Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: The King of Cabaret

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: The King of Cabaret

Article excerpt

A few weeks ago, John Loan, a forty-five-year-old events planner, was arrested in Manhattan and charged with embezzling more than three million dollars from the firm he worked for, Alliance Capital Management. This was no ordinary swindle. Loan reportedly used the money--which prosecutors say he stole by writing checks to a company he'd created, called Beautiful Parties--to perform good deeds: to pay the medical expenses of an AIDS-stricken lover, start a foundation for victims of Down's syndrome, and give friends and acquaintances the funds to cover everything from back rent and college tuition to a quadruple-bypass operation and a trip to Lourdes. He also became, under the pseudonym John Jerome, a self-styled impresario of cabaret, a patron of uncommon largesse whose arrest has deprived the straitened world of torch singers and supper clubs of its latest great hope.

In the fall of 1999, Loan--who had been advertising his services as a private acting coach--started turning up, dressed in leather pants and a mesh T-shirt, at Arci's Place, Triad, and other cabaret clubs around town. He introduced himself to everyone as John Jerome, and asked performers why they didn't have CDs coming out. He was starting a record label, Jerome Records. Its logo was a blue butterfly, and its slogan was "You're Going to Be Surprised."

Over the next year, Loan hired a public-relations firm, placed ads in trade publications, and commissioned Al Hirschfeld to draw a caricature of him. He issued seven CDs (among them the debut recording of Kristopher McDowell, his former boyfriend) and made lucrative deals for more than a dozen others, with a roster of artists comprising relative unknowns (Laurie Krauz, Jessica Molaskey, Anna Bergman), cabaret regulars (Heather Mac Rae, Jeff Harnar, Phillip Officer), and Broadway veterans (Karen Mason, Christine Andreas, Mary Testa), along with the seventy-seven-year-old singer Julie Wilson and a Barbra Streisand impersonator named Steven Brinberg. Loan rarely haggled, either over contracts (his entertainment lawyer also represented many of the singers who recorded for him) or over creative decisions (Heather Mac Rae says that he told her, "Do whatever you want--I have no artistic control"). When Mac Rae--who is the daughter of the late actors Gordon and Sheila Mac Rae--couldn't afford to promote a CD she had recorded for another label, Loan bankrolled an engagement for her at the Firebird night club. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.