The Best of Rudy Ray Moore
The first time I properly heard the voice of Rudy Ray Moore was, like most kids my age, when Dr. Dre’s The Chronic came out and we finally get to the album’s best track “Deeez Nuuuts.” The sample hits right after Snoop Dogg’s legendary prank call, just after that funky groove cribbed from “Pull Fancy Dancer/Pull” by Detroit disco group One Way.
I wanna ask you one question: If I had some nuts hanging on the wall,
what would I have honey?
And I’d say, ‘Darlin’ you’d have some walnuts.
Then she said, well daddy if I had some nuts on my chest would they be chestnuts?
And I said oh yes
Then she said, well daddy if i had some nuts on my chin would they be chin-nuts?
So I said, Hell no bitch you’d have a dick in your mouth!
For a bunch of teenage savages from Ulster County, NY, that right there was absolute comic gold. Shortly thereafter, this dude Steve at Ulster County Community College told me, ‘Well if you like Rudy Ray Moore on The Chronic, you gotta watch his movies.’ He recommended two of his films: The Human Tornado and The Avenging Disco Godfather. And I saw the first Dolemite movie shortly thereafter.
There was nothing like those Rudy Ray Moore films. I can’t begin to tell you how much joy Dolemite Is My Name brought to me upon watching it on Netflix a couple of days after it premiered. It was like being transported back to my old apartment above Romero’s Cancun on Rte 208, watching these Dolemite films with a mason jar full of homegrown and a fridge full of Saranac Black and Tans. And thanks to the magnificent ensemble cast of this movie—each of whom gave the story of Rudy Ray Moore the cinematic gravitas it so richly deserved as one of the great comeback kid tales of modern times—for bringing that cathartic, gut-busting laughter that is distinctly singular to the name Dolemite, muthafucka.
Here are five things to watch after seeing Dolemite Is My Name.
The Human Tornado (1976)
Watching The Human Tornado for the very first time almost gave me an aneurysm I laughed so hard. Whereas the first Dolemite was a little rickety, as brilliantly portrayed in Dolemite Is My Name, The Human Tornado was the second, just slightly slicker adventure of the man who handcuffed lightning and threw thunder’s ass in jail. After seeing how many laughs his Kung Fu-fighting, sweet-loving, trash-talking bad motor scooter got when the first Dolemite movie broke records in small theaters through the American inner city, Moore quantified it considerably in Human Tornado. Once you finish watching Dolemite Is My Name and Eddie Murphy’s Oscar-worthy performance as this late, great comedic superhero, you need to watch this movie first, then the original Dolemite second.
The Monkey Hustle (1976)
Released in the same year as The Human Tornado, Monkey Hustle is a 1976 caper which found Moore only in a co-starring role opposite the great Yaphet Kotto, who had made a prominent name for himself in Hollywood with key roles in such classic films as The Thomas Crown Affair, Across 110th Street, Live and Let Die, Alien, and Truck Turner. But that didn’t stop Rudy from stealing the show as Glitterin’ Goldie. Together, the pair (with Kotto as Big Daddy Foxx) make their moves in the world, as the original trailer goes, to teach the youngbloods how to flim-flam and scoot and scam. Especially when he’s busting out lines like this come-on to a waitress: “Sweet mama, you know we can blend together like cat meat and green beans.” Monkey Hustle also has a seriously funky soundtrack I hope one day properly comes out on cool wax, jack.
Petey Wheatstraw (1977)
Moore originally conspired Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-In-Law, on his classic comedy LP The Cockpit, but it became his weirdest film upon its arrival in movie houses in November 1977. Starring in the titular role, Moore channels that ghetto shaman vibe of his early club dates under the Dolemite persona. A Kung Fu-fighting businessman who’s mortally wounded in an attempt on his life at a child’s funeral, Petey returns to Earth after striking a deal with the Devil to marry his ugly daughter in exchange for his life. This movie is so very strange.
The Avenging Disco Godfather (1979)
The Avenging Disco Godfather originally came out in 1979 as Disco Godfather and stars Moore as a retired cop turned disco DJ who seeks revenge against a local drug dealer who hooked his nephew on Angel Dust. Not only does this movie contain one of the absolutely craziest depictions of a dust trip this side of Debo’s chicken coop, we get peak Rudy here towards the end of his run as a 70s kingpin of Blaxploitation cinema. Disco Godfather has more quotable lines than any of his other movies. Also Six Feet Under fans, peep the appearance of a young Ketih David on the dance floor. Put your weight on it!
Sons of Butcher (2008)
Right before he passed away in 2008, one of Moore’s final on-screen appearances was in a weird-ass Canadian animated comedy done strictly on Adobe Flash. In the premiere episode of their second season, the actor played Rudy the Psychotic Janitor, who helps the show’s main character how to become a better shitter by reading his fortune through his poop. He might be merely an animated caricature of himself, but there’s no mistaking the signified voice of Mr. Dolemite, especially when he’s zinging these Canucks with lines like “My book is about reading shits, but nobody takes the time to study a shit.”