Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tales of the Piano Bar, Part 2

By popular demand, here is another cabaret story (and cocktail) from Mykonos’ Montparnasse Piano Bar, the Greek Aegean’s own La Cage au Folles, sans dancers.  This is where the ages, races, genders, ethnicities, national origins, and sexual preferences that make up Mykonos’ legendary 24/7 in season lifestyle gather amid other tourists, locals, yachters, Broadway and West End performers, for one hell of a good time—as they have for thirty years.
Ancient archival photograph

The Piano Bar is the creation of Nikos Hristodulakis and Jody Duncan, and they’re behind the bar every night, amassing more stories than O’Henry.  They shared one with us here about a month ago and, as death threats stayed to a minimum, they’re daring to venture out with a second accompanied, of course, by another of their dynamite cocktail recipes.

One word—so to speak—of caution.  There is a punch line word to this story that I never use in my writing.  Not because I dislike it by any means, but because to some its use is offensive and I respect that.  Still, this is not my story and its use is seminal to another’s tale, therefore I cannot bring myself to serve as censor.  However, in fairness to the sensitivity of others, I feel compelled to alert those who may not chose to go further, WARNING “FELINE” AHEAD. 

Montparnasse Piano Bar Tale #2:  “The Sneaky Snake,” as told by a blond Jody leaning over the bar and ignoring the dark-haired Niko (still) making faces behind him.

Mykonos' Little Venice
Each season very talented, some might say offbeat, entertainers stop by the Piano Bar for a surprise guest appearance or two.  And we love it when they do, especially Niko.  It makes him feel normal.  A few years back, we decided to book a duo of “unique” professional entertainers as headliners for a September gig.  George Sanders, the vocalist of the duo, specializes in comedy and most of his songs revolve around characters he created and intricate costumes to match.  His partner, Shawn Curran, can best be described as George’s “accompanist,” but theirs is not a children’s party act and Shawn is not the traditional sort of accompanist.

Their most famous routine, Sneaky Snake, involves a costume capable of concealing Shawn beneath and behind George, for in the midst of George’s delightful vocal performance, Sneaky Snake makes his unexpected appearance through George's until then decidedly open but unnoticed fly—manipulated by none other than Shawn the skillful.  Need I say more?  Of course I must.  Shawn’s Sneaky Snake puppetry involves certain creative hand manipulations in George’s nether regions that still have me laughing every time I think of them.
George, Shawn, and Sneaky

George and Shawn quickly became an established hit on Mykonos.  One night they arrived about an hour before scheduled to go on.  Shawn went to spend the time sitting outside, while George sat at the bar exchanging stories with Niko.  Unbeknownst to any of us, in that brief interlude away from George Shawn found true love, in the angelic form of a three-month old cuddle-bunny of a neighborhood kitten (if you can say that for a kitten).  It was a mutual love affair; so much so that by the time for Shawn to prepare George to go on, kitty was draped across his shoulder sound asleep.
Scene of the assignation

Not wanting to disturb his new amore, sleepy-on-the-shoulder stayed on Shawn as he went inside and set up George in his Sneaky Snake costume.  Now it was time for the act to begin but still kitty snoozed.  Shawn did the only thing he could, he went on with the show, carefully keeping kitty hidden from the audience behind George’s backside.  Once again they brought down the house. 
A star is born

At the conclusion of their act, George and Shawn dismantle their costume in front of the audience to reveal the “secret” of Sneaky Snake’s masterful manipulations.  This time Shawn's shoulder unexpectedly fell under a spotlight, catching an irresistible, golden kitten draped across it.  At that precise moment kitty chose to rouse, yawn, stretch, and return to her place on Shawn’s shoulder.

The applause and cheers for George and Shawn quickly turned to love-smitten awwwwwws for the newest member of their troupe. 

Timing being one of George’s strong suits, he waited until miss kitty and the crowd had reached a state of shared karmic bliss before quipping, “First time I've ever been upstaged by a pussy! And, my God, I actually enjoyed it!”

That’s all folks, but for those still reading, here’s the Sneaky Snake’s favorite Montparnasse Piano Bar cocktail, The Hypnotic Martini:  Mix 1 ½  ounces vodka, 1 ounce Hpnotiq liqueur, and 1 ounce lemon sour mix or sweetened lemon juice together in an ice filled cocktail shaker.   Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon. 

And by the way, here’s the link to George’s and Shawn’s Sneaky Snake Films website…if you dare…


Thanks, guys—and I’ll forward the emails to you. 

Jeff — Saturday


  1. I decided to take the dare and the site is under construction.

    Jeff, I guess you will have to write another entry about George, Shawn, and the kitten when the site has been re-done.


  2. Beth, I can't believe it! Giving a link to a site that's under construction is REALLY Sneaky!!!

  3. Jeff, What a terrific job you did with that story! So many great memories of Montparnasse.

    I apologize for our site being under construction. When it returns, Sneaky Snake fans will be able to watch the short award-winning films we have been making. We filmed one short on Mykonos called "My Big Fat Greek Snake." It's a spy adventure featuring a mermaid, kidnapping, a windmill, unrequited love, and underwater bomb attached to a yacht. Typical Greek stuff. Opa! ---from George, Shawn and Sneaky

  4. Thank you, George, I'm glad you liked it. Just let me know when your site is up and running.

  5. It's always fun when George, Shawn and Sneaky Snake are around. When they get the website up and running again, it's well worth a visit to see the Sneaky Snake films. Thanks for posting the story, Jeff!

    Thanks Again,

    Jody and Nikos