Andrew Martin enjoyed a career in entertainment journalism and acting for about twenty five years in New York City. At various times, he was a writer, publisher, actor and singer. In his youth, he studied acting at Usdan Summer Arts Camp. For his SRO cabaret show at Danny’s Skylight Room in the early 1990s, he was nominated for a MAC award. His last performances in cabaret were in the summer of 2015 in his one-man show “An Appetizing Yarn” at The Duplex. Throughout the show, wearing a Mike Piazza Mets jersey, he frenetically knitted a woolen hat that he raffled to an audience member at the close. He told friends of being approached about bringing the act to the 2015 UNFringed Festival. Over the last two years, Andrew has been interviewing artists’ weekly during his radio slot on WPAT 930 on the Teddy Smith Show. He served on the Advisory Board for the Beaux Arts Society.
Andrew found his way to the public eye at the age of ten as a New York City finalist for the National Spelling Bee Competition. It was then that he expressed a yearning to be a performer. He started chasing that dream at 15 when he was accepted and became a founding member of TADA!, the internationally acclaimed Youth Theatre. This remained one of his proudest achievements and happiest childhood memories for the rest of his life. Subsequently, he joined the Theater For The New City where he appeared in his first play, “Man Of Wax.”
Andrew published his own magazine/paper called CaB for several years in the mid-1990s. As Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, he interviewed numerous celebrities and performers’ as eclectic and varied as: Rupert Holmes, cult-film actress Shirley Stoler, pop music star Mary Wilson of The Supremes, comic/sitcom star Brett Butler, legendary singing star Margaret Whiting, Broadway/concert artist Barbara Cook as well as Kaye Ballard, Julie Budd, Virginia Graham, Lainie Kazan, Roslyn Kind, Marilyn Michaels, Vicki Sue Robinson, Julie Wilson – and The Weather Girls.
Mr. Martin sporadically acted in small. local theater productions through the years. At the time of his death, he was almost finished writing a biography on the late Shirley Stoller who was a friend. He was also working on a book about the late pop singer Cass Elliot. In 2011, his book “All For The Best: How Godspell Transfered From Stage To Screen” (Bear Manor Media) was published and is currently sold in theatrical book stores.
A true child of New York, Andrew’s father came from the lower east side. His mother came from Forest Hills. After a stint in the Boy Scouts when he was 10, Andrew started attending summer theater day camps. He had to quit the Boy Scouts after he smashed a boom box over the head of a bully. It was a life-altering experience that toughened him and which he boasted about. A champion knitter, he typically knitted woolen hats on the train ride to and from the city. He said if anyone ever bullied him on the train for knitting, he would use the needles to poke their eyes. He meant it. Again, a true New Yorker. He wore his sometimes raggedy, vagabond appearance with pride as he swept through the canyons of Manhattan; another night owl trying to find himself in the big city.
A chatty, openly gay bon vivant over the years, Andrew Martin had his feet in many waters; all of them related to show business. He was proud of his long-winded stories and exceptional knowledge of trivia about the famous and infamous. He had many followers on Facebook where he shared sometimes painful stories of his family and personal angst. He wrote openly about being troubled by strained relations within a divided family at times.
Andrew was a complex and very intelligent man overflowing with stories and storied dreams. Occasionally, it was hard to determine fact from fantasy because he was bursting with such animated enthusiasm about so many subjects. He wasn’t immune to hyperbole for fun when called for to save face. He ranted on about his dreams and life’s foibles in a childlike way that nurtured his colorful persona. It was all part of his Gotham charm that endeared him to the many who loved hearing those rantings in person and on Facebook (5000 friends). Never one to refuse a cocktail, he would sometimes ramble incessantly. His people liked his outrageous epistles about the absurdities of his life.
Recently, while struggling to settle his mother’s estate, Andrew announced that he decided to return to school to learn a real trade; a new profession so he could earn a solid income. He was accepted into TCI College of Technology where he would study to become an optician. He was very proud of this decision and breezed through the complicated preliminary examinations. He would post detailed and interesting updates on Facebook about his progress in this new territory.
Since the late 1980s, Andrew was a devotee of cabaret and piano bars where he became a fixture and made friends from all walks of life. Often, he would get up and sing with gusto. He was sad when the rustic Five Oaks Restaurant/Piano bar closed on Grove Street in 1999 where he loved local legend Marie Blake who was always at the piano.
Andrew cultivated being a die-hard New Yorker and was proud of it. Sometime looking a bit like a ragged vagabond/poor soul in a fast-paced, cut throat world, he struggled to keep up with life. He suffered a bad fall two years ago that broke his shoulder. The incident led him to seek treatment for his substance abuse problem which changed his life for awhile. Again, in a lifetime of personal demons and struggles, he sailed against the odds and climbed another mountain. But it didn’t last.
His kindness and potential has been recognized by many famous luminaries in recent days on social media. Several well known names, added to the thousands of friends who posted loving tributes to him. Betty Buckley and Lillias White expressed sadness and shock about Martin’s passing. Tony winning Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown noted on Facebook,“That’s a terrible shame. He was a complicated person but he was smart and he loved the people he wrote about and the world he got to live in. I am very sorry to hear this. We were both in the piano bars at the same time twenty, twenty five years ago, and knew each other quite well.” Andrew Martin, a big heart, a poor soul and a nightlife mainstay will be missed and remembered.
A memorial celebration will be announced soon.
On a personal note: I first met Andrew when he was 17 years old. I was still rather new on the club scene. Friends brought me to Marie’s Crisis on Grove Street in the west village. It was crowded and loud with everyone singing out of tune. Suddenly, this skinny gnome with a raging wild mane of long hair, stood in the middle of the room and began this defiant impersonation of a Janis Joplin at her wildest. Gutsy screaming in a gravely voice, he sang her signature song, “Piece O’ My Heart.” The place fell silent. He owned the room for three minutes. It was so accurate, it was eerie. When he finished, the place exploded in nonstop cheers. Never shy, he came right over to me and said he knew who I was and asked if I would write something nice about him in my next column. He said it would make his mother so happy. Later that night, he introduced me to her at the Five Oaks (down the block) where, like me, they stayed until closing.
There were many night I ran into him in these dusty dens where he flitted from one person to another gabbing with cocktail in hand through a blinding cloud of smoke. The years went by. He was always complimentary about my writings and told me I was his hero. He was always kind. At some point, he became fixated by the dimple on my chin. One night, he was rather inebriated and kept pushing it in like an elevator button while I was talking to people. I don’t know why but I suddenly stuck my tongue out after he did it for the 10th time in a row. Well, he found that hysterical and couldn’t stop laughing. From then on, every time he saw me, he immediately stuck that scrawny finger in my chin. Obligingly, I made him happy and the tongue stuck out like a baboon. Same reaction. He laughed out loud. We remember the little things in life when someone is gone forever.
Andrew and I never became close friends but saw each other a lot around town in piano bars and cabaret events through the years. But he was always bubbling with enthusiasm and stories. And, yes, he could get on your nerves if he had one cocktail too many. But he was never deliberately offensive. I saw him as a wounded bird who had to make hard choices and try harder to find acceptance in a cruel world. Andrew wasn’t conventionally attractive like some. But, he held his head high and had a strong sense of self worth. He never let go his dreams. He found new ones. Rest easy and in peace with your cherished mother Andrew. You deserved a better hand in life. And, you did earn respect and love from more people than you knew. Later, Gator.
The funeral for Andrew Martin will be held Friday, June 10th, at Mount Richmond Cemetery, 420 Clarke Avenue,
Staten Island, NY 10306, tel. 718-667-0915.
- When: Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 5:15 PM
- Ticket Price: $0.00