Wrinkled rappers strut their stuff

October 10, 1991|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Evening Sun Staff

LARRY BEPLER was a carpenter. Harry Zalmanoff a photographer. Jack Waddell sold insurance for 30 years. And Buddy Rowe designed communications satellites.

Now, in their retirement, they are rap stars -- well, kind of.

M.C. Hammer, they're not. But the Old Guys with New Socks, they are.

And the Old Guys, rapping retirees from Vero Beach, Fla., took their not-yet-year-old show on the road this week to play, among other spots, the Garrett Room of the Milton Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University. There, under a staid portrait of former Hopkins trustee Francis White, who died in 1904, these doddering dancers entertained a noontime crowd more accustomed to lectures than lyrics.

The Garrett Room is not your typical rap trap.

But, then, the Old Guys aren't your typical rappers.

''Kid'' Rowe is the youngest at 57; ''The Professor'' Zalmanoff, the oldest at 75. In-between are ''Wildman'' Waddell, 66, and ''Spoons'' Bepler, 67. They're billed as ''the world's oldest, cleanest rap group.'' Their lyrics are about golf and shuffleboard, pension checks and poker.

My hearing's starting to slip,

My visions gettin' worse

But I'm hanging tough,

Don't need to frown,

Cash my pension check

And I hits the town.

Amid the rap, there are jokes and gags. Dr. Shaky Cutter, played by Waddell, tries out the audience's knowledge of medical terms:

4 * ''Benign -- that's what you be after you be 8.

* ''Dilate -- to live longer.

* ''Outpatient -- a person who has fainted.''

''They're kind of a rap comedy team -- the Marx Brothers of the '90s,'' says Drew Osbahr, the Vero Beach graphic designer who created the Old Guys last winter after seeing the onslaught of New Kids on the Block merchandise.

On stage, the Old Guys wear walking shorts in aqua, hot pink, red and green, with shirts that sport palm trees and tiger stripes. Their color-coordinated baseball caps teeter off center, giving them an aura of slight dementia.

The Hopkins performance -- on the way to New York to do the Regis and Kathy Lee Show this morning -- was a homecoming of sorts for a couple of the Old Guys. Rowe moved from Rockville, where he had lived for 25 years, Waddell grew up in Chevy Chase, and Osbahr, 31, graduated from the University of Maryland.

In his introduction, Osbahr tells their story:

They have no money,

But they do have time,

That's why they're here,

Rappin' in rhyme.

The Old Guys aim to entertain, but they also want to spread the word that getting old isn't so bad.

''Just because you reach a certain age doesn't mean you have to sit down,'' says Zalmanoff, who plays violin with Florida's Treasure Coast Symphony and enjoys golf, painting and photography, as well as being an Old Guy. ''I don't believe in stagnating; I don't believe in retirement.''

The group's newest rap number is ''We're Not Done Yet,'' which they saved for near the end of the Hopkins hour:

So stop your cryin,'

So stop your pain,

Just park yourself

Outta the rain.

We're not done yet

And that's no lie.

So kick up your heels,

Don't say goodbye.

Waddell takes this rap to heart. Since becoming a rapper, he feels so good, he says, that he often forgets to take his medicine for Parkinson's disease. ''I've got some pretty good medicine right here.

''My children think I'm off my rocker. And I am. I'm out here rappin.' "

The Old Guys with New Socks appear mostly in Florida. Their two rap songs are available on tape by calling 1-800-741-GUYS; a portion of the profits is donated to the National Council on Aging.

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