LIFE AS TOM JONES IMPERSONATOR HAS ITS “NUTTY” MOMENTS
“Nutty” requests are not unusual for Tom Jones impersonator Harmik Kazanchian.
He’s been booked for nudist conventions. “I was the only person in the theater with clothes on,” he said.
Tom Jones’ staff hired Kazanchian 15 years after a wide search for someone who would appear in a video about the creation of a perfect Tom Jones clone in a laboratory “to see if Tom could be duplicated. I blew up at the end of the video and Tom partied on with a girl,” he said.
He’s had his moments with mistaken identity. A decade ago he walked into a high-end Las Vegas restaurant and was quickly ushered to a top table. Faster than you can say “What’s New Pussycat” he was offered a humidor full of expensive cigars and Jones’ favorite Scotch.
“Then Tom came in about 4 a.m. and the jig was up,” said Kazanchian, who is known as Harmik, the Tom Jones Clone.
Last weekend he was a booked for a hush-hush gig in the high roller suites at Aria in City Center.
As in most cases, he was given very little details about the party he was performing for. Just show up and at 6 p.m. Saturday and a bellman would deliver his equipment.
A woman met him at the entrance of the suite and he was escorted to a bedroom. No, it’s not that kind of a deal, although he’s had some bookings that take some shocking turns.
“They had everything orchestrated,” he said. His recorded background music equipment was set up in another room and five minutes after his arrival, a butler hit the pause button.
Kazanchian burst out of the bedroom singing “She’s A Lady” for a surprised Nicole Curran, the fiancée of Golden State Warriors owner Joe Locob. They have been a couple for years.
Welcomed by shrieks of delight, Harmik had the bachelorette party instantly dancing and singing. He followed with another Jones’ megahit, “What’s New Pussycat” before wrapping up the 30-minute gig with photos.
A big Tom Jones fan, Curran was “devastated,” said Kazanchian, that the Welsh superstar had cancelled recent shows at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, so a trip to Las Vegas was planned. What she didn’t know was that her gals had a Tom Jones experience planned.
It’s all good clean fun, said Kazanchian, a happily married man who made a point of noting that his hands were touching the couch, in the photo, not any of the women.
Sometimes he signs panties that he passes out to his audiences. The nudist conventions “are the only time I’ve signed all skin. I know this sounds so bad for a Christian man but I’m just doing my job. I get a lot of nutty requests.”
He also gets to meet some cool people.
“I did an event in Carefree, AZ with Dan Akroyd to save Black Mountain,” he said. “When the event ended Dan and I went to the bar next door and he sang Beatles songs and I sang (Tom Jones) cover songs.”
In 2009 he was booked at the Wynn Las Vegas. “I didn’t even know who the client was,” he said.
It turned out to be a birthday bash for Steve Wynn, the billionaire resort developer.
Kazanchian’s contribution to the evening: He was hired to sing “She’s a Lady” in honor of Paul Anka, one of the guests at the party. Anka wrote the song, which Jones turned into a major hit in 1971. Kazanchian also sang “What New Pussycat” in a nod to another party attendee Burt Bacharach, who wrote the 1965 hit with Hal David for the movie of the same name.
Kazanchian, 57, has been impersonating Jones since 1977, where he grew up in Queens, N.Y., the son of Armenian-American diamond dealer.
He was eight or nine when Jones’ album “Live at the Flamingo” came out. “I wanted to be like him.”
He got a taste of celebrity when he did two songs in his school play as a senior.
“By the end of the school year when the yearbooks came out, they announced on the loud speaker that ‘Harmik will be signing books,’” at a certain time, he said.
Funny story, he said.
“When I was in the eighth grade at Lady of the Angeles, every month we got to order books. I ordered a book about the Osmonds. Sister Joanne approached me one day and said ‘I want you to know this is a book that mostly girls order.’ I stuck to my guns,” he said.
Full disclosure: I am opening for Harmik at Freedom Hall Theater, 2460 Hampton Road, on Sunday at 3 p.m. I’ll be sharing my favorite Las Vegas stories.
TO BOOK NORM AS A KEYNOTE SPEAKER OR TO INTERVIEW YOUR GUEST OF HONOR AT YOUR PRIVATE OR CORPORATE EVENT, PLEASE CONTACT JOANNE DOWNEY AT WWW.JOANNELVCELEB@AOL.COM