Bob Domonkos and the Making of an Unlikely Booty Rap

Bob Domonkos’s plan was hazy, at best, but he knew one thing for sure: He needed rappers. So he posted an ad on Craigslist. “Need rappers for booty-centric rap,” it read. “I have a song I’d like to see get out there…I think this little ditty has great potential. It’s also raunchy as hell but then so is ‘Anaconda.’ We could put it on YouTube, monetize it and hope it goes viral.” Domonkos — a sixty-year-old grandfather — is a very unlikely booty-rap lyricist. He’s either a chronic adventurer or a commitment-phobe, depending on how you frame his life story. He admits he has a low threshold for boredom, so he’s always creating things. His father was an artist — that’s where he gets it. When Domonkos was fourteen, one of his teachers sent his father a letter saying that Domonkos was a terrible student, a complete distraction in class, but that he had a way with words. Domonkos has always been proud of that. He says the words just build and build in him until he has to let them out, and they come out in different ways — a poem, a novel, answers to the New York Times crossword puzzle or, sometimes, a script.

His hobbies, professions and experiences are by no means limited to writing, however. By his own account, he has “made shit for NASA” and caught crabs from other people’s laundry. He’s been spit on by Al Pacino, and he once snapped his right pinkie off. With only one day’s rehearsal, he danced in a production of The Nutcracker in front of 1,000 people to fill in for a runaway ballerina, and he spent two and a half years digging for gold in Mexico with an Argentine professional tennis player. He’s got stories about working as a gold miner, dynamiter, carpenter, ironworker, short-order cook, gas-pump jockey, landscaper, ballet-company driver, milk salesman, watch salesman, art-collection scout, college composition instructor, machinist, runaway-chicken catcher, eighth-grade English teacher, veterinary assistant, school-bus driver, launderer, chimney sweep, and about fifty other jobs he can’t remember right now. Currently, he’s spending his weekdays climbing up and knocking down sixty-foot trees to make way for new parking lots.

He was run out of Mexico by “banditos and a hail of bullets,” kicked out of boarding school in Switzerland for having hashish, out of Connecticut for stealing Ho Hos, and out of Florida for a “misunderstanding” with law enforcement. He has written a play that was staged in two states, a book you can buy on Amazon, a feature-length movie you can find on YouTube, and now, a rap that he’s really, really excited about.

He is not a musician, but he wrote a song that is both catchy and “quite salacious,” and he thinks other people will like it. But he can’t do it alone. “Like Clint Eastwood says, a man has to know his limitations,” says Domonkos. “I love music, but I can’t create that part. I’m not a musician, but I know words.”

One of the projects Domonkos is proudest of is a two-hour-and-six-minute “highly irreverent” take on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He dedicated all of his free time for two years to the movie, even spending hundreds of dollars to rent out an entire bar and fill it with drunks, liquored up on his dime, to shoot a single scene. Besides providing a stock of good memories, the film, And Now for the Tricky Part, taught Domonkos two important things. First, that he could successfully cast a feature-length film with a Craigslist ad, and second, that he really likes writing raps.
In Shakespeare’s version of The Merchant of Venice, three suitors are asked to choose the correct casket to win a beautiful bride (it doesn’t make sense in context, either). In Domonkos’s version, the suitors sing the beauty a song or, in one case, a rap. Domonkos liked this new form that his creativity took, and he suddenly had ideas for more rap lyrics. After that, the words to the booty rap just popped into his head, and, never one to back away from a new adventure, he decided to make the song as a stand-alone project. He wrote the song all in one sitting, though he has revised it over and over since then. He believes art is never truly finished, just wrenched from the hands of its creator — or, in this case, entrusted to the respondents of a Craigslist ad.

A couple weeks after he posted the ad, Domonkos sat waiting in the back corner of a crowded coffee shop. He wasn’t sure anyone was going to show up. It was snowing, it was dinnertime, and he knows commitment is a problem. People get excited about something sitting at their computer, he says, but actually coming to meet strangers at a coffee shop is a whole different thing. Still, he waited with a stack of lyric sheets and a stapler, one white tennis shoe crossed casually over the other, and eventually they came. In the end, the crew totaled five people, including Scott Hogg, Phee (stage name), Emma Cat (also a stage name) and Eric Everhart (stage name Dedoz). And then there’s Domonkos — the unlikely crew’s unlikely leader. He handed out the lyrics. At the top of the page, it said “fast, fast beat.” Immediately below, it began:

DJ hits a def tune
She’s backin’ up a full moon
Takin’ it real slow
Grindin’ on ma hang low
Bumba be workin’
Twerkin’ on ma gherkin
Juices be perkin’
Ahm just smirkin’
She rub a dub dub on his nub in da club
She rub a dub dub on his nub in da club

This went on for seven pages. Domonkos read the rap in his best hip-hop voice — something like the voice of a male-Muppet version of Betty White — chopping the air with his left hand to show where the rap should really “hit like a slap in the face.” The crew laughed in all the same places, nodding in unison to the beat of Domonkos’s voice. Nobody offered criticism. Nobody got up to leave. They immediately began discussing potential melodies, working off Domonkos’s instruction that he wanted it to be “something you can get jiggy to.” Sitting knee to knee on a couch meant for four, the crew of five didn’t look like a winning hip-hop recording crew — one of Domonkos’s Craigslist strangers told him so.

“I did, in fact, go to Stella Coffee House, and I believe I saw you sitting with a group in the back,” a rapper wrote in an e-mail to Domonkos the day after he was supposed to meet the group. “I do not mean to be judgmental whatsoever, but the group that had shown up did not appear to be very ‘hip-hop’ or ‘rap,’ therein dissuading me from any further interest in the project.”

When Domonkos received the e-mail, he just laughed. “That’s absolutely hysterical!” he wrote back. “I’m going to share this with my sub-par group.” “Judgy McGee” looked at the group and saw a ragtag collection of misfits who didn’t know how ridiculous they were.But they know exactly what they’re doing.

Hogg — or “Scotters,” as Domonkos calls him — is a middle-aged warehouse manager, a retired rock-and-roll drummer, and Domonkos’s “partner in crime.” He met Domonkos five years ago at a different coffee shop responding to a different Craigslist ad and bonded with him on a four-hour drive to the Sand Dunes, during which Domonkos told him story after story after story. Scotters thinks the rap is great, but he’s there for Domonkos. He says he’ll “jump into anything with Bob.”

Phee, Cat and Everhart have their own motivations. Phee, a singer and radio talk-show host who is currently producing an online reality show about herself, came because the project just seemed fun and because she never turns down an opportunity to collaborate. Cat, a nurse, photographer, costume designer and aerial-hoop performer, is trying to break into the Denver music scene, so she came for the chance to actually record a song for the first time. Everhart, a drummer who produces the music for his band, Evinity, came for the parody. He believes in the deeper message behind the rap, the hyperbolic representation of what music is today. As a serious musician, it would have been difficult for him to produce that kind of rap as an individual project, he says, but because Domonkos wrote it, he can come on board and help make the rap a little less goofy and a little more listenable — something other people can appreciate.

If you ask the crew what they think about Domonkos, every one of them has the exact same response. First, they laugh, a giggle like an allergic reaction to his name. Then, “He’s just a genuinely good guy,” they all say. In those exact words. And he is. Domonkos is truly jazzed about the work each person on his new team is doing. When he learns that Cat has a website showcasing her modeling and photography, he excitedly shows the rest of the group, exclaiming over and over that “it’s just amazing.” He’s in constant awe of Everhart’s beatboxing skills and can’t speak highly enough of Phee’s “powerhouse vocals.” He emphasizes that Scotters had two heart attacks in the process of editing their movie and still stayed on board with the project because he’s such a loyal, dedicated guy. When they sit together in the studio to work on the rap, Domonkos sits in the back, letting the others take the lead on the music, but somehow he’s at the center of it all.
Despite the Craigslist ad promising viral success and the booty-centric lyrics, Domonkos says the rap is not just about getting attention. He thinks working with the crew on a project for five hours every weekend is fun, that potentially giving three talented musicians a career boost is worthwhile, that people might actually like the rap. Maybe all of that is hard to believe.

But then there’s this: Domonkos, Scotters, Everhart, Phee and Cat are in a recording studio in Everhart’s basement. Phee is at the microphone with Domonkos bouncing at her side, holding the rap lyrics at eye level for her to see. They’re recording the main refrain. Phee sings “rub a dub dub on his nub at the club” over and over, trying different arrangements. She swoops up on the “dub,” then dives down at “the club.” They all listen intently with heads bowed. Domonkos says he wants it to be more “syrupy,” and she tries again, this time sliding into “rub a dub” with a little gravel. Everhart plays the recording back. That’s the one. They high-five, they smile, they literally dance with excitement.

“That really got going!” Domonkos says, removing his hat in disbelief. He genuinely can’t believe how good the rap sounds. It’ll be weeks — months, maybe — before the rap is finished to the crew’s satisfaction, and longer before they’ll shoot the video, but none of them seems to mind. Replacing his hat, Domonkos stands up to take a picture of his crew leaning together.

“Smile,” he says.

In his back pocket is another sheet of paper — with lyrics to another hip-hop song.

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Courtney Harrell writes for Westword and University of Colorado Denver, telling stories of people and the things they do.
Contact: Courtney Harrell