Canes Bar & Grill in Mission Beach has been an obstacle in Randy Wood’s attempt to revive his success of the 1980s. At least, that is, according to Wood, who in his heyday created a televised lip-sync contest called Puttin’ On the Hits, which ran from 1984 to 1988. Wood launched his new venture, America’s Lip Sync Star, at Canes on Tuesday, June 2.
“When I first talked to Pamela, the person who books all the bands and does all the promotions [at Canes], I told her this was a long-term deal,” says Wood. “Once you put the money up, you want to run this for eight weeks, and then do another eight-week cycle, and then another. The return on investment is much greater when you do many eight-week cycles.” Wood was told that Canes, which would open its doors on a typically closed Tuesday night, expected to take in at least $2000. “I thought, no problem.” Wood, who had partnered with Cybersports Today (a show on ESPN 800), Shot Spirits Corporation (the makers of ShotPak, an adult beverage served in a disposable pouch), and Long Hard Ride (an “action and sports lifestyle brand”), agreed to make up the difference if his show didn’t bring in the full amount.
On the first night of the contest, fewer than 20 people arrived at Canes, a venue that holds 800. Five of them were contestants, a few were friends of contestants, and the rest were employees of the bar. “We only took in $600,” explains Wood. At the end of the night, Wood was informed he owed $1400, plus the $300 he had agreed to pay for security. Wood handed over all the cash he had remaining after he paid the contest winners ($100 for first place, $50 for second) and was left owing $1523.
“Now Pamela says if we want [the venue] by Tuesday, we have to pay or no contest,” says Wood. For two weeks he tried to negotiate with Canes, but now Wood is rethinking his choice in venue. “The bottom line is, when I originally talked to Pamela about this, I told her we wanted to run this as a long-term deal, and what I found out after the fact is that they’re losing their lease in October, and they’re gone.”
A call to the club’s owner was not returned. However, a Canes employee divulged, “We’re not going anywhere. The lease is up in September, and the owner is in negotiations with the landlord.” The same employee confirmed that if the lease is not renewed, the club’s moving downtown could be an option. As of now, the contest is still on hold.