Film “Dons Of Disco” Exposes A Legacy Not To Be Missed

March 21, 2019

Dons of Disco Tom Hooker Den Harrow Jonathan Sutak

I remember when I was a little girl my older sister and I would be bored stiff for two summer months, trapped in my grandmother’s chalet in an infinite horizon of Alps in the Haute-Savoie in France with two VHS’s, three records, and an out of tune piano and guitar wedged between the spiral staircase. On day, I-didn’t-know-how-to-count-yet-endlessness-summer-day, I decided to pull the guitar out and twist all the tuning pegs and play the strings. This, sounded the alarm of discontent to the perfect pitch my father had, mostly focused on peace and harmony. “Oh no. That belongs to your uncle Tom The Star and I don’t know how to put it back.”

“Who is Tom The Star?” I asked him unbothered by what I did because I didn’t know how to ‘put it back’ either. Something I had in common with my Dad which made me happy.

“He’s the one who always makes a fart sound whenever you bend down, remember?” I did, and I laughed at the memory.

So now you have been briefed about the non-disclosure, closure. Even within his own family, we didn’t discuss who the real voice was of Den Harrow. It was not until Jonathan Sutak saw on YouTube, Tom The Star expose Den Harrow for being the face in front of his voice for the very first time.

Jonathan Sutak is the co-editor, director and producer of this feature length documentary “Dons of Disco” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival in Italy. Since, it has premiered at festivals in Arkanas and Portland, at Slam Dance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and the Hot Springs Film Festival in California. The film will be screening in Los Angeles on May 13th at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood and I can’t wait to go!

This is the tagline on IMDB:

“A lip-syncing scandal pits an American singer against an Italian male model over the legacy of 1980s Italo disco star Den Harrow.”

I’m already dying laughing.

Jonathan said in an interview with Park City Television on the Show “What’s Reel” when asked the question, “How does an Italian Male model get involved with an American singer for a convoluted series of events like this?”

Jonathan Sutak’s response to the interviewer, “Den Harrow or his real name is Stefano Zandri used to go to a discotheque in Milan called American Disaster and according to him he would walk in and all the girls would follow him and watch him dance and he was so charismatic and the DJ at the time Miki Chieregato noticed that he along with Roberto Turatti said, “why don’t we use this guy as a front man for an Italian disco project?” They approached him and he was interested. They spoke with the guy who ran Baby Records which was an Italian label at the time and they said, “let’s roll with this.” They went with Thomas Barbey because he had a great voice and he spoke fluent English and the music could appeal to all of Western Europe.”

Full interview below:

The film, in addition to the feud, is also about other Italo disco sensations and their relationships with their fans. How does fan loyalty confuse artistic authenticity? Do the Italian’s see that as a problem?

In an brilliantly written article for GQ Magazine, Alice Gregory writes quoting Tom Barbey, “let me tell you something about Italy,” he began. “In the 80’s, they would smash your window in to areal your car radio. Always. So you’d take it out of the car and bring the stupid thing into the bar or wherever you were going, because otherwise they’d take it. A real pain in the ass.” He continued on to explain that, on occasion, to save himself the hassle, he’d hide the contraption under the seat rather than dragging it around with him. “But sometimes,” Tom said darkly, “it didn’t work. And if you ever told anyone – a bartender, say – that your car radio was stolen, then first thing they’d ask you was, ‘Well, did you leave it under your seat?” And if you said yes, their response was, ‘It’s your fault, then, stupid!”

Tom took another sip of wine and waited a moment for everyone to absorb what he was trying to convey. “That’s how Italians are,” he said. In a country so ridden with cons, where the rules are bent constantly and everyone lies, guile is a national requisite, naïveté inexcusable. “They would be embarrassed to admit that they didn’t know Den Harrow was a fraud.”

For the full article click below:

The documentary may lead us to get us as an audience to consider the larger conversation about dissolving the mystique between what goes on behind stage presence and the real need for stage performance. Do fans create this or are fans lead on by producers?

Just for laughs, let’s listen to Den Harrow’s hit single, “Bad Boy”

And now Thomas Barbey but back then he still had his father’s last name Hooker:

Maybe the conclusion is that Italians just LIKE lip syncing singers? So much, that they would broadcast a staged, stage performance of Tom Hooker lip synching to his own music.

Man, if we could patent and insure our voices, I’m sure Apple and all the rest of them 2% would mark the poverty line.

I hope you buy yourself a ticket to the screening below for a great spin on music documentary filmmaking!

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