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In the summer of 1987, he made us all believe with a shirtless, muscled, and oiled-up saxophone performance on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Now, over three decades after his short, yet iconic, appearance in Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys, musician Tim Cappello continues to enjoy a sense of cultural immortality — not unlike the movie's infamous vampire bikers.
Following Schumacher's unfortunate passing last week, SYFY WIRE caught up with Mr. Cappello to get his thoughts on working with the late filmmaker, as well as The CW's Lost Boys TV show. Similar to its source material, the small screen project follows a pair of Gen Z brothers, who move to a new town with their mother, only to learn that the local cool kids are a pack of nocturnal bloodsuckers.
"I hope it’s good," Cappello exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "It was really Joel’s vision. It’s gonna [come down to the] quality of the writing and whether there’s a reason to update it ... We’re in this Golden Age of TV, but there are still very few shows that are really on that level, that have budget and writing. My assumption is it’s not gonna be Better Call Saul, and that’s not to put them down, I’ll give it a look."
While he isn't involved with the show (which is still in the process of creating a viable pilot episode), the musician would certainly make a cameo if they asked him.
"Oh yeah, I’d do it in a second. Absolutely," he says. "It makes sense to me that the TV show, when it gets rolling, might — at some point — say, ‘Hey, where’s that crazy saxophone guy? Let’s put him in there.’ I was really happy with the Vertigo Comics series that came out a couple years ago. To be on the cover and actually be a character; to take the performer you knew so little about, and actually flesh him out and stuff like that."
Written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Scott Godlewski, the comic book turned the mysterious Sax Man into "the Believer," a vampire hunter, whose baby oil was equivalent to holy water. That could be a really fun way to bring Cappello's character back into the fold, but he's not so sure that's the route The CW interpretation would want to take.
"You’re talking about a 65-year-old musician. I would definitely come back and cameo in a musical way. I wouldn’t put that off for a second because I think that it would just be fun," he adds. "It’s for young people, so I’m not sure that my age is really appropriate for anything. But I know I could come on and give it my best if they had something that was sort of age appropriate for me. I wouldn’t wanna be Jerry Lewis trying to play Holden Caufield at age 45. Although I love Jerry Lewis, I’m not that stupid ... If they can come up with something, I’m there."
Intriguingly, the Sax Man did return in the 2008 direct-to-video sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe. However, he wasn't played by Cappello and became more of a punchline, being portrayed as an overweight street performer playing for change. While Cappello found it humorous, he wouldn't want to backhand the first movie in any way if the TV show offered him a part that would directly lambast Schumacher's vision.
"I don’t think I’d do something that I thought was disrespectful of what Joel had thought," he explains. "I would’t do something that was sarcastic or cynical in some way, or putting down [the original]. As much as I wanted my performance to be over the top, as much as I could push it, that doesn’t mean that I wanna be a part of [something that’s disrespectful]."
In any case, Cappello's not holding his breath for a call from the network and doesn't need their help in reconnecting with The Lost Boys. In fact, he's already been tuned into the film on a regular basis, thanks to a one-man show he regularly puts on throughout the country.
"Thank God, enough people at the clubs know who I am, that I can just send them a little email with a video of what the show looks like and people get back to me and say, ‘Sure, we’d love to have you come,'" he says. "In my show, it’s kind of a multimedia thing. I have a couple of big TV screens and I just run some silly stuff. At one point, during "I Still Believe," I play a loop of Star [Jamie Gertz's chatacter] dancing and I teach everybody how to do the dance."
Due to the pandemic, Cappello's 2020 touring season was cut short, but that hasn't put a stop to his interactions with fans, which have simply moved into the virtual space.
"Even during this coronavirus, I’m doing all these Cameo video messages. I [also] did sax lessons over Skype," he continues. "All the work I’ve done as a horn player, all those thousands of hours of practice, there are actually people who come to a show and go, ‘Hey, that guy plays pretty good. I’d like to study with him and find out how he does what he does.’"
Capello also receives "lots of approaches from comedians to do something." The Break with Michelle Wolf utilized his musical talents for a segment called "Saxophone Apologies," while Saturday Night Live paid homage to his Lost Boys look in the 2010 Digital Short entitled "The Curse." A spoof of Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, the sketch is about a callous man (Andy Samberg) cursed with inopportune visitations from a supernatural sax player (Jon Hamm), who looks exactly like Cappello in the '87 film.
"All of the sudden, I had another generation going, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that when I was a little kid!’ And I thought it was just done so well," Cappello says of the SNL skit. "I just feel like comedy people have really picked up on me and understood the humor, but weren’t being dismissive of me. They like it [with their mentality being] ‘It’s a little weird, it’s a little wrong, it’s a little over the top, but I really like it somehow.’ Which is what I was after."
Addressing why his character is so memorable, Cappello explains: "You have to admit that you’ve gotta have a little bit wrong in what you do to really make it pop. You have to take something a little too far or do something that’s just the right amount of over-the-topness to really pop. If I’d just gone on in all black leather and just did a typical heavy metal thing, a KISS thing, I don’t think we’d be talking now."
Sadly, Cappello, who dropped his first solo album two years ago, doesn't have the pair of stretch jeans he wore in the original movie (that's celebrating 33 years in late July) and his current instrument isn't screen-used, either. He says: "I’m on my third saxophone since the one I used in the movie. Things wear out, things get stolen." But his unique aesthetic (cultivated with the help of Tina Turner, whom he toured with in the 1980s and '90s) may soon be the subject of a potential Netflix docuseries.
"They’re doing a thing about stories behind pieces of clothes that people wear," he reveals. "We had a preliminary discussion about it and I really like the idea because I have so many pieces of clothing. Even oil. It’s like a shiny shirt ... I can’t go onstage without getting as close as I can to the original thing that I wore in The Lost Boys. I can’t come on in jeans and a T-shirt and stand there like Eric Clapton and just play ... People could certainly see me playing now in something really similar to what I wore in The Lost Boys and go, ‘Oh boy, this guys is just beating a dead horse.’ And that’s fine, that happens sometimes. But, of course, what else would I do? At least I got a horse."