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Cabaret journalist/actor Andrew Martin found dead in his home on June 7, 2016

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 Martin sketch 2

Andrew Martin

John Hoglund

John Hoglund, Cabaret Spotlight Columnist

Cabaret writer Andrew Martin has passed away. The cause of death was a heart attack and head injury at his home in Queens, NY. He was 47 years old and survived by his twin sister Barbara Arnold, a brother and an estranged father. His beloved mother, Janet Arnold, whom he lived with, passed away in November 2015 after a long illness. There will be a private, traditional funeral on Staten Island on Friday in keeping with his strict Jewish faith.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

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.

Andrew Martin book Godspell

Andrew Martin book Godspell

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.

At various stages of his life, Andrew Martin wrote for the the NY Native, Night & Day Magazine, NightLifeExchange, TheaterScene.net and BroadwayWorld.com. He started his own blog, The Martin Report.

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.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

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.

Andrew Martin Duplex show

Andrew Martin Duplex show. Photo courtesy Pat Morgan, copyright 2015

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.

Notes:

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
Community Memorial for Andrew Martin
Sunday, June 12 at 5:15PM
Metropolitan Room Lounge
Our Cabaret Community is mourning the loss of a very dear friend, Andrew Martin and Metropolitan Room is opening its Lounge space for an intimate gathering to remember him.  The event will be conducted by some of his very dear friends and prayers and stories will be shared.

Additionally – you may enter below any remembrances or stories about Andrew and they will be published at the bottom of this appreciation – let’s give Andrew a wonderful digital send-off.

9 Comments on Cabaret journalist/actor Andrew Martin found dead in his home on June 7, 2016

  1. Andrew was one of the first people I met back in 1988. I was living in a tiny apartment on the upper westside – taking a semester off from college. My friends at Columbia were too busy completing finals and so I found myself downtown – alone, a boy from the Northwestern woods of New Jersey. Andrew became an instant friend. I’d been watching him sing – although I didn’t know he was a he -as he was in drag. But I liked him because he was funny and made me laugh and took away a little of my fear of living in New York. We remained friends for quite a few years. We all knew dear Janet Sumner – a dear friend from Boston who introduced me to society, and together for the better part of a decade I’d see Andrew and we’d talk as if there were no time gone. I’d taken him to a house party in New Jersey where we stayed for five days! Finally he said, “I’ve got to get back – I have responsibilities!!” I also brought him into The National Arts Club and introduced him to Aldon James (Andrew made a call to the Count James and I called Carrie Swift – and we were at once a party!). Always fun and upbeat around me, I never really knew his troubles – only that he lived with his mother and had to have cigarettes and cat food for the cat. After his mother died I worried about him. I tried to steer him into a career in UX design. I often day dreamed about finding him in Rego Park and rescuing him – because he seemed like he needed it. I suppose he was a lot like Holly Golightly to me from the film version of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” He’s gone now and I’ll never get to ask him the many questions I had for him – about what he thought about so many different things. Our worlds drifted apart. I hope, wherever he is – that he’s at peace and has found rest at last.

  2. teresa clark ( granmatoy ) // June 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm // Reply

    i never had the pleasure of meeting Drew in person. we became cyber buds in 1993 when the show Starting Over was on. we met on the chat board the show set up. Drew was one of the first people i met & he helped me navigate though. i had just began to use a computer. i thought he was hilariously funny. when the show ended Drew started his own board to which i was a member. once i joined face book he was one of the first people i sought out. when he posted a video of a comic show he did i was laughing so hard my husband thought i had lost my mind. when last we spoke i had asked him about his book Scene Stealer’s. i wanted to buy a copy as soon as it came out.
    i’m going to miss Drew very much and will always have very fond memories of him. rest in peace.

  3. Daniel Karpus // June 10, 2016 at 12:35 am // Reply

    His one-man show AN APPETIZING YARN gave Andrew the unprecedented opportunity to talk continously to the audience for up to two hours. In this manner he relished conveying the full long story without interruption. In the first incarnation he only got up to his teens. Hopefully at The Metropolitan Room people will share their stories about the rest of his life.

  4. I first met Andrew Martin in the Piano Bar at Don’t Tell Mama. It was around 1991. A lanky young man with short dark hair, He sat atop the piano.. An alcoholic beverage on one hand, a cigarette on the other hand. Singing with great confidence (a Judy Garland song). Though Andrew vocal abilities were limited, his passion and enthusiasm for Cabaret and Broadway show tunes captured our hearts . Andrew reviewed my second cabaret show, ‘Too Scared To Sing’ (Director: Nancy La Mott , Music Director: Christopher Marlowe). Andrew attended my show based on his interest in Nancy’s Directing style. The magazine (Cab Magazine). Andrews review, he was kind since it was my second show and I was very new to cabaret.
    Years later Andrew and I met at Grand Central Station. He had posted on Face Book that he needed help and if anyone could leand him money, he would be most appreciative. I ga e Andrew $60 dollars. I wished I could give him more. He was very thankful and kept thanking me. We spoke for alittle while, then he was heading to an event.

    The last time I saw Andrew, Town Hall (Julie Wilsons Tribute. He walked over to me and said “hello woman of many names! Marie Clemente, Marie Ottavia and for awhile you were just Ottavia (with dramatic Hand gestures) . “And now you are Maria Ottavia”. he boasted “I have a photographic memory”
    Cabaret changed my life as I am sure it has changed all of us. We celebrate and embrace music and the thrill of being moved by others.
    Andrew was a colorful chap with much pain. I got to know him more through face book. His passion for music and the arts bring great sadness to my heart. One of my first encounters in this hidden treassure /society of brilliance I wanted to learn more about. I am sorry I never had the chance to tell Andrew our first encounter was intimidating and fascinating. I did not know them what I discovered later in my life, I found my home. I am devistated that Andrew touched my life and, though I am one of many who may not have expressed a similar feeling. Who knew his life would be cut short at age 47. I am so sorry and read his posts on face book , if only he knew we all loved him. How life is gone in a flash. In a second. I am so sorry. A great loss to all of us

  5. Laurin Stoler // June 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm // Reply

    I am not qualified to memorialize someone whose life and experiences were so large and full, others will do and are doing a much better job. I really only knew Andrew as an occasional friendly connection based mostly on our shared love of my aunt, actress Shirley Stoler, and having both attended the same summer performing arts camp.

    But I do feel compelled to share what Andrew did mean to me. First, he was unlike anyone I had ever met before, and there don’t seem to be enough words to describe the beautifully unique way he filled his space on this planet, but a very few words would be ebullient, vivacious, heartfelt, passionate, enthralling, dedicated, and appreciative. And I feel lucky to have known him. And secondly, he was a sweet sweet sweet connection that I had to my Aunt Shirley, one that *always* gave me incredibly good feelings. Andrew and I first met very briefly at Shirley’s apartment back in the eighties. A few years after she passed away, he sought me out on Facebook because he wanted to be my friend because of our mutual love of Shirley. He said he never forgot me from our first meeting. And any time he and I got together, he would inevitably start sharing several stories with me about her. I could tell from the way he spoke that he GOT her. And, I know he loved her. And, she loved him back.

    Rest in peace Andrew Martin. <3

    And, as so many others who knew him are signing off today saying saying . . .

    Tra la!

  6. When I first joined Facebook about 6 or 7 years ago, Andrew became the first person I “friended” who lived in New York. I can’t remember how I found him or if it was through a mutual friend. We started chatting and we hit it off immediately. One could not help but be impressed with his knowledge of Broadway and cabaret stars or with his fantastic and quick wit. Needless to say, it was a thrill that we finally got to meet in person when I was in New York on a lecture tour two years ago and he asked me to come to a Beaux Arts Society function. It was like we were long lost friends and it was dizzying to watch him go from group to group or person to person chatting with everyone. I had gone through the buffet getting my meal and set it down on a table, then I went to the bar to get a self-serve drink. Andrew sidled up next to me and said, “If we weren’t here but in a bar somewhere, I’d be all over you like white on rice.” I looked at the bar we were standing next to and then him and I said, “But Andrew, we ARE in a bar.” He looked at the bar, then at me, turned beet red and just started giggling. We were planning on meeting again for my upcoming trip to NYC this July and he was going to sign his ‘Godspell’ book that I had purchased. This news of his passing has left a huge hole in my heart. He’s with his beloved mother for all time. Rest in peace, my friend.

  7. Yet another piece of my memory of New York’s colorful nightlife has been taken away from all of us.
    Andrew Martin was a reliable character who could transform any hum-drum evening into a brash, outrageous..over-the-top gathering. He always injected drama, spice, angst and mystery. Even after spending probably too many hours out on the town…one would be dazzled by his wit (sometimes cutting)….his stories (often too long)…..and his “just out of reach” charm. With all of his opinions, which he happily shared, he was never malicious….nor did he harbor a negative attitude. He was a good sole, with a big heart. Our cabaret and theater community has lost another cog in the wheel of memorable New York nights.

  8. Betsyann Faiella // June 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm // Reply

    This is a very hard one to accept, and we who love entertainers have had a few rough ones in the past 6 months. Although I didn’t know Andrew well, we always had pleasant interaction and I knew I had missed out on a lot by not knowing him better. He was sweet and fascinating, I loved his Facebook posts, and I was really shocked and very sad to hear the news. I extend my deepest condolences to his friends and family.

  9. I loved you like a Brother….I’ll miss you, Kid.

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