conceptualizing" the musical (a blend of Rocky and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dolginoff told the media). Ultimately, though, he was defeated by Ventura's wrathful meddling. Apparently, while the project was still in its infancy, Ventura became obsessed with casting the musical with close personal pals like Carol Channing and Bill Walton. And Quincy-Browne made the mistake of criticizing Ventura for both his "bullying" and "premature" enthusiasm.

"While I wish Jesse Venture [sic] no ill will, I have forwarded correspondence, a half-written script, song titles, and lyrics so the good people of Minnesota may someday get a glimpse into the self-inflated churlishness of this man," the Welshman concluded in his missive. "I'm going back to the U.K. to regain my bearings. Godspeed, Heath Quincy-Browne."

The package also contained demo tapes of three songs: "I Don't Know the Meaning of Can't," "Football Practice (Drop and Gimme Twenty)," and "Retaliate in '98." And we must admit, they're not half bad.

Repeated attempts to reach Quincy-Browne, or verify his existence, have been unsuccessful. But the material speaks for itself. The governor showed fits of impatience with casting, often complained that the music was "too soft," and pushed to change the content of the musical from G-rated to "gritty, gutty, and R-rated." He also threatened to tell Warren Zevon and Hunter S. Thompson (both tapped for cameos) that Quincy-Browne was a narc.

Until now, we simply knew Jesse Ventura as Jim Janos, a Navy SEAL, professional wrestler, radio jock, action-movie star, agitator, and elected official. This material reveals another side to the man--a deeper, darker side: Jesse Ventura, master thespian.

Thank you, Heath Quincy-Browne, wherever and whoever you are. Godspeed.

 

--PAUL DEMKO AND G. R. ANDERSON JR., JULY 30, 2002

CORRESPONDENCE

 

TO: Jesse Ventura

FROM: Heath Quincy-Browne

SUBJECT: Casting

Dear Friend: Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm, but I really do think Josh Hartnett is going to be a wee bit difficult to procure for the "Young Jesse" role. (He probably can't sing, anyway!) And who is this Jonny Lange [sic] fella? Never heard of him. Does he have much experience on the Great White Way? Either way it's MUCH too early to be tossing about names of actors for the Young Jesse role. After all the script is not yet completed! Godspeed, HQB

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Jesse Ventura

SUBJECT: re: Casting

well excuse Me for butting in. it's only the story of My life. just remember that without Me you have nothing. you are nothing. zero. zilch. I've got a call in to hartnett's people to see when he will be available for the role. I'm sure he'll be honored to portray the young Jim Janoes [sic]. after all, he's just like Jonny l-a-n-g. he's a minnesota boy!

I know you've been talking with david hasslehoff [sic] and boomer esiason to play the roll of Big Jesse. and those are both fine choices. but I wanted to suggest a couple of other possibilities. ever since Me and Terry watched "the king and i," I've thought of yul brynner as a sort of kindred spirit. he understands the isolation that comes with great power. and brother can he sing! My close, personal pal arnold ("I'LL BE BACK!") would be brilliant, too. but he claims that he can't sing. any other thoughts? what about that guy from "fiddler on the roof"? the greek guy.... THE GUV

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