enjoy it because I like being an entertainer. I do community
theater, and every one of these [singing telegrams] is a
chance for me to hone my skills a little more and actually
get paid working as an entertainer," he said.
He has delivered singing telegrams
dressed as a clown, a chicken and as Superman. But the gorilla
suit is his favorite.
"I push the gorilla costume. It's
a classic," he said.
He charges about $150 -- depending
on mileage -- to sing at birthdays, office parties and bar
Mr. Lenet knocks on the side door
of the van and says it's time to go. Mr. Rosen pulls the
gorilla mask over his head, grabs a handful of balloons
and steps carefully out of his van. He has a bit of trouble
locking the door of the van with his gorilla gloves, then
closes the door.
Going through the parking lot, Mr.
Rosen bobs up and down to imitate a gorilla's walk and attracts
a few stares.
Mr. Rosen has no peripheral vision
because he is wearing a mask, so Mr. Lenet guides him into
the real estate office, through a series of hallways to
the door of a conference room. The door opens and Mr. Rosen
storms into a room with nearly 50 real estate agents attending
a weekly staff meeting and finds his target.
Marlene Dragisics, branch administrator
of the real estate office, happens to be standing in the
front of the room talking to agents. When she sees a gorilla
invade the staff meeting and call her name, she has a momentary
look of dread on her face.
Once the shock fades, she begins
to smile and Mr. Rosen breaks into song.
"When I first turned around, I really
didn't think it was for me," she said later.
Mr. Rosen sings three songs and
his performance is a success. The real estate agents have
pulled off their surprise and Ms. Dragisics is amused.
"She had no clue," Mr. Lenet said.
Not everyone is as willing a subject
as Ms. Dragisics. Mr. Rosen went into a bar once while still
in Chicago to deliver a singing telegram to a bartender.
"He gave me five bucks to shut up,"
Mr. Rosen said.
And when he dressed up in his gorilla
suit recently to sing at an 8-year-old boy's birthday party,
Mr. Rosen frightened the boy to tears.
"You never know how it's going to
go over. Once in a while it all goes wrong," he said.