Wunderbar, Wunderbar


LOCATION West 57th Street

RENT $672.36 [rent stabilized]

SQUARE FEET 700 [studio in pre-war, 36-unit elevator building]

OCCUPANT Douglas Jabara [singer]

You’re eating a sandwich! Do you mind? I just sang through Carmen. My neighbors? They love it. They say, Open this door. Oh, you sound really good today. The ones that come are like the elderly people. There are two architects down that hall, a director-choreographer on the right. He’s the one who hired me to sing in Cats—Old Deuteronomy. I said, Oh boy, I don’t dance. He said, Don’t worry. You just sit on a tire. This was in Hilton Head. Want some fudge? I just came from the Poconos.

Eating fudge! It’s like we’re on vacation. Exactly. I’m always on vacation. I read all these books about feng shui. I’ve been here 15 years now. It got so cluttered. The fudge is good, isn’t it? Ever go to the Poconos?

No. My dad has a place up there, so pretty. There were two great things I learned from feng shui. One, throw out the clutter. Two, treat each part of the room as a separate room even though there are no walls. [He indicates the couch where we are sitting.] This is the living room. [He walks to the corner where the bed is.] The bedroom. [He whistles, walks near the piano, holds up bells.] These give you the impression you might even be outside with the cows. Over here is Jabara, Inc.—computer, cell phone charger, all my kooky, personal stuff, all the baloney. Photo—my buddies from college. I got my degree in biochemistry at Penn, the Ivy League one. I was going to be a doctor. Senior year at the Water Club—my girlfriend had a party. Where is she? Bay Ridge with kids. No, she didn’t make the wall.

This plate is painted with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. I was Curly in high school. Oh, we got it all—Yul Brynner on a plate. I got every character I ever played on a plate. Almost. [He winds up a miniature covered wagon.] It plays slow-motion “Oklahoma.” My family, they’re importers, tablecloths from Portugal. My family’s huge. The beautiful thing about the Lebanese culture, if somebody’s older and they go to your church, they’re an aunt. I have 32 aunts.

You’re so homey. You have all these packages of cereal. I love storage. That’s why I want to have a house. Well, there’s going to be one in Italy, probably Lucca, and another in New Jersey with the rest of my cousins so our children can grow up together, and the third is going to be by the water so I can have a big boat, wait, two boats, a fishing boat, strictly for me and cousin Henry, who loves to fish and . . .

You got this apartment years ago because you went to Italy. My mom said, Don’t spend the money. Mom, whatever. My buddy Arthur and I are on a bus. Arthur’s a big lawyer now—you see him on Court TV all the time. Arthur’s father’s in the Colombian Lawyers Association. They’re on their annual trip to Italy. We brought a big karaoke tape. So we’re singing. Arthur and I put on a show from high school. We were in West Side Story together. We got everybody singing and Big Tony and his wife fell in love with us. Big Tony owned these buildings. He said, If I ever have an apartment that opens up, I’ll set you up. A week later I got a call. Want to see a tape? It’s the fundraiser for my parents’ church. This is Diana McVey singing. [We watch.]

She’s in sequins. Why don’t you marry her? She’s already got someone. [Diana singing: “The hills are alive, with the sound of music . . . ” Then Douglas, in a tuxedo, joins her: “Wunderbar, wunderbar, our love is wunderbar.”]

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