November 4, 2009


“In 1988 I left Hollywood where I had built a lucrative wearable art business, with an illustrious celebrity clientele that included Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Downey, Jr., J.D. Nicholas of the Commodores, Pam Tillis, Patti Dahlstrom, Sammy Davis, Jr. James Caan, Val Garay, Steve Cropper,  Luther VanDross, and Erte the father of Art Deco.

I gave up hosting Genghis Cohen, a hot Chinese Restaurant, which I named for my friend Allan Rinde, where I sold these one of a kind jackets and shirts that I painted by hand.  I put everything I had in storage and ran off to Vermont with my dog Nookie and a beautiful model half my age, whose drug dealer boyfriend was trying to kill her.

Unfortunately our relationship never develops into anything, so I go to New York when her racist uncle corners me in the bathroom and tries to beat my ass. I reluctantly leave Nookie with her in Vermont., while I go back to the Bronx and stay with my aunt Wan, who isn’t allowed to have a dog.


I have to make some money fast so I put on my elaborate $5000 lion jacket and head to Greenwich Village where I could probably sell it. The first store I pass is in SoHo, the UNIQUE CLOTHING WAREHOUSE, which has five artists airbrushing denim jackets in the window. They stop working to check out what I’m wearing along with a little crowd who had gathered around me, admiring and touching my jacket.lion2

The manager Eddie Ingber, watching all this, motions for me to come into the store. After he looks at pictures of creations in my book, he brings me upstairs to meet the owner of the 25,000 square foot specialty store, Harvey Russak. Harvey likes what he sees and hires me to replace Jean-Michel Basquiat, who left UNIQUE to collaborate on paintings with Andy Warhol.

At first the other artists, who were mostly gang bangers and graffiti artists, are jealous of the high prices I’m getting for my work, until I start negotiating prices for them as well. All of the pop and rap stars come in for custom creations for their videos and personal appearances, including The  New Kids On The Block”, New Edition, Tiffany, Bobby Brown, P.Diddy, “Notorious B.I.G’, Chris Rock, Queen Latifa, Aaron Hall, “Marky Mark” Walberg, Cher, and Tupac Shakur.

It isn’t long before I become head of the department, which is now averaging $20,000 a week!

I introduce Harvey Russak to my publicist friend Kenny Schaffer (Alice Cooper, The Left Banke, Jimi Hendrix), who in his spare time invented the wireless guitar. Kenny tells us that he’s made a deal with the Soviet Union to bring their television signals to colleges in the US.

Kenny’s idea of running a week of live internal Soviet TV to neutralize ABC’s miniseries “Amerika” ran on the near-bankrupt  Discovery Channel, winning him (and it) the National Cable Television Association’s Golden Ace award, and taking the fledgling Discovery Channel from 11,000,000 subscribers to 30,000,000 subscribers in a single week.

Kenny went on to establish the biggest communications company in the former Soviet Union that made the round trip from New York more than 100 times.  When he got too lonely for Seinfeld reruns, invented TV2Me, thus inventing “placeshifting,” that you check your local home TV with you anywhere you travel.  The first customer for placeshifting was Sting, bought Kenny’s first TV2Me unit so he could watch Newcastle United from anywhere he happened to be.  (It was after spending a night watching Soviet TV with Kenny at his first “public” Soviet satellite installation, Columbia University, that Sting wrote “Russians,” song with which he opened in 1987 Grammies broadcast.

It’s because of Kenny Shaffer that the world is able to watch the Soviet Union collapse before our very eyes! Of course, I “capitalize” (pun intended) on the situation and I create a line of T-shirts about the thawing of “The Cold War” including  “MORE THAN JUST A DREAM”, the most popular shirt in the line.which depicts an American flag and a Russian flag inside a Peace sign.

I’m proud to say that these shirts I design with some of the artists at UNIQUE are featured on the ABC TV show “Prime Time” with Diane Sawyer, and in the pages of Business Week. Then a few weeks later the world watches as they tear down the Berlin Wall!”


(To Be Continued)

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne  from his  forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”

To reach Ken Schaffer




  1. Artie,

    Where in the world is Artie? Amazing isn’t it, when we leave the music business (not really ever) and our lives go into all these other directions. Who would know or better yet ask, “Where have you been?” “Don’t ask, it’s a long story!” It’s the story of survival. Very interesting life! How would you do it differently if you were given the chance?

  2. elaine o. Says:

    Good question! Where are you?

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