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The following interview was done late 1993 and appeared in SHOCKING IMAGES #3 and #4.
Part 1 / Part 2


SI: When did your comedy career start?

RRM: My comedy career began in '59.
SI: How did you decide that was what you wanted to do?
RRM: Well, I had a lady friend in Cleveland, Ohio that used to do comedy, Caldonia Young. She had a comedy act and I used to watch this lady and mock her. Then when I came to Los Angeles, I went on stage and did her act and that went fantastically fabulous. So from then on I was doing comedy.
SI: When did you come to California?
RRM: I came to California in '59.
SI: How many comedy albums did you release?
RRM: 18.
SI: During what years did those span?
RRM: 1970 up until 1985 I was still making albums. But I have 18 in all. I'm doing new ones now. I did rap albums since then.
SI: Those early ones were released on Laff Records?
RRM: No. They were released on my own label.
SI: That was Comedian International?
RRM: Yes, and I leased them to Kent Records for major distribution.
SI: Wasn't Laff Records the main black comedy label?
RRM: No.
SI: Wasn't Leroy and Skillet, Jimmy Lynch, LaWanda Page, and others coming out during that time?
RRM: Yes. They didn't have the monstrosity of the albums though. They didn't have the bigger hit records. Leroy and Skillet had one that did pretty good called "2 or 3 Times a Day". Everything else on Laff was just records. But I hit big with mine. I made Billboard charts with mine.
SI: What happened to all those other comedians?
RRM: Leroy had a stroke and Skillet retired. Jimmy Lynch lives in Mobile (Alabama). LaWanda Page is doing great with commercials and everything. But the biggest black comedy label was Dooto. They featured Redd Foxx, Leroy and Skillet, myself, and many other comedians appeared on the Dooto label. Laugh come out with comedy records during the same period I did. They came out in 1969 and they had a lot of local comedians, but none of them ever got real big. The only one you could think off was Leroy and Skillet.
SI: What happened to Blowfly?
RRM: Blowfly lives in Miami. He appeared on a label called Weird World. That's the company that was put together out of Miami, Florida.
SI: Did he ever make any movies?
RRM: No.
SI: In your opinion, who started adult oriented black comedy first?
RRM: Redd Foxx. I am the first one to do explicit language. The first one on the face of the earth to do four letter words on a record. When my records came out, the record stores were afraid to put them on the shelf. They would hide them under the counter. Redd Foxx come out in 1954 with albums but they didn't have the explicit language on them. They had adult style phrases, double meaning words. You know. He never said "motherfucker" and all that on records. Not in his period before we popularized that on record. I am the one who popularized that on record. They've influenced a whole generation of comedians behind me. Every comedian in the business now is a part of me. A chip off of me. Because I'm the first one to have the NERVE to do it long ahead of time
SI: You still do a lot of stand up today?
RRM: Yes. If I didn't have that, I couldn't make it. My stand up comedy act is what made me able to keep going. All the other movie stars of the blaxploitation era, they're not doing anything. But I had a stand up comedy act. So I can go week after week, month after month, year after year, and still be doing shows.
SI: I heard there may be a box set of your releases coming out?
RRM: No. My albums are released by J&J distributors out of Chicago. He did talk to me about doing a package on them, but we hadn't come to any agreement on it. I own all of my records.
SI: Some of your biggest characters that you did were Dolemite and Shine.
RRM: Shine and the Great Titanic, Dolemite, Petey Wheatstraw, and Dangerous Dan.
SI: The good fuckin' man!
RRM: Yes. Those are some of my strong characters. And I created lady characters like Hurricane Annie.
SI: Where did the name Dolemite come from?
RRM: Dolemite comes from vitamins. It gives you strength. So I said, "Well, maybe I should call myself Dolemite because this is strong." Bad Dolemite!!
SI: How often do you do live performances now?
RRM: I do it sometimes. Weekends, like Friday and Saturday. Sometimes I go from city to city.
SI: So you do a lot of traveling?
RRM: I just got back from Chicago where I was at the world famous Regal Theater. Me and Big Daddy Kane, the rapper.
SI: You made an appearance on one of his albums too.
RRM: Yes, TASTE OF CHOCOLATE.
SI: How old are you now?
RRM: 56.
SI: What would you like to do in the future?
RRM: I would like to do another movie and I'm also in negotiations with a big company here to do my rap album, Filthy McNasty. I'm trying to rap a style that both adults and young people would like. I wanna split myself down the middle. I don't want it to be too hip hopish. I want it to be just middle-of-the-road enough so that it will appeal to both sides. So we're producing it now.
SI: Where can people get your comedy releases? At least for me, I had trouble finding them at first. Is there a mail order address?
RRM: Yes. Comedian International, P.O. Box 11591, Los Angeles, CA. 90011.
SI: I heard a rumor about a Rudy Ray Moore preservation society.
RRM: Not to my knowledge. I've had different groups come to me with ideas like that and so called fan clubs. But I have never known of anything to really get off the ground for me like that. Although I have a lot of fans. Fans in the south. I get great letters about my work. They're mostly all white that be writing me these letters. They have been turned onto me in the later years.
SI: I happened upon you by accident a few years back.
RRM: Stumbled upon it?
SI: Yeah, after seeing DOLEMITE.
RRM: It is one of the early movies of that period. That was big, big, big in the theaters. It was poorly and cheaply done but it really... Let me tell you how DOLEMITE did in Chicago. When we played it there they had Mandingo (1975) playing. A United Artists picture. I had DOLEMITE. A little home made picture. And did you know that DOLEMITE grossed MANDINGO there in the same week that they were shown? Mandingo cost $6-7 million and DOLEMITE cost only $140,000. So you see how strong I was up against something that had a lot of money into it. What I could do with nothing. I made my party records like that. I made my party records in my house. I would get a little alcohol and orange juice and stuff and invite friends up to my house and bring a technician up and let him record me in the house. That's how I made my party records, very inexpensive. People come and laugh for free, 'cause I'd have a party for them. That's why we call them party records.
SI: What's you opinion on comedy, especially black comedy, today?
RRM: Well, the black comedians today, there are a lot of them and some are doing well. But I said "When the smoke settles, I will still be standing", because I am so professional and so strong that I don't bomb out nowhere. I am always guaranteed to sell. The comedians today are not like the comedians that come along with me. We were comedians that could be heard and enjoyed. The comedians today have to be seen to be enjoyed, visually. Audio, you know, to put them on a phonograph record, the stuff that they do would have no great impact unless you could watch them do it. But I was the type of comedian that could do stuff and you listen to it and it would get across. So my opinion of the comedians today is that you need to structure yourself in the way you can be heard and seen and go over both ways.
SI: Are you happy with the way your career has turned out?
RRM: To a great degree. A lot of the comedians that come along with me don't even have jobs today. They can't work. They didn't become popular enough to survive in this period. Although there was one come along behind me using the same thing that I was using that got real big. That was Pryor. I didn't get as big as Pryor but I was satisfied by getting as big as I did. Pryor never give me any credit. But I am almost 100% sure that he was influenced by me getting through with the type of comedy that I did get through with, that he picked up and the companies exploited him highly with it. But I am the originator! Everybody else is the imitator.
SI: Is there anything else you would like to add to this?

RRM: I tell all the rappers today. When it comes down to rappin', I was through with it before you ever learned what to do with it. I say you can't out thank me, out think me, out walk me, or out talk me. I am the godfather of all rappers!

Part 1 / Part 2

 


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