That disheveled lump of greasy lard on the bed is the hero of our story. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the world knew him as “Johnny Passion,” the once handsome front man of the rock group, The Love Muscle.
This battered, balding, bloated creature with hair growing out of places hair should not be allowed to grow, sleeping fitfully on sweat stained sheets used to be that Johnny, the “original pop star.” These days, Rocker Boy, Mr. Passion, spends most of his time snoring, alone, in his king-sized bed. He abandoned his own successful singing career in 1972 because of an incurable broken heart.
With a Thong in my Heart
Johnny- The Formative Years
“Johnny” Passion was born Ionel GrtwszxtszckKyzt, (pronounced: Mngytr-grrrst-blik) in 1950, from immigrant Romanian parents.
Johnny’s parents, Vlad and Bebe were not what you would call “your average, fresh-off-the-boat hardworking Eastern Europeans.” The GrtwszxtszckKyztes came to America as wealthy underwear magnates, who wanted to realize their real dream of becoming professional entertainers.
Vlad and Bebe arrived at Liberty Island when the inebriated captain of their ship The Panty Liner, fell asleep at the wheel while heading for the Hamptons. The moon happened to be full, so Vlad, feeling frisky, ripped the captain’s throat out as retribution for the inconvenience.
We don’t know very much about Johnny’s parents, except that mom, Bebe, worked in “advertising” under the name “Bubbles LaRue,” while his father, Vlad, played drums under the name “Sammy Davis jr.- jr.-jr. or Sammy Davis IV,” although Vlad’s black housekeeper and drum teacher, Mattie, used to tell him, “You’re the whitest white boy I ever did see.”
The GrtwszxtszckKyzts had changed their last name to wife Bubble’s maiden name, Passion, after the first year in America.
* * * *
As a duo, Sammy (Vlad) and Bubbles (Bebe) were very popular entertainers in Romania Town, an area which encompassed three small apartments above a candy store in Brooklyn.
When the four-year-old Ionel (pre-Johnny) entered private nursery school, he was registered by his mother as Ionel Passion.
Ionel’s parents retired from show business in 1955, and opened an exclusive New York lingerie store called “In a Bunch,” where the child spent most of his charmed childhood.
* * * *
“The women customers would ask me, when I was still a child, to sing for them while they tried on different items in the dressing rooms. After trying on intimate apparel, the finest women in New York would toss the ‘gently’ used items over the dressing room door, virtually burying me, a little kid in (mostly) sweet smelling undergarments.”
— Johnny Passion, The Authorized Biography
* * * *
In those happy, formative years, the future Johnny Passion had decided what he wanted to be when he grew up: Covered in ‘sweet smelling undergarments.’
In his will, many years later, he would again request that he be buried beneath ‘sweet smelling undergarments.’
* * * *
The Passions sold their business in 1960, and moved their family to California. They knew that Los Angeles was the right choice for their talented son. They were sure that he would someday be a star. He would become a household name, like Windex or ‘Hey you!’ The entire world would soon know Johnny Passion!