By Gil Phultanks, Frivolous Nostalgia Correspondent
In the current age of the 24-hour news cycle, stories and celebrities come and go so quickly that it can be easy to forget them with the passage of time. Even our own local celebrities, whose stories we followed closely in their glory days, drift further and further from our collective consciousness as they continue to fade from the spotlight. We caught up with some of these figures to see what they’re up to in 2014.
John Rigas, Former CEO of Adelphia Cable
What He’s Known For: Being majority owner of Buffalo Sabres, making Time Warner look benign by comparison, being sued by Simpsons creator Matt Groening for “character appropriation” because of how closely his look and lifestyle paralleled that of series villain Montgomery Burns.
What He’s Up To: Currently 89 years old and in the middle of a 15-year sentence, Rigas is on the verge of becoming what experts are calling “the first 90 year-old kingpin” in the history of the American federal prison system. The warden of the Butner, NC complex in which Rigas is detained says that from Day 1, he “thrust himself” into the gang hierarchy of the medium-security facility using a formidable combination of “cutthroat corporate tactics” and “unbridled old-man strength.” After a month inside, Rigas had christened himself the “Original Grampsta” and de-facto leader of the C-Block Cable Clique, a hardscrabble squad of Comcast-hating inmates over whom he rules with a “wrinkly, iron (deficient) fist.”
Rudy Pikuzinski, Indoor Soccer Forward
What He’s Known For: Leading three different Buffalo professional indoor soccer franchises to zero championships, defecting to the hated Cleveland Crunch for the “One and Done Season of ‘91,”* causing female fans to faint with a shake of his silky locks.
*This nickname exists only in Pikuzinski’s mind.
What He’s Up To: Catching up with Pikuzinksi is not easy these days. The fallen angel of the Aud’s infamous Astroturf has traded cleats and shinguards for capes and spandex as part of his transformation into a self-described “amateur vigilante super-hero,” dubbing himself the Samson of Sloan. The former athlete’s alter-ego, named in honor of the still-lustrous mulleted mane that cascades to Pikuzinski’s 54-year old shoulders, has been sighted at the scene of several crimes in Buffalo’s eastern suburbs and was instrumental in bringing those responsible for a string of lawn flamingo robberies to justice. Recent attempts to persuade the Cheektowaga Police Department to install a spotlight that would project the shape of Pikuzinski’s iconic mustache into the town’s night sky as a distress call—”an S.O.S for the Samson of Sloan”— have thus far proven unsuccessful.
John Stevens, American Idol Contestant
What He’s Known For: Finishing in sixth-place on the third season of American Idol, being the (alleged) secret love child of Conan O’Brien and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reminding you of that annoying kid in your high school class who acted like he was born in 1943.
What He’s Up To: After being one of the last contestants voted off during American Idol’s 2004 finale week, Stevens was embittered and defiant, believing his complexion and hair color to be the sole barriers to an otherwise assured victory. With a deep investigation into the Fox program’s voting practices, the spurned runner-up managed to discover and overturn a hidden provision in the contract that declared “contestants who bear multiple signs of ‘gingerdom’—pale skin, red hair, an abundance of freckles” are to have 1/8 of their total vote count deducted to “account for undesirabilities.” Stevens, now a spokesman for Ginger Rights Watch International, asserts that “If we can be considered 100% human on American Idol, maybe the world will follow.”
Cast/Crew of Vintage Fantasy Island “Fun, Wow!” Ads, Assorted Amateur Actors & Primate Musicians on Staff
What They’re Known For: Infiltrating regional televisions sets throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s with their contagious catchphrase, giving a generation of children the false confidence to hop into death-traps operated by stoned 16-year-olds, being the reason your older cousin still says this sarcastically to you even though you weren’t alive when the commercials aired.
What They’re Up To: Despite our best efforts, Ruse reporters were not able to reach anyone involved with these infamous advertisements. They all suffered mysterious deaths and disappearances in the month following the final shoot for the campaign in 1983. It is still unclear whether these deaths can be attributed to some sort of shared curse or just as a natural side-effect of spending a significant amount of time at Fantasy Island.