A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 12, 2010
“Take human bites!” & “(I’m not hungry) I’ll just pick”

Albert Innaurato’s play, Gemini, about a blue collar South Philadelphia family, opened on Broadway in May 1977. Two food lines from Gemini appeared frequently in New York City television advertisements during the early evening and late evening local news.

The character Bunny told her son: “Take human bites for Christ’ sake!” The character Lucille said that she didn’t want a plate of food, but she’d take some from the plates of others: “No thank you, Fran. I’ll just pick.”


Wikipedia: Gemini (play)
Gemini is a play by Albert Innaurato.

Set in the backyard of a blue collar South Philadelphia neighborhood early in the summer of 1973, the comedy-drama focuses on the 21st birthday celebration of Harvard student and Maria Callas fan Francis Geminiani. In attendance are his divorced blue collar father Fran and Fran’s widowed girlfriend Lucille, next-door neighbor Bunny Weinberger and her overweight son Herschel, and Francis’ classmates, the wealthy WASP Hastings siblings Judith (who seeks romance with Francis) and Randy (the object of Francis’ unexpressed affection), who have arrived unexpectedly, much to their friend’s dismay. All are dysfunctional to varying degrees, and the interactions among them provide the play with its comic and dramatic moments.

Production history
Playwrights Horizons first staged the play in December 1976 with a cast that included Jonathan Hadary, Jon Polito, and Sigourney Weaver. The following March it was mounted by the Circle Repertory Company with Hadary (Herschel Weinberger), Danny Aiello (Fran), Carol Potter (Judith Hastings), and Robert Picardo (Francis Geminiani). Critical response encouraged the producers to transfer the play to Broadway.

The Broadway production, with the same cast directed by Peter Mark Schifter and supervised by Marshall W. Mason, opened on May 21, 1977 at the Little Theatre and closed on September 6, 1981 after 1,819 performances.

Google Books
Two plays:
Gemini; The transfiguration of Benno Blimpie

By Albert Innaurato
Clifton, NJ: J.T. White
1978
Pg. 10:
BUNNY: (...) (To Herschel, still gulping) Take human bites for Christ’ sake! Jesus, it’s like a threshing machine: Varroom! Varroom!
Pg. 35:
LUCILLE: No thank you, Fran. I’ll just pick.
(...)
LUCILLE: I’ll just pick out of your plate.
(She then proceeds to pick a large piece of lettuce from Fran’s plate and stuffs it in her mouth)

New York magazine (June 21, 1999)
The Other Philadelphia Story
Twenty years ago,
Gemini, a comedy of minors set in South Philly, gave Albert Innaurato his first (and only) Broadway hit. A new revival finds the playwright finally putting pen to paper again.
By Alexandra Lange
(...)
Anyone who watched New York late-night TV can remember the Gemini ad’s two indelible lines: “Take human bites!” and “No thank you, Fran, I’ll just pick.” Plus a 16-year-old fat kid riding around and around on a trike (that’s Herschel). It was as ubiquitous (and loud) as Crazy Eddie.

New York (NY) Times
THEATER REVIEW; Gentle Play Wrapped in a Cacophonous Exterior
By ALVIN KLEIN
Published: June 22, 2003, Sunday
BEFORE the play begins, the voice of Maria Callas is heard, the speaker turned on full blast to drown out ‘’the sound of garbage men emptying the garbage in the alley,’’ to quote the stage directions of ‘’Gemini,’’ Albert Innaurato’s well-worn play, which is being reanimated at the Schoolhouse here.
(...)
Herschel and Lucille inspire two of the contemporary theater’s classic lines. ‘’Take human bites,’’ Bunny shouts at Herschel. ‘’I’ll just pick,’’ Lucille insists, ceaselessly, as she wolfs down spaghetti and salad from everyone else’s plate. Such comic business is easily overdone; Ms. Marks makes it funnier with every reach across the table and every time she stuffs her mouth.

Google Books
Luncheonette: A Memoir
By Steven Sorrentino
New York, NY: ReganBooks
2005
Pg. 167:
The play (Gemini—ed.) had already been immortalized by a bit running in a TV commercial where a deliciously understated character actress spewed the play’s take-home line: “Take human bites!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Monday, July 12, 2010 • Permalink