BY MARLA SANTOS
It’s no secret that I love The Frankie Scinta Show. I’ve seen the show for years, back when Frankie and Joey’s sister Chrissi was part of the act and sang and harmonized beautifully with her brothers. Due to Chrissi’s throat problems, Janien Valentine now shines on the stage performing duets with the two brothers.
The Scinta brothers are part of a close-knit Italian family, and have been performing on stage since they were kids back in Buffalo, New York. They are the embodiment of what entertainers should be. Lighting up the room with their talent, magnetism and showmanship, they perform nonstop, telling stories and jokes in-between the fabulous music. They talk of respect for family, friends and country.
Joey is the eldest sibling and has a natural talent for comedy. He is responsible for many of the laughs in the act, performing hilarious imitations of Joe Cocker, Mick Jagger and Neil Diamond – and the sibling rivalry makes for some sidesplitting moments throughout the show. His comedic timing is spot-on, and the laughter he creates is like taking a “feel good” pill, only better.
If you haven’t gone down to The D to catch The Frankie Scinta Show, do yourself a favor and make it a priority on your list. It’s an emotional ride with songs, comedy, maybe a couple of tears, and definitely a lot of laughs. And, when you walk out of that room after the show, you’re going to feel absolutely great! The banter between the brothers is classic, the band is fantastic, and the sheer talent on that stage is great to witness in the intimate showroom at The D.
Joey sat with me and opened up about how he loves to make people laugh, revealing stories about his personal life off the stage. Twenty-eight years ago, he married a Playboy Bunny. Together they have two sons and a daughter Lisa, who is now writing music for Universal Records and has 3-million-plus views of her songs on YouTube. With all Joey’s years in show business getting adoration from his fans, he tells me he finds his true happiness at home, explaining: “ I do my job, make people laugh and then I go home.”
STRIPLV: Were you the class clown as a child?
JOEY: I wasn’t the class clown, but the people in my neighborhood waited for me to show up so they could get a laugh. I just have a way of making people laugh. It’s a gift from God! It’s such a natural thing for me. I went to visit a friend who I grew up with, and all we did was laugh. It’s such a good medicine! People usually remember me as not being a clown, but very funny. I’ve performed since I was seventeen. I used to take my guitar and go sit on people’s porches to play and tell jokes.
STRIPLV: When was the first time you became aware that you could make people laugh?
JOEY: Long ago I was in a show band with two girls leading the band. Little by little, I started throwing things in-between their numbers, and I realized I could make people laugh.
"I learned that I had the ability to draw people in, just by what I said."
The band decided to move to Hawaii and live there. The keyboard player quit, so I called my brother Frankie, who came to Hawaii and joined the band. He was just a kid, 18 years old. After two weeks there, we decided it was too expensive to live in Hawaii and so we went home to Buffalo, New York. I decided I was going to sell home security systems in Florida and had my car all packed when Paul Maguire, a former NFL player who now works as a commentary for NFL football, called Frankie and said he needed a keyboard player. Frankie said he didn’t work without his brother, so we went as a duet, without even rehearsing, and played some Sinatra tunes. All of a sudden the place was packed. Soon we outgrew the club, with 400 people packed into a 200-seat capacity room every night. The owner of the Playboy Club in Buffalo came to us, offered us four-times the money, so we went to the Executive Playboy Club. Pretty soon, that place was packed and they added a cover charge to keep the crowd down, because it was always over the limit that the fire department set. It was just Frankie and I on this big stage, with me on a stool and Frankie at the piano. We decided to add a drummer and then started to tour Playboy Clubs. Joe Vicari, an important restaurateur from Detroit, said he was going to try and book us in Las Vegas. We started at the Rio, and the money was so great that I thought my check was for the whole band. Then things started to change in Vegas, and they wanted acts to rent their room, and pay for their own ads. Vegas can change in a second.
STRIPLV: You’ve toured as The Scinta’s for so many years, and that’s got to be difficult on relationships and marriages. How did that affect you?
JOEY: I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife, who is a strong Catholic, and took her wedding vows very seriously. Mary was a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Club where we played. Right at the start, I took her to a club for a drink, and she knew every guy in the place. Some guy came up, patted her on the back saying: “I love you,” so I told her: “If that is the way it’s going to be, I don’t want to see you anymore.” She told me: “Bye.” I was devastated. I dated a few other Bunnies, which really agitated her and she called me a jerk, but then we got together, got married, and it’s been 28 wonderful years. When I go on the road, I don’t worry, because she’s a devoted interior decorator with P. Scinta Designs. They won Interior Design of the Year last year.
STRIPLV: Do you honor the Italian traditions in your family, like sitting down to a Sunday meal together?
JOEY: My mother taught my wife Mary how to make spaghetti sauce and she’s dynamite at it. We try to have Sunday dinner, but as the kids are getting older it’s not like it used to be. I’d love to sit down to dinner everyday, but everyone is going in different directions. My wife and I make it a point to have spaghetti every Sunday. Even my mother says that Mary’s sauce is better than hers. Football and sauce on Sunday sets the whole package!
STRIPLV: Both you and Frankie have spoken openly about the love you have for your father, a fireman who is now deceased. You even play “The Godfather Theme” as a tribute to him at the end of your show. Tell me a little about your father.
JOEY: He was such a gentle man, so loving, but he didn’t say “I love you,” and he didn’t hug us or kiss us. But, if your car wouldn’t start when it was 20 degrees below, he’d go outside and open the hood and work on my car while I stood there with my hands in my pockets. Then he’d say: “Try it now.” That’s how he showed us his love. Anything you needed, he was there.” When he died, the funeral home said it was the largest funeral they’d ever had. It really was the biggest funeral Buffalo had ever seen, because he had so many people that loved him, and he had no enemies. They shut down three different suburbs for the funeral procession.
STRIPLV: What’s your favorite holiday?
JOEY: Christmas. It’s magical for the kids and it means something, unlike Halloween with truckloads of kids getting dropped off and banging on your door. I look forward to Christmas because it’s a big family time. The whole family gets together at somebody’s house. I’m a Christian, and it’s my favorite time of year.
STRIPLV: What makes you happy?
JOEY: Being with my wife. She works from 8:00 to 5:00, and I leave for work at 6:30. I’m off on Thursday nights, so I’ll take her to dinner and then we’ll go home and watch a movie.
STRIPLV: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
JOEY: My wife and kids are my whole life. I hate going to clubs with loud music. I’ve got everything I need right at my house. With football season, that means the boys will be home and we’ll sit together, and Mary will cook after the game. That’s what turns me on. I love sports, (football and hockey), because it brings the boys together with me.
STRIPLV: What turns you off?
JOEY: What’s going on in this country turns me off.
STRIPLV: What excites you?
JOEY: My wife! I’m a lucky man! I’m sixteen years older than she is and she’s still beautiful. She’s a successful businesswoman, and she’s also a cake maker, getting $400-$500 for a specialty cake. It’s just a joy to be with her.
STRIPLV: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
JOEY: There are a lot of things this country’s losing, like respect for the constitution. We now have “winter break” forced on us instead of “Christmas”. Millions of people all over the world are celebrating Christmas because of the birth of Jesus. People are pushing God out of the dollar bill, out of our schools, and it’s annoying.
STRIPLV: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, whom would you choose?
JOEY: Paul McCartney, because he changed the whole way bass guitar was played. He became melodic, instead of rock ‘n roll. He started going all over the fret board. When I first heard him play, I said: “Oh, my God!” He’s 72 and still packs in 100,000 people, and he still sings great and still plays great, and he still looks good! He’s an inspiration to me.
STRIPLV: What’s the one thing that would surprise people to know about you?
JOEY: That’s tough, because I’m pretty open. I don’t keep secrets. All my friends know who I am, because I show and tell them who I am. Once my kids said: “You’re lying Dad.” I told them: “Only people that are afraid lie. And I’m not afraid of anything.”
STRIPLV: What’s your favorite curse word?
JOEY: I use the “F” word a lot.
STRIPLV: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
JOEY: Come and see your father.
The Frankie Scinta Show
The D at 301 Fremont St.
www.TheD.com • 702-388-2111