I used the phrase “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine” today at work, then had to explain it to my co-workers. Gene appeared frequently on The Gong Show. He’d just kind of stroll around, doing his dance, with a big smile on his face.
“But what was The Gong Show?” I was asked. It was a bizarre talent show gameshow developed by Chuck Barris. If you had no talent, folks would bang a gong. Quirkier acts were appreciated. If you didn’t have talent or quirkiness, it helped to be extremely tacky. So it was a lot like other Chuck Barris gameshows.
“What other Chuck Barris gameshows, uncle Lyle?!” Like The Dating Game, with music by the Tijuana Brass. Or The Newlywed Game, which re-popularized the word “whoopee”.
And then of course, Chuck Barris was a coldwar spy for the CIA. Or so says his autobiography. They made a movie out of it, directed by George Clooney, and starring just about everybody, called Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Mainly it’s quirky. Only a little bit tacky. I really enjoyed it.
Gene Gene the Dancing Machine appears in the movie briefly, as himself. I was disheartened to see that his legs had both been amputated. Apparently a side-effect of diabetes. He wore artificial legs. Kind of like a Giant Robot, only not as tall.
Or maybe it was just a movie full of special effects, and the whole thing is a lie, and there really isn’t any CIA.