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The Once and Future Dolemite

Rudy Ray Moore, the brotherman from another land, is still outta sight

After an uncomfortable pause, he grins and answers the unasked question. "No, she ain't never seen my act. She knows about it, though. She don't mind what it buys her."

Moore's first album was made with Kent Records, which pressed it for free, a favor to him as a former manager of a Hollywood record shop. The album had just a plain white cover with a rubber stamp on it, and Moore took it to the store where he'd worked and played it; people went wild. In an hour, he sold 30 records. Word of mouth did the rest. His albums were too raw for airplay, but he still sold 300,000 of that first one. It was, he claims, the first party album with four-letter words on it. "What I do is different," he says. "I'm a ghetto expressionist."

He's insulted at having to work so hard, having been burned by film distributors that filed bankruptcy so they wouldn't have to pay him the profits on the films he paid for out of his own pocket by scraping and saving every cent. Still, a shrewd businessman, Moore owns his record catalog and is currently negotiating a deal to ensure the rerelease of much of it, instead of the few best-of selections he sells at his appearances.

"I been on the road six months out of the year since 1987, when my act started to take off again after the rappers, Luther Campbell and Hammer and them, was first samplin' me," Moore says. "I got this movie to audition for. I play a golfer with one arm who teaches this kid how to golf. I got my arm bit off by an alligator. Listen to this ad-lib. They ask me which one [bit me], and I say, 'I don't know. All them gators look the same to me.' "

The once and future Dolemite is enthusiastic about the coming year. A set of all of his movies, called The Dolemite Collection, is due for release imminently. Robert Townsend used Moore in his upcoming film, BAPS. And he plans on adding some live blues to his stage show.

"I do it well," he assures. "In L.A. and across the country, I will come and do a show for any disc jockey who plays my records for free. This is the way I intend to break through. I'm [also doing] a new blues album. This new blues album, which I'm producing, is gonna be a fine blues album with strong songs. I'm doin' Muddy Waters's 'Don't Go No Further' and Louis Jordan's 'Do You Call That a Buddy.'

"You wait and see," says Rudy Ray Moore. "Well, I'm outta here.

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