There might have been a time in my life when I would’ve been ashamed to admit that my mom made a serious effort to get Barry Manilow to perform at my bar mitzvah. I was (and given the absence of any formal notice otherwise, probably still am) a card carrying member of the B.M.I.F.C. (known to the layperson as: the Barry Manilow International Fan Club).
This is a secret that I’ve managed to keep under wraps since my sisters spilled the beans during their bar mitzvah toast. And nothing, I should tell you, quite says “becoming a man” like the combination of wearing a suit with tennis shoes and having your Manilow fetish outed.
And yet, here I sit, decades later, willing to share this dark secret from my past. Why? Well it turns out that loving Barry is an incredibly popular habit these days. While doing some holiday weekend channel flipping, I came across an episode of Oprah in which the oracle of Chicago described Barry Manilow this way:
“He is one of our most requested guests of all time. And he’s here. So you can all stop calling and writing letters now.”
That seems like an impossible statement, but what possible motivation could Oprah have for lying or even exaggerating?
Remember, Oprah didn’t say that people were happy to see Barry or that the segment seemed to go well. She called him her most requested guest ever. And she interviews everyone from stars to politicians to fake psychologists. A week ago I would’ve found it impossible to imagine that Oprah had received even one letter or phone call complaining that Manilow hadn’t been on for awhile. For a second, I even thought that I was being punk’d by someone. But then I saw them: The screaming fans in Oprah’s studio audience.
Now, to be fair, that same audience members also screamed, cheered, chanted and jumped up and down when Oprah announced that her next book club selection would be The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.
But still, there is really no denying the obvious.
Barry is large. I am music. And I am out of the B.M.I.F.C. closet for good.
I was clearly ahead of my time. Expect wearing suits with tennis shoes to take the country by storm sometime very soon.