The Body

The Broadway musical Jesse Ventura never wanted you to hear

 

[Local TV news crews compete for space with a gaggle of Ventura fans at the Mermaid, a working-class sports bar and bowling alley in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. As Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" blasts over the sound system, Ventura, dressed in bomber jacket and jeans, bursts through a side door, fist over his head. He signs a few autographs while Friedline hawks black shirts emblazoned with neon letters that read, "Retaliate in '98." Ventura approaches a tattooed, twentysomething man in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt and leather baseball cap. The man greets Ventura with a can of Pig's Eye and a drunken gleam in his eye.]

VENTURA: Pig's Eye! Quality brewski. Minnesota's finest.

HARLEY MAN: Damn right it is.

VENTURA: I was the pitchman for that beer just a few years ago. Still got free cases of it in my garage. [Pauses a beat to stick an unlit cigar in his mouth.] So, are you going to do your duty and vote this Tuesday?

HARLEY MAN: Damn right. And I wouldn't vote for those other pencilnecks if they put me in Pig's Eye for the rest of my life.

VENTURA: All right then. [Gesturing toward Friedline] Doug, give this good man a T-shirt.

 

[Barkley walks up to Ventura and hands him a microphone. Ventura addresses the crowd.]

VENTURA: Tuesday is an important day for all of us. It's the day we are all given our right to vote. For some of you, it will be the first chance you've had to vote, and I don't want you to blow it.

[crowd whoops and hollers]

VENTURA: [leaning in, bearing down] I've had it with career politicians who get nothing done. I've had it with the tax-and-spend liberals, and the conservatives who want to push their close-minded Christian agenda down our throats. I've had it with politics as usual, and I know you have, too!

[Applause and hollering grows louder.]

BARKLEY: [shouting] What should we do, Jesse?

VENTURA: You know what to do!

[Silence]

FRIEDLINE: [shouting] You'd better tell 'em what to do, Jesse!

VENTURA: [scowling]: We're gonna retaliate in '98!

[Burst of applause]

VENTURA: What are we gonna do?

CROWD: Retaliate in '98!

VENTURA: Louder!

CROWD: [working themselves into a lather] Retaliate in '98!

VENTURA: One more time!

CROWD: [in a frenzy] Retaliate in '98!

[Ventura claps his hands and stomps his feet--everybody joins in. There's a squall of feedback from the orchestra pit as the band launches into "Retaliate in '98," an anthem that conjures both Kid Rock andCabaret.]

VENTURA: [singing]

(CHORUS)

Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate/Retaliate

(VERSE)

I wake up in the morning, kiss the body electric/My wife complains that my life is too hectic/Me, I'm show/Pro-wrestling pro/ When I step on a stage/Watch the spotlights glow

People will say I'm a wasted vote/Scrapin' the fray--like the fringe on my coat/Do-rag tight/I just might/Shock the world/The future's bright

(REPEAT CHORUS)

This lady at my side is Mae Schunk/She's the funky Schunky, I'm the hunk/I need a miracle/Data empirical/She drive the senior block/Hysterical

SCHUNK: [singing]

When I was young, Sinatra was king/I couldn't wait to hear Bing sing/Fifty years later/I'm an educator

VENTURA: [singing] Who on God's green earth is gonna hate her?

(REPEAT CHORUS)

Ali got his start as Cassius Clay/I got my name from that street in L.A./Voters are cynical/Close to pinnacle/If I'm gonna beat the heat/Your vote's critical

From Navy SEAL days, I've found memories/All the broads we knew, fine mammaries/I drink Pig's Eye beer/My son ain't queer/We'll kick this campaign/In high gear

But enough about me, meet Terry/She thinks politicians kinda scary/She rides stallions/Married this hellion/Wants you all to join our rebellion

Let me wrap it up on this note/I need y'all to get out and vote/I'm a type/Not on the pipe/Sorry, Chuck D/Believe the hype!

(REPEAT CHORUS TWICE)

 

VENTURA: There is no such thing as a wasted vote. I don't even care who you vote for. Just do it.

[A pause. More cheering.]

VENTURA: [lowering his voice an octave] And do not let us down!

 

[More cheering as the song kicks in again. Ventura works the crowd, pumping his fist and high-fiving. He makes his way out the side door, and as it slams shut, a round of flash pots and cannons goes off. The stage goes dark.]

 

ACT II, SCENE IV

 

Election night. The exit polls and news broadcasts have been predicting a Ventura victory for hours, but the unthinkable is yet to be officially acknowledged: Neither opponent has called to concede the race.

 

[It's just past midnight and Ventura and his supporters are having an election-night party at Canterbury Park, a horseracing track and card room just south of the Twin Cities. Ventura, chomping on a cigar, is dressed in a black, pinstriped suit and red patterned tie. Dean Barkley and Doug Friedline are both in the room, sweating profusely, cell phones glued to their ears, eyes fixed on a bank of television sets. Terry Ventura and Mae Schunk are keeping a silent vigil. In the background the sound of delirious, drunken supporters can be heard. Chants of "Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!" are interspersed with cries of "Landslide! Landslide! Landslide!" and "Packers suck!"]

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