Wink Musselman:Long Beach's Debonair Lounge Legend Returns

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Wink Musselman holding the press at arm's length.

Back in the '90s and early '00s, there was no question who the star performer was in Long Beach. Wink Musselman, lounge singer extraordinaire, would definitely be the first to confirm that he, Wink Musselman, was--correction--IS the star wherever he goes.

He's a little Oscar Wilde, a tad Engelbert Humperdink, a smidge Gary Coleman of 'Different Strokes.' But know this: Wink Musselman is all fabulousness.

It's been about 10 years since Wink's carefully groomed mane graced stages in America, but thanks to the urging of at least four or five people, he's ready for his triumphant return to the limelight Saturday, Dec. 14, at DiPiazza's in Long Beach.

OC Weekly caught up with Wink--also known as Anson to his horrified psychotherapist mother who once witnessed him on stage doing shots out of a blow up sheep's naughty bits--to find out what he's been up to.

OC Weekly (Arrissia Owen): First of all, how's your hair?

Wink Musselman: (Laughs smarmily). You must be speaking of my big hair phase. The Turks call it bonus hair. The hair at the moment is quite nicely trimmed. I will have to overcompensate for it with my attire.

Have you already picked out your suit for the show?

My stylist insists on velvet always. So I'm just going through my old accoutrements and rings. Every ring tells its own story. My pinky ring is one of my favorites.

How have you been getting back into shape for your demanding, action-packed stage show?

I've been jogging regularly and cut back to three packs of cigs a day. I'm generally eating a macrobiotic diet. I'm also training with Megan O'Toole, who runs the Jazzercise place in Long Beach. It helps with stamina.

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Wink Musselman today
So is this your comeback special?

Yes, Wink is back. Sayeth the Lord.

Is the Lord a fan?

Absolutely. The Lord drew me to music through His love. I've been a conduit. I'm conducting energy from the ether. When I sing Dionne Warwick's material it's His song, His love, and love is His song.

Why is now the right time for a Wink show?

I was at a funeral recently for Don Lee Ellis at DiPiazza's. Don was a man who was very dear to my heart. He was my pianist for years and an award-winning Hammond organ player who retired in the 1980s. He came out of retirement in his golden years for me, but really he was more like my Yoda. He would say things to me like: 'Wink, you sell the sizzle, not the steak.'

When I left the memorial service, Mark (DiPiazza) asked if I would be interested in playing a show. I said 'Absolutely. It's time.'

Don was fabulous. Who makes up the Quartet of Shame these days?

There's Craig Teigen (Afrobeatdown, Thu Winners) on drums, who used to play with Quartet off and on. R. Scott Dibble (California Lions, Helmut Stein Experience) on piano.

There's bass player Adrian Turner, a very accomplished jazz player. Frank Lopez, an excellent tenor sax player. I used to be in bands with him and my musical director/guitarist Brian Gries called Inside Straight and Sonny Boy years ago.

So is this Phase Two for Wink Musselman and the Quartet of Shame?

Absolutely. This incarnation is very different. We still do a few of the original tunes, some bossanova and some lounge standards. But we also incorporated 'Summertime Lover,' a song I originally discovered in a 1988 VHS lesbian porn a friend had.

We are incorporating more sax. It's more Las Vegas and less small cocktail lounge. One of my favorites is 'Up, Up and Away' by the Fifth Dimension. It's so full of wonder and the possibility of tomorrow. And there will be a little nod to Sade and some '80s Tina Turner.

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