The Legend of Salt and Pepper Man

Every convention/fan gathering has its stories.  Tales that will amaze and astound.  The best of them don't come from the "official" part of the show, but happen after hours.  I had heard stories as an attendee at the NYC area Beatles convention (the infamous Beatlefest Hell was penned by my husband before I knew him);  I knew of the videos (it would be years before I finally saw a "bootlegged" copy of "The Passion of the Pitt"), but I didn't experience it until I stayed overnight at the convention hotel and was part and party to the after-hours "show."  (Someday a full post will be dedicated to the now shuttered, long time Secaucus hotel, its broken elevators and eau de hot dog water.  It's an epic tale that deserves to be told!)

To describe it as best as I can would be to say that the official convention is a show, but what goes on behind the scenes and after hours is an experience.  You may not drink or take drugs, but you might feel as if you have as you enter the realm.  There are so many stories...most are not mine to tell (though I may tell them anyway).  But I want to focus on just one:  The Legend of Salt and Pepper Man.

His given name is Paul (or at least that's what I *THINK* it is).  I have no idea what his last name is.  (Which is why I've been unable to find him.)  He has several nicknames:  Mr. Rodgers (for his gray hair and sweet demeanor), Tokyo Rose (because of his obsession with video of the Beatles shows at the Budokan in Tokyo) and of course Salt and Pepper Man (a tribute once again to his hair and his Sgt. Pepper style/era clothing).  He usually carried a shopping bag (with handles) that was filled with his purchases as he wandered from room to room.

There is a rumor that one year he imbibed so much alcohol that he passed out in the men's room.  This in itself is not remarkable, but the story continues on with local paramedics being called and him being rushed to the local hospital (which was thankfully less than a mile away; reason enough to keep the convention at the location) where he was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning and his stomach pumped.  Fact or fiction, I don't know...

What I do know (and have experienced) is that after hours, musicians gather in one of the smaller ballrooms and jam until dawn (or so).  A steadfast and hearty group would gather to listen and sing along.  It was here that S&P Man's true talent would emerge.  He wasn't a musician; he was a dancer! He attacked the floor much like William Hung auditioning for American Idol (anyone remember that?).  This may come off as cruel and perhaps it was in the beginning.  S&P would take the floor and people watched.   You couldn't help yourself.  it was a  mesmerizing sight. But then we started to join in.  It became a bizarre Simon says line dance.  He mimed "picked up my bags; run to the station" and we followed along.  Were we making fun of him?  If we were, he was in on the joke and happily leading us on.  It was a work out that rivaled Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies" and much more fun.   When it was over we were red faced; from the work out AND the laughter.  It became an annual tradition; one I know I looked forward to perhaps more so than the actual convention.

The convention switched dates and hotels in 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival and S&P Man was nowhere to be found.  The following year it moved again from Secaucus.  S&P Man DID show, but only for a brief time.  It might have been then that I spoke to him.  If I remember correctly, he relied on public transportation or car service to get to places.  This new hotel was definitely off the beaten path, making it difficult for him to attend.  I believe he also mentioned that he took care of his mother and she was not doing well.  (Or maybe this is just something that my mind made the story that Paul was actually a scientist who worked in a lab somewhere in NJ.  I don't know where I came up with that one, but it was definitely false.  I can't remember what Paul told me he did for a living, but it definitely wasn't scientist.)  As best as I can recall Paul didn't show at the convention in 2016 or 2017 (which was held in yet ANOTHER different hotel, but this one WAS on the public transportation path which SHOULD have made it easier for him to get there.)

We're coming up on convention time again and I'm wondering if Paul will be there.  I'm HOPING that Paul will be there.   I want to know more of his story.  I want him to have a good time.  But most of all I want to dance!

Since I don't know Paul's full name and Googling "Salt and Pepper Man" turns up lots of good looking guys, but none of them are Paul, I have no way to finding him.  I can only hope that this post finds him or that he shows up at the convention. (And if he does that I get to see him.)  Paul your "fans" are waiting for you. It's been too long! It's time for Paul to dance and for the legend to continue.


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