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Tales of the Rhapsody 2004 Cruise
Chapter Four: Beatlemania!

Written by Rick Archer


The Usual Suspects

So far this cruise writeup has been all about Rick and Marla.  The question is: Did anything actually happen on the Trip besides the Royal Wedding?   Good that you asked.  I am about to get to that. 

However, before I go much further, I have to report about an amazing statistical anomaly.

Did you know that out of 120 passengers, a small group of 7 people caused 90% of all the trouble? 

To find so much mischief concentrated in so few is truly incredible.

Now I am not going to single these people out by name, but I will say they are ALL sitting at the table to your right.

Please note there are 10 people seated. Three of them didn't give me a single problem.

All the rest misbehaved terribly... and didn't show even the slightest bit of remorse.



One of the few things I regret about the trip was missing the Beatles act on the trip.

From the reports I received, it sounded like our group had an absolute ball. 

Apparently the antics of the Usual Suspects reached new pinnacles this evening thanks to the coming out party of Phyllis Porter, the Center of Attention.

Since I wasn't there, I will let my ringside reporters tell the story.



Our Night With Beatlemania  (Story One)

Story by Steffani Callihan
Photos by Steve Gabino

My name is Steffani Callihan and I've been a huge Beatles fan ever since the Beatles arrived in America. Over the years, I knew there were pseudo-Beatle groups who performed publicly, but I considered myself a purist, and would never have put myself in one of their audiences. Then I found myself on this great SSQQ cruise, in the second row of the stage in the Broadway Melodies Theater, waiting for 'Beatlemania Live' to begin.

Our group consisted of myself, Phyllis Porter, Steve Gabino, George Sargent, Gina Garza, Don Schmidt, Maureen Brunetti, Eva Lue, Leslie Barkley, and about a dozen other dance people. As showtime approached, the excitement grew and grew. Given the personality of our group I knew I was in for a fun evening. Little did I know...

Beatlemania Live's performance ranged chronologically from the Early Years through Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road songs. The guys changed their costumes along with the changing times. They sang the first part of the show in the crisp suits and and famous original Beatle haircuts, and moved on to the beautiful Sgt. Pepper uniforms and the songs to match.

The group was very entertaining, not only as Beatle imitators, but also as skilled musicians. Their note-for-note versions of Beatles songs only added to the realism of their performance.

Steve and I, both huge Beatles fans, began singing and harmonizing with each other right at the start and continued nonstop through the show. Many others in the group and the audience did the same. Our group was sitting in the first few rows of the right side of the auditorium. This put us right in front of "John Lennon" and right in front of the steps to the stage.

As we enjoyed the show, Phyllis, who seemed to take mischievous notice of "John", turned to Steverino (aka the Great Gabino) and asked "Should I run up on stage?"

Steve replied that he would give her a dollar if she would go up and kiss him on the cheek. Phyllis took the bet and inched her way further and further right towards the steps leading up to the stage, moving from chair to chair to chair, and looking back at us with the funniest terrified look on her face. We were all watching her, most of us knowing what was going to happen, egging her on. Each time a song ended, we all looked to Phyllis with rising anticipation.

And then it happened. She rushed up the steps, walked onto the stage, put her arms around "John Lennon", and planted a big wet one on his cheek.

We are were very worried that the Beatles would not appreciate Phyllis' mad rush to the stage. However our worries turned out to unfounded. "John", for his part, played it up for all it was worth and welcomed the attention. He put his arm around Phyllis and kept on singing. Soon he proceeded to invite more of us to join him so up went Gina, Maureen, Leslie, Eva, me and several others.  We all loved them even more for giving us the chance to relive some precious teenage fantasies.

Once "John" said, "Everybody get up", we didn't need any more encouragement. The rest of us did just that. We sprinted up there for our chance to join them on stageThank Goodness they were such good sports!!

The band then ripped into a rousing and spirited version of "Twist and Shout". I remember that in addition to Phyllis and
me there was Gina, Eva, Leslie and Stephanie and probably a couple ladies who weren't in our group.

I had the privilege of standing on one side of "John" and at one point he put his arm around me and put the mike in front of both of us. It was a dream come true... singing and dancing on the stage with "The Beatles", if only for an imaginary moment in time.

As the performance continued, Phyllis wrapped her leg around "John". He continued to play up the energy and grinningly explained "This is why I picked up a guitar in the first place", a paraphrased quote which Lennon himself used in interviews. The performance was an obvious crowd pleaser and it was great fun being a part of it all.

At the end of the song, Phyllis gave him another big kiss and we all returned to our seats. The band took an intermission before returning in "Sgt. Pepper" outfits to continue the concert.

The show ended with an enthusiastic standing ovation which led the the band to wave off the the cruise director not once but twice to play more songs.

They remarked that this was one of the best crowds they ever played for. This may have been part of their normal concert banter, but I suspect that they really meant it. After all, they had never played to a crowd of SSQQ dancers before.

Steve paid Phyllis and said it was the best dollar he ever spent. 

Steffani on stage with John

Phyllis has more nerve
than anyone could ever imagine

Eva, Phyllis, Gina, Maureen


A Night With Beatlemania  (Story Two)

Written by Abbie Barbley

A group of us went to the Beatlemania Live show aboard the ship. Phyllis and I sat in the front row because there were no other seats in the row with the group. The show was fabulous from the start. The audience was totally into it - I personally didn't realize I knew the lyrics to as many songs as I did!

Phyllis got this idea to rush the stage - she turned to Steve Gabino, who was sitting behind us, and told him that she thought "we" should do this. He said he would give her a dollar if she would do it. That is all it took. She gave me her camera and told me to hang on to it in case security came and threw her out.

Slowly but surely throughout the next song, Phyllis moved down a couple of seats at a time to the seat in front of the stairs leading to the stage. I have a great picture of her just before she jumped on stage with this "Oh God I can't believe I am about to do this" look on her face.

The next thing we all knew there was Phyllis running toward "John" and screaming his name like a crazy banshee woman as she approached him. We were all in hysterics. He looked at her and half-smiled, half-cringed.  At the end of the song, he asked her name and we all cheered. He told her to stand a little ways from him to dance because they were about to play "Twist and Shout".

Phyllis was pretty much glued to this guy and didn't go anywhere. The next thing we knew, about 6 other SSQQ divas jumped the stage and were all dancing. I was laughing so hard I couldn't do it.

At one point, Phyllis was behind John and you see her leg come up and wrap around his. He started giggling in the middle of the song.  I am sure the band enjoys audience participation, but I doubt they were used to this!

When the song was finished, our girls came off the stage. Phyllis promptly went to Steve and asked for her dollar. Not sure if he has paid up yet!!

The rest of the trip, there wasn't a day that went by that Phyllis wasn't recognized by someone who was at that show. They called her by name. She of course was totally eating this up.

Phyllis may have some juicy pictures from our hot tub adventures, but nothing beats the ones we have of her re-living her youth by jumping on stage during a rock concert.

Brava, Phyllis!  You go, Girl!

Abbie and Phyllis


The Phyllis Porter Story:  It's All About Me!
Rick Archer's Note, 2010

Six years have passed since Phyllis made her crazy charge to the stage.  Since then, this amazing woman has time and again demonstrated an amazing ability to create mischief and fun for everyone.  Hot Tub Stuffing, Wild Bus Tours, Margarita meltdowns in Cozumel... you name it... if there's trouble afoot on a cruise trip, you can assume Phyllis is behind it all.

Phyllis didn't misbehave at all on her first trip, Jubilee 2003.  But she definitely made up for lost time on this trip.

At the start of our 2004 cruise, I thought Phyllis' most active role would be as a Paparazzi tormenting her favorite victim George (Mr. Handsome) Sargent.  Phyllis took some amazing photographs, always at Mr. Handsome's expense.  Phyllis was determined not to let Mr. Handsome get away with any naughty behavior.  Not only did she bring an camera capable of taking underwater pictures just in case that was where the hanky-panky was taking place, she made the special move of downloading her pictures in a secret location just so Mr. Handsome couldn't steal her camera and delete the incriminating pictures!

However the Beatlemania adventure marked the emergence of Phyllis as a major star of the trip in her own right.

The sneak attack was so beautifully carried off by Phyllis and so skillfully handled by "John Lennon" that she became a major celebrity. The move could have backfired, but it was so cute that it had everyone laughing and clapping... even the performers themselves... although for a moment there I am sure Phyllis had John scared out of his wits.  For her efforts that night,
Phyllis earned a new nickname: Center of Attention. 

Now that was one nickname that was well-deserved.  As she so proudly pointed out whenever she saw me, for the rest of the trip, all kinds of people from the ship constantly recognized her from her tour on the stage with "John". They loved to stop and talk to her about it. This was how Phyllis genuinely became a Cruise Celebrity.

Phyllis definitely has a style of her own. She loves to wear tee-shirts with interesting social commentary printed on them.  Isn't it interesting that Phyllis was wearing her favorite
"Center of Attention" tee-shirt for her big adventure?

And now you know how she acquired her nickname "Center of Attention".  It was the perfect nickname as she was always in the MIDDLE of things wherever we went, whatever we did.

The big question was what message would Phyllis be wearing on her dress at Formal Night?   Alas, there was no message although several people - including Mr. Handsome - suggested several slogans she could wear.  Mr. Handsome even wrote up a sign that said "Pain in the Ass" and asked if he could pin the tale on the donkey's tail. 

Center of Attention nearly threw the man overboard.  We were all so disappointed when she didn't.  Now that would have been such an excellent conclusion to the trip!

If you would like to read another story about Phyllis the Troublemaker, click here.

Next: Chapter Five

Dancing Aboard the Rhapsody
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