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Teaching dance — from a Rascal!

Carmine teaches the tango like no one else!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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I’m madder than J. Lo when she caught a glimpse of her wax figure at Madame Tussauds wacky museum over the fact that some cable channel wrongly identified my assistant as yours truly when it put together a feature on the fantastic tango classes that I — that’s right, me, not my assistant — hold right here in fabulous Bensonhurst.

Look, you all know that I’ve been training the dancers of tomorrow the tango for the cost of nothing for years, and, quite frankly, it was about time someone took the time to feature my hard work on television. So I was extremely excited when the a crew showed up at Seth Low Intermediate School with a camera to capture on film (or tape, or soft drive, or whatever the kids use today) the magic I — that’s right, me — make.

So you wouldn’t be shocked — shocked — to learn that I had a near conniption when I sat down with my lovely wife Sharon to watch the show and caught a preview that led most viewers to believe that my assistant, Frank Gullo, was actually me. Now I don’t need to tell you that Frank is about half the size of me and walks on his own two legs, so it’s pretty easy to tell the two of us apart, espicially since I am twice the size of Frank and can’t walk at all. So when Sharon blurted out “Hey Carmine, they think Frank is you!” after watching the preview, you can just imagine the smoke coming out of my ears — not to mention the expletives that came out of my mouth.

The show broke for commercial and the entire time I was worried that they got the whole thing wrong, and that they interviewed Frank instead of me, and maybe, just maybe, they mistakenly thought Frank was me — thus stealing all of my much-deserved laurels and hardies.

Now, you all know I would never say a bad thing about anybody that doesn’t deserve it, and the same goes for Frank. I mean, the guy has been my legs and feet for the past few years, and he does everything I tell him to do, so I ain’t got no quams with him. And I certainly respect what he does at class, which is to basically do what I say. I mean, how can I not love a guy like that.

But that doesn’t mean he should get all the credit for my hard work. Sure, he deserves a lot, just not all.

By the time the show came back on, I was so pig-biting mad I wanted to get up and do a tango on top of the Zenith in the living room.

Well, it turned out I got all bent out of shape for nothing, because not only did they not make that mistake, they actully put together a pretty good feature about how I have been teaching the tango at my Free Ballroom Dance Class at the Federation of Italian-American organizations, and delighting new Americans — whether they be Russian, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Polish, or Greek — in the process.

Sure, Frank got some face time, but not nearly as much as the ol’Screecher, and I was near tears as I watched myself wax poetic about what a great job I do. And I nearly cried when some of my pupils went on and on about how much they love the lessons — even if it seemed they were more interested in the price than learning from a master of the tango like myself.

I mean, I guess I understand it when people think “Oh, the lessons are free, and they are taught by a giant man in a wheelchair, so you get what you pay for.” But now the truth is out there: cable television says my lessons are great and one of the best deals in the city. You can’t unshoot that gun.

But let me add this: it couldn’t be any more fun for yours truly, even though I don’t know how to speak most of the languagues some of my new clients speak — specifically the ones that aren’t English.

Now’s the point in the column where I make a bad transition to an anecdote that I probably told you about 100 times before.

Everybody asks me how I invented my famous “pizza step,” so I’m going tell you again.

And this time, pay attention!

The owners of Grotto Azzurra’s son was taking ballroom dancing lessons in his public school.

He loved it and one afternoon my wife Sharon and I were having pizza in his father’s place years before”Mad Hot Ballroom” became an instant hit.

We started talking and I asked him what dances he was learning and he showed me a tango step that I loved, which I renamed it the “pizza step,” in honor of his father’s place of business.

So if you don’t believe me and want to see for yourself how fantastic my classes are, take a look at the video on the YouTube.

I hope you enjoy it as much as me and my assistant, Frank!

Screech at you next week!

Read Carmine Santa Maria's screech every Saturday on BrooklynDaily.com, and each week in your local Courier Life newspaper. Contact him at DiegoVega@aol.com.

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