Shortly after the birth of their son, Hermano was accused of being the local leader of the revolutionary Shining Path under the nom de guerre Comrade Caliente. Fleeing military forces intent on killing him, he snuck his family out of the country by escaping to sea in a homemade canoe.
After a six-week voyage, the Amors ended up sailing up the Los Angeles River and landing in the barren borderland between Tarzana and West Van Nuys, California. Settling there, his father became a bus boy at Encino’s Mahi Mahi Room. The Mahi Mahi Room was famous for being the last home of Xavier Cugat’s conga player Luis Amaya as well as the watering hole for Shriners Local 57, notorious as the only Shriner chapter to be prosecuted under the RICO statutes. They were indicted for having stolen $4 million intended for crippled children and spending it on Mai Tai mix and Polynesian prostitutes.
The conviction of the leaders of Shriners Local 57 resulted in them abandoning their massive record collections of rare Exotica and Latin music to eight-year old Señor Amor. Within months, using this new collection, he began DJing elementary school dances throughout the Central and Northern edges of the San Fernando Valley.
At the sixth grade Sadie Hawkins dance of his own Lanai Road Elementary School, he was spotted by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt the parent of another classmate who happened to be the owner of the Hollywood hotspot Don the Beachcomber. Impressed by the young boy’s deep knowledge of Baja Marimba Band non-LP b-sides, he was hired to use his turntable prowess to serenade the film town luminaries who regularly dropped into his establishment for the most refined and delicious tropical drinks outside of the Big Island.
Within months, Señor Amor was the toast of the town, being booked for private parties by mega stars such as Gabe Kaplan, Ashford & Simpson and LaWanda Page. Variety hailed him as a “child prodigy” and he was soon linked romantically in Teen Beat and other magazines with other youthful media sensations including Melissa Gilbert, Kristy McNichol and First Daughter Amy Carter.
This sudden notoriety caused many problems within the Amor family’s humble home that he’d bought them in the Encino Flatlands with his DJ earnings. Fights were frequent as Señor avoided school to bask in the limelight and hang with friends like Robert Guillame and Harvey Corman. Increasingly erratic, the final straw came during his booking at Caesar’s Palace where he had a nervous breakdown and secretly married Facts of Life’s own Tootie- Kim Fields, despite the fact that both were underage.
After his marriage’s annulment, Señor’s parents withdrew him from school and enrolled him in a Jesuit seminary. A new serenity entered his life and he found happiness and planned to be a priest, a dream that was ruined by his accidental impregnation of a novice in the adjoining nunnery and expulsion from the seminary. Returning in disgrace to Encino with no career possibilities, he discovered that all the members of Shriners Local 57 not in the witness protection program had just been released from prison. They took pity on Senor Amor and offered him a DJ job back at the Mahi Mahi Room.
Excitedly, he immediately contacted his former fellow seminarian Father James N. Loughran who had recently been appointed president of Loyola Marymount University. Señor Amor suggested that the university’s radio station KXLU-FM should broadcast once a week from the Mahi Mahi Room as a way to attract the major donors that Señor Amor knew well from his Hollywood highball days. Father Loughran eagerly agreed, asking Señor to team up with radio veteran Cyrano and insisting he mix in with his cocktail music a bit of the witty repartee and banter about current events for which he’d become so famous at the seminary.
Within weeks of Señor and Cyrano’s debut, the radio station’s ratings sky-rocketed and the donations given by wealthy fans such as Blue Lagoon star Christopher Atkins ensured the radio station’s continued independence. Fame returned but Señor was now at an age where he could finally handle it.
Thirty years on, Señor and Cyrano have weathered this fame, persisting through changing fads in music and their frequent marriage and divorces to stay together. Despite high dollar offers from almost every other major radio station in the U.S. and Canada, they have kept true to KXLU where their show the Molotov Cocktail Hour has been consistently Arbitron rated as one of the top five radio shows in Southern California’s vibrant and competitive Tiki Music Format. And more amazingly- the majority of what they play is still culled from that original collection of LP’s and 45’s first bequeathed an innocent young immigrant boy by the friendly philanthropists of Shriner Local 57.
Penned by Julien Nitzberg from his upcoming biography: “And His Mother Called Him Señor”
This brash young man was known in almost no circles as Cyrano. He assumed the name less for his Gallic heraldry and prominent proboscis and more for the ability to speak his heart through the words and sounds of others. Was he an intellectual cannibal and musical counterfeiter? Was he a shrewd selector and distinct arbiter of sinister, sleazy, 60’s sock-it-to-ya sounds?
Well, the jury is still out on those questions but one thing was for sure:
KXLU had become the beautiful but dull-witted Christian whose mouth would speak Cyrano’s intentions to his fair city. Yet his whispering was done not from nearby shrubbery, but from a duct-taped microphone. The passion and the poetry in his soul found sanctuary in the tunes of Irma Thomas, The Meters, The Skatalites, Willie Bobo, Ennio Morricone, Lee Morgan and Martin Denny. By connecting the dots like tropical constellations of funk, he furthered the work of his mentor and swizzled up a deeply satisfying, hip dropping concoction.
With only 3000 watts of love to give, his method of administration held firm at two unreliable turntables and a mixing board sticky with Vermouth and candle wax.